Presbyterian Rainbow, the LGBTQ advocacy group in Albany Presbytery, is intentionally undergoing a transition in our mode of operation, becoming less of an independent organization and more of a network of cooperating congregations and individuals.  Members of Albany Presbytery are invited to share in a time of reflection and celebration of this evolving fellowship on January 6, 2018, 10:00 AM, at First Presbyterian Church, Albany.  Participants are asked to bring a dish for a “pot luck” brunch.

History: Presbyterian Rainbow

Though its roots go back to the mid-1990s, when three churches in Albany Presbytery affiliated with the national More Light movement, Presbyterian Rainbow formed officially in 2005.  Our mission has always been broad, addressing justice and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons at every level of church and society.  However, much of our energy has been directed toward the adoption of inclusive policies on ordination and marriage, which became part of the Book of Order in 2011 and 2015, respectively.  We are thankful that God’s Spirit has moved the Presbyterian Church in the direction of positive change, but we recognize that legislation alone is not enough.  A true welcoming spirit needs to be felt in our connections with each other, at the local level of congregation and community.  This work continues!

We rejoice that congregations are hearing the call to commit to a mission of welcoming.  The number of More Light churches in Albany Presbytery has now grown to seven: First Presbyterian Church, Albany; Westminster Presbyterian Church, Albany; First Presbyterian Church, Hudson; Presbyterian—New England Congregational Church, Saratoga Springs; Trinity Presbyterian Church, Scotia; St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Spencertown; First United Presbyterian Church, Troy.  The initiative going forward will come from these congregations and the many others who have participated in some way in the “welcoming opportunities” that Presbyterian Rainbow has offered on an annual basis.

Future Advocacy

To encourage future connections, Presbyterian Rainbow will continue to maintain our website and email list and provide opportunity for participation in events such as the Capital Region Pride Parade.   We will no longer conduct a regular schedule of business meetings or annual fundraising.  Funds remaining in the Presbyterian Rainbow treasury have been disbursed in equal amounts to More Light Presbyterians and Parity, two organizations with a nation-wide presence who are committed to continuing the mission shared by Presbyterian Rainbow and its faithful donors.

As Presbyterian Rainbow undergoes a transition, it is instructive to consider parallels with the transition currently under way in Albany Presbytery as a whole.  Two lessons that can be drawn from the experience of Presbyterian Rainbow seem to be especially applicable.

  • First, mission need not be entirely “covered” by administrative structure.  Although Presbyterian Rainbow is “downsizing” administrative structure, we are confident that our mission will continue to thrive—and even expand—through a network of devoted congregations and individuals.
  • Second, our mission as Christians, beyond the achievement of whatever specific goals we may commit to, is always to be in loving fellowship with each other as members of the body of Christ.

Presbyterian Rainbow has sought to maintain healthy relationships even with those who disagree with our goals.  It has not always been easy, but the effort has brought many blessings.  We pray that Albany Presbytery may find a way forward in which all may share in such blessings.

About Terry Diggory

Terry is a former moderator of Albany Presbytery. He currently serves on the Committee on Representation and Nominations and, with Rev. Gusti Newquist, helps to coordinate the Albany Presbytery Immigration Network. His wonky tendencies were reinforced by 32 years on the faculty of the Skidmore College English Department.

The purpose of the Albany Presbytery Blog is to share information, tell stories, and promote the mission and ministry of the presbytery, synod and beyond. While the breadth of this medium is intentionally broad, it is not a platform for opinion pieces related to business coming before the presbytery unless designed as part of an initiative to provide a diversity of viewpoints at the direction of the presbytery. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.