• Kimberlee Runnion

Running away ... and finding home

It's that time of year again - no, not Father's Day. It's the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA)! Obviously!

If I had to guess, I would say you probably aren't sitting at your laptop, cup of tea in hand, catching up on GA news before livestreaming the plenary sessions that start in a couple hours. But for the record, I am definitely not alone in doing just that. Presbyterians are a thinking people - some of us follow General Assembly the way others follow politics, and many of us follow both because we are truly gluttons for punishment.

But this year is a special one for me, not because of any of the agenda items, but because this is the last GA before I attend seminary. And while I remember feeling called to some sort of ministry in 7th grade, my journey to seminary truly started back in 2014 ... at GA in Detroit.

As I have written before, I had not been attending church regularly for years, but when I heard that another vote for same-sex marriage would be on the docket (and stood a chance of passing), I wanted to be there and talked my mom into taking a road trip.

I spent the week with other Queer Presbyterians, worshiping loudly and inclusively; sitting silently in the back of meeting rooms, watching the Spirit move through the committee; praying in a sea of rainbow scarves knitted by folks around the country. When the vote finally passed, I was so overcome with joy that I left the assembly hall and literally leaned against a balcony outside and wept.

In high school, I ran, kicking and screaming, as far as I could from the PC(USA). I was tired of my mom being my pastor; I was tired of having to whisper words like gay and lesbian (though to be honest, I was never good at whispering); I was tired of feeling patronized as a youth member; I was just plain pooped. And here I was, being invited home.

But there was more to that week than meetings and votes. A woman gave testimony, literally begging for same-sex marriage to be approved. Her testimony was incredibly moving and was my first taste of having to hide my emotions in a committee meeting (where the observers aren't supposed to react), but I also thought she looked vaguely familiar. Turns out, she had written an article about being a Bi Presbyterian that I had bookmarked and regularly reread when I needed to feel less alone. And she had a blog that I still love. And guess what ... she was a student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

That week, I saw students from APTS's Queer group EVERYWHERE! Leading worship, serving on boards, blogging. I was so impressed with their critical thinking, their passion, their knowledge. I walked out of GA that year feeling called back to church ... and called to Austin.

But I wouldn't be me if I didn't ignore that call for a while. I did go back to church, but I didn't pursue seminary. (I maintain that I wasn't ready, but I'm pretty good at rationalizing my actions, so do with that what you will.)

Then two years ago, I took a break from job hunting and livestreamed the 222nd GA in Portland. I tweeted, posted, and prayed. And one of my mentors (a UT-Austin alum - ha!), sent me the following email:

How is it that there are no jobs for you within the Church you just so earnestly and lovingly tweeted about? I am an atheist, and you even made me care. That is a talent.

And another two years later, here I am, heading to seminary ... in Austin.

Do you remember that book by Margaret Wise Brown - The Runaway Bunny? A little bunny decides he is running away and invents various scenarios, all of which his mother responds with a way to find him and bring him home. The book ends with this conversation:

"Shucks," said the bunny, "I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny."

And so he did.

"Have a carrot," said the mother bunny.

Okay, Mama God, but how about a cup of tea instead of a carrot?

#ga223 #PCUSA #seminary #APTS

32 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The Prodigal Son

The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11–32) always leaves a bit to be desired for me…at least with traditional interpretations. Depending on which character we "side" with, we may feel a sense of

September 20, 2020—A Prayer

originally prayed at Open Cathedral in Leander, TX Let us cry out to God. Let us cry out loud so that God can hear us.[1] Let us pray. During the day, when we are in trouble, we look for our God. At n

A Prayer for Midterms

“You could not pay me to go back to middle school.” I’ve said that since I started my freshman year of high school. Middle school was incredibly rough; we moved, I started my period, my mom started me