“Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.” ~ Amendment 10-A
On Ash Wednesday 2009 I started a Lenten discipline of reading the daily lectionary passages, and I read the following, from Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians. Paul is talking about his own ministry:
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! ~ 2 Cor. 6:1-2.
Paul goes on to describe the ways in which people have perceived him: he has received honor and dishonor, he has had both a good and a bad reputation, he has been regarded as an impostor, and yet as true.
I felt instantly that through this scripture God was speaking to me, about my situation. As I continued throughout Lent to read scripture daily, I continued to experience it as God nudging me, and on May 12, 2009 I sent my congregation a letter informing them that I was in a long-term committed relationship with another woman.
Long before I ever imagined I would be in such a relationship, I believed that God did indeed call people of all kinds and conditions into ministry, and my belief was grounded in scripture.
When Zachariah ecstatically prayed, “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet on the road to peace,” I believed him.
And when Paul preached a gospel of faith and not works, urging that those previously considered unclean be admitted to the body of Christ, I believed him.
And when Jesus said that he came to proclaim release to the captives, and to let the oppressed go free, and when Jesus spent all his ministry opening doors that had been closed, and befriending the outcast, I believed him.
For centuries Christians used words found in scripture to justify slavery. But ultimately, we were persuaded that that was a wrong use of God’s holy word.
For centuries Christians used words found in scripture to justify excluding women from ministry of Word and Sacrament. But ultimately, we were persuaded that that was a wrong use of God’s holy word.
For centuries, Christians used Jesus’ own words to justify excommunicating those whose marriages ended in divorce. But ultimately, we were persuaded that that was a wrong use of God’s holy word.
In all these cases we have been persuaded that love of God and love of neighbor reign supreme over the specific words formerly used to exclude, and in this, we have followed Jesus’ example.
Today, I ask you, my friends and colleagues, my sisters and brothers in Christ, to vote to approve Amendment 10-A. I ask this so that those whom our Sovereign God calls might answer that call without fear. I ask this so that churches and presbyteries who see and value those calls and gifts might be able to welcome all God’s people into ministry. And I ask this so that the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high, might at last break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and guide our feet on the road to peace.