Our Chance to Say Thanks
by Lori Heine
In September of 2010, the Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, came to visit Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix. We Episcopalians donít have a pope, but I suppose that for us, she is the closest thing to it. I was excited, not only because she is quite famous and regularly makes the news, but because she has done so much to stand up for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inclusion in our denomination. The Rev. Jefferts Schori preached our sermon that morning, and after the service was greeted by a throng of parishioners. I wasnít sure Iíd get the chance to do more than shake her hand, though that alone would have been an honor.
When I got to her, however, I was actually able to pause long enough to thank her. I assured her that sexual-minority Episcopalians had much to appreciate about the courageous way she has faced down opposition to our inclusion. She just smiled and bowed her head to acknowledge what Iíd said. Iím sure she must have heard such thanks a thousand times. But it never hurts to hear it again.
Heterosexual Christians are standing up for us more and more often. Often they face blistering pressure to stay silent or to follow along with the homophobic status quo. We need, now and then, to remember to pause and say thank you. To us, it may seem obvious that supporting and welcoming us is the right thing to do. But if being a member of a minority group isnít easy, belonging to the majority is sometimes difficult, too.
Expressing support, for Christians, must very much be a mutual thing. Scripture admonishes us to build up and encourage one another. It takes courage to come out of our closets as LGBT Christians Ė both within the Church and in our larger society. And it takes courage to speak up on our behalf, especially when it would be easier to say nothing. Every disciple of Christ who braves risks for the sake of whatís right deserves a word of thanks now and then.
This past July 10, the Episcopal Church officially ruled that its priests may conduct services blessing same-sex relationships. They are not considered exactly the same as heterosexual marriages, but will honor the reality of our love and of our lives. This church Ė which I am proud to call my own Ė is the largest Christian denomination to take such a bold step. And again, not only as an Episcopalian but as a lesbian Christian, I want to say thanks. I intend to reach out to make certain the clergy of my own parish, All Saintsí in Phoenix, know how much this means to me.
Theyíll hear it a lot, but it never hurts for them to hear it again. Our straight allies get more than their share of criticism for standing with us. Letís reach out and show them plenty of love.
© 2012 Lori Heine
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