The church council, after a lengthy discussion, decided to ask the congregation to vote to renew my contract. This was seen as the best way to reach out to those who are not sure they are willing to live with a gay pastor, as well as a better prospect for the Powers That Be in our regional body to approve.
I have mixed feelings. On the whole, I think to seek a permanent call at this time would have been risky, given that our church (the larger church, not my local congregation) is so divided on this as an issue. People are not, for the most part, divided on the matter of "me" as a person; they are divided on "me" the issue. The congregation remains (it would appear) overwhelmingly in support of my staying. I just had a conversation with a pillar of the church who is hard up against his beliefs on this issue as they conflict with his experience of me as pastor. He expressed gratitude and relief at the decision in favor of renewal. That to me seems a good sign. It could be a unifying move.
On the other hand... I feel tired. There is something about the idea of another bunch of years without the issue being settled that makes me tired and a little disheartened. As I drove to the church this morning it occurred to me that I miss the good old "she walks on water" days. Before you gasp, please observe, tongue planted firmly in cheek. There was always a sense of unreality for me in the ways in which people experienced me as too good to be true. Here is the other shoe; it droppeth. And, of course, no one is too good to be true. We are all exactly as good and bad and totally depraved as we are. Truly. And this, I suspect, is what it feels like to be a pastor who is loved and appreciated and who has managed to disappoint people all the same. Feet of clay and all that.
And yet, there is that word, "renewal." It is calling to me. It is suggesting to me that this time, if we use it wisely, could be a time of real growth, both for me and the congregation, as each of us renews our commitment to this particular little manifestation of the body of Christ.
Renewal. It could be a good thing.