An open letter from Mark J. Davis to those in the Cumberland Presbyterian LGBT community who publicly revealed their orientation on National Coming Out Day, 11 October 2015:

First of all, I need to make it clear that in expressing the affirmation, support, and encouragement I will express here, I do not do so as a spokesperson for my denomination–I do so solely on the basis of my own Christian faith. It grieves me deeply to have to start off with that disclaimer, but at this point it is still a sad necessity.
Having said that, I want you to know that you are a source of inspiration. There are many of us who admire you–many more than most people in our community of faith imagine. I realize that for some of you, the decision to publicly embrace the person whom God created you to be was not an easy one. I am all too aware of the environment of hostility you may be entering, and indeed, may already have entered. But I want you to know that your courage has not gone unnoticed. I want you to know that there are many of us who affirm you simply as you are, as the person God created you to be–as a beloved and unique child of God.
While we are already seeing efforts to deny some of you an opportunity to answer God’s call to service, I also want you to know that there are plenty of others who support you in your efforts to answer that call–again, a lot more than you’ve likely imagined. There are plenty of us who are not afraid of who you are, and in fact see the face and hand of God in your commitment to try to live as Jesus himself lived, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing shelter for those experiencing homelessness, embracing the stranger, and working for social and economic justice for those without a voice. I am certain that God grieves over those who would stand between you and God, but as Christians, we must never forget that Gods pours God’s grace on *every one* of us–even on those who, based on some misguided sense of authority they feel to judge others, would thwart your ability to answer God’s call.
I hope you will remain strong in your faith, and can muster a level of grace and patience that can help you endure the hurtful words and deeds that will come your way–or may have already come your way. Know this: Our denomination needs you. We need you to help us find our way to a place of healing, reconciliation, and a renewed focus on the things that matter most to God. Jesus saved some his kindest words for those who were outcast. I hope you can find some comfort in that.
I’m ashamed that so many of us have sat in silence as you have been ostracized, threatened, and even physically harmed–all for being authentically who you are. And I recognize that our silence makes us complicit in the psychological and emotional harm to which you have been subjected. Some church friends of mine and I have been talking about this very thing a lot recently, and it is our complicity in your having been despised and rejected that prompted me to write this open letter. I hope you can find a way to forgive us. And you have my word that I will try my best to be more Christ-like in this respect.
Finally, let me also say that while I hope and pray that you will continue to seek ways of responding to God’s call within our denomination, the more important thing is that you respond, period. We have already lost some very talented and compassionate young people to other denominations because of the misguided words and actions of people in our own, and at a time when cannot afford to lose *anyone*. And I can certainly understand–and empathize with–their decision. But once more, remember, you are not alone here. And while progress toward your acceptance into the full faith, fellowship, and practice of the church will likely be slow at times, we will indeed progress. I am certain that that is God’s will. There is room here for everyone–and that includes you.
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