Dear Vicky

Dear Vicky,

I was quietly checking my Twitter feed before bed last night when I learned that with few fireworks and little fanfare, you had spoken to the Independent about being a gay Christian woman and thus launched what I imagine must have been 24 hours of somewhat of a circus.

In the world in which we live (and which I rejoice in living), there are going to be a lot of folk scratching their head over why what you have done is important, because, after all, being gay (or lesbian or bisexual) isn’t a big deal anymore, right? Alas, not in the Church. Also, for the record, not in professional sports or in Hollywood, thus completing the unlikeliest trifecta since eggs, bunnies, and Jesus. I know you know that. I know, because it’s the history written in your scars and your soul and now across the world in newsprint.

In the church that I now attend, it took me six weeks to sneak up to one of the clergy after Mass and say, “Um, so, about this LGBT Group…” St Mary’s has never been in the closet about its liberalism; on my very first Sunday we prayed during the intercessions for a blessing of a civil partnership, plus, well, there was an LGBT Group, so it’s not like I didn’t know. But, at the time, being out at church felt like a big deal in a way that being out in the rest of the world didn’t. Even now there are plenty of delightful liberal well-intentioned people who presume until told bluntly otherwise that “gay Christian” isn’t a thing. This year at Synod, on the first day, I got up and proposed a motion that was viewed by parts of the establishment as terrifyingly radical and, had it passed, would have put us on a trajectory to allow the marriage of same-sex couples within the Church — and then on the second day I had to actually out myself, because apparently that part hadn’t been clear to everyone.

And all of that was just for me, with no reputation at stake and nothing to lose and quite comfortable in the knowledge that conservative evangelical America has never cared who I am. You have done a big thing and a brave thing, and nobody gets to minimise that. If they try, ask them when the last time was that a Church of England Bishop came out voluntarily and they’ll soon shut up.

Vicky, I hope you have seen the outpouring of goodwill for you on the Internet over the last 24 hours. I pray that that goodwill is reflected by what you encounter out there in the world. I know that it won’t be so everywhere, and so do you.

I talked to a friend last night as your story was breaking. “They’re going to throw rocks at her,” I said. (Metaphorically.) “They are, and she knows it and she’s done it anyway.”

But when they do, I want you to remember this: I want you to remember that for every Scott Lively, there is a young gay man who has thought for years that he is somehow broken and who knows now that he is loved and blessed and perfect just the way he is. I want you to remember that for every Ann Coulter, there is a teenage lesbian who was told that she would be condemned by her God and who knows now that she was made in His image and likeness. I want you to remember that for every Westboro Baptist, there is a family who rejected their gay son or daughter and are now maybe starting to think differently about what God would want for them. For every person who condemns you, there is a person whose life you have just made better by telling them that God loves you and God loves them and God loves all of us anyway.

It is no easy feat, to live the story that you’ve now shared with us and to come up on the other side with grace and faith.

As you move forward in the world, gather in the love and the love and the love that we all offer you, and may God bless you, today and always, in everything that you do and in all that you are.

With prayers and good wishes,

Beth

A Call To Worship

Tomorrow, the Roman Catholic Church is holding National Marriage Sunday. There is something about what it calls the true nature of marriage and destruction of the fundamental nature of marriage and all of the usual things, except that they are dedicating a special day to it and setting up a new commission and making every church-going Roman Catholic in Scotland listen to a letter from Cardinal O’Brien that I imagine would leave a nasty taste in my mouth if I had to sit through it myself.

Tomorrow, St Mary’s Cathedral is inviting any Roman Catholic — and, indeed, anyone — who prefers to not listen to this sort of thing on a Sunday morning to join us for our worship instead.

There has been some excellent coverage of this in the Scottish press today. You’ll have read that there is a ‘special’ service at St Mary’s tomorrow morning, and I suppose there is. It is very true, yes, that a particular welcome is extended tomorrow morning to anyone who wishes to attend a church service where all will be made welcome and where the intolerant and unloving rhetoric of the Roman Catholic hierarchy can be escaped from. You are welcome whether you are gay or straight or bisexual, married or single or civil partnered, Catholic or Protestant, theist or atheist.  If you would like to join us for this one Sunday, seeking refuge or indulging curiosity or for whatever reason, then we would be delighted to have you.

But when you hear about this ‘special’ service and when you see what happens and what is talked about in this ‘special’ service, just remember what Gene Robinson said when he came here in 2008.

We do this every Sunday.

If you are interested, there will be love and inclusivity, good liturgy and fabulous music, and a meal of equals shared around Christ’s table for anyone who wishes to partake. It all happens at 10.30am tomorrow morning at 300 Great Western Road, corner of Napiershall Street, between Kelvinbridge and St George’s Cross subway stations, and all are welcome.

Let us build a house where all are named,
their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured, taught and claimed
as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter,
prayers of faith and songs of grace.
Let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
all are welcome in this place.