What is your only comfort?

Urban God-talk for the church-o-phobic.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fact checking and the Christian Century

This week's issue of The Christian Century has an article about the RCA and my father. While I'm definitely not fond of the photo they ran (I think I look like a chipmunk with my cheecks full of nuts), I think that it is a fair article. Except it reported one thing incorrectly. I wrote the following email to the author of the article.

Dear [writer's name],
My name is Ann Kansfield, and you wrote a very good
article about my father in this issue of the Christian
Century. There is one factual piece that I'd like to
clear up, though. The article has the following
"Ann Kansfield was studying for the ministry at New
Brunswick Seminary when she met and later married
Jennifer Aull, another seminarian there. She has since
been asked to lead an RCA church in Brooklyn as an
unordained pastor."
It's a little misleading. The consistory of the
Greenpoint Reformed Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn has
extended a promise of a call to me to be their
Minister of Word and Sacrament. With the controversy
over my marriage, the classis decided to move into a
time of discernment about my ordination. This has
meant that my ordination has been delayed.
I know of few churches that would ask someone to lead
them as an unordained pastor. Greenpoint is
definitely not one of them. They are a wonderfully
faithful, Bible believing, Christ affirming
congregation that deserves to full access to the means
of grace as found in Word and Sacrament.
In the meantime, though, I serve them as their pastor.
The congregation has grown from just over 10 people
to well over 50. Our sanctuary has been filled on
several occasions this past year which is a real
blessing and joy.
Thank you again for your article. I'm honored to be
in the Christian Century. I only wish that it was for
something other than as a part of a denominational
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or

I realize that this is a little over-the-top for such a slight bit of words, but the statement in the Century really got to me. The folks in the congregation I serve deserve all the benefits of the faith to which they have been baptized. While they are willing to wait and see what happens with my ordination, it pains me that they are not served by an ordained minister. They've worked so hard to revitalize the congregation, and are a model of what faith in God and opening the doors to see all the people can do. I grieve that I wasn't able to baptize our first new baby earlier this year. I struggled to find a minister who was available to make the trek here that morning.

It just makes me sad - that homosexuality has become such a litmus test for ministry. In the trenches of urban ministry, being gay is the least of my concerns or the people around me. Most of the churches in our neighborhood lack the funds to have full-time ministers, and some of them may have to close in the future. My experience is that people are excited to have a person committed to the gospel message serving in the neighborhood.

I understand that some people read the Bible differently from the way I do, and I have no problem with this. But it's kind of like at the hospital when an infant dies - because it is an emergency situation anyone who is a Christian is allowed to administer baptism (fortunately I have never been in this situaiton thankfully). But I have been in an emergency situation in terms of congregations in decline. What would the church rather have - a gay person in leadership or no person in leadership?

Many people will answer that no person in leadership is preferable to a gay person. This is a fine answer, and I will not attempt to change thier views. But, I will ask that they would respect the people who feel otherwise. Not everyone reads the Bible in the same way. Not everyone sees committed same-sex relationships as going against the Biblical witness. And not everyone thinks that gay ministers shouldn't be allowed to serve.


At 5:53 PM, Blogger Songbird said...

Well, you are just awesome, Ann. I'm afraid my attitude toward those who are not accepting would be somewhat less charitable. If you don't mind, I'd like to link to your blog.

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Ann said...


I'm not 'awesome' at all, I've just had life experiences that have forced me to realize that the golden rule applies to people who think like I do as well as those who think differently from me. It isn't always easy, though.

Feel free to link to my blog. I appreciate your comments!


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