Thursday, March 4, 2010

David Norgard at Virginia Theological Seminary

The President of Integrity, David Norgard, was asked to speak this evening at Virginia Theological Seminary. He has been preparing with great dedication and joy for this opportunity. Asked to speak on the future of Inclusion in the Episcopal Church his full remarks will no doubt be available soon.

One of the issues that he addresses is what LGBT people can bring to the Church. Now that our legislative body has moved us forward into inclusion, many of us worry that we may have finally been accepted into an institution which has little relevance for upcoming generations. David addresses this straight on and with hope.

I believe we are necessarily yet nonetheless sincerely at last beginning to see ourselves not first and foremost as an institution to which people, if they have enough sense, will just join naturally. In our most vital congregations anyway, I see evidence of a very different self-understanding. Instead of institutions bound by law and dedicated to self-perpetuation, they see themselves as communities bound by love and dedicated to purposes beyond themselves. This also resonates with LGBT persons in my experience for it mirrors the story of LGBT families and communities. No social conventions have brought us together, let me assure you. It has been nothing other than the soulful desire to belong to a family of choice and a community of choice that allows us not only to be ourselves but also to be there for the other.

If we continue along these lines, I believe there is hope not just for the future of inclusion but for the future of our church over all. We will be a community whose appeal to all sorts and conditions of folk is neither a passing fad nor an artifice of political strategy but rather the natural further expression of a catholicity that stretches all the way back to the coming together of Jew and Greek.

Friends, in the first few years after the advent of the Ordination of women, I recall a question arising frequently in conversation: Do you believe in women’s Ordination? It was almost like out of the Baptismal Covenant. Whether it was intended to elicit an affirmation or a renunciation, you couldn’t always be sure. In either case, the most memorable response I ever heard came from a very sincere if somewhat na├»ve man who said, “Do I believe in them? I have seen them!”

As openly gay and lesbian people become a common and unremarkable aspect of the cultural landscape, I do believe that more bishops will ordain LGBT persons, more vestries will elect them to serve as rectors, more congregations will elect them to vestries, and most importantly of course, Altar Guilds won’t wince at the need to set up a wedding for two grooms or two brides. We are past the turning point. We have crossed the tipping point and the forecast is bright.

There will be resistance. The impulse to respond eagerly and faithfully to the emerging realities of each succeeding age is always met with the opposing impulse to preserve and hold fast to what has been familiar and comfortable. But as I see it, it’s not a matter of acquiescing to a more inclusive future for the sake of those who have been on the outside. It is rather a matter of embracing opportunities that give us all a future as a community – a community of mystery and reason, of determined commitment and unconditional love.

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