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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James Anderson, James Dale, Rutgers, BSA and SCOTUS!

Editor’s Note: In the days ahead, an historic decision on marriage from Supreme Court of the United States will be announced, that began with courage and commitment of folks like these. I asked Jim to write an intro to his involvement with SCOTUS, while at Rutgers and as an advisor to Jim Dale and his challenge before SCOTUS following his expulsion as a Boy Scout leader, because he was gay.

Here is a link to a documentary of the struggle, which includes the two James’. Plays better on some browsers than others.) See Jim’s Bio here at LGBTRAN

From Jim Anderson:

Untitled-1I was “out of the closet” at Rutgers when I arrived there as an assistant professor in 1977.  Later when I became a full professor, I was the only out gay man that anyone knew about (of course there were others, but they didn’t flaunt it like I did), so I reaped many benefits.  When we had homophobic strife on campus the president appointed me chair of his President’s Select Committee on Lesbian and Gay concerns. We produced a landmark report that was copied widely around the country.

When I became associate dean of our school, my main management principle was Jesus’ turn the other cheek and take the blame.  I found this to be the most effective way to get past controversies and begin to deal with them.  It never hurt me to take the blame!  My dean knew what I was doing and supported me all the way.  He left all the internal administration to me.

At the same time, I became the faculty advisor to LGBT students and the main LGBT organization.  I met many promising young LGBT students in this role, and one was James Dale, whom I believe was president of our LGBT group for two years.  It was during this time that he got kicked out of the Boy Scouts, after achieving Eagle Scout status and becoming an assistant Scout Master. There was no explanation, so I encouraged him to enquire.

As this drama, portrayed in the video, unfolded, I encouraged him to pursue it, but I did my best to tell him, do this only if you want to, NOT because I want you to.  But he was hot to trot.  So watch the video and enjoy.

Lots of the LGBT students came to me with relationship problems.  I always told them to take their partners as they are or leave them, but don’t try to change them.  They will change, but not the way you necessarily want them to.  I would use my Rafael as an example.  I have been trying to change him for 44 years, and he does change, but NOT according to my “plan.”

Hugs, Jim

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