A Reflection by Dixon
Anne Squire’s story made me think about how much strength and courage many allies and g/t [gay and trans] people in the church had. I’m not sure it is possible to grasp the pressure and judgement that these people the commissioners must have felt during General Council. I feel sad that what strikes me as a pretty mundane thing (gee, let’s not exclude gay and lesbian Christians from ministry) was something difficult, divisive, and prophetic.
I still don’t get why this would be a big deal. I don’t understand UCC people who get bothered by the negative judgement of other denominations, either. I don’t get why someone would choose a less expansive understanding of scripture.
Anne Squire’s story made me think about how all these hundreds of people had so much time on their hands. Seriously, you think writing malicious letters is not the devil’s work? What makes the writers so miserable that they spew that out at someone else? It makes me wonder what their church was nurturing in them.
I feel hope when I see the increase in Affirming congregations—and when I see young g/t people in UCC youth groups. I am delighted that the church can be a safe, nurturing place.
The Community of Concern makes me angry. But so does the silence about LGBTQ+ identities in too many churches still. It is long past time that all congregations nurtured and raised up all with intention, and by name.
I don’t think the UCC owes LGBTQ+ people much of an apology—except for not handling the emotional fall-out of ’88 better. What I want is true transformation from the Community of Concern & those who supported it. And I think that non-Affirming churches should be as readily identifiable as Affirming ones are. So-called “welcoming” churches that aren't self-aware need to understand that they are often a problem as well.
~ Dixon Challoner, New Vision United, Hamilton, Ontario
(Shared with permission of Dixon)