Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Church of Rosacea

Those unfamiliar with rosacea might be romantically inclined to think “The Church of Rosacea” is named after a flowering plant, a distant province, or an obscure saint.  “Oh my, how lovely, the rosaceas are in bloom again.” “We visited the wineries of Rosacea on our tour of Europe.” “St. Rosacea was martyred in 1313 A.D. at the hands of a brutish king.”

I discovered rosacea firsthand during a contentious church business meeting. It began with a warm flush to the face that made me think I had happened onto male menopause. Though the hot flash passed, the ruddiness of my complexion did not. I could not claim, like Moses, that I had seen God’s backsides on Mt. Sinai and thus glowed from the experience. (Though now I wonder if Moses, given what he had to face with his own “congregation,” was perhaps suffering from one of the earliest recorded cases of rosacea.)

The dermatologist informed me that rosacea is a skin condition that could be triggered in otherwise healthy people by things I happen to love—wine, coffee, spicy foods, even rigorous workouts. Experimenting, I, in turn, gave up wine, coffee, spicy foods, and, though resistant to giving up my workouts, I toned down their vigor. Nothing worked, and I realized the true culprit was the one thing on the dermatologist’s list I did not like: stress. And stress is what I had in abundance at that church meeting.

I describe this to explain what I experienced this past Saturday as I faced attending a meeting of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, which would vote once again on whether to eliminate the clause in the Presbyterian Book of Order that prevents the ordination of openly gay and lesbian people. I have faced such church votes as this, in one form or another, for nearly 40 years, and you would think I’d get used to it. But, dressing for the meeting, I felt anxious, my hands trembled, and, lo and behold, I began to feel my face flush. Blessedly there is a cream I can use as a preventative, and I dosed my face to avoid my own version of the fiery furnace.

I needn’t have worried. The presbytery voted 262 to 157 to remove the prohibition, marking another victory for inclusiveness as presbyteries throughout the country continue voting for or against the ratification of the amendment. I couldn’t suppress the tears that came to my eyes as easily as I had the rosacea.

Jesus healed those with leprosy—what is now often translated as “virulent skin disease.” My hope is that the Church of Rosacea, rather than being the cause, might be the cure.     


  1. At last! Talking about Presbyterians, today I was blessed by attending the Tenth Annual Magdalene Conference, held at Trinity Presbyterian Church. This is the first time I've been to that particular venue. The featured speaker was Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest well known for a number of writings. She gave an exceptional discussion on her most recent book about Mary Magdalene, which by the way I've reviewed on Amazon.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS, Sweetheart!!! You have been so wonderfully faithful in this long, arduous fight. I'm so glad to see your diligent efforts rewarded!!! YEA!!! :D