My friend Lisa Larges is in the news because she has moved one step closer toward ordination as an openly blind candidate for Minister for Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church USA. Just kidding... Well, I'm kidding that the novelty of her road toward ordination has been burdened by her being blind, though we have a history in our church of denying candidates ordination because they are living with a disability. This is where my work in advocacy with people with disabilities crosses with my calling to work toward full and open acceptance and participation of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people: both people with disabilities and LGBT people have faced the systematic nature of sin and injustice which are well-entrenched in the institutional church.
Lisa is making news--again--with her movement toward ordination. From the way I can figure it out from the wire service, she has made it through the Committee on Preparation for Ministry process, and can now move to being a candidate for being a "Minister at Large," which she will have to be voted upon at the upcoming Presbytery meeting in April 2008. Click here to read the story.
I went through the process differently: I was ordained, and have been ordained for over twenty-four years, before I came out of the closet (finally). While I have served six churches as pastor, pastoring some while working at Duke Divinity School for some of those times, serving the national church in various committees (e.g., Presbyterians for Disabilities Concerns), writing policy regarding the place and presence of people within the Church, as well as representing the church at functions of the National and World Council of Churches, I can still say that "being out" has given me a new energy and drive that I did not have while in the closet all that time. I no longer am putting energy in the act of playing hide-and-don't-seek game in a church that wants those of us who are LGBT to play, a.k.a., "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." There are more than a handful of LGBT folks not only in the Presbyterian Church (USA), but in all the denominations and churches, many of whom are (not) safely in the closet. Like my Catholic clergy friends, I would say a good quarter to a third of the churches may be LGBT folk.
Lisa is showing us that being persistent while moving slowly (not of her choosing) and steady, honestly and lovingly, works. Or as the children's song goes, "Inch by inch, row by row, God's gonna make God's garden grow." The garden of God is growing! LGBT people are slowly coming out of the closet, no longer playing "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
From a growing patch of God's earth,
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