Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm a General Convention "Newbie"

by Marcia Ledford
Integrity Volunteer at GC12

I’ve heard about General Convention for two decades now and have always wanted to attend one. So, here I am. Admittedly, I’m a political animal where issues of racism, sexism and of LGBT people are concerned. I’ve worn many hats, including civil rights attorney and documentary photographer for the University of Michigan’s Affirmative Action Cases before the U. S. Supreme Court.

I’m a seminarian now, having finally answered the Holy Spirit’s call to the priesthood that call has been there since I was a teenager. But as a lesbian, there was no room for me at the Baptist Inn. My partner and I chose The Episcopal Church (TEC) in 1988. We celebrated our 10th anniversary with a 1992 Life Covenant ceremony in the Diocese of Michigan. We could not have a blessing in the Name of the Trinity, so we wrote our ceremony following the marriage rite in the Book of Common Prayer without that blessing. Guess what--we were blessed by the Holy Spirit anyway. That was a time of great turmoil. We had protesters yelling the “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” mantra.  Our priest received death threats if he carried out the ceremony. We had bodyguards. The Associated Press ran stories.

Marcia Ledford and Bishop Robinson
Ours and ceremonies like ours have sprung up all over the country and have led to this historic moment. TEC hopefully will formally authorize liturgical rites for same-sex couples to make vows to God and each other before a loving company of witnesses. I love the Episcopal Church’s theology, liturgy, music, and ancient roots, but mostly its courage to behave like “all means all.” It talks the talk, but more importantly is walking the walk with integrity. Views have softened. Good people have stayed in the church and experienced a change of heart. It takes time for this kind of systemic change.

As a matter of fact, LGBT veterans of previous GC’s tell me that this one is different. The emotional pulse is steady. The ethos of past conventions has been described as a white-knuckle roller coaster ride over sexuality-related issues. Many think the reason is that the most ardent critics of LGBT inclusion and women’s ordination left the church. We must focus on those who have persevered and the wonderful people who are coming to the church because of its unique and bold steps toward an inclusive Body of Christ.

If you do the math, Linda and I celebrate 30 years this year.

We must live and love free or die, regardless of our sexuality and gender identity. Living in the closet suffocates. I know. I tried it, but not for long. Like Lazarus, I had to be unbound, set free, from the tomb that enveloped me. This is a basic human need: freedom. Our Creator did not intend for us to be boxed up —- just take a look at creation for confirmation! Best part of the day? I got to hug Bishop Gene Robinson, thank him, and get my picture taken with him. Wow!

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