As the question of whether or not Presbyterian clergy can or should officiate at the weddings of same-sex couples I felt the need to explain myself to the most conservative publication of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Layman. This Letter to the Editor was published today. So all with ears might hear…
Explaining my past and ongoing Christian witness to LGBT communities
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2012
In your July/August 2012 edition, you refer to the”declarations on the floor of the assembly by pastors who admitted toperforming gay weddings” that went unchallenged. I write as one of those pastors.
I write because I want to explain my past and ongoing Christian witness to LGBT communities. As an out, lesbian Presbyterian clergywoman, I have seen first-hand how deeply hurt LGBT folk can be by the church and I am in the unique position to try and heal some of that hurt and bring people into a life-giving relationship with God. I conduct extensive pre-marital counseling with each couple who comes to me and here is what one couple, Teresa and Gina, said after our work together:
“By the time we married we had been together 12 years. We’ve weathered big events in life like deaths in the family, rejections of us and the relationship by family and faith communities, and changes in employment.. We had been through it and had a strong relationship. Even so, our meetings with Mieke taught us more about ourselves both as individuals and as a couple. Our interactions with Mieke—including the homework she had us do and our discussions about it—led us to understand even more deeply what our relationship means to us and how the marriage would add to and possibly change that meaning. It was also obvious through the process that Mieke cared about us as people and wanted to see our relationship with the church begin to heal from the years of wounds we both felt administered in God’s name. Her care helped both of us to find some peace and new approaches to reestablishing our faith.”
Their words really do speak for themselves. When I have people like these extraordinary women coming to me asking for me to bless their relationship and seal it in the form or marriage who am I to say no? Living in New York State where same-sex marriage is legal has provided me with the request of several couples who seek their wedding to be officiated by a Christian clergy person who will help them live into the vows they dare to take. I have experienced nothing less than God has brought them to me as they challenge me to live into my ordination vow to: seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, love my neighbors and work for the reconciliation of the world.
In Christ’s Service,
Rev. Mieke Vandersall
Teaching Elder, Presbytery of New York City, Minister Director, Presbyterian Welcome