This article is by Gil Caldwell, a retired United Methodist minister and member of Soulforce’s Advisory Board. He was active in the Massachusetts unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in the civil-rights movement throughout the nation.
As I read with great enthusiasm the Associated Press story; “Presbyterians leaders Approve Gay Clergy Policies”, I was pleased to read a quote from Cindi Love the Executive Director of Soulforce. She said; “Stay Current”. Karl Barth said, “The Christian lives life with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” It is encouraging that the Presbyterians chose to live in the present for the future, rather than seeking to retreat to a past that was noted not only for its exclusion of gay clergy, but also for its exclusion and separation of persons because they were black, and/or because they were women.
Dr. Love also said to the Presbyterians, “Enter the next generation”. I am often amused that so many persons who pride themselves on being technologically current and future oriented, see no contradiction in their holding on to traditiions, practices and attitudes that belong to “back in the day”, that are “old school” and are generationally challenged.
And the third quote attributed to Cindi Love, “Let go of this debate”, is what I would describe as a pastoral, prophetic and priestly word addressed to Presbyterians, but also to those of us who are United Methodists. We have wasted so much time, done so much damage to the depth and breadth of Scripture, made a mockery of our words about inclusivity and openness, and mission and ministry, as we year after year, Assembly and Conference meeting after meeting, in words, legislation and deed, violated the God-created humanity of Lesbians and Gay men.
Reading of the presence of Soulforce at the meeting of Presbyterians reminded me of 10 years ago when Soulforce was such an important presence at our United Methodist General Conference in Cleveland in 2000. My prayerful hope is that at our 2012 General Conference Soulforce will be present to celebrate with United Methodists when we “stay current”, “enter the next generation”, as we “let go” of our language and legislation that currently distorts “Christian teaching” by saying that actualized same gender love is a violation of that teaching.
Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar was writing about black people when he wrote. “We wear the mask”. The Presybterians have begun the process of making it unnecesary for their gay clergy to have to wear masks to conceal their sexual orientation. The Creator who created us all, must be pleased.
Asbury Park, NJ
ps The AP article said that Soulforce was “a gay Christian group”. Those of us who are allies and advocates of gay rights who are proud to stand under the Souforce umbrella, do not want to be “invisible because some do not want to see us.” (From Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). “The people united, can never be defeated”
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