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 The support of the congregation I have come to know and love so well was revoked, and the presbytery that I have belonged to all of my life demoted me to second-class citizenship, incapable of ever rising to the office of Presbyterian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