Editors' Note: Guest blogger Lisa Larges is the Minister Director of That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS) a grassroots organization that advocates for all who are disenfranchised in the Presbyterian church, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Larges, who is open about her sexual orientation has been seeking ordination to ministry in the Presbyterian Church (PCU.S.A.) for the last 23 years. This is the second time her case has gone before a Presbyterian judicial proceeding.
On Friday I sat all day in a completely generic hotel conference room observing the proceedings in a Presbyterian Church trial on whether I could be moved forward in the Ordination process as an out lesbian woman. A trial in the Presbyterian church has most of the same elements of a civil trial - lawyers, witnesses, a panel of Commissioners who hear the case and give a verdict, arguments, objections, legal strategy, and tedium. The question I kept asking myself in the midst of all that was "Where is the church?"
Ok, if you had sat in on the trial you would have learned some things about the Presbyterian method of decision making (a way that strives to be fair, orderly, and thorough), you would have picked up some tidbits about church history, and you would have enriched your vocabulary with a word from colonial American church fights: "scrupulocity" - referring to overly strict adherence to rules. But would you have found much that looked or sounded like the church founder, Jesus, or felt the presence of God in that conference room any more than at a strip mall? Would it compel you to run down the street to join the nearest Presbyterian Church? Would you have heard anything during those court proceedings about the churches mandate to serve the poor, and the vulnerable and the marginalized? Probably not, probably not, doubtful, and no.