I'm going to be honest here. I cried a whole bunch on Monday night. We had invited our friends and allies here at General Assembly to worship with us in a service of broken communion to remind us all of the ways in which the Presbyterian Church (USA) continues to deny its gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members the opportunity to serve the church authentically and openly and to highlight the importance of the work we're doing at General Assembly and throughout the year.
The service was led entirely by members of our team like me who are called to ordained ministry but are not able to serve openly because of our genders or sexualities. After each of us completed our portion of the service, we would announce, "Because of my gender or sexuality, I am not welcome to lead at this table," and leave the sanctuary. After each person left, the congregation responded in unison, "We feel your absence." Jeannine Oakes shared her moving testimony before the committee on church orders and ministry, Lisa Larges spoke about her statement of departure, and Alex McNeill provided a witness for the group.
After we sang "Amazing Grace," came my part in the service, and my tears. After announcing that I, too, was not welcome, I invited all others in the congregation who were not welcome to leave with me and join us for a vigil in the park across the street. Five or six of us left together. Shortly afterwards, the remainder of the congregation joined us and we celebrated Holy Communion. Standing in a circle of solidarity with my friends and allies painfully aware of the struggle in which we are all engaged, my tears dried and I was filled with a real sense of joy. I think it had something to do with the song we were singing: Over My Head.
As we sang, "Over my head, I hear music in the air, there must be a God somewhere," I was no less aware of, in James Taylor's words, the task that lies before us and the road that lies ahead. Added, though, was an awareness of the great gift that we have been given by God in the opportunity to live and work in such a beautiful community striving to transform the church through the power of love. And so I danced and I laughed and I clapped and I sang and I prayed and I continue to wait for the day in which I am welcome to lead at the table, but I did all of that with dry eyes.