Each of us does our part, whatever that part may be. But we do our part within the context of a larger community. That can happen without our ever meeting others in the community. Together we work, and our work together makes a difference but our paths do not cross in person.
It can also be the case that we work for justice with people on a daily or regular basis. That can be challenging and frustrating. It can simply be the way things are. It can be an absolute blessing. It can even be a mixture of all those dynamics.
My partner, Tricia, has worked for justice for our sisters and brothers in the LGBTQ community for over twenty years as a volunteer and in a professional capacity. She has worked for full inclusion in the church and for human rights within society. She has worked with many people through that time. And she has known frustration and challenge. And she has known joy and blessing.
Pam Byers served as the founding executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. Tricia worked with her as the network’s national organizer until Pam’s retirement. They made an amazing team. They developed a deep friendship. They worked well together and did good work.
In 2011, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) amended the Book of Order changed to remove G-6.0106b. Pam and Tricia, Tricia and Pam were among those who helped make this happen. As part of a community, they helped change the culture of the church in relation to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Work remains to do, much work, but Tricia and Pam, Pam and Tricia with their friends and colleagues helped bend the arc of justice a bit.
Pam Byers, child of God, justice-seeker, ruling elder, tireless evangelist, loving family member, devoted friend, died of cancer on October 27, 2014. And I grieve.
I grieve for and with Pam’s family who played an important role in her life and her ministry.
I grieve for and with her congregation and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which she loved so fiercely and served so courageously and faithfully.
I grieve for and with her colleagues in the Covenant Network, the LGBTQ community, and other groups and individuals committed to, and working for, justice.
And I grieve for and with Tricia who mourns the death of a trusted and respected colleague, a dear friend, and a sister in Christ.
But as I grieve, I give thanks. I give thanks that Pam’s pain is ended. I give thanks for her life and love, her witness and faith. I give thanks that the journey to justice continues. And I give thanks that, in the Communion of Saints, Pam Byers accompanies us on that journey.
See you along the Trail.
A word about the photos. The first photo shows a button Pam regularly wore at meetings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly. Tricia posted it on Facebook. The second photo shows Tricia (in the flowered jacket under the banner) and Pam (to her right in the photo) among friends and colleagues as is only fitting. It comes from Ray Bagnuolo.
You are invited to join in a toast, beverage of your choice, in memory and honor of Pam Byers at 20:11 (8:11 PM) Eastern time or in your own time zone.