Dear queer Mennonites

Dear queer Mennonites at the Kansas City Convention, and those watching from home,

This week your church failed you.  Your people, your denomination, your faith community opted to build unity for itself at your expense.  Officially, we reaffirmed that pastors may not perform same sex covenant ceremonies and that doing so is grounds for a review of their credentials.  Unofficially, implicitly, we declared that you are not worthy of the same degree of blessing and respect as are we, your straight sisters and brothers.  You just aren’t.  We did so not in conversation with you, but in conversation about you, acting on our own anxiety in a space in which we never asked you to utter a single word on your own behalf.  When you disrupted our orderly gathering to remind us that you exist as real people with real bodies, we responded with anger and disdain.  How dare you interrupt us in this way?  We are a people of peace.  We escorted you out of the room so that we could continue our peaceful deliberations of constructing peace through a majority vote.  The majority won, you lost, and that cannot officially change for four more years.

This week your church sinned against you.  I would apologize and ask forgiveness for this on behalf of the church, but for the request for forgiveness to carry any substance beyond a token gesture it must come with commitments to our own transformation we are unwilling to make at this time.  We declare over and over again with our words that “reconciliation is the center of our work,” even as we declare over and over again with our actions, “but not with you.”

For some of you, this is the last straw and you will need to distance yourselves from this emotionally and spiritually abusive church body in order to be healthy.  For that I grieve, but I also bless you in finding the community in which you will flourish.  A growing number of you are part of local Mennonite congregations that are learning to welcome and bless you and be blessed by you, and for that I rejoice.

Whether you are staying or leaving, or hovering in the unknown, the main thing I want say is this: This week you have been Christ to me, and not only me, but this entire gathering of your Mennonite family.  You have comforted me – you, comforting me! – when I was most discouraged and saddened by the events of the week.  You have counseled and listened with youth and adults who want to become more compassionate human beings.  You have filled the air with songs of Divine love, breathed in by those entering spaces of worship, those seeking to be in solidarity with you, and those not yet ready to receive the blessing that you are to us.  Like Christ, you have been cast out and you have occupied the place of shame, yet you have refused to let shame and death define you.  You have embodied resurrection power, casting out fear, and declaring a peace to us that surpasses our current understandings.  You are angry, you are exhausted, you are fierce, fabulous, and sacred.  You are the face of Jesus that the disciples on the road to Emmaus have not yet recognized because they are not yet willing to sit down with you at the table and receive the bread you have to offer.

In light of the happenings of this week, those of us in the church who are learning how to be your allies are in awe that you even consider us worthy of your time and energy.  I am so honored to call you sisters and brothers.