Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Together - We Made a Difference!

                Thanks to our prayers and protests, our church has taken a baby step forward in ending the discrimination against LGBTQ persons. I thank each of you for the part you played in working to see this happen. “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.” (I Cor. 12:7). I have been honored to work together with you in the past year to bring change to our church. We have each contributed our part to God’s kingdom work.
            The final two weeks of my 175 day Tent Witness were spent at the Convention Center in Portland. They were two of the best weeks of my life. I had the opportunity to witness to hundreds of delegates as they walked down the sidewalk toward the main doors. I used my daughter Sarah and Ali’s wedding album to tell my story. I said, “This is a picture of my daughter and her wife. I just want our church to treat them like everyone else.” Many told me about their prayers for our church to move toward full inclusion. 
            Rev. Frank Schaefer and his son Tim joined me on National Tent Night on May 13. We gathered in the afternoon with about 75 people. We talked about the symbolic witness of the Tent. We celebrated that many across the country would be sleeping outside on that night in front of their own houses and churches. Frank led us in praying for our church and the General Conference.
            I appreciated meeting many members of the Love Prevails organization at General Conference. They were very helpful to my advocacy work. In addition, they led some wonderful times of education, worship and protest throughout the days of the Conference. I learned so much from them.
            May 18th, 2016 was an historic day for our church. What a privilege to be in the room when Bishop Ough shared the Bishop’s report and later when the General Conference approved it. As Matt Berryman from RMN said, “This historic action by the Council of Bishops represents a significant institutional shift in the direction of inclusion and equality. It is just a beginning…”
            I have returned back to the bed of my bride of 38 years. I am thankful for Lori’s patience and support. I am also thankful for the many saints of God I’ve met or talked with or communicated by Facebook in the past year. What a privilege to have connected with you. My life is forever richer.
            I am stepping back from advocacy work to focus on my wife in the coming year. We are taking a gap year of travel. I encourage you to stay involved through Reconciling Ministry Network and Love Prevails.
            Don’t lose hope or become cynical. Remember that God’s kingdom is coming. If God can raise His Son from death to eternal life, God can raise up His Church to open their doors and welcome all.