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!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Extra Innings in Jersey

Here are the results from mid-week voting on Amendment A. A weird day. West Jersey ended with a tie (Every Vote Count?). Normally, a tie means no. But the by-laws in this presbytery are like baseball and a tie score means extra innings. Those in favor of equality get another chance to bat when the presbytery votes on it again in May! We got lucky.

Here are the results from yesterday.

  • Seattle No, 103-126-4 (much closer margin)
  • Nevada No, 13-63
  • West Jersey, Tie 67-67
Two losses and no yeses. The presbytery tally on the way to 87 is 67-48.

Presbyteries to vote on Saturday (with their votes from 08-09) include:

  • Donegal (no 63-87)
  • Newark (yes 42-8)
  • Northern Plains (no 21-33)
  • Northumberland (no 20-58)
  • Utah (yes 28-25)
  • Whitewater Valley (yes 108-106)
We have some close votes this weekend. We need to hold Whitewater Valley, Utah, and Newark, and flip Donegal, Northern Plains and Northumberland. Any of them could go either way.

The good news is that people have changed their minds and some of those changes have been because of the speeches on the floor of presbytery.

Nothing, however, beats conversation and contacts beforehand.

Check out this excellent speech by Rev. Debra Avery of Phoenix before the vote in Grand Canyon Presbytery:

I speak in favor of the amendment. I don’t have a radical conversion story or an encyclopedic knowledge of scripture and our confessions. What I have is a journey of faith-filled hoping and some obedient steps in the direction I believe God is calling me to go. There are two questions that I believe we need to ask ourselves before we vote: What are we hoping for and what are we afraid of?

1. Some here might be hoping that the church will win the culture wars, either by restoring a culture of orthodoxy or by fostering a culture of openness and inclusion.
I wonder if we might find hope in our confessional tradition that calls us to a culture of reconciliation, forgiveness, and humility as we trust that the Holy Spirit will work in and through the messiness even when we don’t have it all figured out.
2. Some here might be hoping for the return of a biblical worldview. But I worry that it will be a worldview like the one held by some Christians who told me I needed to stay in a broken marriage with an addict because divorce is an abomination; or the one taught by some of my extended family to advise me to give up seminary and my call because women are to remain silent in the congregation.
I wonder if we might consider the biblical truth that says tithe: sell all that you have and give it away and then follow me; or the one that says that the body of Christ must be diverse, for if the whole body is an eye, where would the hearing be?
3. Finally, some of us are afraid: Afraid that a yes vote will cause a complete rupture of the denomination; that it might cause us to be rejected by family members, colleagues, members of our congregation, by God.
I cling every day to sola gratia—trusting in God’s grace alone to know that nothing stands in the way of God’s love. More and more I am afraid that we might be like the rich man who for years told Lazarus “no” only to find that he suffered eternally for refusing to offer a welcome to that man who lay just outside the gate.
By the way, if you are not going to be voting but you support equality in the PC(USA), you might consider a donation to Covenant Network of Presbyterians or More Light Presbyterians right now as they make contacts, calls, and provide resources to each presbytery down this final stretch. I know for a fact that the work of MLP and CovNet have made the difference in many presbyteries between a YES and a no. This could come down to one vote in one presbytery.

This is not as big of a deal as the earthquake in Japan. So if your charitable dollar would go to earthquake relief or to this cause, go for the earthquake. However, if you can give something for this work, too, it will be put to important use.