People are still sad and angry over the resignation of former vice moderator of the 220th Genersl Assembly, the Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe, only a few days after she was confirmed in a 388-240 vote. At the end of this afternoon’s plenary, anyone who wished was invited to voice their feelings during a town hall meeting with the former vice-moderator, moderator Neal Presa, new vice moderator Tom Trinidad. Tara and Neal were both clear with the nearly standing room only crowd that Tara’s decision to resign was hers alone and that Neal never asked her to, even after news that she officiated at a same-gender marriage, which is believed by many to be prohibited in our denomination’s constitution, became known to him.
Despite their best attempts, feelings of anger, frustration and deep sadness were shared with regard to what has been perceived as acts of bullying by a few within our denomination who are both present and not present at GA. Tara shared that she had received personal emails and was made aware of an open letter that questioned the integrity of both the duly elected moderator and vice moderator. Plus, there were rumors that a group of conmissioners were working to seek reconsideration of the confirmation vote. Tara felt all of this, plus the perceived low affirmative vote she received for a vice moderator, were driving the division of this assembly and our church further (though it was noted that Neal recevied only 52% of the vote on a fourth ballot).
Among others, an issue that still remains is the fact that she was put in the position in the first place to have to make this decision after an assembly still duly voted and decided. I have said before and say it again, it is one thing disagree, it is another to commit acts of violence against those with whom you disagree.
If we are to truly be a church of peace, that does not mean agreement. It means valuing relationships enough to stay connected through any challenge or difference, and humble ourselves to be changed and challenged by the “other.” Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies, but I get the feeling their enemies were not obvious outsides to the community—I’m beginning to wonder if the enemy was themselves.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us,” proclaimed Walt Kelly in 1970 through his comic character Pogo to promote Earth Day.
Can our anger and sadness transform us by God’s Holy Spirit to jar us (me) out of our self righteous anger enough to continue to pray for those who would seek to divide and destroy us? Might we be convicted, then, to work harder to live into the kingdom of God envisioned by Jesus where our united faith holds stronger than our divisions?
I’m still angry. My sadness is deep. I’m trying to find hope.