On Mexico and Watching for Possibilities
Toward the end of August, Hunter Farrell, the director of Presbyterian World Mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shared with the church that the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico has taken official action to sever connection with the PCUSA. The grounds for this action, according to the official letter from the church, is their understanding of Revelation 18:4: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying: Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of sin. . . .”
The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico’s letter makes it very clear that the sin they see in the PCUSA is the adoption of G-2.0104, which allows for openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians to be ordained to church office. Having had a little time to ponder this situation, a thought occurred to me: This situation is similar to what can, and often does happen when LGBT Christians come out to their family, their church and their community. In many ways, the PCUSA is feeling what it’s like to be shunned for embracing Jesus’ all-inclusive love – a feeling all too familiar for many LGBT Christians.
After processing all the feelings, this important question stood out for me: What do we do now?
Hunter Farrell expresses his respect for the choice of our church partner in Mexico, which is right and good. However, this severing of ties does not have to be the end. We in the PCUSA can be very careful to watch for all signals of possible re-connection and constantly have ready an invitation to talk, to relate, and to once again be together.
Those LGBT Christians who feel shunned by their church and even their families often times encounter a similar healing process – watching for possible re-connection and being ready to talk, to relate, and to once again be together. This is what LGBT Christians do with those we love.
The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico’s letter tells us that they intend to stay attentive to the ways in which God will “restore this partnership.” I am sure they have an opinion on how God will do that, yet, as we know, the Holy Spirit blows in mysterious ways. Perhaps God will restore this partnership differently from what our sisters and brothers in Mexico expect. Let’s join them in our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit moving among us, ready to jump on any opportunity.
There is one word in the letter that heartens me: “official.” They are severing “official” ties — not necessarily unofficial activity together. And God knows that our cooperative work is important to life in Mexico, especially in the border area between our countries.
Cindy Bolbach, Moderator of the PCUSA, who spoke at the More Light Presbyterians conference over Labor Day weekend, said that change is inevitable for the structures of the PCUSA as we live into the 21st century. This is a moment of change. And yet, we can take this moment of change as an opportunity to sustain our ministries with our Mexican partners as energetically as ever — albeit unofficially. Continuing unofficially through all the congregations and presbyteries bound together by past experience, like a family, shows us all that we’re not so easily or necessarily broken apart.
I would also ask that if our beloved friends in Mexico — where many of us have gone for mission trips, exchanged pastors or made steady financial contributions —question our embrace of our LGBT Presbyterians, that they, as part of our family talk with us, not to turn away. If we did have the chance for that dialogue, perhaps we could respond to their question with something like this: “I hear that Revelation 18:4 inspires you in this moment. I want to share with you the verse that has inspired me most in our discernment over 10A, Acts 11:17: ‘If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’”
And, with hope, the conversation and the healing process could continue unofficially (and perhaps, eventually, officially) from there.
Reverend Janet Edwards