I recently stood for Co-Moderator of the 224th General Assembly of the PCUSA. Westminster Presbyterian Church is part of a larger Christendom and within this country part of the larger Presbyterian Church USA. We are called Presbyterian largely because of how we are self-governed with equality of lay and clerical leadership and equality among congregations. In a time of rising inequality, we Presbyterians stand as a counter cultural example of radical equality. We have no Bishop to tell us what to do. We decide on our own collectively how we feel the Holy Spirit leading us.
Westminster Presbyterian Church has worked for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, and Queer) equality for many years: participating with Presbyterian Rainbow, passing overtures in favor of ordination and marriage, marching in the Albany Pride Parade, and, six years ago, joining More Light Presbyterians.
Within the PCUSA, I have worked for more than 20 years to change the larger church to uphold our principles of equality by fighting for gay ordination, which we achieved 10 years ago, and same sex marriage, which we achieved 5 years ago. Last fall, I felt a strong sense of call to stand for leadership in our larger church because of what I saw happening in our country. Specifically, I felt that folks were in danger because of their sexual orientation and gender identity — both physically as the number of hate crimes grew and politically as our civil rights were under attack. In this context, I agreed to serve as a Commissioner from Albany Presbytery to the 224th General Assembly
Two years ago an openly gay man, Rev. Bertram Johnson, became the first openly gay person to stand for Moderator. This year, I was the second. It is my hope that in two years, when we next gather in General Assembly, that another LGBTQ person will step forward and offer their gifts of leadership to the church. It is my hope that we will keep knocking on the door until one day in the fullness of time we elect an openly LGBTQ person to the leadership of this part of our corner of Christendom.
Representation makes a difference.
Standing up to say “Here I am Lord, send me” makes a difference. Sometimes the answer is “Not yet”, and that’s okay. We are not the Master Gardener, just toilers in the vineyard. But it is our responsibility to stand up and offer our gifts: where we can, when we can, however we can. Together, you and I, we are the Body of Christ. We are called to be the change we want to see in the world. We are called to dream new dreams, to have visions of a world we would like to see, and to work together to realize those dreams and visions. In this time of COVID 19 and economic distress it would be easy to turn inward and withdraw, but the world needs our energy and vision, now more than ever.
Happy Pride month Westminster, and all of Albany Presbytery, now let’s go change the world!
Click here to watch Arthur virtually present this information to the Westminster Presbyterian Church congregation.