Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Part Two: Reacceptance

The Meeting

If this is your first time reading my blog, you might wish to read the previous blog that dealt with what had happened with me personally. In it, you will read that I was denied membership at the Branson, Missouri Salvation Army because of my stance on marriage quality for the LGBT community.

This meeting turned out to leave me a bit confused. I have drawn my own conclusions and I will allow you to draw your own. I understand that this is my own perspective. How I viewed the meeting will be different that the other two participants in the meeting.

I was apprehensive about the meeting to begin with. A good friend of mine had offered to come with me to the meeting, but at the last minute he had to cancel. I then asked another friend to the meeting, who is the pastor of a local church I had been attending in the interim. He apologized, but he had to be out of town for that time.

So I was nervous. I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't attended The Salvation Army since that first meeting. I actually couldn't even if I wanted to on Sundays because my work schedule (to this day) doesn't allow me to attend Church on Sundays. It has been OK, though. I have been attending a wonderful Bible Study which challenges me as much as it stimulates me.

During the meeting, we read over the Soldier's Covenant, our Articles of War. During the meeting, I discovered from my divisional commander that he was concerned that I would use the topic of marriage equality to derail the work of The Salvation Army in Branson, Missouri. He wanted assurances from me that I would abide by my covenant. I had already done so before in my previous correspondences. So I reiterated the same to him that day and he accepted me as a soldier in the Branson Corps.

We briefly touched on the differences between abiding by Position Statements versus our Covenant. I brought up the fact that our Position Statements have changed over the years.

However, what was most interesting to me was to discuss the whole issue of #BlackLivesMatter as it relates to the events of Ferguson. My divisional commander is African-American. He has been in charge of The Salvation Army based in St. Louis, MO (of which Ferguson is a suburb) since before the tragic events there. I actually appreciated his spirit and his candor as he expressed how difficult it was to be both a voice for the oppressed as it was to support those in Law Enforcement. It was something I greatly enjoyed listening to and would have loved the opportunity to discuss it further with him.

What now?

I am not certain. Shortly after I left, I received a text message from my corps officer, saying that he supported the outcome of the meeting. I told some of my friends about the outcome of the meeting on Facebook. Their responses were from incredulous to happy.

This has been one of the most difficult experiences I have faced. I have no doubt that my corps officer, my divisional commander, and our headquarters were trying to delicately find a balanced situation here that would appease everyone.

What do you do when a relationship has been broken and trust is now an issue? Do you work through the issues, or do you bid a fond farewell?

This is the question I will struggle with. This is the question I will confront.

I love The Salvation Army. I love how we serve humanity and go where others refuse to go. I have been saddened by the Army's marginalization of those in the LGBT Community, including myself, and I wonder whether it is now worth the struggle.

I have not come up with an answer; however, I am grateful for the outcome of this session and the fact that I am still a soldier of The Salvation Army.