Click here for items on
sexual justice in 2010.
Items on sexual justice from past years are
Must gay rights wait for our 'comfort'?
raises that question, as it was raised so often in the years of moving
slowly toward the achievement of civil rights (well, sort of) for people of
color. She suggests that change is already happening in attitudes toward
same-sex partnerships, and small steps - changing laws to protect gay rights
in various ways - will help move us ahead.
UCC television ad nixed by
two networks for its Christmas message of welcome and inclusion
According to a press release from the United Church of Christ, "The ad, part
of the denomination's new, broad identity campaign set to begin airing
nationwide on Dec. 1, states that -- like Jesus -- the United Church of
Christ... seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race,
economic circumstance or sexual orientation."
Presbytery of Baltimore votes 51-35 for
a resolution supporting civil marriage for same gender couples
Peter K. Nord,
Executive Presbyter, has explained this important action in an open letter.
The Reverend Dr. Janie Adams
Spahr charged in disciplinary action
Redwoods Presbytery has filed charges against the Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, in
response to an accusation brought by the Reverend James Berkley, of Bellevue
WA. Mr. Berkley is the Issues Ministry Director of Presbyterians For Renewal.
Gay Marriage Amendment defeated [10-8-04]
The gay marriage amendment has been defeated ... again. The
US House has voted decisively to reject a constitutional amendment banning
gay marriage. Conservative Christians vow to continue fighting; progressives
are heartened that a sense of fairness has prevailed.
Charles Henderson, Presbyterian minister and "your guide"
for the Christianity section of About.com,
page of commentary and links to other reports and resources, including
discussions of the issue of fairness in relation to gay marriage, and much
More Light Presbyterians announces "Victory
2006" campaign - a strategy for local action and education to
encourage fair dialogue on LGBT concerns. [9-30-04]
Federal Marriage Amendment continues to
loom as a threat to equal justice
Equal Partners in Faith urges progressive
groups to take action
[Press release from Equal Partners in
Faith, dated 9-17-04. Posted here 9-21-04]
The Federal Marriage Amendment, defeated
in the Senate in July, is now on the docket for the House of
Representatives. This bill seeks to enshrine discrimination into the U.S.
Constitution. It will probably get more traction in the House than in the
Senate. That is why EPF urges progressive people of faith to contact their
representatives in the House and ask them not to support or endorse the
Federal Marriage Amendment.
The stakes are very high. Equal Partners
in Faith believes in "Equal Justice for Equal Souls" and the FMA
eviscerates equality at the highest level of American Law. Please call
your Congressperson and tell them that you and your organization strongly
opposes passage of the Federal Amendment.
Click here to gain
more information on this topic and what you can do.
Sylvia Rhue Director, Equal Partners in
Lutheran mission under attack for calling a lesbian pastor
Central City Lutheran Mission, in San Bernardino, CA, describes itself as
"a cutting edge ministry which assumes
both delivery of a
wide variety of social services and development of a Word and Sacrament
ministry." Their simple style focuses on neighborhood leadership in a
multilingual ministry, "where the poor and oppressed become subject in a
pastoral project for neighborhood transformation and are not simply the
objects of the church's charity or social services."
The Mission recently called the Rev. Dr. Jenny Mason as
an Associate Pastor. Mason was ordained in 1991, served for ten years in
urban ministry in Chile, and has already been serving for some months on
the CCLM staff. While the Lutheran Church (ELCA) exercises considerable
latitude in matters of ordination and sexuality, this call has been
challenged and is now under review by a special committee, and some
economic sanctions have already been imposed on the Mission.
You can learn more of the situation in a statement from the CCLM.
Announcement from Covenant Network
Covenant Network offers new
documentary, Turning Points: Stories of Life and
Change in the Church
Turning Points: Stories of Life and Change in the
Church is a documentary about Presbyterians
struggling with the denomination's current ordination standards. This
hour-long, four-part story with a study guide is suitable for use in adult
education classes, pre-presbytery workshops, session meetings -- wherever
the church gathers for study and discernment of God's call to the church
Each section focuses on a particular story and is
surrounded by thoughtful, Reformed theological comment. Groups may choose to
view the whole video at once or choose which segments are most useful for
their needs. Biblical scholars and theologians including Walter Brueggemann
and Beverly Gaventa provide commentary and interpretation.
Turning Points opens with the poignant visit of Susie
Smith, now a minister in the United Church of Christ, to her former
Presbyterian congregation in South Carolina. Congregation members speak to
the camera and to Susie about how their lives were changed by her presence
and her departure. The choice between one's son and one's church is the
focus of the Calhoun family's story in the second segment. The third story
recounts a tragic moment of misunderstanding in the life of a young minister
and a daring act of reconciliation twenty years later. The fourth segment
considers how a thriving congregation in the Midwest welcomes and includes
gay and lesbian members.
This video was designed to be viewed by those who are
still trying to discern the role God calls those who are Christian and gay
or lesbian to take in Christ's church. Christians of all theological
viewpoints are invited to watch and discuss this thought-provoking
For more information and an order form, go to
Presbyterians invites friends to join in a
"Vigil for Justice," acts of
prayer and witness from now until the 2006 General Assembly in Birmingham.
You can read their cover letter, and the full
letter of invitation
from Martha Juillerat, Barbara Battin, and Kim Smith King, who are
organizing this effort on behalf of MLP. [8-16-04]
A congregation celebrates a fifteen-year relationship between two men
John Shuck, pastor of First Presbyterian
Church in Billings, MT, recently sent this note:
On August 7th history was made at the First Presbyterian
Church in Billings, Montana. In the sanctuary, before a congregation of
about 150, two members of our congregation celebrated their 15th
anniversary during a commitment ceremony. I am proud of our congregation
for going through the dialogue and education process to approve this
ceremony and especially to my friends, Mike and Tony, for their courageous
witness to live open loving and celebratory lives.
Click here for an article that appeared in the Billings Gazette
the same day.
And you can read John
Shuck's sermon preached at the commitment ceremony.
Equal Partners in Faith comments on
actions in Washington State and Missouri, for and against equality for
same sex marriage [8-9-04]
Sexual orientation no reason to violate rights, WARC delegates told
Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches,
told delegates to the alliance's general council meeting in Accra, Ghana,
that while members have different views of homosexuality, all Christians can
agree that it is wrong to violate human rights because of sexual
Stories from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches
about the 24th General Council may be found on
the WARC Website.
Washington Office calls attention to another threat to
equal rights: the Marriage
Protection Act (yep, really!) coming before Congress this week
They also provide a helpful selection of
actions by the 2004
General Assembly, relating to the Federal Marriage Amendment, equal
rights issues, and more. [7-21-04]
Religious voices need to be raised against the Federal Marriage Amendment
Clergy of all faiths are being urged
to sign on to a letter to senators, expressing opposition to the Federal
Marriage Amendment, which will likely come up for a vote in the US Senate
next week. Senators are being pressed hard by the religious right, and
other voices need to be heard.
This appeal comes from The Religious Action Center of
Reform Judaism, but is clearly open to all faiths.
Click here for
background, the text of the letter, and a sign-on page.
SoulForce also provides background papers, resources, sample letters,
and suggestions for action.
Gay marriage - a way of sanctification
Eugene Rogers, writing in The Christian Century, argues from
within the tradition of the Orthodox Church that marriage "is not
primarily for the control of lust or for procreation. It is a discipline
whereby we give ourselves to another for the sake of growing in
holiness--for, more precisely, the sake of God." And, he argues, if God's
creative action is a clear affirmation of diversity [think mosquitoes and
giraffes!] then diversity of sexual and familial relationships should also
be affirmed and sanctified in marriage.
Eugene F. Rogers Jr. is the author of Sexuality and
the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God (Blackwell) and
Theology and Sexuality: Classic and Contemporary Readings
"Is Gay Rights a Civil Rights Issue? YES."
Bond, civil rights leader and board chairman of the NAACP, writing in
Ebony Magazine (July 2004), declares that "Gay and lesbians' rights are
not 'special rights' in any way. It isn't 'special' to be free from
discrimination -- it is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship.
The right not to be discriminated against is a commonplace claim we all
expect to enjoy under our laws and our founding document, the
To those who argue that gay rights are not at all
analogous to racial civil rights, Bond replies:
No analogy between movements for rights is exact.
African-Americans are the only Americans who were enslaved for more than
two centuries, and people of color carry the badge of who we are on our
faces. But we are far from the only people suffering from discrimination
-- sadly, so do many others. They deserve the law's protections and
civil rights, too. Some who object to gay rights see homosexuality as a
choice, but science has demonstrated conclusively that sexual
disposition is inherent in some, not an option or alternative they've
selected. In that regard, it exactly parallels race -- I was born Black
and had no choice. I couldn't and wouldn't change it. Like race,
our sexuality isn't a preference -- it is immutable, unchangeable, and
the Constitution protects us all against prejudices and discrimination
based on immutable differences. [emphasis added by your
A Place Called
Justice, From the Heartland to the Horizon
MLP staffer Michael Adee reports on
National Conference of More Light Presbyterians, That All May Freely
Serve, and Shower of Stoles Project, held May 20-23 in Kansas City,
You'll find links to some of the sermons
preached during the conference, and more.
Martha Juillerat preached on Jonah's reluctant dealings with the
people of Nineveh -- from the perspective of those excluded Ninevites.
And she invited her listeners "to stand firmly in our faith, to open
ourselves to the power of the Spirit, to believe in the very best that is
possible for this church, and to work for justice - work for justice -
work for justice - for we can do no less."
Witnesses" seeks more signers of pledge to "[Uphold] our ordination
vows as we seek an inclusive church."
Grassroots Movement Grows into a "Cloud of Witnesses"
Synod PJC declares that PC(USA)
constitution does not prohibit gay marriage
Reverses presbytery in
Van Kuiken case [5-7-04]
On April 30, 2004, the Permanent Judicial
Commission of the Synod of the Covenant (Ohio and Michigan) of the
Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled that the Constitution does not prohibit
same-sex marriages and that "the decision of the Permanent Judicial
Commission of the Presbytery of Cincinnati is reversed and the rebuke of
Rev. Van Kuiken is removed."
On May 3, Van Kuiken issued a press
statement expressing his gratitude for the vindication of his stand, while
asserting that he still believes he must resign his ordination in the
PC(USA) in order to continue to serve the new congregation, The Gathering,
that formed in the wake of presbytery actions against him.
Ray Bagnuolo certified by Hudson River CPM to seek call to
The Committee on Preparation for Ministry of the Presbytery of Hudson
River has voted to certify that Raymond Bagnuolo, web spinner for That All
May Freely Serve, is ready to seek a call to ordained ministry.
Janie Spahr of TAMFS has issued
a statement expressing gratitude for this
God's widening welcome
Presbyterian pastor Thomas Davis explores
in a sermon the complexities of human sexuality, and invites his
congregation to see the richness of God's creation as encompassing far
more than just "male or female," far more even the "GLBT."
separation between Christians on these issues of gender difference
chiefly comes down to how complicated we think God's creation is. The
main conflict isn't so much about how to interpret the Bible; it's much
more about what is the nature of nature? Those who have little tolerance
for complication and ambiguity keep insisting that all these allegedly
unusual but nevertheless natural distinctions are not natural at all."
To those who
may prefer the simplicity and clarity of the traditional "biblical" views,
Davis chooses not to argue against the "clobber passages" such as Romans
1, but to say that the moral demands represented there should hold no more
authority for Christians today than Paul's strictures against women
speaking in church, or his demand that citizens should obey their rulers
and slaves their masters.
Lisa Larges put on "hold" once again for
Lisa Larges, the regional partnership coordinator for TAMFS national, has
been turned down in her request to be certified ready for ministry. The
only reason was that she was open and frank about her covenantal
relationship with her same-sex partner. The vote was 15-5 on the Committee
on Preparation for Ministry of the Presbytery of San Francisco.
The Human Rights Campaign is calling for
action to oppose the Federal
Marriage Amendment [4-7-04]
|More Light Presbyterians and PFLAG San
Jose announce joint release of video series
More Light Presbyterians and PFLAG San Jose
have just released a video series,
"Project Hearts & Minds," which includes DVDs, tapes, and facilitators'
guides allow easy discussion of LGBT concerns in churches, schools,
Workshop explores homosexuality in
Christian faith [3-29-04]
Public Conversations Project offers workshops to train
facilitators for constructive conversations on sexual orientation and the
Christian faith. Lisa Larges, Regional Partnership Coordinator of That All
May Freely Serve, recommends this group's work "in creating deep,
challenging, and constructive conversations in the midst of conflict."
A Tennessee court has ruled that gay parents cannot
be subjected to discrimination in their parental rights.
Welcoming Presbyterians' National Conference is coming soon --
May 20-23, in Kansas City
[posted here 3-23-04]
Michael J. Adee, National Field Organizer
for More Light Presbyterians, has sent a reminder of the fast-approaching
conference, with the theme "From the Heartland to the Horizon." This
first-ever Welcoming Presbyterians' National Conference is sponsored by
More Light Presbyterians, That All May Freely Serve, and The Shower of
The host church is Central Presbyterian Church, Kansas
The deadline for discounted registration is April 1, and with 50-some days
until the start of the Conference, there is still plenty of time for you
to register, make your travel plans, get a group together and be with us
in Kansas City.
The official start of the Conference will be with evening worship on
Thursday evening, May 20, with dinner for all preceding worship. And
registration and pre-conference cultural field trip options are available
earlier in the afternoon that day. The conference will be completed with
worship on Sunday morning, May 23 and Sunday lunch boxes are available
upon request with your registration.
Scholarships are available for youth, young adults, college and seminary
students - contact me about those at MichaelAdee@aol.com or (505)
To register online - you can go to
If you need help with registration - contact Nancy Young, Registrar, at
email@example.com or (267)
Don't miss this rainbow family reunion, National Conference and 30th
Anniversary Party for More Light Presbyterians!
The Road to Gay Marriage [3-9-04]
The New York Times, in an editorial on Sunday,
March 7, offered a calm, reasoned look at the emerging changes in our
nation's dealing with same-sex relationships through civil unions and
Gay marriage - a sampler of
background and opinion [2-27-04]
There's plenty of discussion on the subject of same-sex marriage these
days, from the President and just about everyone else.
Here are some helpful resources that may provide material
for your own thinking, and for discussions with others.
Vanderbilt conference offers a
critical examination of "reparative therapy"
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon Issues Analyst, reports on a
conference held at Vanderbilt University on February 7, 2004, in which a
variety of scholars took a serious and critical look at the claims of
"reparative" or "restorative" therapies to change the orientations of
people who are gay or lesbian.
Van Kuiken case to be heard in Ohio [2-2-04]
The Rev. Steve Van Kuiken will go to trial
this week (Feb. 5 and 6) before the Permanent Judicial Commission of the
Synod of the Covenant in Maumee, OH, just south of Toledo. Van Kuiken has
brought an action against the Presbytery of Cincinnati seeking to retain
his ordination following the presbytery’s action last June.
for background reports.
Grace? Yes, but ...
sexuality must be seen in relation to sin. Another comment on
Ottati's "why we shouldn't wait."
Over a month ago we received a
thoughtful note from ruling elder
Eric Muńiz, putting forth some basic arguments against the views of Prof.
Douglas Ottati in his theological reflections on
"why we shouldn't wait."
In the rush of the holiday season, we lost track of his
note. He recently sent a very gentle question about where his
comments had gone. Well, the lost is found, and we offer his
thoughts now ... at last ... with our apologies for the delay.
for the first wave of comments on Ottati's essay, and then visit
the second wave.
Nashville will hear two perspectives on homosexuality and "change
the Family will be holding a "Love Won Out conference" in Nashville, TN,
on February 7th. The same day there will be a conference at
Vanderbilt University will sponsor at conference under the theme
''Psychology, Religion and Homosexuality: Critical Responses to Reparative
The Nashville Tennessean reports on the competing events.
You can also check
announcement, and a report in
and About Nashville.
Cincinnati commission proposes "provisional status" for Mt. Auburn church,
and calls for moratorium on legal challenges related to inclusiveness.
Click here for a summary of the case as it stood in June, 2003.
If you have comments or
information to add,
please send us a
The Administrative Commission that was appointed by the
Presbytery of Cincinnati in May, 2002, will report to the Presbytery at
its meeting on Saturday, January 10, on its recommendations for responding
to the actions of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church that have been alleged as
defying the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church, specifically in
relation to the ordination of GLBT people and the blessing of same-sex
Perhaps the most creative element of their
recommendations has led them to propose an overture to the 215th
General Assembly that would be needed to make it possible. This would
establish the category of a "provisional status" for a congregation such
as Mt. Auburn, which it describes as "an
intentional, consistent, and conscientious objector to certain
responsibilities in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church."
It would require a two-thirds vote of the presbytery to place the
congregation in this status.
Under this provisional status, the presbytery would hold
conversations with the congregation to explain the reasons for the action,
and to hear comments from the members. During the two-year period, the
congregation "would lose voting privileges, but would continue to have
voice in presbytery matters."
The commission also recommends that the Presbytery
"establish and facilitate a Presbytery-wide "Year of Exchange" during
which delegations from congregations within our Presbytery would visit one
another, share their varying points of view, arrange pulpit exchanges, and
form collaborative prayer groups and mission projects."
The final recommendation would "establish a three-year
moratorium whereby member churches of the Presbytery voluntarily comply to
refrain from legal or procedural challenges to one another in issues
related to inclusiveness, with reference to the Book of Order Section
The full text of the Commission report, and the proposed
overture are available on the Presbytery website, in PDF format.
Click here, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for the links to
each of them.
NOTE: The presbytery has not
yet taken action on the recommendations from the Administrative
Commission. It is planned that the report will be presented to
Presbytery on Saturday, January 10th. How the Presbytery will
respond is of course an open matter.
Michigan Gov. Granholm
bans anti-gay discrimination in state employment
Michigan has become the tenth state to ban
discrimination based on sexual orientation in state employment, by an
Executive Directive issued by Governor Jennifer Granholm. Executive
Directive 2003-24 bans discrimination based on sexual orientation for
nearly 55,000 state employees in Michigan's Executive Branch of
Government, which represents 95% of all state employees.
Let's talk about ...
"GAY MARRIAGE" (more
precisely, "GLBT MARRIAGE") OR "CIVIL UNIONS"
It appears that our Issues Analyst, Gene TeSelle, has
never met an issue he didn't at least like to think about. He offers some
thoughts on the current discussion of gay marriage with the hope they will
generate some good conversation, and perhaps ideas for actions to be
suggested at the 2004 General Assembly.
Polling by conservative group still reflects strong support for
same-sex marriage [12-29-03]
"America's Poll on Homosexual Marriage," posted and reported by the
American Family Association, continues to grow in its number of responses,
with almost 60% favoring the legalization of same-sex marriage, and
another 8% supporting civil unions.
All this is being reported by one of the leading
organizations working to defend the "traditional family."
The details, as of Monday, December 29:
|I oppose legalization of homosexual
marriage and "civil unions"
|I favor legalization of homosexual
|I favor a "civil union" with the full
benefits of marriage except for the name
To be sure, a recent poll by the New York Times and CBS
News finds that 55% of Americans
favor a Constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage.
archived on the NYTimes website (so it'll cost you a bit to see the
It is also
posted in full (and free) by "The Daily Camera."
It is probably more accurate statistically than the AFA
poll, but given the anti-gay values reflected in that organization, the
results are surprising and interesting.
If you haven't voted, you can do so by going to
surprising poll on marriage
yesterday we announced a "poll on homosexual marriage" being taken by the
American Family Association, which "represents and stands for traditional
encouraged anyone who wanted to add a bit of diversity to the poll to
register their own opinions on the AFA website.
mid-day on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2003, they report these results:
I oppose legalization of
homosexual marriage and "civil unions"
38.78% (164946 votes)
I favor legalization of
52.88% (224886 votes)
I favor a "civil union"
with the full benefits of marriage except for the name
8.34% (35466 votes)
You can check their latest reports, and add
your own vote, at
You may also want to look at the
statement of purpose of the
American Family Association.
What's the true meaning of marriage?
Gordon Shull, reflecting on the diverse realities of his own family,
suggests that marriage is defined not by labels but by "attitudes and deeds
that sustain the relationship. Love. Faithfulness. Respect. Thoughtfulness.
Wherever we find these in a couple, we find marriage defended - no matter
the gender, and no matter what we call it." [12-20-03]
"Changing Families" report
goes through more changes [12-18-03]
The latest draft of a much-contested policy paper on
families has a new name, a new theological backbone, and a new emphasis on
what it calls the "marital-biological" relationship between a man and a
woman as the ideal foundation for the Christian family. Its key
assertion is that it is "preferable, on the whole," for children to be
raised by a mother and a father who are married to each other and live in
the same home. It also repeats the key assertion of the original,
controversial version, that "God works through all kinds of families" --
but takes pains to point out that some kinds are better than others.
we shouldn't wait
Douglas Ottati writes a regular column of "Theological Musings" for
Witherspoon's Network News. In his new column, in the current
issue, he considers the reasons why "we shouldn't wait to ordain called
and qualified gays and lesbians to all offices of the church, and to
endorse same sex unions and / or gay marriages between persons committed
to a loving relationship of mutual help and care."
Ottati is Professor of Theology at Union
Seminary/PSCE in Richmond, VA
After the Massachusetts decision:
Some affirm "gay
marriage" as a very good and sensible thing
In the wake of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
decision that a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, there have been
cries of alarm from those who feel that the whole institution of marriage
is threatened. And so some kind of "defense of marriage" act or amendment
is called for to rescue us all.
But there are other views. Conservative David
Brooks argues that marriage is a good thing for those who make that
commitment, and there's no reason to exclude some couples from its
benefits (to them and to society). Andrew Korfhage explores the
details of the Massachusetts decision and sees it as part of a wider
Civil Rights and same sex couples [11-21-03]
The Presbyterian Washington Office has
provided very helpful background information from Presbyterian statements
on civil rights and same-sex couples.
On Episcopalians and the sanctity of marriage [11-21-03]
This little tidbit has been floating around for some
time, but someone just sent it to your WebWeaver again, and he wants to
be sure you haven't missed it.
"The actions taken by the New Hampshire Episcopalians
are an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the
church's founder, Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon, his wife
Anne Boleyn, his wife Jane Seymour, his wife Anne of Cleves, his wife
Katherine Howard, and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer
through this assault on our traditional Christian marriage. "
Thanks to Dugan Frederick
urges it's time for action, not patience
In a personal note, elder Raymond
Bagnuolo, a Candidate for Minister of the Word and Sacrament, says his
patience for change has run out, and urges that the work of the
Task Force on Peace,
Unity, and Purity be refocused on "life after the deletion of G-6.0106b.
Homosexuality and The Bible
Are you looking for a clear, simple,
scholarly statement of how the Bible might inform the church's thinking
about homosexuality? If not for yourself, maybe to share with someone
One of the earliest - and perhaps one of
the best - was published first in 1979, and then in a revised edition in
1996, by Walter Wink, Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn
Theological Seminary in New York City.
He is a United Methodist minister, works
for a Presbyterian seminary, and attends Quaker meeting. For five years he
served as pastor of a church in southeast Texas.
find the full text of
the booklet online, or
order print copies through the website of the
Fellowship of Reconciliation (at $1.35 each), and we recommend it.
[Updated 1-3-05, thanks to Jeff Renner, Ann Arbor,
Synod review committee backs the decision of Baltimore presbytery
judicial commission in rejecting complaint by Paul Rolfe Jensen against
Rev. Don Stroud [10-21-03]
Outlook and the
Layman Online have posted reports on this decision - yet another
decision that yet another complaint by Mr. Jensen has no merit. The
Layman also carries
the full text of the decision.
Eily Marlow accepted by Milwaukee Presbytery as candidate for ministry
The Layman Online, always ready to share good news, reports
that Elisabeth "Eily" Marlow has been approved as a candidate for
ministry. As an out lesbian, she has been involved in many groups and
activities working for justice in our church's ordination policies.
Hudson River Presbytery takes no action against pastors of South
Presbyterian Church, Dobbs Ferry
That All May Freely
Serve reports that at its meeting on
September 23, the Presbytery of Hudson River accepted the recommendation
of its Investigating Committee that no action be taken against Joseph
GIlmore and Susan DeGeorge, ministers of South Presbyterian Church, Dobbs
Ferry, NY. Paul Rolf Jensen had filed a complaint against them for
conducting same-sex marriages and ordaining lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgendered people as deacons and elders.
For background, see our earlier
For more current details, from their own perspective,
check The Layman Online.
A Primer on
Overtures and Concurrences
The Rev. Donald Stroud,
Minister of Outreach and Reconciliation for That All May Freely Serve in
Baltimore, has prepared a very helpful introduction for people who want to
prepare overtures to the General Assembly, or concurrences with overtures
He also includes the
text of an overture to
delete G-6.0106b from the Book of Order, which will be proposed to the
Presbytery of Baltimore on Sept. 25th.
The Supreme Court and Walmart lead the way
toward justice ... and maybe someday Presbyterian will catch up?
Juillerat, Director of the Shower of Stoles
Project, reflects on recent developments toward a more just and
The Executive Committee of the Witherspoon Society
has just approved a statement of
policy on issues of justice, inclusiveness, and ordination.
We invite you to take a look at it
and send us your
Dobbs Ferry church leaders meet with
Three leaders of South Church, Dobbs
Ferry (NY) are meeting
Investigating Committee of the Presbytery of Hudson River, NY to respond
to charges put into motion by Paul Rolf Jensen.
reports that Dana Lichty, Clerk of Session; Joe Gilmore, Senior Minister;
and Susan DeGeorge, Minister of South Church, will
be at the meeting, set for 1 PM in Pleasantville, NY.
In brief, the
charges claim that Gilmore and DeGeorge have violated their ordination
vows by conducting holy unions that were "in every important way" the same
as marriage; and that they have ordained LGBT persons to the office of
deacon and elder.
hearing, scheduled for August, was postponed to give Mr. Jensen an
opportunity to appear before the committee, prior to their questioning of
the three church leaders. Mr. Jensen scheduled an appointment, but did not
appear at the meeting. Jensen is not required to personally present his
charges, but he did make the appointment and said he would be there. His
not showing up has no impact on the charges; however it does speak to
other questions about his actions.
concludes: "Please keep Susan, Dana, and Joe in your prayers, as they
exert their courage and leadership in our struggle for full inclusion of
the Body of Christ in the PC(USA)."
of That All May Freely Serve will be providing updates on the case, and
we will do the same right here.
A Republican leader says his party is "missing the point on gays"
Alan Simpson, a former Republican
senator from Wyoming and honorary chairman of the Republican Unity
Coalition, a gay-straight alliance of Republican leaders, says the push by
conservatives to advance a constitutional amendment defining marriage is a
betrayal of their own party's principles.
As someone who is basically a conservative, I
see not an argument about banning marriage or "defending" families but
rather a power grab. Conservatives argue vehemently about federal
usurpation of other issues best left to the states, such as abortion or
gun control. Why would they elevate this one to the federal level?
Check out his article in the Washington Post.
rights growing in corporations, if not in government or church
Writing for the Newsweek website, Martha Brant notes
that "While politicians furiously debate gay rights, Corporate America is
moving ahead" in areas such as nondiscrimination policies and same-sex
Thanks to Ralph Carter
Rosemary Radford Ruether calls for a healthier sexual ethic, partly to
replace the Administration's "puritan" ethic being forced on African
nations in the fight against AIDS [8-30-03]
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Carpenter Professor of Feminist
Theology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, calls
for a new sexual ethic that contrasts radically with the neo-Puritan ethic
being demanded by President Bush - even in Africa, where it will harm
rather than help efforts to combat the rising incidence of AIDS.
What's needed, she says, is not merely sexual freedom,
but an end to "sexual illiteracy," which can come only by replacing the
still-current "male ethic of sexual exploitation" with a truly egalitarian
sexual ethic, which allows learning through experience - but experience in
stages of growing maturity and responsibility.
Her essay is published in Conscience, the "newsjournal"
published by Catholics for a Free Choice.
New Resource: Transgender,
Intersex and the Church [8-25-03]
Made in God's Image: A Resource for Dialogue about the
Church and Gender Differences is a
groundbreaking educational booklet combining valuable information,
personal sharing, and resources. A perfect starting place for any
congregation, family, or individual.
Ann Thompson Cook writes not only from her considerable
knowledge, but also from her heart. Made in God's Image is an
exceptional resource for people of faith who want to open their own hearts
to a wider discussion of gender issues. -- The Reverend Erin K. Swenson,
Southern Association for Gender Education
For more information, or to order on-line, go to
www.madeinimage.org. 24 pages.
$5.95 each, $3.50 each for orders of ten or more. Published by Dumbarton
United Methodist Church and co-distributed by the Reconciling Ministries
Erin Swenson, a
transgender Presbyterian minister, recommends this booklet as a resource
for anyone seeking more understanding of transgender issues, and for use
in helping any congregation discuss those issues.
Equal Partners in Faith says:
Same-sex marriage is a matter of equality
tompaine.com offers a sharp analysis of
plans by the Bush
administration to use the gay marriage issue as a "wedge issue"
to strengthen its hold on voters in a number of conservative states.
The blessings of marriage - why denied to gays? [7-26-03]
Charles Henderson, Presbyterian minister and editor of the
Christianity section of about.com,
offers a thoughtful essay about "the blessings of gay marriage," asking
"Why should a couple that is willing to assume the responsibilities of
marriage be denied any of its privileges?"
global trend: World's oldest Protestant churches now ordain gays and
Opponents of inclusive ordination often
claim that "nobody does it," so Presbyterians shouldn't either. To be
sure, many churches around the world refuse to ordain people for a variety
of reasons - like because they're women or something. And more refuse to
ordain those who are openly gay or lesbian.
But Andy Lang, managing editor of the United Church of
Christ website, posted an analysis over a year ago reporting that "most
of the historic Lutheran and Reformed churches in Germany and northern
Europe" now practice inclusive ordination. He listed
a total of 26 churches, mostly in Europe, but a growing number in Africa,
North America and the Pacific, with a total membership of nearly 57
Pastoral support urged for glbt persons
and families [7-21-03]
Melissa Lynn DeRosia urges follow-up efforts from Atlanta overture,
approved by 215th GA, calling for improved pastoral support for
GLBT persons and their families.
Washington Times anti-gay report is contested
The Washington Times
of July 11 carried an article entitled
"Study Finds Gay Unions Brief." Brian Wells of Baltimore
responded with this letter to the editor, which he has kindly shared with
us. He argues that the conclusions drawn (that gay unions don't
last, and all that) are based on statistics that are irrelevant to the
gets hurt if gays, lesbians get married?"
Norman, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, raises this
So what's all this about marriage?
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, deviating slightly from
his own Presbyterian Church teachings, has recently affirmed that marriage
is "a sacrament," and that its sacred status justifies the proposed
constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one
man and one woman. (So take that, you wild-eyed liberals on the
Karen Armstrong, well-known author of A History of
God, recently published
essay in The Guardian arguing that Christians have "always
had a bleaker view of love - gay or straight - than any other faith." In
her essay she touches also (briefly and clearly!) on many of the Biblical
texts usually advanced to condemn same-sex relationships.
Thanks to Jane Hanna for pointing us to
Court Strikes Down Gay Sex Ban [6-26-03]
Associated Press reports that the Supreme Court has just struck down a ban
on gay sex, ruling that the law was an unconstitutional violation of
privacy. The 6-3 ruling reverses course from a ruling 17 years ago that
states could punish homosexuals for what such laws historically called
The AP says, "The case is a major reexamination of the
rights and acceptance of gay people in the United States. More broadly, it
also tests a state's ability to classify as a crime what goes on behind
the closed bedroom doors of consenting adults."
The Human Rights Campaign offers
Press report giving more details on the decision.
HRC's own press release on the decision.
Here are links
to the full texts of the Supreme Court opinions:
The United Church of Canada commends
Ottawa's action on same-sex unions [6-32-03]
Leadership Conference on
Civil Rights voices serious concern over
Sen. Rick Santorum's attack on gay and lesbian equality
Presbyterian Washington Office provides the text of a statement by the
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, plus a very helpful listing of
past General Assembly
statements on civil rights for lgbt persons.
And the Human Rights Campaign offers
suggestions for sending
letters and faxes to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
The trial of the Rev. Steve Van Kuiken, pastor of Mt. Auburn
Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, OH, begins on Tuesday, April 8.
For updates on the trial you can
check these websites:
The Mt. Auburn congregation, which offers links to many other
reports and background materials|
which plans to hold a vigil "to protest the Presbyterian Church's
anti-gay policies and teachings and to support Rev. Van Kuiken."|
A new affirmation is being circulated:
"Upholding Our Ordination Vows as We Seek an Inclusive Church"
The board of directors of That All May Freely Serve
- Michigan has endorsed and commended for consideration by all
Presbyterians an affirmation called: Upholding Our Ordination
Vows as We Seek an Inclusive Church.
They are inviting people - ministers, elders, and other
Presbyterians - to sign the statement.
Howard Warren dies
Howard Warren, a long-time and
passionate advocate for GLBT justice in the Presbyterian Church (USA),
died Friday, March 14, after a long illness. He was a long-time member of
Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, the forerunner of More Light
Presbyterians, and founder of Presbyterians Act Up. He often appeared at
General Assemblies, carrying placards protesting the church's exclusionary
policies - and sometimes shouting out for justice in tones worthy of the
Sexual orientation alone is no disqualification, PJC
Click here for the
full text of the GA PJC
The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission has
ruled on two recent appeals relating to LGBT concerns.
The Rev. Katie Morrison was ordained by the Presbytery
of the Redwoods. The Presbytery of San Joaquin issued a complaint again
her ordination on the grounds that she is a self-acknowledged lesbian,
even though no matters of conduct were at issue. The Synod PJC dismissed
the complaint, and the General Assembly PJC upheld that action. So Katie
Morrison's ordination has been upheld.
But in another case, the GA PJS has ordered a trial in
the case of the installation of a gay elder by West End Presbyterian
Church, Albany, NY, in the Presbytery of Albany.
Registration will soon open for WOW2003:
God's Deliverance Is For All -- a gathering of sexually and gender
diverse Christians from the U.S. and Canada. August 14 - 17,
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
"A Declaration of
Faith and Call to Action," as a clear statement of
their strategic direction. The opening lines tell the story: "Justice
knows no season. Justice cannot wait. An unjust standard is no standard at
Charges filed against Cincinnati pastor
The Presbytery of
Cincinnati filed charges against the Rev. A. Stephen Van Kuiken on Feb.
10, alleging two violations of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Constitution.
This is the first of more than 20 cases filed by attorney Paul Jensen that
has made it to trial.
The Layman Online carries the first report we've seen.
The first charge against Van Kuiken, who is pastor of
the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, is that he has
participated in the ordination and installation of deacons and elders who
are in violation of section G-60106(b) of the Book of Order.
The second charge is that he has "performed and/or condoned and
facilitated the performance by others of same-sex marriage ceremonies at
the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church."
Van Kuiken has commented that the Investigating
Committee for his case offered him an "alternative resolution," but only
if he would admit that what he has done is wrong, and would promise not to
do those things again. He could not accept those terms, because he
believes both of those actions are right, and he must continue to do them.
dealing with gender identity, and getting beyond "male or female"
The Rev. Erin K. Swenson, the first
transgender ministry in the PC(USA), spoke to the Presbytery of San
Francisco on January 14, 2003 [1-24-03]
|The Executive Committee of the
Witherspoon Society has approved
a statement in response to the
decision of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area to take no action
on a proposed overture to delete G-6.0106(b) from the Book of Order.
Austin church invites people to join in workshop
on non-violent resistance in GLBT issues
they'll provide housing and local transportation for guests at the March
We've just received this very interesting invitation:
A group of us at St. Andrew's in Austin, TX, have been
involved since last October in a study of "From Violence to Wholeness"
published by our wonderful friends at Pace e Bene. I have been in
conversation with some folks there since last November and we have
tentatively set up some dates in March to address non-violent resistance
in GLBT issues. They do a two day workshop on this topic as a way to help
prepare folks to use non-violent resistance tactics in our struggle for
We want to give an opportunity for our sisters and
brothers throughout our nation to join in this training. Therefore we will
attempt to offer housing and transportation to and from the airport to
anyone interested in attending. The cost of the two day workshop will be
$80.00 to cover the expenses of our trainers from San Francisco coming to
lead the workshop. You may need money for some meals, or if we do meals in
conjunction with the workshop there would be a small additional charge to
cover expenses there too.
We have tentatively picked March 1-2 and March 8-9 to
give folks choices in week-ends to attend. Registration will be limited to
about 20 people for each workshop.
If you are interested, you can contact me at
For those who don't know, I am the new part-time Minister of
Reconciliation for That All May Freely Serve Texas, Mission and Grace
Slots for the week end workshop will be filled on a
first come first served bases so please let me know ASAP if you want to
attend. You can learn more about the book and workshops Pace e Bene does
by logging on to their web site at
No action for an inclusive church
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area,
in assembly on January 11, 2003, approved a motion by the Rev. Tim
Hart-Andersen to take no action on a proposed overture that would call for
the deletion of G-6.0106b from the Presbyterian Book of Order.
Click here for items on
sexual justice in 2010.
Items on sexual justice from past years are
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!