I was there in 1988 when a minister we had sent from the Western Canadian District of Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) reported back to our district conference. He had been in Victoria [at the United Church General Council] with official observer status.
He told us of all the conversations he had and how a large number of people were undecided [about the vote concerning gay and lesbian membership and ministry in the United Church]. He said many confessed to him they only voted in support of the resolution because they refused to vote with those vocal opposers in light of their venomous rants, threats and obvious hatred. He was overjoyed, but surprised, by the outcome — as were we all.
I loved MCC, but 1988 signalled the beginning of the end for most Canadian congregations — we had 1 MCC church in Calgary, the United church had over 30, and you could attend without outing yourself. Over a couple of years most of our members left and went to the United Church. By the time many of them realized that the 1988 decision would take a long time to transform many congregations, it was hard because they no longer had a place to go. The church I loved and had lead worship in for two years (because there was no money to pay a minister) had closed and I was adrift, as were many others.
I am glad I found Robert McClure United Church after being forced to leave a small Baptist church because the elders did not want a gay person involved in any church programs. I thought it would be more “sinful” to be part of a church and not be involved than to be gay and just sit there.
Several years later there was a death in our minister’s family and I was asked, last minute, to lead worship. I asked if I could use the time to tell my story… there was a long pause and then he said yes, he would support me no matter what I decided to talk about. I found out later it was becuase he thought there were several members who would respond with anger — he was surprised that they responded positively instead. He was proud of me and the congregation.
Signed, Simpson in Calgary
(Shared with permission. Photo below: Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, 2009. By SimonP, CC BY-SA 3.0, GFDL, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html, from Wikimedia Commons.)