Faithful servants of God and the church are facing a profound challenge as they await a decision on the amendments being deliberated in the presbyteries. These are their stories…

God Has Called Me To Serve

Anonymous Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

In the rural area where I grew up, we assumed that everyone was alike. The reality, as I came to understand, is that everyone is different in their own way. I just did not realize it when I was young.

When I entered college, I had an awakening and discovered that there were a lot of things I had not experienced. For example, two of my female classmates (one black and one white) were known as a couple. I make a point of their different races because, at the time, such commingling was considered heresy. But then, to make matters worse, they were a couple… Well, as far as I knew–based on the culture in which I grew up–they were hell-bound!

This was how I was raised. People of different races didn’t date. And still, for many people today, people of same gender…well, to many, that is still considered a bridge too far. Imagine my own personal struggles when I went to Seminary; and for the first time, because of people I met, had classes with, and walked beside in faith, I wrestled with these social issues. It was quite the Jacob moment.

It was during this time that I came to terms with who God created me to be. After all, how does one tackle the issues of faith and ultimately not come to know oneself even better? It is only through God’s grace and the special intervention by some very near and dear people that I am able to tell this story.

You see, when I was entrapped by my old ways of thinking, I was made to feel undeserving not only of the love of those around me, but of God as well. I was worthless and doomed to hell according to many, and even disinherited by my family. Why? Because I had come to terms with the fact that I was not a straight, heterosexual person.

One summer night, because of what I had been taught growing up, because of what others had told me, because of what others thought of those whose orientation was different, and because I had come to believe that I was worthless, I tried to become invisible. I wanted to and tried to end my life. Instead, God had other plans.

My life didn’t end that night. Instead, my life began. Well, at least in some ways. I discovered grace that night. I reconciled with the One who created me in God’s own image and who loves me just as I am. I knew I had purpose. I knew I was loved. I knew I was still called to serve God through the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

But still, I struggle daily. Why? Because I serve in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church as a closeted bi-sexual minister of Word and Sacrament. I can’t fully be who I was created to be because I serve in a denomination that doesn’t recognize my uniqueness.

I serve in a denomination where many pass judgment on my own particular orientation as somehow less worthy than the myriad other expressions of sexuality around us. I serve in a denomination where many say I am not equal to my straight brothers and sisters-even though I may have as many, if not more, ministerial gifts than many serving in churches today. I serve in a denomination where some would rather condemn than acknowledge all for their desire to answer God’s call to ministry and truly welcome “Whosoever Will” may come.

Thankfully, God is bigger than all these earthly challenges. I know, without a shadow of any doubt, that God has called me to serve in church work. I know God called me to work side by side with others to help all humankind to find the goodness and grace of God’s love through Christ, to find peace in equality, and to find truth in love.

How then can anyone justify attempting to take away the validation of my call? None of us can stop others from being called by God. Instead, let us concentrate on the bigger picture of bringing others to Christ, rather than excluding those who are “not like us”.

It is my hope that our Church will continue to struggle with and entertain angels, to wrestle as Jacob did, and to recognize and validate not only those who are already serving among us, but those whom God is yet to call. In so doing, we will send a powerful message: we are your church family, and there is a place for you to serve God within the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

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