In my opinion and that of many others, General Synod 2016 was an unmitigated “train wreck” for LGBTQ Christians and their allies, and for the unity and ultimate fate of the RCA. For me, as I watched a steady stream of conservatives make their way to the microphones to insult our intelligence and knowledge of Scripture by reading microscopic snippets of Scripture that purportedly supported their cause, I was struck by two observations:
1. From all appearances, they lacked any scientific understanding of the well-established multiple spectra of human sexuality, gender identity and expression. They seemed trapped in a 1950s era, binary perception of human sexuality
2. Amazingly, many of these same people were embarrassingly ignorant of the fundaments of RCA polity, specifically the respective roles of classes, consistories, and General Synod.
But as I slowly raise my head out from under the still warm ashes of this train wreck, I also vividly remember and will not soon forget the heroes of this Synod and there are many, more than I can possibly acknowledge in this brief blog post. Let’s start with Pastor Daniel Meeter, who displayed greater understanding of parliamentary procedure and RCA polity than probably anyone at Synod and, more importantly, pledged with respect to the conduct of same-sex marriages that “if I am brought up on charges in the future, I shall count it a privilege…”.
I remember Pastor Sam Clover who similarly stated “…that as a pastor, I cannot by my conscience adhere to any motion like this and I am willing to be brought up on charges by my classis and I just want to recognize the horrible irony that we were talking about this issue when 49 people died at a gay bar, a place that they gathered because they don’t feel safe in other places in our world. Can they feel safe in our churches if we do this?”.
I also lift up my friend, Pastor Trish Sheffield, who I have come to deeply respect and admire during my work at RfA, who echoed Pastor Sam Clover’s sentiments, expressed a similar willingness to be brought up on charges, if necessary, and added that “I, as a pastor, am simply not going to discriminate against any brother or sister because of how they were created by God—fearfully and wonderfully.”.
But there were others, too, such as Lisa Bontemps, who spoke as the mother of a bisexual son who stated that her “greatest desire and hope is that someday my son can be married in my church, whether that’s to a man or to a woman. I want him to be married to someone he loves in a covenantal way…”. I will also remember a person, who will remain nameless at this time, who opened up to a small group of us during a break that they are intersex and wondered how they would fit into the “one man, one woman” ruling.
These people and many others put it all out on the line at this General Synod and they are true heroes. That is what I will remember of this General Synod.