(Reblog) God Loves Chutzpah

“Jesus doesn’t need any more admirers — he needs disciples willing to get into some Gospel trouble on God’s behalf.”

Sermon by the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson at All Saints Church, Pasadena
Celebration of Ministries Sunday, September 22, 2013.
Readings: Amos 8:4-7 and Luke 16:1-13.

For more about the work and witness of All Saints Church visit our website: http://www.allsaints-pas.org | Follow us on twitter @ASCpas

(Reblog) Book Review – A Time to Embrace: Same-Sex Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics (second edition)

Image

Saints Sergius and Bacchus, companions and martyrs. Click the link on the picture to learn more about their lives.

 

Reblogged from the Presbyterian Outlook:

A Time to Embrace by William Stacy Johnson

Reviewed by Melissa Kirkpatrick

Johnson lays out the historical context of same-sex relationships from what we know of the practices in Rome and in Greece at the time of Paul, when such relationships were hardly consensual, to the scholarly work of the Middle Ages, where there is much evidence that profoundly close same-sex relationships (which may or may not have been sexual) went unquestioned by the church. What is clear in this history is that there was never a single way of approaching or dealing with same-sex relationships across time or place or faith.

Click here to read the full article

 

Standing on the Side of Love – DOMA ruled Unconstitutional

In grateful celebration of today’s decision by the Supreme Court, I am posting this video produced by my friends in the Unitarian Universalist Association.
The struggle for equality is not yet over, but today marks an epic victory. As a Christian, I’ll continue working with my UU neighbors and others in the quest for equality in our country and in the Presbyterian Church.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Reblog) Minnesota UCC remains committed to inclusion in the face of vandalism

Reblogged from ucc.org

The Rev. Robin Raudabaugh won’t be deterred by the actions of a vandal spewing hate. Her Minnesota United Church of Christ congregation remains unwavering in its support and affirmation of LGBT persons despite the fact that Pilgrims United Church of Christ, in Maple Grove, Minn., was vandalized twice in a one-month span.

Click here to read the full article

(Reblog) Misrepresentations about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

PC(USA) Seal (Color)I would like to write a few words this morning about the denomination in which I am ordained: the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Like all mainline Protestant churches in this country, we have had no small share in controversy, conflict, and schism.  The current hot-button issues are the ordination and marriage of non-celibate LGBT members in our churches.  Partly because of these issues, but mostly because of the theological and exegetical differences that underlie their discussion, some members, pastors, and churches in the PC(USA) have felt led to separate from our denomination and align themselves with another one (i.e. the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) or the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO)).

Those who know me or read this blog probably already know where I stand, but just in case there are any first-time visitors, here it is again:

  • I am a theologically liberal Christian who wholeheartedly supports the full recognition of equality in ordination and marriage for LGBT Presbyterians.
  • I wholeheartedly support the right of individual Christians and congregations to discern the will of God for themselves, even if that discernment leads them to leave the PC(USA).

As I’ve said before: It’s not my job to take anyone’s Bible (or Church) away from them; I simply desire the same right for myself.  As such, I encourage the establishment of “Gracious Dismissal” policies in our presbyteries that will allow departing congregations to maintain control over their buildings and investment accounts.  Such policies, I believe, will help us sow  seeds of reconciliation for the future and preserve the integrity of the public witness of the Church by eschewing open conflict in a court of law.  The Church is bigger than any one denomination.  We would do well to remember this part of our ecumenical heritage.

That being said, I think that some of those who are leaving have, in their anger, overstated their case against the PC(USA) and misrepresented the denomination in their literature (some of which is distributed to churches whether they want it or not).  They claim that the PC(USA) is being run by liberal heretics who care nothing for the authority of scripture, the historic faith of the church catholic, or the Reformed tradition.  I believe this is patently untrue.

Why do I believe this?  Because I am a liberal and I have just as many problems with current theological and political trends in our denomination as many of my evangelical brothers and sisters do.  I wish there was a liberal agenda in play on the General Assembly level, but there isn’t much of one that I can see.  Honestly, I think that’s probably a good thing.  The Church is bigger than any one institution or theological viewpoint (including my own).

I don’t think I’m the kind of pastor who should be forming and shaping policy for the whole denomination.  That task should be left to more conciliatory voices like that of our current Moderator: Rev. Dr. Neal Presa.  His is a job that I don’t want.  Liberals like me represent one prophetic wing of the Church, just as our evangelical colleagues represent another.  I hope that both voices will continue to be heard in the PC(USA) by those who make policy.

The document linked below has been produced by our denomination to address some of the misrepresentations currently being propagated by some.  I find it well worth reading.  Submitted for your edification:

Reblogged from pcusa.org:

The Office of the General Assembly has had an increase in the number of inquiries about printed materials from outside of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), being distributed within congregations, that ascribe to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) beliefs and standards which are meant to show that the church is no longer worthy of support. Over the past years the list of these misrepresentations have varied little and most have been answered in detail in the religious press, study papers adopted by the church or by specific action of the General Assembly. Whenever possible, the Office of the General Assembly directs those who inquire about specific conclusions drawn by these papers to resources which give a broader understanding of the issues.

Typically the materials being circulated focus on four broad areas of concern, each of which speaks to the core of who we are as a denomination and a covenant community. In response to these recent inquiries, we remind the church about who the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is both historically and in our current ministry.

Click here to read the whole article in .pdf format

(Reblog) On gay bishops, what a difference a decade makes

By Bishop Gene Robinson

Reblogged from the Washington Post:

Twenty or 30 years ago, most Americans would have told you they didn’t know anyone gay.  By that, they would have been claiming not to know anyone who openly and proudly disclosed their sexual orientation – and certainly not in the ranks of the clergy.  Now, is there any family in America left who doesn’t know some family member, co-worker or former classmate to be gay?  And once they know someone gay, know their relationships and their families, people are simply not willing to believe all the awful things said about us – especially by religious institutions.

Every denomination, no matter how clear and unwavering their condemnation of homosexuality and homosexual relationships, is struggling with this societal and religious issue.  A substantial majority of Roman Catholic laity in America now support marriage equality – a momentous step beyond mere acceptance of homosexual people.  Mormons and evangelicals are softening their language about gay people at a minimum; some are reassessing their traditional stances and moving toward greater acceptance.

Religious institutions of all stripes are asking this big question:  Could the church have gotten it wrong in using a few verses of scripture to condemn homosexual people, just as it got it wrong about using isolated verses to justify slavery and the denigration/subjugation of women?  More and more religious people and institutions are moving toward a “yes” in response to that question.  The church has misunderstood God’s will before, but over time, we get it right.  I believe that this is one of those moments.

Click here to read the whole article

Republican Becomes First Openly Gay Pennsylvania Representative

Hon. Mike Fleck, PA House of Representatives

Hon. Mike Fleck, PA House of Representatives

Reblogged from Huffington Post:

“I’m still the exact same person and I’m still a Republican and, most importantly, I’m still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public. The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how.”

“The Republican party is all about the government needing to stay out of people’s lives,” Fleck said. “I’m not a one-issue person and it’s not a one-issue party.”

Well said, Rep. Mike Fleck.

Click here to read the full article.

The Call to High Adventure

Vida Dutton Scudder. Image is in the public domain.

Vida Dutton Scudder (1861-1954) was a professor at Wellesly College, a member of the Socialist party, and a prominent activist in the Episcopal Church.  She was involved in the Social Gospel movement, the campaign for labor rights, the equality of women, and (eventually) pacifism.  She helped to organize the Women’s Trade Union League, the Episcopal Church Socialist League, and joined the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross.  Vida and her partner, Florence Converse, lived together for 35 years, from 1919 until Vida’s death in 1954.  She is celebrated in the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints: her feast day is on October 10.

Earlier today, as I was reading Diana Butler Bass’s book A People’s History of Christianity, I came across an amazing prediction of Scudder’s that Butler Bass took from Scudder’s 1912 book Socialism and Character.  In this passage, Scudder prophesies the advent of mainline church decline, which eventually started to happen in the latter half of the 20th century.  I was amazed at how closely Scudder’s views resemble my own, except that she was writing a full century before I started thinking about it.  Listen to what Scudder has to say:

One certitude is forced on us : it is unlikely that Christianity will retain so nominally exclusive a sway as it has hitherto done in western Europe. In all probability, the day of its conventional social control is passing and will soon be forgotten. The time will come when the Christian faith will have to fight for right of way among crowding antagonists as vigorously as in the times of Athanasius and Augustine.

And in thoughts like these all genuine Christians must rejoice. Without the call to high adventure, the faith has never flourished.