I was there in 1988 and I remember it as a very challenging and divisive time in our church. The church we were attending at the time had not dealt with any of the resources on sexuality prepared by the UCC prior to 1988, nor any of the study material prepared on ordination of homosexuals. Thus when we tried to deal with “the issue,” we were thrust into a situation with no previous experience of how to have respectful sharing of different views.
Our one evening session to deal with “the issue” was not a productive time. People were polarized. Some made statements that were very hurtful to those who were gay or lesbian (certainly not openly out at the time), or to those who had family or friends who were gay or lesbian. Some of us tried to clarify some of the myths and misperceptions but did not feel heard. There was a strong group of Community of Concern supporters who clearly expressed their view that homosexuality is a sin and should not be tolerated, especially in clergy.
As a result of this strife—and especially because of the unwillingness of many to even carry on a discussion—we made the difficult decision to leave our church which our family had attended for 4 generations.
Fortunately, we found support and acceptance in another United Church in our city. When we moved there, we immediately felt welcome and joined in many church activities. While it is not “perfect” and there are differences of opinion on various issues, we experienced a sense of willingness to talk and to listen respectfully to each other.
We have now belonged there for 30 years. We have seen our church become an Affirming Ministry, supporting Pride events, be open to LGBTTQ folks and their families, and trying to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be inclusive of all of God’s children.
I give thanks for the UCC, for Affirm United and for Iridesce. I give thanks that we continue to challenge ourselves to live our lives as God would have us do—to love one another.
(Shared with permission. Photo: Wix.)