Tuesday 18 October 2016

When the church turns on its own updated #DavidFord

This evening I looked up the first time I posted about this. It appears to have been 3½ years since the news first broke about David Ford was called by some in Second Donegore Presbyterian Church to step aside as an elder in their Kirk Session.

It appears that the debate over his position has finally reached the highest appeal court within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI). Their findings to many outside the church will make confusing reading. The Templepatrick Presbytery of which 2nd Donegore is one of the congregations have resolved to remove him from congregational duties within the church. Yet he remains an elder of good standing within the church.

The first part of this appears to be because the other ruling elders in the congregation disagree with David's view on seeking to allow civil same sex marriage within Northern Ireland. The second would appear that David's actions have done nothing to bring the church into disrepute with his stance. For the second I am thankful, but for the first I continue to be saddened by the church I grew up in and to some extent appears to continue to lack grace, understanding or a willingness to listen to members of their denomination who are LGBT+.

I have chronicled before my own experiences within the PCI (follow the label) so I'll not go over it here. But I am not the only family member of an elder/elders within the PCI who is LGBT+. Nor for that matter am I the only LGBT+ person who has been hurt by the attitude of the PCI or some of those within it. You notice here that I say some as others are prepared to look more deeply, listen more actively and seek to understand. To those who include David Ford, Stewart Dickson and Naomi Long amongst them I want to say thank you and keep on acting like Christ on these issues.

For those who continue to ignore the PCI's own pastoral guidelines for people with "same-sex attraction" (their term obviously not mine. I challenge you to show me in the Hebrew or Greek the verses that back up your position. I don't want you to stand behind the English translation of multiple complex words into the one catch all. After all I didn't think we made our ministers study Greek and Hebrew at Theological College so they would not be able to discern the true meanings of words not life in ignorance and from that be intolerant.