Shuck and Jive

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 09, 2008

Covenant Network Conference

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians, an organization within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that was formed to move our denomination ahead on lgbtq issues, held its conference this week in Minneapolis. The focus of this gathering was the General Assembly's recommendation that presbyteries pass a new amendment to the constitution replacing G-6.0106b with a new text.

Doug King of the Witherspoon Society reported on this conference today. Doug writes:

The Covenant Network was founded in 1997 to work for the full inclusion (and ordination) of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). But as the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen acknowledged in one plenary discussion of strategy for supporting the proposed Amendment 08-B, the leaders of the group are not entirely agreed on how to respond to this opportunity for change.
The Presbyterian Outlook reported on the conference as well.

But the Covenant Network leadership is calling for a discussion over gay ordination that’s less angry, more open to listening.

“We need to learn that polarization is not helpful to the country, it has not been helpful to the church,” said David Colby, a pastor from St. Paul and Covenant Network board member. It’s not a good idea, he said, for people to come out of their corners “and try to beat our opponent into a bloody pulp.”

The Presbyterian News Service reported on an address by William Stacey Johnson:
All sides in church debates have misused scripture, Johnson asserted, rendering the Bible static by using it to prove their arguments “as if it’s an abstract object of investigation rather than a testimony to a dynamic God…”
The best quote? From Tricia Dykers-Koenig:
To those on both sides of the issue who say they’re tired of fighting about homosexuality, Koenig offers this: Vote now to remove the “fidelity and chastity” standard. Because “until this blight on the constitution is removed,” she said, “we’re going to have to keep working on it.”
Yes. Thank you, Tricia.

I appreciate very much the work of the Covenant Network.
My congregation is affiliated with CovNet. They are friends. They are allies in the struggle for justice for lgbtq people. They worked hard at this summer's General Assembly to pass some very important legislation including removing the harmful Authoritative Interpretation. I also think it is understandable and fine for allies to disagree on matters of strategy.

However, some allies seem to miss the point. The struggle for justice is not about "beat[ing] our opponent to a bloody pulp" as David Colby is quoted. Just because people get angry with you, it doesn't mean you are doing a bad thing. We are not on even footing. This is not about two sides fighting over something. It is about a group singled out and denied basic dignity and freedoms.
‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” (Luke 18:2-5)
Do what you can to build bridges. But in the end, you stand with someone. You keep knocking on that door for justice.

Pass the new G-6.0106b. If it doesn't pass, knock again.