Rosemary Neave was behind a venture called FutureChurch funded by the Methodist Church to network and explore new ways of being ‘church’ – particularly those emerging outside the institutional Church. Now living in Christchurch.
She wrote this recent piece for Methodist Touchstone. Rosemary reflects…
After decades of slow changes in the hearts and minds of Presbyterians regarding welcome and affirmation of LGBTQ people, it is in many ways remarkable that the PC (USA) has chosen to ratify these much-needed changes to the Book of Order, not only correcting statements of fact (marriage as a civil contract has changed in most states to allow two people to enter the contract regardless of their gender), but also affirming marriage as God’s gift for the benefit of all humankind, not just heterosexual, gender-conforming couples.
…this is the culmination of a much longer and hard-fought struggle for recognition of LGBTQ people and our relationships. Before Jane Spahr and the couples she married put so much on the line in their judicial cases; before this Massachusetts couple and their pastor took unknown risks to claim the full richness of their relationship, there were the struggles of prior General Assemblies over civil unions, holy unions, domestic partnerships, and commitment ceremonies; and before that the struggle to keep body and soul together with a Christian sexual ethics based in justice-love. And well before General Assemblies would even talk about any of this there was the love, one person for another, a constant steady stream of what God had joined together, queering our understanding of ourselves and each other, of who God is and what church can and should be.
Motivated by the ancient and universal “golden rule” to treat others as you would like to be treated, communities of people across the globe have recently committed to making compassion a driving force with a measurable impact on community life and on the well-being of all members of a community. The concern of people in these communities is driven by the idea that beneath the conflict, inequity, and indifference of our world societies, there runs a deep river of compassion, a vast aquifer of loving kindness waiting to be tapped, yearning to be released into action that will alleviate suffering wherever it exists. In addition, scientific evidence has mounted in the 21st century indicating that compassion is an essential ingredient in building and maintaining thriving, healthy, resilient, and innovative enterprises, institutions, and communities.
“Progressive Christianity values the traditional sources of Christian wisdom and practice – Bible, church, sacraments, prayer, worship – though it may want to reshape or reinterpret them. Importantly, Progressive Christianity is committed to a vigorous and disciplined engagement with all areas of life and discovery.
So Progressive Christians are engaged in conversation with emerging truth unearthed through scientific discovery. We welcome the picture opened up by those who have helped us to appreciate the evolutionary nature of our cosmos. There is no conflict between evolution and Biblical myths about creation.