Challenged, but I Know

Originally written, September 13, 2021

The Rev. Edwin Pérez Jr. at Hartford Pride, September 11, 2021. (Pérez)

During Hartford Pride at the Bushnell Park (Connecticut), in which I was doing outreach with my congregation, I was challenged. This surprised me, not because of the act of challenging itself but because of the kind of challenge. I would expect to be “put-on-the-spot” and provide theological explanation on how I can be fully Christian and fully queer; however, I never expected to find another fellow “progressive” Christian confront me in the way I was at this event. I wore a shirt that read, “PASTOR” (you couldn’t miss it), yet this older white man asks me—immediately upon meeting him—what church I went/belonged to. I answered who I and with whom I was and worked for, and he asked who the pastor was. I gracefully point to my shirt, saying, “Me.” The confrontation was only beginning.

He asked, “But where are you now located?” I said we had been renting the chapel of a predominantly Anglo-congregational church for nearly ten years. He interrupts, rather abruptly, “That’s bull… stop working in parallel and join together!” I allowed him to finish his thoughts as I stood there just observing him, fuming on the inside. Although he said “join,” I heard “assimilate” and “submit.” My church’s focus is the Latinx community which can hardly identify with predominantly white congregations, but that—he said—didn’t matter. We should all be “together,” which–ideally–we should if there weren’t a specific need that couldn’t be entirely accomplished in white-washing and overpowering spaces. It didn’t seem as though what I had to say mattered nor that I mattered; he thought he knew—without knowing who we are, where come from, and where we are going—what was best for us.

In John 8:14, Jesus says, “…I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going” (NRSV). I can relate.

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