June 8, 2010

Love And Light

I spent this past weekend in Fort Wayne with Abe. He had an extended work week and invited me to join him for a couple of nights. After getting everything ready for my absence on Sunday, I left Friday afternoon to join him for dinner. It was a glorious two-hour drive, temps in the high seventies with the roof down in late afternoon.

We ate at Casa’s, his favorite restaurant outside of Indy. This time we managed to meet the owner, who sat down with us and told us that they’re planning to expand from their small chain of restaurants in Fort Wayne to a couple more in Indy. I think they’ll make it, too, in spite of the economy. Their places are packed every night of the week.

The next morning we went to Abe’s favorite breakfast place, the Liberty Diner. It is owned and managed by a Greek couple from New York. They have built the quintessential East Coast diner and plunked it in Fort Wayne. The interior d├ęcor has a human-sized Statue of Liberty by the front door. American flags drape various parts of the diner, and large black-and-white photos of Manhattan hang high over one row of booths. It is next to Bambi’s Exotic Lounge and across the street from a truck stop. And it is packed with locals who want a great breakfast any time of day or really good Greek food. The owners—better dressed than most of the patrons—drop by your table to make sure everything is good.

While I highly recommend both restaurants, the top place to go remains DeBrand Chocolatier. They make some of the finest chocolates I’ve ever eaten, and they ship! I asked about summer shipments, and I was told their freight company uses special ice packaging to insure fresh chocolates wherever they ship. If you have a chocolate connoisseur you wish to impress, this is the stuff to send. Warning: Not Safe For Budgets.

Abe and I had a lovely time. It was Date Night times three! He was so sweet and planned all of our ventures. I just went along for a wonderful time. Let’s say we both had a wonderful time.

I had to slip out early Sunday morning to head for Indy again, but not to my own church. I made arrangements with a friend to meet her at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church for worship and a meeting afterward. “Jane” is from Columbus and has been instrumental in helping me in my efforts to have my church become open and affirming. She has pointed me to resources, events and authors more than any other person I know. Jane was bringing her church group to St. Andrew, so I joined them.

St. Andrew* is the first and only Presbyterian church in Indiana to join the More Light Presbyterian network of churches. The mission statement of MLP says “Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).” It is a strong statement to make in this denomination, and some churches who are truly open and affirming still have difficulty adding this label to their names.

Jane and her group of ten or so fellow supporters and I met with the two pastors of St. Andrew after worship. We asked about the process that led them to this important—and to some, risky—step of affirmation.

Although for each church it is different, this small congregation had already been “More Light” in practice for some time. The session—that is, the ruling group of elders—held a three-hour meeting to discuss and vote on the idea. Three hours, and it was done! Of course, it was years in the making.

Something struck me when I was driving home that afternoon: for the straight members of that congregation, declaring the church More Light changed nothing. All would go on as before. For its gay members and those seeking a church and gay children growing up in this church, everything changed. They are affirmed not only in general but in writing and in action. This is powerful stuff and it costs the straight members of the church nothing but understanding. I will be taking this idea to my church group. We are years away from this step, which frankly I considered an impossibility in my congregation. I don’t see it that way anymore.

I hope to partner our church with St. Andrew in LGBT outreach and advocacy. I have some thinking, talking and reading to do about this. We continue to move toward the Light.

*I have yet to find out how a Presbyterian church comes to call itself Saint Anything. Sounds Catholic, doesn't it?


Rox said...

It sounds like you had a fabulous time and got some great ideas to incorporate into your own church, that's awesome! Thanks for the chocolate warning. I was about to click on the link but really, I don't need another ounce of chocolate-turned-to-fat! Especially the kind that will lead to poverty!

tornwordo said...

Not clicking the chocolate link. My spare tire is large enough thank you. And what fun with the junket. Sometimes the best trips are the shortest distances away. Good luck with the lightening of the church!

Bear Me Out said...

Sounds like your mini-break was good! I hope our congregation will make a statement about being open and welcoming to all. Not there yet. But with a (now out) gay pastor, what's the big deal.

To make such a powerful and important statement that reaches out so far, and yet changes little or nothing of the day-to-day stuff. How much easier could it be? But then "they" might start showing up!

With St. Andrew as patron saint of Scotland, he's about the only saint I've seen on Presbyterian buildings, but without any apostrophe S

the hobbit said...

I'm so glad your life has changed for the better. I think the world may be slowly turning around. I hope so! We need some love and light.