Shuck and Jive

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Ally Who Took a Stand

I am humbled. Aric Clark, a recent seminary graduate, accepted a call to his first congregation in Colorado. He did it with honor. He scrupled G-6.0106b and for that went through a lengthy exam on the floor of presbytery. He is not gay. He is an ally and has modeled to allies what it means to live in solidarity. He took the risks that are real risks.

More Light Presbyterians posted an interview with him earlier this evening. Take time to read it, you will be inspired and hopefully encouraged to take risks as well. Here is an excerpt:

I did have a lot of fear coming into the exam. I was surprised how scared I was about this. I've done a lot of things in my life many are scared of, traveling around the world and a lot of things. I don't get stage fright, I don't get nervous about performance. But I've never felt anything that compares to this fear I felt before going before presbytery. Part of that was because I was already invested in the congregation and I really wanted to come here. The presbytery's judgment on me was in some sense going to be the whole church's judgment of me as a potential pastor. I was surprised how much that affected me, how very scared I was coming into this. And yet I couldn't do it differently.

The advice of most people going into this, including people I love and respect who've been fantastic mentors to me, was "just shut up and play it safe and get ordained, and once you're ordained you can speak out at presbytery and vote to change the denomination." Part of me really, really, really wanted to do that. I wanted to be in ministry, and practically speaking we were in a tense financial situation. My wife doesn't work and I'm the sole source of income for our family. There would have been honest consequences. We were very seriously looking at having to sell everything we own and seek help with public housing or something. I had the very practical fear that if this falls through, I could be unemployed and potentially homeless soon. So part of me really wanted to accept that advice.

But I was losing sleep. I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't take the idea of actually doing that, for the reason that there are people I know and love who I am convicted to the core of my being are called by God into ordained ministry. That means the service of God in the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Presently by any fair reading of our denominational polity, they are forbidden ordination. Meanwhile, based on the happenstance that I was born straight, and married to a woman I have no temptation to be unfaithful to, I'm not going to be submitted to the kind of scrutiny that would prevent me from being ordained. People aren't going to go into my personal and private life to see if I live up to the standards in the book. That isn't acceptable. I wouldn't ever in the future see myself as anything other than a hypocrite as a member of presbytery going into examinations that examine people that way. I couldn't take that level of hypocrisy. Some people see no contradiction with coming in to a broken system and trying to change the system from within. I felt I could do that in regard to some things, but on this I cannot affirm the brokenness of the system. (Read More)


  1. Wow. Aric's my "Hero of the Day". Wouldn't it be something if all who sought a call were to do the same thing?
    "I am Sparticus".

  2. While I disagree with Aric, I have a great amount of respect for the fact that he is willing to take a stand for his beliefs.

  3. He is going to be an important minister. I am glad we have him.

  4. John,

    Just to be difficult, I'll give you minister. I'm not sure you can begin to determine how "important" he'll be until he actually starts his professional ministry. I have to say I'd be a little more impressed had he done this is an area of the country where the presbyteries are less freindly to is viewpoint. But, nonetheless, any time someone actually stands up for their beliefs I'll give them props.

  5. He didn't pick a presbytery to do it. He received a call to a congregation that was in this presbytery.

    I am not impressed whether you are impressed or not.

  6. For those of us who kept up with his blog, it is not a surprise that he took a stand and made it stick. I agree Aric will go a long distance. He is definitely taking the road less traveled, but I think he has the passion and the brains to make it through.

    And I think Jesus likes him.

  7. He is definitely taking the road less traveled, but I think he has the passion and the brains to make it through.

    I hope once he gets his position he starts blogging again.

    If you are reading this Aric:

    hint, hint : )