Every four years, friends and delegates gather from around the world for the Nazarene General Assembly. At this assembly they conduct business and enjoy times of worship. This General Assembly is the mother of all Church of the Nazarene meetings. In these meetings it’s possible to intiate changes to the rules and belief statements of the church. It’s a week of high powered holiness injection for attendees.
If you attended, were you surprised at:
the huge number of Nazarenes wandering around with lanyards around their necks?
that during the election of General Superintendents, gossip spread to keep a candidate from getting elected?
at the cost of food in the Convention Center?
None of those things surprised me. But I was surprised at the level of support for the full inclusion of the LGBTQ+ into the church. This support was not spoken in meetings or displayed on signs. Nope. People who I didn’t know but must be readers of my articles, flashed me a thumbs up or shared words of encouragement. It occurred to me an increasing number of laypeople are fully affirming of queer people. This leads to an interesting question.
What will denominational leaders do when people in the pew find their affirming voice? So far the strategy from the top down is to silence affirming clergy. Pastors are threatened into silence or face the consequences. As an example, pastors face the possible loss of ministerial credentials through a process ending in a trial. But what happens when the laity begin to champion full inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community? What happens when board members insist a married lesbian couple be granted church membership? Of course the pastor can put a stop to it. But do you think the board members will let it go?
How will they silence these growing number of voices? It won’t work to threaten them with the with loss of ministerial credentials. Will they face a trial? Will the pastor remove them from leadership positions? Perhaps. But it won’t silence the increasing number of people who believe that God’s love is for everyone.
Now that they are finding their voices, they won’t be quiet. They won’t quit. They won’t back down. Affirming people are in this for the long haul. After all, time is on their side.