In 1993, when UBC ordained Hans Venable as an active deacon, we began a good journey towards the equal treatment of GLBTQ persons in God’s church, in God’s world. Do you remember the furor that followed? It was a big deal for a Baptist church in Texas to take such a stance.
Each verbal attack on the church gave us an opportunity to bear witness. Hans and David, and every other gay or lesbian congregant who joined us proved what Peter said when the ultimate outsider, a Gentile Roman soldier named Cornelius, demonstrated he had received God’s Spirit: “Truly God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God” (Acts 10:34-35).
Do you remember when a group threatened to picket us with signs that said “God hates!” and we gathered with friends from nine other Christian and Jewish congregations and joined us in asserting the opposite: “God is love!” (1 John 4:8).
Today with tears I rejoice in the Supreme Court decision for marriage equality honoring the covenant commitments of GLBTQ persons in sacred partnership. Today love wins! Thanks be to God!
I give thanks for your witness, which was a small part of the movement of God’s Spirit to bring us to this day. I give thanks for the patient and loving example of Hans and David and all our GLBTQ members for their patient and loving faithfulness as carriers of the Spirit of Christ. I give thanks for all of you for being a prophetic church over and again.
Of course, our journey is not over. The funerals in Charleston, SC today remind us our journey on racial equality is not finished. The deprivation of poor women in Texas to have access to adequate healthcare and reproductive choice shows our journey on gender equality is not finished. And the continuing hateful rhetoric by our elected leaders towards GLBTQ persons and the denial of their civil rights in housing and employment shows our journey on GLBTQ equality has just begun.
So let’s celebrate together this Sunday. And by God’s help, let us continue the good journey we have taken to leave no one out of the love of God. Can I get an “amen?”
Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune
UBC Senior Pastor