Dear Friends of That All May Freely Serve,
“Changing minds by changing hearts” has been the shorthand way of describing the mission of That All May Freely Serve. This is what we’ve done together as we worked, for instance, for the change in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church to allow for the ordination of all persons who are called to serve. This is what we’ve done as we’ve worked for marriage equality and the right of pastors to marry all couples seeking to make a covenant of love. We changed votes by changing minds. We changed minds by changing hearts.
For the sake of truth in advertising, we didn’t change any hearts at all, that’s God’s doing. We just tried to do our best to remain faithful to our assignment: to share our stories, even when doing so was risky; to come with open hearts, and a willingness to listen; to build relationships across lines of difference; to deepen the conversation; to remain patient when patience was generative; to challenge when doing so was healing; to seek the best in everyone; to remember, finally, that the Gospel message is that love always wins out over fear.
Hearts changed. Minds changed. Votes changed.
But what I want to tell you here, in the privilege I have of writing this one last letter to you as a part of my official work with TAMFS – what I want to tell you is how my own heart changed. This hasn’t so much been a job, or even a calling as it has been a journey of love.
When we’re engaged in the work of trying to change an institution like the Presbyterian Church, it can be easy to get mired down in an awareness of the many and sometimes tragic flaws of that institution: the mean-spiritedness, the indifference, the judgmentalism, the willful ignorance, the resistance to change of any sort, the failure to heed the prophets in our midst, the turning away from the Gospel message. All of that can be summed up in a word, and that word is fear.
But, what I’ve learned in these last ten years, and what I try to remember is how fleeting and inconsequential all of that is, compared to the slow, steady, and enduring power of love.
I have been mentored in love by those whose lives seem to glow with the Holy Spirit, “Saints on earth and saints above” alike. I have been sustained by love – by those who have opened their homes as we’ve traveled, by those who have quietly taken on the minutia of the behind the scenes tasks that are
necessary to build an organization, by those who have gone on the road with us and shared their own journey of faith with strangers, by those who have served on boards and committees, and so much else.
Time and again, thousands of people across this country have drawn from that deep well of generosity and given their time, their financial support, their talents, and their willingness to commit to believing in a better day, even when that day was slow in coming.
All of that is love, pure and simple. To each one of you who has given so generously from your heart, I am so deeply grateful. It’s love, in the end that changes us. I know, because it has changed me.
I am so grateful that Ray Bagnuolo will be our new Evangelist of love and hope as That All May Freely Serve begins a new chapter. Ray lives from the very center of his heart, and that’s how we knew it was right to call him to take on this ministry. Soon Ray will be telling you more about his plans and dreams, but for now, I want to say how glad I am that he has felt called to serve in this way.
You can watch our celebration service, marking this new day in the life of That All May Freely Serve by visiting us at www.tamfs.org. You can also read there more about Ray and about his dreams for the journey ahead.
It’s been an honor and a privilege to have worked with That All May Freely Serve for these last ten years. Thank you for sharing this journey of love with me. May you know all the blessings of love, the strength of hope, and the abundance of joy in all the days ahead.
With love and so much gratitude,