“Thanks PV4J Friends!” ... from More Light Presbyterians!
We give thanks to God for the historic passage of 10-A. The national tally on 10-A reached unprecedented support for LGBT equality: 97-72. We give thanks for your prayers, years of faithful advocacy work, and your participation in local presbyteries that made this dream a reality. We give thanks to God that the Presbyterian Church (USA) has entered a new era of equality for LGBT persons and their families. 10-A went into effect on July 10.
We know that this change was possible because of the collaboration among all of the justice organizations within the Presbyterian Church (USA). Thank you, Presbyterian Voices for Justice for being such a key part of this national organizing campaign. It was a privilege to work with you, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, TAMFS, Presbyterian Welcome, Presbyterian Rainbow and Presbyterian Promise.
Within this national organizing effort, we were able to hire two amazing full-time 10-A Campaign outreach staff, Rev. Debra Peevey and Candy Cox, produce national ads in the Presbyterian Outlook, create You-Tube videos, do phone banks, mail educational resource materials to thousands of ministers and do outreach in all 173 presbyteries to get 10-A passed. Everyone, every justice organiza- tion, every Presbyterian committed to ending discrimination in our Church working together made this happen.
With regard to the passage of 10-A, many people are saying with joy and gratitude, “I wasn’t sure that I’d live long enough to see this day!” This is an extraordinary, historic moment in the life of our denomina- tion, the witness to our global Presbyterian partners and within the Christian communion.
More Light Presbyterians has been working for change in our Church since 1974. This seems like a life-time and for many this work for LGBT justice and equality has been a lifetime. Together we kept a laser-sharp focus on repealing the anti-LGBT ordination policy of G-6.0106b for the last 14 years. Presbyterian Voices for Justice, we are grateful that you have been there from the beginning and your commitment to equality never wavered.
For pro-LGBT work in our Church, it is important to ask, “What now and what’s next?” As important as achieving ordination policy change is, of course, the work to move from policy to reality is before all of us within 11,000 congregations and 173 presbyteries.
Fair, accurate interpretation and implementation of 10-A, now known as G-2.0104 is our top and urgent priority. We sent Ordination Guides from an affirming perspec- tive to staff in all 173 presbyteries. This new Ordination Guide is available online at www.mlp.org.
In addition to the implementa- tion work for 10-A, marriage equality work at the 220th General Assem- bly, Pittsburgh, PA in 2012, is a key priority for us. We are working with Sessions now to draft and pass marriage equality overtures within their presbyteries. Rev. Darcy Hawk will represent the Presbyterian Voices for Justice coordinating team on a group of progressives who are working on these over- tures.
We believe that God is doing a new thing in our midst as declared by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 43:19. We rejoice that God “made a way in the wilderness” through the passage of 10-A. And now, all of us can be part of God’s making “rivers in the desert” for all of God’s children. May it be so.
Michael J. Adee Executive Director & Field Organizer More Light Presbyterians Santa Fe, NM
ST. MARK’S PRESBYTERIAN IN TUCSON, AZ, SAYS ‘ALLELUIA’ TO PCUSA “YES” VOTE ON AMENDMENT 10A
By Sylvia Thorson-Smith
On Tuesday, May 10, the Presbytery of the Twin Cities cast the 87th and deciding vote to eliminate all barriers to the ordination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as ministers, deacons and elders. The vote becomes official on July 10, one year from when the General Assembly sent the amendment to the presbyteries for approval. Presbyterians join a growing Protestant movement of Lutheran, Episcopal, and United Church of Christ denominations in dropping constitutional barriers to LGBT ministry and leadership.
It’s been a long wait, and St. Mark’ s Presbyterian – the church my husband, Mike, and I belong to in Tucson – was anxious to celebrate this historic change for full inclusion. St. Mark’s is a More Light church, the only one in Tucson, and is well-known for its activism on all social justice issues. Our pastor (and former Witherspoon board member), Gusti Newquist, heralded the vote in worship on May 15, and the congregation applauded. “I’m long past due with an ‘Alleluia’ ” to this one, and so is St. Mark’s,” she said.
We were a community ready to celebrate! Since I chair St. Mark’ s More Light Team, and we’ve been working and praying for this change for decades, Mike and I had an immediate response: “Party at our house!” As news of the vote came in on May 10, a hastily-gathered group gathered to drink champagne and thank God for this miraculous blessing.
We immediately began making plans for a congregational thanksgiving on our annual More Light Sunday, June 19. We had already invited Dr. Michael Adee, field organizer for More Light Presbyterians, to preach, and now the occasion took on even greater meaning. In addition to celebrating this landmark vote on Sunday morning, we decided to hold an evening worship service and invite the whole Tucson community to join us. Our Communication Team spread the word, and the Arizona Daily Star published a lengthy story about St. Mark’s and the vote on Sunday, June 12.
In order to acknowledge the stories of LGBT persons whose leadership gifts have been denied by the PCUSA and other faith communities, we ordered 30 stoles from the Shower of Stoles Project, and their beautiful witness encircled the sanctuary. June 19 was also Father’s Day, and Michael Adee’ s sermon was entitled, “Bridges, Not Walls: Being Family and Church.” Following worship, as we have done for years on More Light Sunday, rainbow sherbet was served in the courtyard, and this time participants decorated a large cross with multicolored ribbons.
Sunday night’s service was developed around the theme, “Remember- ing, Rejoicing, Reconciling.” Leaders from Southside Presbyterian Church – also well-known in Tucson for its activism and inclusion – participated in both the service and the planning of the evening. A diverse gathering of people joined St. Mark’s members in prayers and singing. A good friend of St. Mark’s, Carol Bradsen, spoke of her remembering – how she’d been a Youth Advisory Delegate at the 1991 GA, voted against the Human Sexuality report, later came out as lesbian, and ultimately left the PCUSA to seek ordination in the Episcopal Church. Michael and Gusti recalled how we got to this extraordinary moment of rejoicing and led us to think about the work of reconciling that is needed to become a truly inclusive denomination for LGBT and all persons.
Before the Benediction, a poetically gifted St. Mark’ s member, Sharon Kha, led the congregation in a “rap” that she wrote for Michael Adee. Shouting “Alleluia, Alleluia!,” we raised our arms and voices in joyful exuberance, with gratitude for this amazing vote and the promise of this new day.