Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
First of all, I'm very sorry that you have experienced pain as a result of our church and presbytery rejecting your theology. We too experience vilification for our sincerely held beliefs and are labeled as "non Christian", "bigots", & "pharisees" by those we love and it is hard to keep in mind that is our theology that is being rejected and not us.
Second this advice or recommendation is coming from me as a friend and not from our church or presbytery. I suggest that you do not leave the PC USA as it will most likely approve the ordination of practicing homosexuals this year or at least in the next 2-4 years. I think all of the mainline denominations will eventually go that route as well. This is unfortunate because all of the fastest growing Christian churches and movements (i.e. Foursquare, , , etc) are conservative and take a stand on the Historic Apostolic Christian faith.
My prayer is that the Spirit visits our country so that "sex" will no longer be god and that we will return to the Biblical theology that teaches that sex is a privilege/gift and not a right.
|You have no idea how I feel because you are in fact rejecting who I am, not my theology. What I believe and do is inextricably linked to who I am as a gay man. How would you feel if someone thought that you loving your husband or wife was sinful and disgusting?|
Friday, December 3, 2010
This blog has been silent for a while and I feel that I need to give everyone some kind of explanation for that. I have know for some time that I needed to give some kind of response to my church and the presbytery for what they did to me. I knew that anything I wrote here would be inauthentic because I was not ready to address that issue. Well, yesterday, I finally wrote the letter, and I literally sent it minutes ago. I have no idea how they will react to it.
It was not an easy letter to write, and it was harder to share, but for better or worse, here it is:
Dear Word of Life Church of Oxnard and the Santa Barbara Presbytery,
While this communication may not be able to convey to you the incredible sense of betrayal and injustice that has been inflicted upon me, I will nevertheless attempt to help you to understand. I was baptized at First Presbyterian Church of Oxnard shortly after my birth in 1979. This summer, I celebrated my 31st birthday. For that entire span of time, I have been a member of the Presbyterian Church USA. Never did it cross my mind that I would ever be anything other than Presbyterian for the remainder of my days.
As you know, I am currently in seminary working towards a Masters in Divinity. My intention was to attempt to go through the ordination process in the Santa Barbara Presbytery. I was told almost from the very beginning that this was probably not a wise course of action, but I believed that the denomination I grew up in would have grace enough to see me through the process. Even if the end result was not ordination, as I feared from the beginning it would not be, I had hoped that there would have been some loving, compassionate and Spirit-led discussions along the way.
But, for reasons that I am only beginning to understand, and perhaps never will, this was not meant to be. The support of the congregation I have come to know and love so well was revoked, and the presbytery that I have belonged to all of my life demoted me to second-class citizenship, incapable of ever rising to the office of Presbyterian minister. The reason that all of this happened is because I am gay.
My first inclination was to fight to be allowed to go through the ordination process. This is my church and I believed in what this church professes to stand for. The church that I have thought for so long stood as a wonderful example of a Christian community on Earth suddenly shone a little less bright. I will not demand equality from the PCUSA, when equality is not for the denomination to grant. I came to you, with a vulnerable and open heart and was put to the side, and so I am forced to kick the dust from my feet.
It is God, the maker of heaven and Earth that gives me my identity, purpose and meaning, not the PCUSA. As a child of God and a member of the priesthood of all believers, I cannot ignore God’s call to do kingdom work here on Earth. I refuse to participate in the demonic paradigm that pits neighbor against neighbor, promoting hatred and injustice. Instead, I will strive to be an active participant in the Kingdom of God on Earth, here and now. I will not ask for your permission to do God’s work, because it is not your permission to give. I only pray that someday, you will cease your pharisaic judgments against your neighbors and join me in a new community based on love, respect and equality, led by Christ, fed by the Holy Spirit, and in communion with God the Father.
Please accept this as formal notification of my withdrawal from the PCUSA. If you have any questions or concerns about what I have communicated, please feel free to contact me via email. I hope that someday, we can put our differences aside and come together as a family again. Until that day comes, I will keep you in my prayers and I will never stop loving you.
Charles Furio Wei
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Here's another story I wrote for my contemplative listening class. I didn't realize how emotional this story was going to make me while I was going through the contemplative listening process with my small group. I share this at the risk of my dad seeing it. If you are reading this, Dad, please read it all the way to the end and know that I love you very much. The past is the past, and no one's childhood is perfect. I love you for who you are now and that is what is important.
For everyone else, here is a peek into my psyche:
I don’t have a lot of fond memories of my dad from when I was little. He was an impatient, angry man, short-tempered and extremely stubborn. I was afraid of him, as were my two brothers, and my sister. My brother James and I bore the brunt of it: me because I was the oldest, and James because he was the troublemaker. I like to tell people that I was the guinea pig for my parents, that they made all of their mistakes on me.
I tell you this because there is one particular memory of my father that will surface from time to time, not necessarily prompted by anything specific, just a memory that I find myself going back to. It’s probably the earliest memory I have of actually enjoying time with my dad.
When I was little, I was really bad about doing my homework. My teachers would always be sending notes home with me to let my parents know that I had yet again not done the homework for the class. This would typically result in my dad belting me. But, one time, and I’m not sure why this time was different, instead of getting mad, he decided to help me.
I was supposed to write a five page state report, and I had chosen Colorado because I wanted to do a report about the Grand Canyon. Of course, I eventually found that the Grand Canyon is not in Colorado. The report was already a few days late. The memories are vague, but I remember my dad looking at the encyclopedia entry for Colorado, trying to find random facts for me to add to the report while I flipped through magazines for pictures to cut out. I think I actually ended up drawing most of them because I couldn’t find pictures for the Colorado state bird, tree or flower.
The thing I remember most is sitting with my dad, and actually enjoying his company, wondering why he was being so nice. It almost wasn’t real and I remember wondering why our relationship couldn’t be more like that moment instead of what it was usually like, like when I would hug him and pretend I was happy when he came back from his business trips. That’s the only memory I have like that of my dad, and maybe that’s why I always come back to it. I have a great relationship with my dad now. I just sometimes wish I had more good memories to go along with it.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
This is National Coming Out Week. In celebration of this week, we had special chapel services and I was supposed to give a testimony for today's service. I decided to write a poem that kind of sums up everything I've been going through the past few months. This is my journey:
Growing Up Gay Just North of L.A.
Welcome to my life.
A life of half-truth and darkness,
Where the light dares not shine,
Because I have been taught to be ashamed of myself,
Because my parents have learned to despise me.
Because the people cry out,
“Those who sin in the eyes of God,
They shall surly burn in the fires of Hell for all eternity!”
I can feel the fire now,
Growing inside of me,
Red hot with indignation,
Crying out for vengeance,
Raging against the injustice!
A creature of hatred and shame,
I have become the monster they so want for me to be,
A crooked mirror that can’t help but do what it was designed to do,
To reflect back a broken image,
A relationship broken,
A people divided,
Because we are all God’s children,
United in our belief that we are better than the other,
Because my light is better than yours,
And we will let our righteousness burn the fuel of our existence,
Until all that is left are the charred remains of a once promising future.
But, I have seen a different kind of light,
The light of open doors and stained glass windows,
Burning with a flame that moves us to embrace each other,
And squeeze so hard it almost hurts.
A fire that keeps us going,
A fire for the living,
So, I choose to burn with the love of Christ,
I will shine with the love of God’s good creation,
And I will light a new kind of fire,
And draw everyone around me with a beacon of hope!
I welcome you in!
Welcome to my life!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This summer, my mom and I went on a road trip across the country. One day, we found ourselves in the tiny town of White Sulfur Springs, MT. We asked the gas station attendant, my first experience with full-service gas by the way, where we could grab a bite to eat. He directed us to the Truck Stop Café, the only place open because it was after 6.
It was a half-block away and there were only two other cars in the parking lot. We went inside where the waitress/hostess greeted us with her dead eyes. The only other people in the café were the cook, who was leaning on the counter, watching us as we walked by, and three men in the back, all wearing slightly grungy looking clothes and talking about farming. I could tell they were regulars by their demeanor. They give us a cursory glance before returning to their food and conversation. My mom and I were the only non-Caucasians there, and I wondered when the last time an Asian person crossed the threshold of the restaurant. I began to wonder if we are the only non-Caucasians in town.
We followed the tall waitress with curly blonde hair to a booth. She looked like she was in her early twenties, doing her best to keep up with pop culture with her black T-shirt with day-glo logo and pierced bottom lip. After handing us our menus, she asked in a monotone, “Can I get you folks anything to drink?” We were “folks.” That was good, right?
We both ordered waters and then bent our heads over the menu when she left to get them. I pointed out the polish sausage soup to my mom and we both laughed.
My mom’s phone rang. She answered. Not only was I thinking about how rude it was to talk on your phone in a restaurant, I knew she was about to go full bore Filipino with her rapid-fire Tagolog. I became acutely aware my “Asianess” and the men in the back of the restaurant. I knew they could hear my mom talking, and if I had to guess, were each in their own minds trying to figure out, and failing, what language she was speaking. I wanted to tell her to get off the phone, but I figured she would have the common decency to end the conversation on her own. She proceeded to talk for a good five minutes or so, ending the conversation shortly before the waitress came back to take our order. I, in the meantime, was actively trying to suppress my fight or flight response.
We tried to make small talk while we waited for our food, and a few minutes later, a family of five came in. I could tell by their dress and their accent that they were from out of town. And, I relaxed.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I'm sorry to be such a downer today, but I just got an email from the church in New Zealand that I was hoping to intern at. They are no longer interested in having me as an intern because they do not believe homosexuals should be in leadership. Here is the email:
I have been concerned for some time as to why we did not seem to be getting a very clear picture of who you were either from you or your referee and we were considering setting up a skype interview. I guess this explains something and I am glad you have told me about this. Unfortunately it does make a difference. Our church’s stand here is that homosexuals are not able to be in leadership. As far as we are concerned it would make things very difficult and we have so much going on for us in terms of our ministry already that this is just not a consideration for next year. I am also now planning on taking study lave from June to August so chances are coming here would not have worked out very well for you.
I am sorry this is unfortunate. We do have a couple of young men in our congregation who believe they are gay and this is ok with us so don’t think we are hardened towards you it’s just it just wouldn’t work out.
We will have to leave it there.
I guess it's all for the better because I need to find a new church to sponsor me for ordination, and it would probably be difficult for me to develop a relationship with a new church from the other side of the planet. I guess I'm just the world's punching bag today.
I am writing in response to your email of September 19, in which you informed me of the decision of your session to withdraw their support of your coming under care of the presbytery, and in which you asked for my opinion on whether the presbytery would entertain taking you under care if you came to us with support from another church. I informed you that I would take the matter up with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) for an answer,
The committee met on September 23 and discussed your question at some length. In addition to your email, we had information which I obtained from a personal meeting with the Word of Life Session, and with Pastor Ron Urzua. I believe I/we received the same basic information from all three sources. Specifically, the session is unwilling to endorse you for possible ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament because you consider an active gay lifestyle to be an acceptable expression of righteous behavior according to the teachings of scripture and our confessions. The session disagrees with your theological position on this matter, and considers it important enough to constitute a disqualification for ordained office in the PCUSA. We understand that this decision has been disappointing and hurtful.
I have gone into the above detail because I wanted to be sure we all agree on the basis for your session’s decision, as you are asking, in effect, if the presbytery would come to the same decision. The committee’s answer is based upon the assumption that we all agree on these facts. If that is not the case, our answer may not adequately address your question.
Based upon the above, it is the opinion of the current CPM of this presbytery that we would consider your theological position on this matter to be outside the bounds of Reformed theology as we understand it in light of Scripture and our confessions. We would refer you specifically to sections 4.087 and 9.47 of our Book of Confessions, and Chapter G-6-0106b of our Book of Order. There are a multitude of scripture passages in support of these references.
Having said that, we must express our reluctance to make such a statement to a brother in Christ with whom we are not in close relationship. Our entire life as believers is to be lived within a particular expression of the body of Christ. It is within that context that we come to know Christ, ourselves and each other. Word of Life is that body for you, and we encourage you to hold close to it and not abandon that relationship. Scripture tells us that “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (Pr 27:5-6) We pray that you will devote sufficient time and energy to discern whether your church – those closest to you in Christ – may be your best friend in this matter.
In Christ, and for the committee.
Clerk of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry
Presbytery of Santa Barbara
Basically, they do not want me to seek ordination, lest I profess my heretic, and more importantly disgusting, theological stance with people that might consider me to be some kind of authority on the subject in the future should I in fact become ordained. The email doesn't exactly answer my question though, does it? Very tricky...