Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Are you praying for him daily?
Have you written him a letter of support?
Are you naming him in the "prayers of the people" at your church?
Are you starting conversations about his prophetic presence?
I was shocked again yesterday when he was asked in an interview on NPR to respond to the claim that he is distracting the world from more important needs and just drawing attention to his one issue.
How long will GLBT people be seen as a distracting issue?
What will it take to realize that we are people?
Is it that hard to believe that we are faithfully living out discipleship but are being oppressed by discrimination and fear and hate?
I thank God that I am living at the same time as Bishop Robinson and can learn from him and support him.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The article on United Methodist News Service is definitely worth the read, you can also listen to Frank's statement. You'll be surprised to read there about the "FOX News/politics of fear" style of threats being made by Maxie Dunnam. Goes to show that even when God is doing a new thing, somethings never change. We can always count on God and... we can always count on some other things too.
As a delegate to Northeast Jurisdictional Conference, I was surprised to realize what a big impact some candidates for the episcopacy had even if they weren't elected or didn't get many votes. The power of the prophecy shared in simply the biographical statements and resumes shows a need for a new type of leadership. People are ready to serve AND they were elected.
In the Northeast, the majority of candidates for the episcopacy either served Reconciling Congregations at some point or were actively involved in supporting ministries to and with GLBT people. They represented a wide range of theological beliefs and visions for our church. That's because Reconciling is a grassroots movement that is inclusive of many people and points of view. Our church's leaders are being mentored in the Reconciling Ministries Network, RMN is strengthening the church in many ways. Adult Education, Liturgical Renewal, leadership training, congregation self-examination, encouraging small-group formation- this is what RMN is all about.
In the New England Annual Conference we've been reading "I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church" by Paul Nixon, and sure enough the journey to becoming a welcoming church is lifted up several times as a great tool for revitalizing a local church. The point in that book isn't simply that welcome to GLBT people makes for a better local church (though of course it does) the point is that conversation, learning and dedicating ourselves to specific ministry are essential to healthy churches.
Reconciling Ministries is strengthening the United Methodist Church.
Thanks be to God.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
1) After a very fun service recognizing the retirements of Bishops Fisher and Morrison, the Mark Miller Band broke out into a ten minute postlude... We Are Family, by Sister Sledge
2) The NEJ affirmed clergy in CA who perform same-sex weddings!
3) Heterosexual allies affirmed gay and lesbian people with prophetic words from the floor- clergy, lay, different genders and races and annual conferences- people are telling the story.
4) Gay and lesbian spoke up for ourselves, beautifully and bravely claiming our life in the church, at the center.
5) The NEJ is coming to terms with the poisonous racism that guides our actions. The crisis is clear and the need to change our behavior. Now it is time to walk the walk. (not really a highlight now that I type it, but God will help us.)
6) As the church moves to restructuring, new relationships and ministries at the "Jurisdictional" level are being born.
7) The NEW England Annual Conference will soon include Vermont!!!!!!!!!
8) God loves you.
9) There is a balm in Gilead.
Friday, July 18, 2008
When Peggy Johnson signed her acceptance speech after being elected Bishop she told us that she prayed she will be remembered as a Bishop who worked for social justice and
loved with the heart of Christ. And she will be. This is a beautiful day.
But our sisters are turned against each other. People are forced to stand with GLBT people or people of color. There are only crumbs left for the deaf. The center is guarded by those ravenous few who live by an unholy spirit. Those with the power are so deeply, deeply afraid of even the smallest risk.
I am so tired of waiting. I am so ready for God to act now.
I am so ready for God to act now.
There are some days where I think it is going to happen, when I think I know what that will be like. But then night comes and I have so many tears.
You know I believe.
My faith has never been stronger. But I have never acknowledged sins so clearly. I have never felt pain so stinging. I have never seen the road stretch out for so long.
I have never had such reason to be happy.
So why am I crying?
God bless this church.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I must say, this is without doubt the stupidest question you could ask. Would anyone, ANYONE, ever say no to this? Is anyone who has allowed their name to go forward as a potential Bishop ever going to say that? THAT'S WHAT A BISHOP DOES! It's like asking, "If elected, will you be a Bishop?"
Anyway, I was in a group of about thirty people and it was great. I think it was one of the best processes of group interviewing and church conferencing I've had. I'm not saying it was fun or energizing, but after doing it for all day from 8:30-8:30 (with two meal breaks and two ten minute breaks) I feel just fine about it.
Every group (13 in total) asked two questions that were the same.
1) If you are elected Bishop, what sort of a legacy would you like to be remembered by after you retire?
2) What brings you to tears and what brings you laughter?
I was shocked by these questions personally and they weren't helpful for any of the interviews except for one small instance. One person explicitly made the connection between tears and righteous anger, which I appreciated. Other than that, it just left me feeling that these people must spend a lot of time laughing, crying and then thinking about their reputations.
It was weird.
Beyond that, each group could proceed as they wished. As I said before, my group was very loose and trusting so we could go with the flow. I learned that at least one group voted on what questions could be asked and then they just read the same ones over and over. That must have been terrible boring for everyone.
We asked some questions designed to specific candidates. For example, I asked a candidate who serves on the board of Good News what he thinks the role of UM Caucus groups that aren't a part of the official church structure should be and how his relationship and understanding would change were he elected Bishop. We also just had some out there good questions, "What's your best mistake?", "Where do you think the Conference Office for Baltimore-Washington should be located?", "Can you give a specific example of how you will use the office of Bishop to be in ministry with Hispanic people?"
We had one or two really silly questions (which I actually didn't mind) "Can you dance the Macarana?" "Do you play a musical instrument?"
I asked one person why I should vote for a white male. (yes, he was a white man)
We have several very good candidates. There are three I would be very happy with and a fourth who I think would be good as well. However, some of them were very, very weak. Maybe they had given up or rethought their call after a few hours of going through this. Some were clearly great pastors and cool people but they didn't offer any help to us on why they would be a good Bishop. A few were pretty boring. (perhaps our fault not theirs) I won't say anything negative about the people who I hope don't get elected. Besides that, I'm at a place right now where I really trust the process. Even if the outcome is bad, I know we are working in good faith.
Still lots of conversations and meetings happening about how groups, delegations and trusted friends think things should go.
I've been posting so late because I've been staying up talking with friends, basically getting my gay fix.
But regarding the heterosexuality issue, please remember: I think that they are still children of God and of sacred worth. God still loves them and so should we... Next question.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I spent about almost all day in session with the Nominating Committee. We scheduled to meet until lunch but had to go until just after 10:00pm. (with breaks for meals and Bible Study). All in all, I'm only counting us as being in session for about seven hours. You know you've reached a new level when seven hours of nominating people for church committees isn't that bad... In fact! I'm feeling like I'm all warmed up for tomorrow. We begin interviewing candidates for Bishop.
The nominating process was very difficult. Our representation on committees was literally shrinking throughout the day, thanks to a small miscalculation we were originally given. Basically New England had to fill five spots which then became six which then became four and which finally ended up being five (including one we didn't know we had filled until after lunch because they were appointed via another nominating body earlier this year). So... I'm sure that's clear to you.
I'm very glad that I can trust the people I was working with, it just made it easier. However, I hadn't prepared myself for the fact that immediately after we adjourned at 10:10, we met with our entire delegation, which had been arriving throughout the day and reported our results. It was basically all of the reactions and thoughts and emotions we'd been experienced since 8:30 condensed into a ten-minute conversation. Not easy. But then again, I think I can do this work.
We had a large group Bible Study, which I would really call more of a sermon. But for me one, the welcome from the Mayor of Harrisburg was actually very interesting. The Mayor basically preached! And it was good! I suppose I was surprised that this person who looked like... well... the Mayor of Harrisburg, was so challenging and spiritual and inspiring. It was really quite wonderful EXCEPT for the fact that he made a series of very uncomfortable jokes about the Bishop and delegation from West Virginia and their roots in the Confederate States of America. It was bizarre and highly questionable. Turns out that it is also incorrect, as Bishop Lyght of West Virginia pointed out.
We also met our small groups that will be interviewing candidates tomorrow. I've got a good group. We created some questions to ask and they seemed fair to me (but I did have to leave early because Nominating reconvened at 9:00 pm).
On the total silliness factor: there are chocolate candy bars being distributed that feature Bishop Middleton of Harrisburg on the wrapper in her purple episcopal clergy blouse. It's weird and I'm not sure if it's supposed to be funny or not. I'll have to ask her about them. It looks like the sort of gag gift you might make for someone on their fiftieth birthday or retirement party. I'll try to get my hands on one of these or snap a photo.
Well the table is set for our work. It's funny having the experience of working all day before things really begin. Even as I look around the lobby at this late hour, most of the staff seems to have finished their preparations. The only piece of trash is an empty can of TAB soda on the coffee table in front of me. I wonder who still drinks TAB?
Monday, July 14, 2008
I met tonight with two other members of the delegation and the Bishop as we reviewed names for the Jurisdictional Nominating process. The meeting is scheduled to run from 8:30-12:30 tomorrow morning.
From what I can put together, we will have very VERY minimal opportunity to fill somewhere between three and six spots on the Boards of Directors of the General Boards, Agencies and Commissions of the church. In other words, this won't quite be as interesting as my work at General Conference where we talked about gay sex.
I'm headed to bed now a little after 2:00 am thanks to a rather problematic attempt at printing something. Apparently the Hilton (not sure why they booked us at the Hilton) isn't used to having guests who need to print things. (Is it that exotic?)
That's seventeen dollars and sixty-one cents to print 15 pages.
Why didn't I just put my printer in the car?
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Although during my July 1st to September 4th sabbatical I will be staying in town, I will not be at work in the local church. During this time CWM has an exciting list of guest preachers who will lead us in worship. In addition, Rev. Marion Grant and Rev. Nizzi Digan have agrred to provide for the pastoral needs of the congregation as they may arise. You may also feel free to contact our lay leaders, Michele Naughton (email@example.com) and Marla Marcum (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you may have. You can reach them via email.
Please keep me in your prayers as I embark on this summer sabbatical! I look forward to returning to be with you in the fall!
July 6th Rev.
July 13th Rev. Judy Kohatsu
July 20th Rev.
July 27th Rev. Jeremy Smith
August 3rd Annie Britton
August 10th Sean Delmore
August 17th Marla Marcum
August 24th Rev. Nizzi Digan
August 31st Michele Naughton
September 7th Lisa Fagerstrom
Rev. Marion Grant 617-387-2515
Rev. Nizzi Digan 781-233-9277