Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Ally Who Took a Stand

I am humbled. Aric Clark, a recent seminary graduate, accepted a call to his first congregation in Colorado. He did it with honor. He scrupled G-6.0106b and for that went through a lengthy exam on the floor of presbytery. He is not gay. He is an ally and has modeled to allies what it means to live in solidarity. He took the risks that are real risks.

More Light Presbyterians posted an interview with him earlier this evening. Take time to read it, you will be inspired and hopefully encouraged to take risks as well. Here is an excerpt:

I did have a lot of fear coming into the exam. I was surprised how scared I was about this. I've done a lot of things in my life many are scared of, traveling around the world and a lot of things. I don't get stage fright, I don't get nervous about performance. But I've never felt anything that compares to this fear I felt before going before presbytery. Part of that was because I was already invested in the congregation and I really wanted to come here. The presbytery's judgment on me was in some sense going to be the whole church's judgment of me as a potential pastor. I was surprised how much that affected me, how very scared I was coming into this. And yet I couldn't do it differently.

The advice of most people going into this, including people I love and respect who've been fantastic mentors to me, was "just shut up and play it safe and get ordained, and once you're ordained you can speak out at presbytery and vote to change the denomination." Part of me really, really, really wanted to do that. I wanted to be in ministry, and practically speaking we were in a tense financial situation. My wife doesn't work and I'm the sole source of income for our family. There would have been honest consequences. We were very seriously looking at having to sell everything we own and seek help with public housing or something. I had the very practical fear that if this falls through, I could be unemployed and potentially homeless soon. So part of me really wanted to accept that advice.

But I was losing sleep. I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't take the idea of actually doing that, for the reason that there are people I know and love who I am convicted to the core of my being are called by God into ordained ministry. That means the service of God in the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Presently by any fair reading of our denominational polity, they are forbidden ordination. Meanwhile, based on the happenstance that I was born straight, and married to a woman I have no temptation to be unfaithful to, I'm not going to be submitted to the kind of scrutiny that would prevent me from being ordained. People aren't going to go into my personal and private life to see if I live up to the standards in the book. That isn't acceptable. I wouldn't ever in the future see myself as anything other than a hypocrite as a member of presbytery going into examinations that examine people that way. I couldn't take that level of hypocrisy. Some people see no contradiction with coming in to a broken system and trying to change the system from within. I felt I could do that in regard to some things, but on this I cannot affirm the brokenness of the system. (Read More)
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