There’s some debate among my clergy friends about how much the pastor’s personal perspectives can or should run over into the professional realm.
How much is being prophetic and how much is using the pulpit to advocate your own position? Frankly, when you pastor a church I just don’t think there’s any simple delineation to be had.
But I am aware that what I say and do reflects on the church, and that not everyone at Calvary has the same opinion on every issue that I do (in a true spirit of Christian love I don’t mind that they are wrong, though.)
It’s no big secret, of course, but I want to be clear that I’m not speaking for the congregation here. I make this disclaimer before you read this posting, as this will give you a small glimpse into a personal perspective of mine.
This is how we got started.
When we moved to DC we found a house in the most wonderful neighborhood near downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. We knew the minute we drove into the neighborhood that we could feel at home here as soon as we saw all the “Give Peace a Chance” signs in peoples’ yards. The neighborhood was very racially diverse and kids rode their bikes up and down the sidewalks. It seemed like just the place for our family.
Once we moved in we realized there was much more diversity on our block than we’d known; in fact, much more than we’d experienced anywhere else we’d lived. For example, there are several families on our block who have adopted children. A whole handful are biracial; three or four are little girls who were adopted from China. There are several biracial couples and a couple of kids with special needs. And several families on our block are gay partners raising children.
Before I moved to Silver Spring I knew families with same sex partners existed but I’d never really known any. That all changed when we met our next door neighbors, Ellen and Julie, and their two little girls Ruby and Jasper. Ellen and Julie are great neighbors and, in addition to many things we have in common (professional interests, faith, music and arts), the thing that has bound us together most tightly as neighbors and friends is this crazy adventure of parenting that we’ve all taken on.
With the gift of supportive neighbors and friends like Ellen and Julie we share things like: hand-me-down clothes; recipes; baby equipment; missing ingredients; and babysitting. In fact, trading off our kids has been immensely helpful for both families as we try to juggle modern life in this crazy city. I always know Ellen and Julie are watching out for my kids and I think Ellen and Julie feel the same about us.
This experience was the backdrop for our decision making when our family was asked to participate in a project being organized by the Human Rights Campaign. Though Mark and I have been members of the Human Rights Campaign for several years we’ve never really spent much time at rallies or protests or anything; we just joined because we felt strongly that our friends and neighbors who are gay deserve the same legal rights and protections that we enjoy.
Thanks to Ellen and Julie, who have helped us understand that a family is a family is a family, we said yes.
I’m not sure if pictures of our family clowning around will go too far in convincing the world that everybody deserves a chance to be a family, but they did provide us an opportunity to do something together for a cause we believe in . . . to become activists instead of onlookers . . . to teach our kids that we can be part of making a change.
And, if that doesn’t work, at least our modeling careers are off to a great start.