“Born again, again” by Bob Melone – Introduction, part 1 of 3

10 12 2015

I stood at the mic, heart pounding and mind racing, anticipating the look of the Moderator that would indicate his preparing to call upon me for my comments. I was at the 220th meeting of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church US, ready to ‘come out of closet.’

The Assembly’s Committee on Civil Unions and Marriage Issues was making its report, recommending that the Church’s constitution be changed. The current reading referred to marriage as being between “one man and one woman,” and the proposal was to alter the reading to “two people.” Tension at the assembly was at its peak – two minority reports had already been defeated, and fear that this reformed body was about to make yet another radical statement about one of the most divisive issues of our day had taken over. No one wanted to destroy the church, but everyone knew that this proposed change certainly had the potential to have just such an effect.

People who knew me well knew how my theology had developed over the past 10 years, but I certainly had not made any publicly statements directly addressing an issue as controversial as same-gender relationships. But that was about to change as I stood before mic number 8, green paddle in my hand, preparing to speak ‘in favor’ of the motion before us.

Interestingly, I couldn’t help but notice the ‘paddle.’ It really wasn’t a paddle at all; just a badminton racket with two green pieces of construction paper stapled together, and like a glove placed over the head. How appropriate that something so ‘home-made’ was being used to bring about an historic change in this segment of the Church. Average people like me had come to the realization that the traditional teachings of the church were simply wrong – and it didn’t require anything even remotely akin to some kind of Papal Decree to change the course of human history. All that was required was a simple majority of this assembly’s 688 commissioners voting to make the change, and the recommendation would go out to the local church for approval. This was Protestantism at its best – lay and clergy, coming together for conversation and dialogue, all in an attempt to discern the will and the way of the Spirit.

I’m not normally nervous when I speak in public, but comments had been limited to one minute because so many wanted to speak, and I was concerned I had mis-timed my statement and that I’d be cut off before I had finished. There was so much I wanted to say about there being different ways to understand Biblical authority, reformed orthodoxy, and sexual orientation, that I was concerned I would not be able to squeeze it all in.

Neal Pressa had been elected Moderator of the 220th Assembly six days earlier, and was working hard to keep everyone in order. Finally, after over two hours in line, enduring all kinds of amendments and substitutions, his eyes came my way and “the person at mic 8 speaking in favor of the motion” was called on to address the assembly.

And I did. And now everyone would know. Bob Melone had come ‘out of the closet,’ and was . . . a liberal!



One response

25 06 2016
Bob Criswell

Thank you bob

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