I’m writing from the Mennonite Church USA Churchwide Assembly in San Jose. I’ll try to keep some updates coming as I have time and content. I’m here more as a delegate from my congregation than as BMC staff but of course I still have similar concerns whether I’m wearing a BMC hat or just the Katie hat.The speaker at tonight’s adult worship session was Juan Martinez. I didn’t know of him before but you can read a bit about him here. As I listened to him speak, I was reminded once again that the church has a long way to go. The reason I say this isn’t because I disagreed with much of what he had to say, I felt he was right on as he spoke of the need for the church to deconstruct boundaries and break down walls. He spoke of the church needing to able to change and deal with diversity and I was there with him. I wish I took notes at these kind of things because then I would be able to give a better idea of his words to those gathered tonight. I’ll try to get my notebook out more the rest of the week so I can give better synopses.The thing that bothered me was that as he was talking about deconstruction and breaking down walls, and boundaries and such it was clear he was talking about language, race, and culture boundaries (maybe even gender, wish I had those notes that I didn’t take) and anything outside of that gets a little fuzzy. When I hear a good speaker talk about themes like this, I tend to apply the inspiring words to my own experience and think how well it all fits but, as far as I could tell, he wasn’t talking about some walls the church needs to deconstruct (or if he was, he wasn’t making that clear with his words). He wasn’t talking about the boundaries that push lgbt people out or tell them they are unworthy. He wasn’t talking about the walls for heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia.
I’ve begun to notice that in so many church situations, people say as much with what is left out as they do with the actual words that come out of their mouths. If a church person (especially a leader) is talking about diversity or justice, I can’t assume they are saying anything about diversity and justice for the queer community unless they specifically say that. There is always a lot of talk about the church for all people and the unity of the church, but I know to always check for that asterisk and the footnote. It surely rings hollow when it doesn’t seem to be a full call for justice, or diversity, or unity.
“God’s Table, Y’all Come”*
“Live the Call, Vive la Llamada!”**
*some restrictions apply, offer only good for heterosexual Mennonites.
**not if your call is to be queer, out, and anapologetic about it. In that case, if you could just keep it hush hush, that would be just great.
I’ll be writing more later about the amazing BMC/SCN conference this weekend in San Francisco. It was inspiring and fulfilling. First Mennonite of San Francisco is truly a gift.
This reminds me of a sermon I once heard at my grandparents’ church. It was on the subject of mercy. Even if I disagree with the pastor’s “hate the sin not the sinner” policy, at least he acknowledged that forgiveness for everyone is inconsistent with an arbitrary disgust with LGBT persons.
Speakers who don’t realize that that inconsistency exists get on my nerves very quickly, because they have no idea what mixed messages they’re sending.