Click here for items on
sexual justice in 2010.
Items on sexual justice from past years are
More Light Presbyterians reminds us:
December 1, 2005, World AIDS Day: A Day of
Remembrance, Prayer and Action for More Light Presbyterians
They provide a variety of good ideas and resources for
observing this important day. More
No marriage for gays? Then one church says it will offer
commitment celebrations only
Since Virginia has banned same-sex marriages, Clarendon
Presbyterian Church and its pastor, David Ensign, have agreed they will
perform no "marriages," but only celebrations of commitment.
We talk about welcoming churches.
How about this truly welcoming lesbian couple?
Two women open their home to Katrina victims
It is, sadly, a common thing to hear how "gay marriage"
would be a terrible threat to what some would define as the only "real"
But among the many stories of true goodness to come out of
the mess of Katrina, there’s one about a lesbian couple in small-town
Minnesota who have invited into their home a family from New Orleans – a
mother, her mother, and her six children.
Dorothy, the grandmother, says that when her daughter told
her they would be moving into a home with a same-sex couple, she replied
"‘What’s that got to do with it?’ They were offering us their home. I was
just glad they were saying we were welcome."
The Battle Over Gay Teens [10-5-05]
Time magazine has published an extensive cover story
in its October 10, 2005, issue, telling of the growing trend for high school
young people to come out as lesbian or gay, and for straight students to
Both gay and anti-gay (or "change") groups are having to
adjust to this growing reality, and the article reports on both sides.
You might be able to
access the article directly, or you may have to pay a fee for
downloading it. Or of course, you might even buy the magazine.
International reports on police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender people in the US [9-23-05]
Despite progress made by the lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in the United States since
Stonewall—the June 28, 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay
bar in New York City, and ensuing protests in defiance of police abuse and
repression—police misconduct against the LGBT community in the US persists.
In a new report titled Stonewalled:
Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
people in the US, Amnesty International (AI) documents serious patterns
of police misconduct and brutality—including abuses that amount to torture
and ill-treatment—against LGBT individuals. Profiling of LGBT individuals as
criminal; selective enforcement of laws; sexual, physical and verbal abuse;
inappropriate searches and mistreatment in detention remain commonplace, as
does a lack of accountability for perpetrators.
The report also examines how US
authorities are in breach of their international human rights obligations by
failing to take adequate measures to prevent or punish crimes committed
against LGBT people. Case histories documented in the report demonstrate
failure to respond or inadequate responses by the police to hate crimes and
violence targeting LGBT people, as well as situations of domestic violence
that involve LGBT people.
Read the full document >>
Thanks to Lisa Larges,
Regional Partnership Coordinator of That All May Freely Serve
Witherspoon board responds to
Task Force report
The board of the Witherspoon
Society met during our conference at Stony Point, and drafted our official
response to the report of the Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and
Purity of the Church. The statement expresses appreciation for
elements of the report, including the recommendation for a new Authoritative
Interpretation, if it were supplemented with an important addition.
The statement expresses strong objections to the proposal for a continued
postponement of further action on the full inclusion of all Presbyterians in
the life and ministry of our church.
More Light Presbyterians announces three
regional conferences in Fall 2005
Michael Adee, MLP
National Field Organizer, has invited people to attend one or more of three
regional conferences this fall. His invitation says in part:
As you know only too well, these are challenging times for us as human
beings, persons of faith, and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
persons, our families and friends. Being in community with each other on
retreat is a wonderful way for us to rejuvenate our spirits, celebrate our
faith, and explore ways to help stretch our local congregations and empower
our Church to live into the Gospel, the extravagant welcome and
unconditional love of God. I invite you to consider giving yourself the gift
and experience of one or more of these regional MLP conferences designed on
a retreat model.
At each of these conferences, you can count on welcoming and affirming
worship, times for spiritual growth and reflection, educational workshops,
celebrations of community, reunions with friends from across the movement
and the making of new friends. Each local conference team is creating their
own brand of special hospitality.
The three regional conferences, their themes, dates and places are:
REALIZING THE DREAM: SOJOURNING TOGETHER
October 21-23, 2005 Louisville, Kentucky
November 4-6, 2005 Ghost Ranch Santa Fe, 401 Old Taos Highway, Santa Fe, NM
SHARING OUR JOURNEY: SOJOURNING TOGETHER
November 11-13, 2005 Camp Crestfield-Slippery Rock, PA (Just off Interstate
79-One hour north of Pittsburgh)
information on the MLP website >>
Des Moines presbytery passes ordination
Thanks both to the Rev. Bill LeMosy and to More Light
Presbyterians, we can report that
the Presbytery of Des Moines Presbytery an overture to permit the ordination
of lgbt Presbyterians, during its meeting this past Saturday, August 20,
2005. With 78 persons eligible to vote, the overture passed with 42 in
favor, 34 opposed and 2 abstentions. In 2004, it was Des Moines Presbytery
to pass the first ordination overture. This is the second time that the Des
Moines Presbytery has passed an ordination overture.
Michael Adee, National Field Organizer
for More Light Presbyterians, notes that "The groundswell
of ordination overtures being considered and passed continues all across the
country. What happened in Des Moines Presbytery this past week illustrates
once again that now is the time for change, now is the time for the
Presbyterian Church (USA) to remove the anti-gay barriers within its church
law and relationship with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and
our families. It gives evidence once again that people are ready for change,
and for the PCUSA to reclaim its moral voice as a ‘reformed and always
reforming’ faith tradition."
For more information, text and resources on ordination overtures,
visit the MLP
California court affirms gay couples' parental status
Supreme Court on Monday became the first in the nation to grant full
parenting rights and obligations to gays and lesbians who have children. In
three closely watched cases, the justices set rules in an area where changes
in family structure and advances in technology have outpaced the evolution
of legal principles.
Read the story >>
Witherspooners, justice-seekers Tammy Lindahl and Martha
Juillerat celebrate marriage in Vancouver
announcement from More Light Presbyterians [8-1-05]
On July 30, 2005, Tammy Lindahl and Martha Juillerat were
married at Trinity United Church, Vancouver, British Columbia. More Light
Presbyterians celebrate the love, commitment and marriage of Tammy and
Martha. Both former Presbyterian clergywomen, graduates of McCormick
Theological Seminary who served God in parish ministry, Tammy also served on
the National MLP Board and Martha is the National Program Director of the
Shower of Stoles Project. Tammy and Martha live in Minneapolis, MN.
Former Moderator Isabel Rogers joins coalition to support
Isabel Rogers, a retired professor at Union Seminary/PSCE, has
joined a growing group of clergy, community leaders and strongly spiritual
residents to form People of Faith for Equality in Virginia.
Organizers aim to be the antithesis of the vocal conservative Christian set,
offering a faith-based, yet gay-friendly perspective they say is absent in
Virginia's gay rights discussions. People of Faith member Brenda Lee, a
lesbian, expresses the hope that "People of Faith will bring forth some
understanding so that people can no longer tell young adolescents they're
going to hell." [7-14-05]
The whole story >>
(Access to the Hampton Roads Daily Press website may require
registration, but it’s free.)
Churches move forward in blessing gay unions
UCC General Synod overwhelmingly calls for "full
On July 4, the UCC General Synod 25 overwhelmingly passed
a resolution in support of equal marriage rights for all people, regardless
of gender. It marks the first time that one of the nation’s mainline
churches has expressed support of marriages for gay, lesbian, bisexual and
More Light Presbyterians
responds to the UCC action
Atlanta, GA: July 4, 2005:
The National Board of Directors of More Light
Presbyterians celebrates the courageous and faithful action of the United
Church of Christ (UCC) in making a way for justice for all families by
approving the Resolution in Support of Equal Marriage Rights for All. This
today at the UCC General Synod, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, is a powerful
witness that faithful Christians may indeed support the great diversity
within our human family.
In a culture where prejudice, fear and hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender people abound, More Light Presbyterians affirms that God calls
the church to be an agent of love, wisdom and justice. Each person —
regardless of gender, sexual orientation or bodily condition— has a moral
right to love and be loved, as well as the responsibility to express his or
her sexuality in ways genuinely respectful of self and others.
More Light Presbyterians affirms the necessity to act on behalf of the
gospel and our church’s social teachings and thus advocates working within
the structures of the church and society to the end that marriage be an
option to all who seek it. At the same time, we are mindful that many
faithful Christians joyously choose not to marry; the church must avoid
implicitly or explicitly treating marriage as a moral requirement for full
participation in the life of the church and community. In this way we work
to build a just and faithful society wherein all God’s children enjoy the
same basic legal and spiritual rights and freedoms.
And the Methodists in Britain ...!
The Methodist Church in Great Britain has become the first
major Christian denomination in that country to offer the prospect of
blessings services for same-sex couples.
True family values ... for all
Gordon Shull writes about the way his grandson can delight in
his two uncles, who are partners.
"'Uncle Peter and Uncle Dave' are just as natural to him
as Uncle Phil and Aunt Jill, or Grandpa and Grandma. They read to him, play
with him, build Lincoln Log houses with him. He knows they belong together."
Gay Methodist minister wins defrocking appeal
Appeals committee reverses Stroud verdict
[United Methodist News Service Bulletin -- April 29, 2005,
10:30 am EDT]
[posted here 5-29-05]
An appeals committee has reversed a clergy court verdict
in the case of Irene Elizabeth "Beth" Stroud. The Northeastern Jurisdiction
Committee on Appeals announced its decision at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time
today, after hearing Stroud's appeal April 28. Stroud lost her credentials
as a United Methodist minister last Dec. 2 after a clergy trial, which
stemmed from her acknowledgment that she is a practicing lesbian. The United
Methodist Church's Book of Discipline forbids the ordination and appointment
of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals."
More information from United Methodist New Service >>
And a report in the
The complete text of the decision is available in PDF format (217K)
UCC could become first mainline Christian denomination
to endorse civil and religious marriage equality
The 1.3-million-member United Church of Christ could become the first
mainline Christian denomination to endorse full marriage equality -
regardless of gender - if a proposed resolution is approved by the church's
General Synod this summer. [4-22-05]
Read the full story >>
Spahr trial continued as both sides seek constructive resolution
In a pre-trial conference on March 31, in connection with
charges brought against the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr related to her officiation
in a civil marriage ceremony for a gay couple, the prosecution and defense
agreed to a 120 day continuance in order to seek a constructive,
collaborative, and mutually agreeable means of handling the complex issues
raised by the case within the Presbytery of the Redwoods, the regional
governing body in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). [4-13-05]
First More Light
Presbyterian Church in South Carolina
early March the Session of the
Community Church, Presbyterian, of Anderson, S.C. voted unanimously
to become affiliated and identified as a More Light Presbyterian Church.
NACCP is making history as the first More Light Church in South Carolina The pastor of the church, the Rev. Jake Young, is currently
serving as the Vice President of the Witherspoon Society.
Lutheran web site carries news from the Lutheran Alliance
for Full Participation
The webmaster describes
is a grassroots campaign to change the discriminatory Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) policy regarding ordination of lgbt clergy and to
protect the right of ELCA pastors to bless convenanted same-gender
He adds that "the ELCA's church-wide assembly in August
this year has the opportunity to make decisions on these matters, and much
of our effort is oriented toward that decision point." Here’s a good place
to follow their efforts. [4-13-05]
Marriage promotion, reproductive injustice, and the war
against poor women of color
busy attempting to take away Michael Schiavo's marital rights, and making
sure gays don't have any, it's easy to forget another of the party's
priorities is the Healthy Marriage Initiative, which links welfare benefits
to getting hitched. The legislation, as invasive as it is hypocritical, is
especially harmful to poor women and women of color who have been
domestically abused. [3-31-05]
From Utne WebWatch
Sex and Shame: from Ancient Israel to Today
College, in Chambersburg, PA, is holding a one-day forum on this provocative
subject on Monday, March 28, with Dr. Alice Ogden Bellis of Howard
University’s School of Divinity as the featured speaker, and a number of
interesting workshops are planned. [3-16-05]
Pre-Register or for more information visit
Or contact David True, Chair of Philosophy and Religion: (717)
Erin Swenson receives Lazarus Award,
speaks about her own new life in becoming female
Rev. Erin Swenson received 2005 Lazarus Project Award at
the Lazarus Banquet in Pasadena, CA, on February 26, 2005.
Susan Halcomb Craig, pastor of United University Church in Los Angeles,
introduced her saying: ".. after 23 years of ordained service in the
Presbyterian Church, Erin became the first known mainstream Protestant
minister to transition from male to female while retaining her ordained
status in the denomination. Erin is accomplished as theologian and
psychotherapist; as Ph.D. author and educator; as More Light Presbyterians’
Co-Moderator and counselor; as father/mother and devoted family member, wise
woman and friend."
Erin, in her keynote address, spoke about the occasional
importance of a comma (as in that popular book Eats, Shoots and Leaves).
A lectionary reading for later this summer will include Isaiah 56:1, 6-8.
It’s a powerful, prophetic passage which demands doing justice, but skips
over (with a comma) the inclusion of foreigners, "eunuchs" and those who
don’t have children among God’s people.
She read the passage that had been replaced in our
lectionary by a comma:
Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it
fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any
Do not let the foreigner joined to the LORD say, "The
LORD will surely separate me from his people"; and do not let the eunuch
say, "I am just a dry tree." For thus says the LORD: To the eunuchs who
keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my
covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a
name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
She then spoke of her own experience of liberation as she
transitioned from a male to a female identity.
For us… ones so clearly left out, removed from the
places of worship and community, these words are life-giving. Every TG
gathering I have read this to has been filled with amazement and tears of
joy. How have we as the church become a community where these people, so
honored by God that they would have a place and name better than sons and
daughters, are stuffed behind a damned comma? As Isaiah brings this to us
God’s intention is anything but to hide us, but to make sure that we are
honored and remembered. So why are we hidden in the comma?
Could it be fear?
That’s what it was for me.
She told of her long slide into depression and despair,
the disintegration of "his" marriage ... but
... then an unexpected thing happened. Despair became
the harbinger of hope for me as I had to accept that I could hide no
longer. My life slid from behind my own personal "comma" as I came out to
family, colleagues and friends, discovering in each new encounter that
truth, like birth, is messy, life-giving, and often painful.
I decided that a gender transition was necessary to my
continued health and well-being, and began the process that eventually led
to that Presbytery meeting where I was sent back to the committee. Sixteen
months later the church voted for the second time on my continued
ordination, and this time the "comma" fell from the page as the Presbytery
of Greater Atlanta approved my request, 186 to 161.
of Erin’s address, and Susan’s introduction >>
Presbytery of Milwaukee approves Eily Marlow for
By a convincing
(and perhaps surprising) vote of 104 to 20, the Presbytery of Milwaukee last
night acted to approve Elizabeth (Eily) Marlow for ordination. Ms. Marlow
has long been active in the Presbyterian Church, through the National
Network of Presbyterian College Women and various other programs. She is
currently serving in the chaplaincy at Presbyterian-related Macalester
College in St. Paul, MN. The presbytery action was notable as a strong
endorsement of a woman who has been very open and honest in affirming her
orientation as a lesbian.
Interim Executive Presbyter Anne Fisher commented that she
was very pleased with the tone and demeanor shown during the discussion of
the action. She added that members showed a real respect for one another,
and a willingness to listen seriously to differing views on a controversial
The Rev. David Oliver-Holder commented that her statement
of faith was "outstanding." He added that after a couple very busy weeks,
"yesterday, as I was reading her statement of faith in preparation for the
meeting, I was amazed to find, by the second paragraph, how calm I had
suddenly become. Peace in the presence of Truth. I also respond well to good
theology, and hers is very good."
There's more in a press
release from the Presbytery of Milwaukee
Maryland clergy urge Equal Access to Marriage
Forty-three of the seventy-three Christian clergy from across
the state of Maryland who have endorsed a "Statement on Equal Access to
Marriage" gathered on Tuesday, 2/8/05, to release it publicly at a press
conference. The seventy-three clergy are from eight Christian denominations:
American Baptist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, Metropolitan Community Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United
Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and the United Reform Catholic
That All May Freely Serve
has posted the press release and statement both in
Word format and in
PDF format. [2-12-05]
With Liberty and Justice for All...
New York court rules that same-sex marriage is a
[A statement from That
All May Freely Serve]
TAMFS is delighted and proud to stand with the People of
New York in welcoming the radical hospitality and sense of justice affirmed
by today's court ruling
"In a historic 62-page decision, a New York judge ruled on
Friday that the Empire State marriage laws impermissibly discriminate
against same-sex couples. Justice Doris Ling-Cohan wrote that the liberty
interest at stake for the five plaintiff couples was nothing less than the
fundamental right to choose one's spouse, ruling that New York City, in
turn, would have to present a compelling reason for restricting marriage to
heterosexual couples." More from
TAMFS stands alongside all of New York,
Massachusetts, Canada, and other places where the sacred mystery of our
humanity and being is respected with a wide embrace and a prophetic voice,
backed with bold and welcome acts of courage and justice.
God's Spirit is bringing us ever closer
together, in spite of the differences some would use to divide us or for
their own gain. We welcome healing within and without our church and pray
for the day when we all have enough faith and compassion to rely in
prophetic ways on the mystery of God and God's abundant and diverse grace.
We Love New York, New York!
We love all of you, too!
More Light Presbyterians joins in
National Ecumenical Welcoming Church
Leaders' Summit this week in Houston, January 4 - 7
Click here for items on
sexual justice in 2010.
Items on sexual justice from past years are
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries,
confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.
We provided resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest have been:
which removes the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
Confessions. Disapproved, because as an amendment
to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not
10-1, which adopts the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. Approved.|
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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.
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
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, 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 Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!