As a white, American, heterosexual female, I have experienced many privileges, though at the time I didn't realize that’s what it was. My parents both were employed; I lived in a nice community and went to a very good school; I got to take dance, piano and organ lessons; my brother and I both were able to get into major state colleges; and the list goes on and has continued into adulthood.
I once told my daughter-in-law that I didn't understand why it seemed that my husband and I were so blessed and others struggled. I never really experienced the concept of rejection until the age of 63 when it hit me in the gut!
On April 5, a community Easter Sunrise Service was scheduled in the Sharon community at Woodlawn Presbyterian Church. This service has been a tradition for many years with a breakfast following at the host church. This year, due to the decision of the Presbyterian Church, USA, to support same-sex marriage, several churches pulled out of our traditional community service. I am writing in response to that decision.
I am writing, not as a representative of any church or denomination, but as the parent of a 29-year-old gay son. I am one of the co-founders of Affirmation of York County, a faith-based support group affirming the value and worth of the LGBT Community. We came together as advocates to provide support for parents, friends and family of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, as well as the members of the LGBT community.
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The disappointment I felt in the choice of some of our churches to pull out of the Sharon Community Sunrise Service because the PCUSA Church approved marriage between people of the same sex was overwhelming.
That act rejected me, my friends and my church family, and was something that, perhaps with well-reasoned intentions, does not promote the Christian environment of love and forgiveness that our community churches have so faithfully created in western York County.
I know for a fact that local churches have turned homosexuals away, telling them they could not participate in their youth group or, for that matter, any part of their church. This was told to me directly by a young man who experienced this rejection from one of our local churches.
It saddens me to think that churches in the Sharon area cannot worship and share a table with people of differing views. Jesus spent time with all kinds of people. Why can’t we?
I am not trying to change anyone’s mind. There is scripture to support our beliefs no matter which side of the issue we are on. Our feelings on many issues, including homosexuality, immigration and race, among others, may differ.
But I will love you no less. With Christian love in my heart, I agree to disagree.
This response to the sunrise service helps me understand the rejection my son and others in the LGBT community feel in the name of the church and the rejection women and black people felt at the hands of the church in the past. This act has encouraged me to move forth with even more determination to advocate for the rights of all those who have experienced the church turning their backs on them, not just the LGBT community.
Thankfully, we are all children of God, and with Jesus, we were given a new commandment: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35
If I am in error on this issue, I will err on the side of love of one another.
Ellen Green is a resident of Sharon.