I looked around the room at our most recent Covenant Conversation – the one we held in Orange County, California. We were in a presbytery that has lost ten churches over the past decade in the debates over LGBTQIA ordination and marriage. We were at a church that has itself had spirited and difficult conversations about how to hold everyone together while truly welcoming and affirming all God’s people. We were there – pastors and laypeople from multiple churches, Covenant Network Board members alongside people who had never joined an intentional conversation about inclusion, gay and straight – listening, learning, growing. It was church, and it was powerful.
This, I thought, is the moment the Covenant Network of Presbyterians was made for. This is the vision our founders and leaders through the years dreamed of. A transgender man who had felt unwelcome at churches for years, but now has found a home—even amid some who do not understand. His pastor, whose own views have evolved over time. Members who have advocated for inclusion for years seated beside neighbors who worry about alienating their conservative friends. They were all there, God’s people coming together with honesty and moving ahead with God’s work of love and justice for all. It was a promise fulfilled, and a sign of hope.
Today, because of your support, we at the Covenant Network are able not only to host those conversations, but to have them in places that a decade ago would have treated them as just too hot to touch. One thing emerges each time: We are nowhere near finished. Emotions still can run high. Experiences of being judged and rejected are shared. And there is always a great deal of “I know what we need to do as a church … I just don’t know how to get there.” I hear the same thing in calls from candidates and pastors, sessions and presbyteries, every week: “I didn’t think we had problems like this any more—but help!”
The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is making a difference. Your financial support is funding these Covenant Conversations – including two (in Memphis and San Antonio) scheduled for 2019 and many others in 2020 – and so much more. You are helping us update our resources to address the congregational questions of today in the geographic, cultural and linguistic contexts of a changing church. You are strengthening our engagement with the church beyond the United States as we explore work with and through mission workers and ecumenical partners in places that have been unfriendly to LGBTQIA people in church and society. You are powering our work gearing up for the 2020 General Assembly, our signature ministry of presence, witness and advocacy for transformation and unity.
When you contribute a gift of $100 or more by June 15, a generous donor will match your gift (up to $5,000), doubling its impact. There has never been a better time to give, and the need for transformation in church and society is as persistent as ever.
I would relish the opportunity to talk with you, your church or your presbytery about how we can serve your community. Don’t hesitate to email me or call our office. In the meantime, please prayerfully considerable a generous gift. You can give securely online right now by clicking here.
We can only do this because of your support. Thank you for your generosity and your steadfast witness to justice in the Church of Jesus Christ.
Brian Ellison, executive director
p.s. Those matching funds are only available until June 15, so please give today!