Repentance and forgiveness…a beginning

tamfsWe convey to you the request of Rev. Marc Benton for forgiveness in bringing forth the  charges and legislation that  produced Benton v. Hudson River, et al. We also refer to Rev.  Benton’s newly stated support for same gender marriage. In so doing, we  acknowledge  his courage and commitment in taking responsibility for his role in the harm, pain and  suffering produced by his earlier  actions.

We also acknowledge South Presbyterian Church’s Session and pastors, Joe Gilmore and Susan De George, for their ongoing commitment to the LGBTQ/Q community when Rev. Benton insisted that they be investigated and charged for doing same-gender commitment services. It is such faithful perseverance by these folks and others that are at the heart of the changes we are witnessing today.

We stand firmly alongside, deeply indebted and thankful to everyone who has ever been hurt, harmed, punished or pushed away because of Benton v. Hudson River, et al or any of the other charges, hearing, rulings and deep anguish caused by such actions. We are here to do whatever we can in healing, reconciliation and moving forward so that such actions and harms never happen again.

We pray that Rev. Benton’s decision and forthrightness will prompt others to step up, acknowledging their roles in the harm caused our community and making amends for their participation in decades of marginalization and exclusion of our Christian sisters and brothers. We encourage and support all who seek assistance in moving forward on this path, and we will never forget the suffering and pain of others whose lives are the foundation for these changes.

The toughest road, we think, is ahead. This journey for healing will only be complete when the church accepts its responsibility, admits the harms it has done, and makes amends for the teachings and prohibitions it has supported and allowed in the discrimination of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning community.  With recent changes to the Book of Order and those currently under consideration, we feel the church is also charged with taking an active and corporate role in facilitating these changes. We are ready to support such efforts, as well.

“Redemption appears as the liberty to interpret in trust…
all that happens to us and to which we react as occurring in a final context
of life giving rather than death-dealing.”  H. Richard Niebuhr, The Responsible Self

When we can witness to one another and  the world our faithfulness to the Gospel and all it requires us to be in love for one another, then perhaps redemption to which we are called will achieve its life-giving purpose.


Ray Bagnuolo

Cover page from the Hudson River Presbytery September 9, 2014

The Rev. Marc Benton, the pastor who brought the suit Benton v. Hudson River Presbytery that defined PC(USA)’s distinction between marriage and holy unions, has repented of his position and is seeking forgiveness from the members of the Hudson River Presbytery.

At Rev. Benton’s request, the Hudson River Presbytery has prepared this press release and is sharing his statement with the wider church.

Attached, please find a the release and Rev. Benton’s statement.

Rev. Benton’s statement has been shared with members of the Hudson River Presbytery and he will be joining our presbytery at its regular meeting in September.

1) Statement from Rev. Susan Andrews, Executive Presbyter; Hudson River Presbytery

2) Rev. Marc Benton’s Statement


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Got Moms?

(From Believe Out Loud – 5 years ago!)


Why support 050 [PCUSA’s overture to admit harms done to LGBTQ/Q Community and Apologize]? 

This video is from FIVE years ago…with more to do to break the cycle of hatred and violence. Legislative change is important, but living into it in ways that turn the tide of marginalization takes enormous courage and commitment. What better place for what should be a reservoir of such strength than our communities of faith. 

Imagine the harms that were done (still are in some places) when this family would find themselves turned away. 

According the the FBI’s statistics: “In 2014, 20.8% of hate crimes reported to police in 2013 were founded on perceived sexual orientation.” So, if the numbers remained the same, in the five years since this video was produced, more than 12,000 hate crimes have been committed against folks who identify or are perceived to be LGBTQ/+. Add to that family and friends who have been affected when loved ones have been targeted, and it is easy to see why the work of lifting up the changes in the PC(USA) and acknowledging the harms that have been done are so important to us – and to those who watch us. 

At That All May Freely Serve, we ask for your support of Overture 050 (Item 11-05) in the ongoing struggle to make sure everyone knows they are welcome in the PC(USA). From there, the wind and fire of Pentecost take care of the rest. More at That All May Freely Serve…

Ray Bagnuolo

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