It has been almost two years since the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada voted on a series of motions designed to end the discrimination against GLBT people in our church. Prior to the passage of these motions, I assumed that once we voted to allow same-gendered marriage and the ordination of openly gay candidates for the ministry of word and sacrament we would be well on the way to equality for GLBT folk in our congregations. I had hoped that our church’s affirmative votes would mean that I could finally set aside studies related to sex in the Bible. As an ordained woman who just happens to be gay, I had grown weary of sexual politics in the church and longed to turn my attentions to theological matters that might lead to a re-articulation of the Christ experience for 21st century thinkers. My naive notions failed to take into account the fact that it has been close to 37 years since the ELCIC voted to ordain women and sadly there are still bastions of prejudices against women that remain in the ELCIC.
Voting doesn’t make it so. As the National Assembly of the ELCIC draws near, I have begun to receive questions about: 1) what it’s like to be an “out lesbian” serving in an ELCIC parish, 2) how many individual congregations have voted to affirm the ELCIC’s policies, are served by openly gay clergy, or are preforming same-gendered weddings, and 3) what needs doing in order that we might have more congregations that actually welcome GLBT folk into full membership?
In response to the various questions that are littering my inbox I can only say, “I don’t know?” You see I live in a bubble. The congregation I serve is a fully inclusive congregation. Shortly after the ELCIC voted to allow openly gay clergy to serve, I was finally able to celebrate by marrying my long-time partner. Our wedding celebration was also a congregational celebration. While I am relieved to be able to speak publicly about who I am, my gayness is not central to my ministry. We at Holy Cross are busy working to be a congregation that dwells in the 21st century. We are constantly exploring what it means to follow the ways of Jesus in a post-Christendom world. We have moved so far beyond the sexuality questions which obsessed the ELCIC for nearly two decades. I rather like the freedom that our particular bubble has afforded us to float away from the endless conversations about sexuality. So, it is with great trepidation that I began to engage the questions that are frequenting my inbox.
This Joint Assembly marks the first time that the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church in Canada have gathered together for our national conventions. As full communion partners there is so much that unites us. However, the Anglican Church of Canada, unlike the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, has not yet voted to remove all of the barriers to full inclusion for its LGBTQ members. While our experiences in the ELCIC prove that voting doesn’t make it so, it does make it possible for us to claim our place in the church. So, while I applaud the sentiments that bring us together for this Assembly, I can’t help wondering about the quality of our “full communion”?
I shall endeavour to blog during this Joint Assembly. I’ve added a page to this website where related blogs will be posted. In the meantime I travel in hope!