#ActivistProblems · Feminism · Frontline Lessons from Other Sectors · International Issues · Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Called to Preach a God of Inclusion

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Me preaching on Christians’ electoral duty to vote for the betterment of all people, regardless of faith, at St. Martin in the Valley in September 2015.

Late last year, I was given one of the greatest (or at least most interesting) honors I ever have received. I was asked to preach for my old Anglican church, after more than a decade of absence from the congregation. I was elated! When I was young, I always wanted to preach, at least once – to relate to and communicate through faith to help someone else find Peace. To help create a safe space for all who are weary and without rest through the church I spend many a Sunday getting pinched by my grandmother to stay awake in. So, from September to now, I’ve been preaching, presenting, learning, studying…

And then, yesterday, I remember why I left…

At the recent primates meeting convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, there was a vote to have the Episcopal Church removed from the Anglican Communion for three years. Why? Apparently Anglicans think Episcopals are too liberal. Especially about homosexuality…

You can only imagine how this makes an LGBT rights activist turned lay preacher like me feel about preaching in a Communion that deliberately excludes people that I care about and have spent some of my life working with and for. At this point, there’s no ambiguity, no attempt to avoid the topic. Anglican leaders voted on whether it’s okay to be liberal, gay and faithful and find space in the Anglican Communion. They voted no.

When I read the news, my instinct was to call my Reverend, the Lovely woman who reached out to me to return to the church and challenge it to grow. This is not the sort of decision I can accept. I can’t comfortably be a member of an institution that treats other people – children of God – like this. Heck, I’m the same guy that almost walked off of my own show to prove a point about alienating other human beings, and LGBT people particularly. And, in a major way, I think that other LGBT Anglicans should think about the same. Would you fellowship in a church that would ask for people like you to not minister the Lord’s Word, that doesn’t think of you just as Christian as the other person?

But, after I got a chance to sleep on it, I wonder if there’s another way…

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Me, presenting at a panel discussion on youth and the church, at Holy Saviour Anglican Church on November 2015

My activism is no secret. My conflicts with the Christian community weren’t either. In fact, as a lay preacher, I am still all those things – activist, non-Christian, LGBT ally, political TV show host, and whatever other label folks give me when they see me. When I go up on a pulpit (or if folks let me after reading this article), I will be preaching with all of me, all of the things that the author of the universe as asked me to do to help serve and protect others.

It is that, I think, that lay preachers bring to the table; the complexity of a spiritual experience that is less pastoral and more…human. When a priest or reverend takes the mic, you know that it comes with a few years of pastoral theology, a couple more years of training within the church, and a truckload of responsibility to communicate a very singular God concept. But when it’s from the young boy you remember holding on to his grandmother’s hem years ago, who completely left the church because of a crisis of faith, but returns years later to minister to others, you know that boy is preaching to you with his baggage. In the same way that the disciples never tried to distance where they were as Jesus’ followers from where we came from.

In the same way that we mustn’t alienate where we are from where we were, we mustn’t alienate others from fellowship with us and the God of Love, no matter what you call that force.  The Gospel I preach is for that same God of Love. And if no one in the Anglican Communion wants to preach it anymore, I’ll stick around and do it myself.

Yeah, folks would say that the God is very clear about homosexuality…except it’s really not. And the church has evolved past the cultural context of the Biblical age before. For Christ’s sake, that’s a critical part of the history of the Anglican church! So it’s hypocritical now for them to be so interested in a strict definition of marriage and sexuality when it wasn’t a sticking point from their inception.

But there are many of us – activists, panentheists, regular men and women – who have had God revealed to us in the Love of a LGBT friend or family member. When we Love them back, we share with them a Love of God. The God of Love calls us to accept them, and to encourage them to accept themselves. We’re also called to carve safe spaces for them in our homes, schools, churches…in our entire communities! And that is the only reason I intend to return to the church now – to preach God’s Love, whether the Anglican Communion likes it or not.

One thought on “Called to Preach a God of Inclusion

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