Friday, December 3, 2010

Leaving PCUSA

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 The support of the congregation I have come to know and love so well was revoked, and the presbytery that I have belonged to all of my life demoted me to second-class citizenship, incapable of ever rising to the office of Presbyterian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


  1. i will be praying for you and the presbyterian church my friend. i my self am gay and also a lifelong prebyterian. my boyfriend is also a lifelong presbyterian and getting ready to go to seminary. we both know we have a fight in our future and we are prepared for it. before we met the presbyterian church i grew up in(oldest presbyterian church in the seattle presbytery) closed after running budget deficits for 5 straight years and in stead of looking for a new presbyterian church i decided i couldnt be true to my self as a gay christian and continue being a part of a denomination that really hadnt stood up for the gay community so i kept my membership open and started going to an open an affirming ucc/doc church.....with a whole in my heart......well i met my boyfriend and now my heart is whole and the desire to stand up and fight has returned. it has also helped that i have realized that i wasnt the only gay person in the presbyterian me and my bf arent just fighting for us or even just gay presbyterians but the whole denomination and in certain respects the worldwide church....i know you are hurting right now my christian brother but i encourage you to continue praying and look with in your heart to find a way to tough it out....maybe you can put the seminary on hold until things change or continue to go and look at the ucc church which is closely aligned with the presbyterian church but open and affirming, at least until the next general assembly changes the direction of the church as some of us beleive will happen....all i know is that if we dont stay and fight the presbyterian tradition might be lost to the history books and many more people especially gays, who are left behind will struggle like we have struggled...we need to fight for all of us....please email me or instant message me and ill give you my phone number or we can chat online if you are goodsamaritan742 or email may the peace of the lord be with you my friend....


  2. Dear Mr. Wei,
    I'm sorry that you've been forced to leave your denomination. I'll be praying for you and for an increase in justice within the PCUSA.

  3. While I cannot begin to understand your pain, I want you know that you have love and support from those who have never met you. As I read your post, I cried for you, for all who are denied their calling from God, and for the PC(USA). As they say in our Presbytery de Cristo in Southern Arizona, via con Dios. May you return someday knowing that you are loved and cherished as a child of God to fulfill God's calling in your life.


  4. Charles and Kevin,

    I appreciate both of you sharing your stories. I am sad that the beautiful PC(USA) continues to hurt its people who are called by God to the ministry. I have been discerning the call since October and although I meet all the requirements to begin the process towards Inquirer status, I have been moving towards exploring denominations and ordination tracks outside of the church of my baptism and life. You will both be in my prayers as will all the others who find themselves with these unnecessary questions and struggles. May God's will be done.

    - Ryan

  5. Dear Charles,
    My heart breaks to read this. I serve a More Light Presbyterian Church and we would welcome you, support you and take you under care as you seek ordination. I wish you were nearby so you could see what the Presbyterian Church COULD look like.

    In the meantime (appropriate for Advent, don't you think), I'll keep you and your partner in my prayers. You aren't alone. There are Presbyterians working hard on your behalf and though we can't see the end of the tunnel, we do see light, light and more light.

    Grace and much peace to you.

  6. This breaks my heart. We have behaved foolishly for too long. Our church is the poorer for your taking leave, but sometimes one has to shake shoe dust around. I hope your note finds fertile ground in your former congregation and presbytery, and may the Holy Spirit use your gracious words to soften the heart of those who cheer your leaving. Lord have mercy on the PCUSA.

  7. The standard for ordination (G-6.0106b) has long stated that church officers must be faithful in marriage between a man and a woman or chaste in singleness. In my opinion neither a heterosexual who is unfaithful in marriage, nor a tomcatting single guy, nor an unchaste homosexual is appropriate for ordination in our church.

    Surely the ordination standard did not come as a surprise to you. If you have homosexual tendencies, you certainly have the option to be chaste in singleness.

    You can commit to be celibate in singleness and seek ordination, or remain in the denomination in non-ordained capacities, or seek ordination in a more liberal denomination. If the PCUSA starts ordaining practicing homosexuals, I for one will look for a denomination more faithful to my understanding of scripture.

  8. Annonymous huh? Anyhow just because the standard for ordination states one standard doesn't mean its the right standard. A standard is only a standard if its the will of the people to keep it a standard and a lot of people in the presbyterian church don't feel this is an appropriate standard. As a gay male and a presbyterian my self w a boyfriend going to seminary I can tell you that we have hope that come the next GA this standard will change. You sir are very much welcome to your opinion but as it stands right now the presbyterian church does not marry gay couples denying us the ability to not be "single/non married" based off the christian standard and at the same time states single men must be chaste?????? What a paradox.........maybe your answer is to not be gay so we can be "true christians" and my response is if it is a choice for us to be gay christians then at what age did you choose to be a straight male? Do you remember? Do you know? We want to have an honest conversation with all who care to about whether its truly a good thing that we as comitted couples can't legitimize our relationships via legal marriage and feel right in gods eyes in regards to our relationships. Is it also right that we can't if qualified serve the denomination that so many of us have grown up in just because we are committed to a same sex partner? We can't change who we love no more than you can change who you love. The only differences I you as of right now can serve the presbyterian church in any way you are qualified to and you can refer to your self as a married man. We generally say partner cause a majority of us can't legally married and we can't as of now serve in any way that we are qualified to and in closing in my mind its a sin of the church to deny any person a calling blessed by god. That's what a calling is: a direction in life blessed by god. We all sin but to sin together as a church by deny something as special as a calling and as special as a church recognized marriage.....shouldn't we change that?

    Kevin C washington state.

  9. Anonymous #2

    While I affirm your right to worship the Book of Order, I certainly don't agree with it. Might I suggest you look to God as your spiritual authority?

  10. Dear are needed in the ministry! Your post was thoughtful, loving and forgiving -it's so hard to be all those things when you are being persecuted. I pray that you are surrounded by family, friends and supporters and that you will continue to move forward in ministry as God directs you. I also pray that PCUSA - my church since my baptism in 1962 (although not currently a member)will learn to be a denomination of love and peace, not rules and rigidity...Peace to you.

  11. Stay with the PCUSA, change your Presbytery. The New York City Presbytery is gay friendly. Most of the clergy there are openly gay.

  12. It saddens me that the anonymous comment above fails to value people above law. Presbyterians, please reread the gospels and the lessons of Jesus which are totally about love over law. That's not a liberal stance. That's not an unscriptural stance. It is Jesus' stance.

  13. I heard Johanna Bos sing... "We shall not give up the fight we have only started, we have only started, we have only started. We shall not give up the fight we have only started. We have only Start-ed."

    We are working on your behalf and on behalf of all the sisters and brothers who are currently harmed by the BoO. Please know we pray for your well-being, your peace, and your journey ahead.


  14. Charles,

    I am an ordained Elder and Presbytery Commissioner in the PCUSA within a conservative congregation. I am 56, white, heterosexual male with 3 beautiful grown children, one of whom is Gay. I honor, affirm and celebrate your calling and your life.

    I too have made the difficult decision to leave PCUSA when my Pastor soon retires but am now transitioning. My frustration peaked during GA and in my own Presbytery as I watched thousands of hours of spiritual work get trampled by "parliamentary procedure" preventing the GA commissioners from even voting on critical sections of LGBT issues.

    The section that anonymous cites above was only inserted into the book of order in the late 1990's (1997?) and is a political statement placed within a spiritual narrative. It is not the word of God and can removed as easily as it was placed there.

    PCUSA is losing (according to the latest PEW report) a steady 60,000 (sixty thousand) members per year. PCUSA is down to just over 2 Million members from a high of 4.5 Million in the early 1970's. This loss is attributable to both ends of the spectrum, liberal and conservative.

    I have chosen to pursue ordination with the Unity Church. Not only is the onerous, ponderous and limiting "polity" non-existent, but we understand, respect, honor and celebrate the diversity within the kingdom of God, in path as well as orientation. Jesus is our "Wayshower" of our ultimate potential as children of God. In our new member Unity group, fully 10 of 12 individuals were coming directly from a Presbyterian background.

    Can you imagine the good works, the message that could be shown to the world if the 1000's of hours in debate, the millions of dollars being spent in legal circles and administration dealing with a "non-essential of the faith" were instead focused on advancing the Good News that Christ brought to the world and caring for our fellow man?!

    All the Law can be summed up in this " to love God with all your heart, all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself", Jesus quotes the book of Deuteronomy. When we only listen to the "law" as written by MAN on paper, we are are ignoring the Law written by God, on our hearts.

    Blessings and Peace to you in your journey. You are Loved.


  15. hey charles, i finally read your post and the comments... i'm sorry that you have been so hurt by your church family. its sad and frustrating and ridiculous all at the same time. i know that you are surrounded by friends and i add my thoughts and prayers as well - its not an easy transition to a new denomination. i also left but it hadn't been a long-term home for me, so the transition was not difficult. but i do know that i am loving the ucc for being open and loving and welcoming to all sorts of people. i posted a quote on my facebook today from brian mclaren, but its similar to things i've heard elsewhere - following Christ is joining God in the work of loving and healing - (not excluding, hating, denying, etc.) - i hope you will find healing and joy in a new place though i am sure it will not be a simple thing - i'm sure there will be grieving and pain and i hope you continue to be surrounded by loving community at sfts and other extended family and friends. call/txt/email if you ever need another friend who has moved out of the pcusa.