As my Facebook friends know, last night I posted this:

“I’m on church vestry. It’s like Congress, and just as methodical and slow-moving. Tonight, however, we ‘DMC-fast-tracked*’ the same sex marriage issue…”

Father Nick himself put same-sex marriage on the agenda. He eloquently spoke about the mix of feelings and sentiment on this issue, about the separation of church and politics, and about the logistics. He’d checked with our Bishop; ceremonies can be done using our current Book of Common Prayer, or a newly approved book (of which he already had a copy and he now showed us) and he will conduct a forum for the congregation in September to inform and answer questions. In proper Father Nick form, his entire speech took about two minutes. And then he said, “In the meantime, we have people in this church who are loved and have been serving this church for years, and this law affects them directly. I think some of them would like to take this sacrament. Personally…” he paused, and casually moved the Kleenex box on his left and repositioned the pen on his right. He’s brilliant for his pauses. Then he looked at us. You could have heard a pin drop. He continued, “Personally, I want to do the ceremonies for them.”book

With that, we opened it up for discussion. Fourteen of us at the table, from various backgrounds, many of us originally from out of state, took our turns to speak. Around the table there are Mayo doctors, IBM engineers, lawyers, a waitress (me!), retirees, clergy spouses, financial advisors, and I’m not sure what the new guy does, but he and his wife are my age—which is to say, mid-thirties and on the younger end of the spectrum. I looked around the table with a bit of dread. We can’t agree on the colors for our website (six-month ongoing debate I don’t want to go into), how are we going to come together on this? Perhaps this is a jumping off point, and maybe by September we’ll have reached some working solution. But I was wrong. Oh, was I wrong. As we went around the table, one after the other, each of us and all of us had our say. Each and all.

Retired doctor, “Agreed.”

Current Mayo rules-maker, who likes to follow the book, “I agree. Long overdue.”

Lawyer, “I’m in favor.”

My turn, “Agreed. And I echo, ‘Long overdue.’”

Around we went. All in agreement. When we got around to Heather, the church secretary (and in my personal opinion, Super Woman), Father Nick said, “Heather? What are your thoughts?”

She stopped typing the minutes and replied, “I’m hoping to be a flower girl. Agreed!”

“All in favor?”

A resounding, “Aye.”

“All opposed?”

Silence. Sweet, melodious silence.

Done.doodad

We acknowledged that possibly some members might leave the church because of the decision. Father Nick’s forum will have tremendous importance. The message is this: We believe marriage is a sacrament. The law in our land now says marriage is legal for same-sex couples. Thus, we are within the law to offer the sacrament to everyone, and so we shall.

Now, we’re not Vegas. As a church, we have rules to follow. All couples getting married have required marriage prep classes with Father Nick. All couples, which has a nice ring to it.

We think of our church as a sanctuary and an oasis to anyone “heavy-laden and needing refreshment.” Just as some may leave us, it was brought up that new families may join our church because of the decision we just made. Open doors work both ways. Faith tells us our door says, “Welcome.”

On May 15, 2013, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota. The ink is barely dry on his signature, and my church is forging ahead, unanimously. Fourteen people sat around that table yesterday and spoke from their hearts, and made history. I was lucky to be a part of it.

Minnesota is the 12th state of in the union to enact such a law.

I live here.

*DMC is Destination Medical Center, a Minnesota bill written and passed in an unprecedented 90 days in 2013, offering support to the Mayo Clinic to make Rochester a top-notch medical destination, complete with housing, shops, roads and infrastructure, hotels, arts, culture, and the like.

 

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, available on Amazon.

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