A Letter from a New Presbyterian

…to the commissioners and advisory delegates of the 221st General Assembly

This correspondence serves to provide my personal thoughts pertaining to the upcoming General Assembly’s discussions about marriage equality.

I was raised in a very loving family and we were active in the Southern Baptist denomination.  I always knew I was different growing up, but I kept my feelings to myself and thought it would go away.  Although my Church did not teach hate and the Pastor was a very loving and funny man, I knew how the denomination felt about homosexuality. I kept hoping and “praying the gay away”, but no matter how much or how hard I prayed, nothing changed. In my teenage years, I convinced myself that it was just a phase, so I dated really nice, cute, and kind guys, but I never felt for them the way they felt for me. I dated for appearances and since I was very popular, I did not have a choice. Keep in mind that it was 1982 and no one talked about gay issues.

When I was 15 years old, I met the love of my life and everything clicked for me. I also came to the realization these feelings were not going away. It was the happiest time of my life, but also the most difficult. She and I kept our relationship a secret, but I cried almost every night.  I just knew I was going to be condemned to hell, God did not love me, and God would not love me ever again. I was devastated and felt abandoned by God. Our relationship continued until I was 21 years old. We then went our separate ways knowing we could never be together the way we wanted to be in the world we lived in.

For years, I struggled deeply with who I was and my thoughts of God’s disapproval of me. When I turned 28 years old, I “came out” to my family and friends. They were all surprised, but fortunately, everyone was very accepting and remained loving towards me. I finally realized that God always loved me as I was and He does not make mistakes. Although my life was so much more freeing, I was still a Christian without a church home or a denomination. Too many times over the the years I saw Christians holding Bibles and shouting cruel and hateful things to others. I saw these Christians judge and condemn gay people on the news, radio, and at the few gay events I attended over the years. It all was very heartbreaking for me. And over time I became bitter and angered at religious institutions and anyone who called themselves a Christian. I came to accept the fact that I would live out my life without a church home and would have to become content in just reading the Bible on my own and learning what I could.

In October 2013, my life crossed paths with a prominent person in your denomination and in our many conversations I was impressed about her thoughts on life, current issues and the person she was. I got to know her as a person and not for her title or her position within the institution. She knew my feelings about organized religion, but, little by little, she started discussing things about how the denomination is solely based on God’s love for us all and the PCUSA’s advances of acceptance. These conversations planted the very seeds in my heart to find out more about the PCUSA.  I started reading as much as possible about the PCUSA, their advances in acceptance since 2011, the Book of Order, the Book of Confessions, theology books, and much more.

I am so impressed by this denomination’s history and the focus of love and not condemnation. In January 2014,  I started attending two PCUSA churches (in Brandon, Florida) and I plan on joining one of them next month. After being away from any denomination for 30 years (since I was 17 years old), I have finally found a church home and a denomination that I believe in and support wholeheartedly.

Words do not describe the joy I feel. It is so overwhelming. I aspire to be an Elder one day and to become very involved in the denomination. I would have never considered the PCUSA before the changes in 2011. However, your denomination has an undeniable and incredibly impressive history of standing up for those who are without voices and those who are deemed less desirable by other churches. The PCUSA has always been in the forefront of change, starting with Martin Luther, John Calvin’s thoughts of Reformation, the Revolution, standing up against slavery, women’s rights, the right of ordination for women, ordination for gay individuals, and the list goes on. This affiliation has historically made tough decisions solely based on God’s love. These decisions were many times unpopular within the denomination and some even left the organization based on these progressive decisions.

Sadly, there will always be those who detest change. However, change will also attract many. The past has shown that those changes were usually embraced by other denominations thereafter. This denomination has always led the way, but nevertheless, the choices have never been easy.  The PCUSA is such a loving, thinking, and evolving denomination, who values humanity and God’s love for all. From all of my readings, I have concluded that if I had to sum up this denomination in one word, it would be “love”!

There are many homosexual individuals without a church home or a denomination. Everyone yearns for love and complete acceptance, especially from those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am very grateful for the advances in the PCUSA, but I feel that until this denomination recognizes and allows gay marriages, we are separate and not equal. I am exceptionally DSCF1337(2)empathetic for those ordained Ministers that cannot even marry within the church they serve. And, for those who live in States where gay marriages are now legally recognized, but they still are not allowed to be married in a PCUSA church. On a side note, my first and true love and I reconnected in 2004 and we have been together ever since.

May you be filled and guided by the Holy Spirit each day.  I pray that God will fill your heart with love, understanding, and compassion and that you will be guided to do His will. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Blessings,

Monalissa Howell

Comments

  1. http://Lucia says

    These two ladies are awesome and I am so honored to know them and have them be part of our spiritual journey classes!!

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