Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), will read the scripture at President Obama’s Interfaith Prayer Service at the National Cathedral, to be held Tuesday morning, January 22.
When I stand in the presence of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden to read the Hebrew Bible under the soaring arches of the National Cathedral on Tuesday, I will be exalting. This exaltation is not for myself but for the millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who have longed for a safe place to call home. Whether spiritual or physical, we need safe homes.
As international moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), I know our congregations have been safe spiritual homes for LGBT people and our families for more than 40 years. We read scripture together each Sunday. I will remember this as I calm my nerves to stand and read the Hebrew Scriptures before our country’s leaders—and indeed, the world. I will read with the story of the first creation in mind when God looked at our fantastically diverse creation and declared, “It is good!”
Some Christians read the creation story and tell us we are not included. Some go so far as to blame us for natural disasters. As absurd as that is, it causes real pain. We know these Christians have families, and their children are being taught to reject God’s diversity in themselves or others. It is painful to hear the level of cruelty that people are willing to promote. We need safe spiritual and physical homes.
Today, denominations are opening their hearts to God’s diversity, but we have such a long way to go. When the Associated Press interviewed MCC leaders, the headline read, ”Do gays need a church of their own anymore?”
Frankly, no, we don’t need a church of our own; we need churches of all traditions to be safe for us to walk in with our families and be respected.
But don’t panic! MCC is not going away. Forty-five years ago, we were founded by the Rev. Troy Perry and a handful of LGBT people. Today, we are more diverse than ever. Straight families join our church to ensure their children will grow up in a church that is safe for all of God’s diverse children. Members come from all traditions and worship together. We are the most ecumenical faith tradition anywhere.
Many of our members and people of all faiths around the world will listen and watch as I read the scripture this week. I will be remembering Metropolitan Community Churches’ global ministries that are growing exponentially in Latin America. I will be remembering MCC congregations in 40 countries, including countries with laws and practices that persecute LGBT people. These laws allow officials to censor, imprison and even execute us.
Not only do we need safe churches and homes, we need safe nations.
MCC’s Global Justice leaders are standing shoulder to shoulder with LGBT faith leaders in Eastern Europe, Uganda, Kenya, Pakistan, China, and many other parts of the world. While MCC churches in Brazil are thriving, many MCC members throughout the world are struggling just to survive.
Where are the other Protestant voices who should be challenging these gross violations of basic human dignity? Where are the Roman Catholic Church leaders who declared in 2007 that criminalization of homosexuality was wrong? Have they changed their minds? Every denomination has a human rights statement on their books. Even if they are ambivalent about the place of LGBT people in leadership of their churches, why is there such deafening silence when it comes to our lives when we are in danger?
Do you hold a stone in your hand…or an olive branch?
It is time for the silence to end in a mighty halleluiah chorus and shouts of “Amen!” for God’s incredible diversity. Will you be changed if you stand up and speak out for the dignity of all God’s children? Yes. Will it open the door to more participation and leadership by LGBT people? Undoubtedly. This may make you uncomfortable, but for now, can we learn to trust God?
As I read the Hebrew Bible, I will remember President Obama trusted God and risked everything when he affirmed marriage equality for loving same-gender couples.
Christians across this country and this world must risk something in order to save lives. LGBT people are among those who need safe homes, safe churches, and safe countries.
Let peace begin with me; let this be the moment.
Photo via flickr user arsheffield