Elvis Has Not Yet Left the Building
So now we know the outcome of the presbytery vote on Amendment 08-B. Our church will not open ordination to GLBT Presbyterians this year. But as we say in Pittsburgh when the outcome is still in doubt, Elvis has not yet left the building!! A record number of presbyteries voted in favor of allowing GLBT Presbyterians to become ordained ministers, deacons and elders – even in surprising and conservative parts of the country – and that gives me great hope for the future.
Although we didn’t quite get there this year, the tide is continuing to turn. In fact, if you count the actual number of people who voted (think of it like the Electoral College, with the presbyteries being the states), the “popular vote” among the leadership of our church was so close it is almost a tie. And this changes the dialogue forever. Full inclusion of our GLBT brothers and sisters is no longer just the hope of a small minority, or even a silent majority, but is now embraced by an undeniable and growing number of the faithful.
Of course, Jesus has been living this Gospel all along; the church is just catching up.
I hold fast to the point made by Rev. Denise Mason in a sermon some years ago on John 12.32, where Jesus says to his disciples, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” Denise asked us, “Where is the ‘but’ in all?” This has been the question placed before the PCUSA by the Holy Spirit in every dialogue held in every presbytery across the nation. And, as Presbyterians from Florida to Alaska have concluded, “There is no ‘but.,’” the day comes every nearer when our rules will reflect this Good News.
But most importantly, this vote is not the end of the conversation. It is simply a noticeable milestone along the road. There are presbyteries yet to vote, and countless conversations still to be had. And while it will not change the outcome in the short term, their voices can still move us closer to the day when the church shows Jesus’ kind of true love and inclusion to all the faithful. Elvis has not left the building.