I missed the one-year anniversary of this blog... I think it's Lent. That's my excuse for everything.
Jen, author of the wonderful blog "Kids of Queers," asks, "What would happen if you came out?"
Any decision to come out to my church members would have a number of complicating factors. First, there are the folks who, no matter what, do not want a gay or lesbian person as their "spiritual leader." I am fairly confident there are at least two or three of these folks in the church, one or two of them older, and one quite young (in his 20's). These folks are also not shy and would campaign loud and hard for my removal.
There are other members of my church who might not care one way or the other about LGBT leadership, but who would still feel disappointed and upset that I had kept this information from them. There would be a significant challenge rebuilding trust with these folks.
Then there are those who affirm LGBT rights, perhaps one or two gay members of the congregation (I honestly don't know, though I've tried hard to allow for safe space for folks to come out to me). They would likely be supportive, though LGBT folks who are, themselves, already out, might not be so sympathetic.
Then there's the denomination. Anyone with standing (a member of my church, a member of any church or judicatory of my denomination) could file charges against me according to our particular rules of discipline. And if I admitted to the charges... and at that point, I cannot imagine any other course... I could, by a vote of the local judicatory or judicial panel, be removed from ministry and lose my ordination. The vote could go either way, I imagine. People who don't know that I am a lesbian do know me and regard me as a good minister.
The good news in all this is that I am out to my children and my closest friends. I would have a support system of other ministers in this area, both in and out of my denomination. My fantasy is that I get to make a stirring speech somewhere, that changes hearts and minds (more than a little grandiose, I admit). But as for serving in my denomination, unless the rules are changed at the national level, my fate would be in the hands of the local body. And that could be that.
End of Part 1.