God Hath Yet More Light To Shed Upon the Word
In the summer of 1974 at the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church (the predecessor of the PCUSA), Rev. David Sindt stood at the back of the hall, lifting a large sign for all to see that asked, “Is anyone else out there gay?” The people who responded to him began Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns.
And as long-time field organizer and executive director Michael Adee tells it, that group eventually became More Light Presbyterians, of which I am blessed to serve as Co-Moderator.
A similar story can be told in each of the mainline Christian denominations about how the impact of the Stonewall Riots rippled through the church.
The organizations of GLBT people and allies that grew within the church first served as safe havens for GLBT faithful, especially clergy, who were necessarily closeted at the time. Trustworthy support was the crucial primary function of Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns in those days. And it was a marvelous, life-giving thing for GLBT Presbyterians to have a place where they could freely be themselves and feel wonderfully accepted as God’s beloved children.
The second chapter in the More Light movement began in 1977, when church policy hardened against ordination of GLBT Presbyterians. A few courageous church sessions declared their intention to ordain as elder those called by God, regardless of sexual orientation, and several of these banded together in a group called More Light Churches. The name recalled the words of Rev. John Robinson to the pilgrims as they set out to the New World in 1620: “For God has more truth and light yet to break forth from God’s Holy Word.”
Eventually, Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns and More Light Churches merged to create More Light Presbyterians, and together they expanded the mission of shelter and love for GLBT Presbyterians to also include efforts to change the discriminatory policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) against its GLBT members. For these 35 years, members of MLP and its predecessor organizations have worked tirelessly to remove restrictions on ordination and marriage, as well as condemnatory language toward GLBT people.
Today is the first day of God’s Whole Family: The National Conference of More Light Presbyterians, graciously hosted by Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. The conference reflects More Light’s history and mission, serving as both a joyous reunion for GLBT Presbyterians and our allies, and further preparation to help us continue the Gospel ministry of reminding the PCUSA that God’s love is lavished upon all of God’s children. We fortify ourselves this weekend for the ongoing task of leading the PCUSA toward more light.