Dear LGBTQ Covenanters and Your Friends, Family, and Allies,
In his letter that that we call 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul says, “If one member of the body suffers, all suffer together.” There can be little doubt that in this moment, you dear friends are suffering. The brutal attacks on the bodies of LGBTQ people in Orlando and the thwarted possibility of violence in Los Angeles must leave you feeling particularly vulnerable and hurting and perhaps even fearful. All of this in this Pride month that is supposed to be marked with celebration just compounds the offense even more. Please know that my heart and prayers, and I trust the heart and prayers of many others, go out to you. We suffer with you. It is unfathomable to imagine the pain and sorrow and fear that must accompany you in this reminder that there are those who would do harm to your bodies simply because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. As an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, it is my conviction to stand with you, support you, hold you, and guard not just your heart but your bodies as well. You are loved by God, you are loved by me, and I know you are loved by many others. May God’s peace reign in your hearts giving you hope, rest, joy, and peace.
At the same time, these are not just words of prayers and thoughts, but an acknowledgement that change is needed. Just as the vision of Peter was changed when God showed him God’s radical inclusive grace, so I believe this moment can be a transforming one for the Church everywhere as well as the Evangelical Covenant Church. While violence to bodies is devastating enough, I grieve and lament that the church has far too often been a place that has perpetuated violence to your souls. For that I am truly sorry and humbly repent.
This, I believe, is a Kairos moment. I call on our leaders to revisit our theologies and policies that do harm to you. I acknowledge and confess that our grief, laments, and calls for justice ring hollow when they are accompanied by our affirmation of theologies and policies that do violence to your souls. I call on us all as a denomination, as local churches, and as individuals, to go deeper in love and mission by listening to your hearts and passions, you who have long been cast out of the church. I call on us to offer our confession and lament, and for all of us to prayerfully consider ways that we can move forward as a beloved community bound together in the Spirit.
There can be little doubt that this would be a difficult and at times painful road to trod. The evidence from other traditions that have walked the path of inclusion before us demonstrates that. Yet, if not now, when? We are people of great hope, after all. Hope in the power of steadfast love to overcome hate. Hope in the power of peace to overcome all fear, apathy, and violence. Hope in the Spirit that is in us, with us, and for us, and who binds us together with unbreakable chords. Hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who shows us a way full of compassion, mercy, justice, and love. May the winds of the Spirit blow freely through the halls of our denomination, our churches, and our hearts, and may we emerge as people transformed by God’s mighty and inclusive grace and love. May God give us all strength. May God, in God’s abundant grace and love, give you dear friends an extra portion of strength and encouragement today and everyday. You are not alone.
With Grace and Peace,
Rev. Paul M. Corner
This post originally appeared on Rev. Corner’s Blog on Medium.