Thursday, May 14, 2009

The First 24 Hours

If the first 24 hours are any indication, the news is very, very good indeed.

My meeting with the church council last night was truly wonderful. It became apparent that there was some real anxiety that I'd called the meeting to announce I was leaving... and when I started by saying "I've sent a letter to the congregation today..." I had to quickly add, "It wasn't a letter of resignation. I love being your pastor, and I hope to be your pastor for a long time to come!"

I reported on much of the rest of that meeting last night.

As they left, one woman caught my arm, saying "I don't suppose she'd like to sing in the choir?"

Today I saw two members of the board who were not able to attend last night, plus one of their spouses. I also spoke to my staff.

At the staff meeting, my secretary immediately began to cry, saying "I hate that you have to go through this." Which started me crying (the first time in all this; it was the tiredness, I think, as much as anything). The church handyman was someone I was a little worried about... I thought perhaps he would be uncomfortable. Instead, he said, "I think folks will be just fine." He disappeared to his wood shop. Later he re-appeared with a Cross Flamant he had carved for me, freshly stained. "That's to give you hope," he said.

Of the congregation, one member has informed me that she's known since I started. Her ex-sister-in-law used to work for Beloved. She and her mother (who also has known from the beginning) have been two of my greatest supporters these last 20 months.

In the worst reaction I got today, a lovely man said, very gravely, "I will be honest with you. We" (his wife and he) "are conservative people. This does bother me. I'm not comfortable with it. At the same time, I see all the things you've done with the church, all the things you've done for our people, and it's just blown me away. You've been a wonderful pastor. So I'm praying about it." As I left, he and his wife joined hands with me for a prayer, and they both gave me big hugs.

And finally, I called my brother and his wife today. They repeated almost word for word what the members of my board, staff, and, so far, congregation have been saying: We're happy for you.

What else can I say?
This is just the icing on the cake of an incredible 24 hours, saturated with grace, grace, grace. God is very, very good. I know there are more voices to be heard, I know there will be at least some folks who are unhappy. But... I do thank God for this first, grace-filled 24 hours.

40 comments:

Songbird said...

I love the choir story, such a "church" way to include someone...happy to hear it's going so well!

Jane R said...

Amen. May you go from strength to strength.

We will be with you as you continue walking.

Jan said...

How beautiful. I hope and pray God will continue to pave the way for your acceptance and peace.

God_Guurrlll said...

Amen!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Cecilia, I join with you in thanksgiving for the grace-filled 24 hours. May God bless you and give you strength for the rest of the journey.

John Shuck said...

You're a keeper!

Erp said...

I suspect you'll need to change your side bar now you are no longer closeted.

I guess Sunday will be the next major hurdle (or is your partner sent to the choir practice first:-)? Let us hope that those who are having to pray from the shock will eventually arise and accept you and your partner.

Processing Counselor said...

Wow. So great. I want to hear more. Write a book, when all of this calms down.

Saintly Ramblings said...

I support what Processing Counselor said... Write a book, when all of this calms down.Whatever the eventual outcome, your walk will be of great encouragement to others.

SCG said...

I'm new to your blog. Congratulations, and two thumbs up! And, really: what is it about joining the choir in a church? I think Songbird is right: it's such a "church" way of expressing inclusion.
I believe your move out of the closet is going to help some people reach that place of understanding the call to "love one another" as God loves us. And that is a love that grows!
Welcome to the other side of the closet door.

FranIAm said...

I am sitting here weeping - Oh Cecilia!!!

The day has come, the day has come.

Thanks be to God. Nothing is ever easy, but you have approached this filled with light and grace.

Many prayers continuing to enfold you in love and light and to uphold you as you journey along.

I am deeply grateful to be a witness to this.

Mary Beth said...

Wonderful.

August said...

:)
don't know what to say - just happy for you.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

What Fran said! Prayers continue...

Love,
Doxy

Suzer said...

I second (or third, perhaps?) what Fran said.

Praise be to God! While there is still a journey ahead, it is wonderful for you to have started out welcomed and loved. I suspect most if not all of the more conservative folks will eventually be able to accept you and Beloved with open arms, or at the very least live within the gray areas enough to make sure you still have a home as the leader in your congregation.

I'm so excited for you, and thankful. Thanks be to God. :)

Processing Counselor said...

Pretty soon you're going to have to re-name your blog!

IT said...

Have you warned beloved about the choir? ;-)

HAPPY NEWS, indeed!

IT

Russ said...

There is not anything that I can say, it's looks like everyone has mirrored my emotions and thought.

I like the "your a keeper" one, well said!

susankay said...

Cecilia -- I am so happy for you.

Robert said...

Sounds so wonderful Cecilia. I'm afraid you will have to change your blog name now though. :)

jsd said...

Wonderful!

Mary Sue said...

As they left, one woman caught my arm, saying "I don't suppose she'd like to sing in the choir?"This made me laugh out loud at my desk. But I'm a chorister, so... :D

Sunday's the big one, girl. I'll be praying for you.

Snad said...

Cecilia - Shuck nailed it, and Fran sang it.

The part of this story that choked me up the most was talking about the couple who admitted they were uncomfortable. I suspect they will be some of your greatest champions when it comes right down to it, and that they will gain more than anyone, in the growing.

Yes, I'd say you are a keeper!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Dear Cecilia---as I thought more about your wonderful news, I also thought about our friend Hope. She is sort of always in the back of my head when I visit your blog. I pray that she's okay, and that she has found a way to be happy. I remember her saying she would be so glad to see you reach this day. So are we all!

I'll keep praying for you, for her, and for the church.

Pax,
Doxy

HeySonnie said...

Celia...

I found your story thru John Shuck's post. I've been out as a lesbian for almost as long as I can remember. I'm a member of a More Light church, an elder and clerk of session, on the board of That All May Freely Serve, doing some work for More Light Presbyterians, etc. There are times that I could be described as hard-boiled in my attitude regarding the PCUSA.

But then I find your story, and I am wiping the tears from my eyes.

Blessings on you and your family. By the way, is your partner going to join the choir?

Sonnie Swenston

bill42 said...

Your story renews my hope for the world. Bless you!

Irritable said...

Add me to the misty-eyed.

KJ said...

As I wrote over at the Mad One's place, God is good, and some times, people are too (Likely has something to do with the previous.).

Again, don't forget to breathe. Nonsense will likely head your way, but so will peace, and what's a little nonsense in the midst of peace?

AND, change that Blog Title already!

Andy said...

The couple who have reservations honored you with their honesty. Who knows what they will ultimately decide but, for now, I believe you have their respect and trust. Otherwise, they would just have said something non-committal and walked away.

Beth said...

Praise God for grace! Here's hoping you continued to be surrounded by it!

mojojules said...

I'm so glad to hear the first 24 hours have been good. To say I have not been waiting with a bit of anxiousness for you would be a lie. Praise our Abba for the grace he has given! :)

Blessings!

susankay said...

Well -- it also occurred to me that the thing that makes it clear that you are not an Episcopalian (besides the theoretical prohibitions) is that you were asked if Beloved would like to join the choir. Among TEC's older female members, the question would have been about the Altar Guild. (Don't ask -- you don't want to know!)

In any case -- go forth in joy.

janinsanfran said...

You are in my prayers!

Caminante said...

I prayed for you and am glad to hear that things are going OK. It is a huge relief really for the congregation and you.

If you lose people, it is about them; not you. As I said to a woman who left because she could 'not abide with a partnered lesbian,' I can't change who I am and I am sorry she felt that way.

OTOH, a woman who was 87 at the time said: God never intended for us to be alone.

Blessings. There will still be challenges but from here on in, you can be fully who you are and God willing, your congregation will delight in seeing your happiness with Beloved.

Brian R said...

I have visited via Franiam. I always give thanks to God when people in the church are able to 'come out' I know only too well how hard it can be but also have experienced the blessings to others that can flow.

Lisa said...

I am deliriously happy for you!

Lulu Maude said...

such good news. what a relief integrity is.

giggles said...

"God is very, very good." Indeed she is!

Grace said...

Cecelia,

I read your blog sometimes, but hardly ever post. All that I can say right now is, "Praise God."

I'm very happy for you, and your beloved partner.

Billy Graham said...

You bunch of Godless fools!