Today'scommittee work as been rough for me. So it isn't as nasty perhaps assome committees can be, but it is certainly not a pretty picture ofthe church. I fought back tears at the committee vote againststriking language penalizing clergy who bless same-sex marriages. Thecommittee was not affirming language, it was simply removingunnecessarily negative language. And that has been the entire day.
Granted,subcommittee and committee work are interesting in that plenary cancompletely ignore all the work and conversation that went into it.So, perhaps, there is still hope. But I have been rather frustratedbecause I do not have a voice as a visitor to conference, so myoutlook is not so cheery.
See,I had to sit and listen to debate over a footnote to paragraph 311.2dthat repeats our embarrassing Social Principals assertion thathomosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Some arguedthat no one ought to be alarmed at the removal of the footnotebecause a footnote has no legal teeth. One delegate cautioned,though, that the only reason for getting rid of the footnote is tomove towards support of homosexuality. Gasp! No. Getting rid of thefootnote does two things: 1. it cuts down on the bulkiness of theDiscipline, and 2. it cuts out something that was only added to bemean and hateful.
Idid smile a little when another delegate suggested that we add all ofthe Social Principals as a footnote if we liked them so much, but hewas kidding. I still think he should have made that the amendment.
Iam a preacher's kid, I have been a lay delegate to Annual Conferencefor four years now: I have seen the church ugly. But it still hurts.It hurts that we cannot even take out unnecessary condemning andpunitive language--- I am not asking for affirmative language (rightnow), just an end to explicitly hateful language that has no purposeother than to remind us that we are a church more interested inmaintaining the status quo than we are in Jesus' message of lovingour neighbor.
Iam reminded of last night about singing that we are a gentle angrypeople. Unfortunately, I don't feel too gentle right now. I needsomeone or something to remind me, as Bishop James King did Wednesdaynight in his sermon, as those involved in the witness last night,that we are beautiful people capable of beautiful things.
Shannon Sullivan will be graduating from Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey, in May, and will serve a two-point charge in the Baltimore-Washington Conference starting in July. She is also a member of the OnFire leadership team. She blogs at You'll Never Guess What the Heathens Did Today.