UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.
Amory Peck of Bellingham, Washington, delivers part of the Laity Address to the April 25 session.
I’d like you to know a bit about how I’m feeling as I approach Holy Conferencing on human sexuality at the General Conference. The main feeling is dread. As one of the LGBT persons who will be attending, it’s hard to head into a conversation where I’m seen as “the problem.” Where I, and the others, will be identified as the troublesome “they.”
Even though I’m out to everyone in my delegation, and known as a lesbian to many in my jurisdiction, I’ll have to decide during the Holy Conversation whether to come out, yet again. If I do so early in the conversation, some around me will be uncomfortable about speaking openly. If I wait until later in the conversation, some will think I’ve tricked them into revealing their biases or prejudices. And, if I don’t self-identify, I’ll leave feeling as if I’ve let myself down. That’s a fair amount of tension to carry into a conversation.
That is a tension that we carry a good deal of the time. We repeatedly must decide whether to be open or to hold back from speaking truthfully or completely.
For example, I am honored to be one of three chosen to deliver this year’s Laity Address. It will be a highlight of my church service. But, I will deliver my message knowing that I will be disappointing many of my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends who yearn to hear the truth of inclusion spoken. I can’t do that — my manuscript wouldn’t have been selected if I had submitted the message I’d most like to deliver. I mention that because it is how gays in the church, especially our gay clergy, feel far too often — gagged by church rules and unable to speak truthfully.
But, along with dread, I also have a goodly amount of optimism about the time of conversation. As people of differing worldviews meet one another, connections and shared values can sometimes be found. I’ll be praying that will be so — knowing that the Holy Spirit has prepared the church for change.
With faith in all that will be,
General Conference 2012