Sunday, September 22, 2013

letter 85

Bishop Mark Webb
Upper New York Annual Conference
324 University Ave., Third Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
Dear Bishop Webb,
I am writing to you in support of Rev. Steve Heiss. I am writing this from a slightly different perspective as I do not attend church. As a recovering Catholic I am leery of organized religion. I have had so many negative experiences throughout my childhood/youth with the church and those memories remain fresh to this day. I can remember sitting in the pew with my family while listening to the awful intolerance spew from the priest and his congregation. I remember feeling so worthless and belittled.
As I got older and I slowly came out as a lesbian to my friends and family, I did so remembering all of those feelings of pain and rejection. Still to this day when I think of those years in that church, I still feel the shiver of discomfort. I went many years without ever stepping foot inside a church. Now at the age of twenty eight I can honestly say I miss it. I miss the music, the companionship, and the peace I felt in those moments of silence where I could drown out the hate and just be one with the God who I believed in.
When I discovered that the Tabernacle was a reconciling church I thought to myself that maybe this was the place where I could rekindle my relationship with faith. Then I learned of the charges against Pastor Heiss and I thought again. Why would I want to be apart of a church where the institution behind it feels that I am a second class citizen? I feel very frustrated that in 2013, this is even still an issue. This should not be an issue
This brings me to my support of Rev. Steve Heiss. When I heard that he officiated at same sex marriages and that charges were being brought against him it brought me back to those old feelings of rejection. This time I have chosen to change my thinking. Instead of chalking this up to another organized religion which does not support LGBT people, I am choosing to view this as an opportunity. The world is changing and I feel that this, Bishop Webb is your opportunity to be a part of the change.
I applaud Pastor Heiss. He is a hero in my personal opinion. I know you have been placed in a difficult situation but I am asking that you think about what you want for the future of your church. How many more people have to feel that painful sting of rejection? In time the world will change and I hope that you can join Pastor Heiss in being on the right side of history. Bishop Webb, please be a part of that change.
Lauren Gaynor

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