I was working as a minister in my first charge around 1988. When the decision came it was simply catastrophic for my pastoral charge. I couldn’t believe the hateful ways that people were being toward myself as the minister, and gay and lesbian people in our town. I had written a full article for the newspaper. When this came out the response was terrible from people who were opposed to this new theology. I was receiving death threats and many hang-ups on the phone. It was truly terrible, a very difficult time.
We were rejected from the ministerial which was very difficult. The other clergy said we didn’t have a theology and that we were not really Christian.
I couldn’t understand the hatred. I have never been able to understand how people can be so hateful. Where did it come from? We certainly weren’t preaching it or teaching it at church.
To get support, a number of us started gathering in small groups. We met weekly for breakfast and we would talk about what was happening. For me, for all of us, it was a life saver. There really weren’t any other supports at the time. There was nothing from Presbytery, that is for sure. They knew what was going on, and did nothing to support us. Neither at the Conference level or from the national staff. There really was nothing. I wish there had been more guidance on procedure of introducing this to our congregations and supporting us as we had these conversations in our churches.
Eventually I had to leave my church. I simply had to if I was going to survive. I moved from BC to Ontario, and I got some reprieve. We started working toward making my next church an Affirming place. When I eventually left, the next minister they called was a gay married minister. It felt very satisfying to know that we had made a difference in that place.
To me, the United Church seems to have been very concerned about two things in its history: sex and money. Those are our hot button issues. I’m retired now and as I look back, I think a lasting affect of this in our churches, and around the difficulties many congregations faced, is a focus on these two things rather than a willingness to explore theologically. I wish we would have explore our faith relationship to God, and explored theologically, which would have moved our faith and our churches to new places.
[Shared with permission.]