I have been encouraged lately as I read about more bishops in the Episcopal Church putting forth statements on how they plan to show "pastoral generosity" to the LGBT faithful. Many, in recognition that there are jurisdictions that still have marriage equality, are directing clergy that it is time to allow for the churches in their dioceses to bless the civil marriages of same-sex couples who desire that from the church. Bishop Singh in Rochester, NY, is encouraging reluctant members of the state Senate to pass a marriage equality bill. And Bishop Paul Marshall of the Diocese of Bethlehem (PA) has given an outline to clergy there on how to proceed forward with opening the church doors to those lesbian and gay couples wishing a blessing on their relationship.
It gives me hope that in eastern Pennsylvania, and southern Ohio, moves toward being inclusive are happening, not with loud trumpets, but with a steady drumbeat of what is the right thing, the good thing, and the joyful thing to do for those LGBT faithful who have lived on the other side of the gate for too long.
The question I have is when will the music make its way southward?
Perhaps what's needed is the same thing that happened with the spread of Sacred Harp or "Shape-Note" singing. The tradition had its roots in New England, where music teachers developed song books and taught this simple (and loud) method of acoustic singing in four-parts. The music teachers would travel from town to town, and eventually started going south where it became hugely popular to convene in a church and sing for hours. So, maybe that's what's needed. Maybe these new "song masters" of the loyal order of Purple Shirts need to to take these new songs of God's inclusive love into the south land and share their song books, and teach us a new tune.