A gay youth sponsor, Tory Inglis, from First Presbyterian Church in New Westminster, British Columbia was called to task recently because of her involvement in organizing her city's first-ever Gay Pride celebrations. As a result of a front-page photo of her at the celebration, she was called into her pastor's office and asked to remove herself from the organization as they felt it promoted an improper lifestyle.
She decided instead to remove her membership from her church.
"Above all, I want to promote peace and love and acceptance," Tory said. "And in a place that condemns people for loving, I would much rather be in a place that accepts people for who they are."
As a community, we want to turn Tory into a martyr of hatred imposed upon us by the church. I don't oppose that in the slightest. But, as somebody who has left a church and my involvement with a youth group that I loved with every single muscle of my heart - and sang with the beauty of sunrise at each of its events - to ensure that this did not happen to me, I want to recognize the pain that Tory is surely feeling at this moment.
As Tory is somebody who still believes in faith, and the stories of love and acceptance that are pronounced throughout the Bible. They are good stories, even though they are interrupted by stories of God's hatred for the "other". As somebody who "believes", she feels as though she is dying right now. She has lost one of her homes, been swiftly rebuked and kicked out on somebody else's terms, and is now feeling as though a part of her is missing.
Which it is.
It is very difficult to replace the environment of the church once it has been lost. There really is something special about it.
So, Tory, my heart goes out to you. Not for the pain that you have already felt at the hand's of church-endorsed hatred, but for the pain that will continue to affect you for the months and years to come. I know that you will miss those children, their laughter and energy. I know that you will miss those moments in church when you are reminded of the goodness of the so-called God, and reminded of Its bigness and Its wholeness. I know that you will feel as though your world has crumbled into an ancient dust too fine to be held in your hands for more than an instant.
It will take you forever to forgive. Alzheimer's will set in before you forget.
For this, I apologize on behalf of the sins of the church - a right that I do not have but that I wish I did for this moment.
Continue to live beautifully, and strive for nothing less than promote peace and love and acceptance.