Transcending: Saying Farewell

I’m writing a blog series Transcending: They’ll Know Us By Our Love, about the church and LGBTQ people, beginning with transgender people.

In The Situation, I told why this is personal for me. My church was considering changing their constitution to include a “Christian Living Statement” that marriage is defined as uniting one man and one woman (thus ruling out same-sex marriage) and that transgender people dishonor God’s design when they make any physical changes from the gender they were assigned at birth (not using that language, of course).

I disagree with the changes and have attempted to explain why in this blog series.

We voted on the changes this past Sunday, and the new policy passed. So it is time for me to say good-by. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like I’m going to have any difficulty finding an inclusive Bible-believing church where I can worship.

But I am grieved that my former church has taken this step. I’m going to copy out the letter I wrote resigning my membership to explain why I must resign my membership.

I will take out the name of the church, but here is the letter I sent to the pastor and the elders. There are more friends I haven’t gotten to talk with personally about this, so please consider this a letter to you, too:

Dear Friends,

It is with deep sadness that I am resigning my membership at [Former Church].

I’ve been a member for almost 13 years, and folks from [Former Church] brought me through the devastation of my divorce, took care of me when I had my stroke, and rejoiced with me as I served on the Newbery committee.

At [Former Church], I learned to listen to what God had to say to me — and not be apologetic about that. I see people with a heart for others — people who radiate God’s glory.

I’m still convinced that the number of times God uncannily spoke to me through a sermon or a song in the service is evidence that [Former Church]’s leadership are listening to God’s guidance as they plan each service, and that God’s Spirit is deeply present.

I am, though, deeply grieved about the new Christian Living Statement. You all know that I am convinced that the transgender paragraph in particular is not remotely biblical.

But the reason my conscience will not allow me to keep my membership at [Former Church] is that I also believe it is deeply hurtful toward a vulnerable group of people — a group that includes people I love. I would be ashamed to tell my kids I was a member of a church that adopted this policy, and it violates my conscience to have my name associated with it in any way, even by implication.

Know that I respect your desire to follow Jesus and your deep commitment to love everyone — including those you think are sinning. I am not for a moment saying that you are trying to be hurtful.

But I think it’s a very sad thing to tell people it is sinful to express the person they truly are, whom God created them to be. That is what transgender people say is happening.

Details: [Here I include ministry areas I’m resigning from.]

I am planning to attend [my friend]’s baptism this summer, and hope to find my way to [Former Church] for other special events. But I do feel like God is leading me to find a church home that is more inclusive toward all the members of Christ’s body.

But [Former Church] will always have my deep affection, love, and gratitude! You have been a supremely important part of my growth these last 13 years.

Much love,

Sondy Eklund

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