In June 2018, the RCA General Synod commended the “Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality” for consideration by the Commission on Theology (COT) and the wider RCA. In response, a diverse group of people from the LGBTQ community, parents, pastors, educators and others shared their thoughts with Room for All and the COT, offering alternative perspectives on a faithful ethic for living as sexual and gendered people of God. Room for All is grateful for the opportunity to share those responses in “Outsights” over the next several weeks.
What About Us?
Rev. Kenneth L. Walsh – Florida
I was baptized on November 25, 1956 at the First Reformed Church in Little Falls, New Jersey when I was three months old. While I don’t remember what happened that day, I know that water was poured on my head with the words, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only King and Head of his Church, I declare that this child is now received into the visible membership of the Holy Catholic Church, and is engaged to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and to be his faithful servant until his life’s end.” Later, as I confirmed those baptismal vows, I knew that “I belong, body and soul, in life and in death, not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
In this covenantal life, I have lived and worked. I further made vows when I was ordained as Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America in 1984, again confessing and confirming those vows made at my baptism. However, I carried a secret, which for many years I could never put into words. From childhood on, I knew I was different; and while trying to mask it in my conservative faith, I wondered how I fit in. I read the books and fought the feelings, praying that God would remove these homosexual thoughts and feelings from my being. I even married and had children, trying to “flee youthful lusts.” Through my years of pastoral ministry, the ongoing thought in the pulpit was, “If they only knew!”
I have read the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage & Sexuality, written in the style of our beloved Heidelberg, and a question arose: WHAT ABOUT US? Perhaps that is the question for the RCA as a whole. In my struggle and study, I have come to recognize there are no “cookie cutter Christians.” The beauty of the people of God is the diversity of persons, all embracing the grace of God. The fact that we belong to our faithful Savior is the amazing fact, regardless of how we look or think or whom we love.
Sadly, after thirty years of ordained ministry in the RCA, in stripping away the layers of my masks and secrets, I left the RCA to become a minister in the United Church of Christ, where I could be honest. I still grieve leaving the church of my baptism, where I had felt its warmth and served for so many years. In the process of truth, my wife and I divorced after 34 years of marriage, as I made this move to my new denominational home. I am gay and proclaim that same covenantal truth of God in my new home in true integrity and honesty. It is time for the RCA to come to grips with the all-inclusive Gospel of Jesus Christ and know that we ALL BELONG and celebrate it!