I am currently at the General Assembly of the PCUSA–our national denominational meeting. This morning I testified before the committee that is discerning whether to pursue marriage equality in the church. I offered my story. I had to give an abbreviated version due to time constraints, but here is the full version of what I wrote.
I am Layton Williams, incoming pastoral resident at Fourth Pres Chicago.
Baptism, confirmation, family weddings and funerals, inquirer, candidate, certified ready, and soon ordained as a teaching elder.
At every major moment in my life of faith, I have stood before the church–heart in my hands–and been received with love and welcome.
I hope my marriage is another such moment in which I can stand before the church that I love and, with my spouse, be fully welcomed and celebrated. As a single, bisexual woman, I don’t yet know if my marriage will be one that the church recognizes. I hold both possibilities in my heart, and the inequality of it all hurts. But I hope for a church where all faithful love is embraced and enacted.
My ordination is proof that this church is growing in its embodiment of the fully inclusive love of Christ. Today, I want the church to grow more so that as a pastor I can tell every person and couple that they are at home in this church just as I have always found myself to be, and that the fullness of their person and their relationships will be embraced.
My mom once asked me if LGBTQ Christians could be satisfied with full civil rights but no church recognition of marriage. I told her no because, like her and all of you, we love the church too much to bear the thought of making such a significant covenant anywhere but at home–in the faith to which we have pledged our whole lives. And what I know of the love of God tells me we shouldn’t have to.