• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • Where were you when … July 19, 2019
      Most of us remember where we were when the Twin Towers were attacked on 9-11. For folks my age or older, we remember the Kennedy assassination. Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 roared into history as I arrived in Vietnam. I wrote about those days in my embellished autobiographical novella entitled “Gonna Stick My Sword in […] [[ This is a content summary only. Vis […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Ten Questions for Trump Supporters May 6, 2019
      If you’re a Trump supporter, here’s a quiz for you in the quiet of your own thoughts. Don’t be defensive; dare to think long and hard and ponder the questions seriously. 1)  Why did Russia want Trump to win? 2)  Why do black voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Trump? Hispanics? LGBTQ? Women? 3)  Why does Trump […] [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my […]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign October 11, 2019
      She may not have made the September or October debates, but Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is still very much in the race. Last week, for instance, her campaign announced that she had raised $3 million in the third quarter, a haul that, as CNN reports, “is a significant boost from the $1.5 million Williamson raised respectively in both […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Photo of the Day October 4, 2019
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Autumn's “Wordless Message”• A Time of Transformation• Autumnal (and Rather Pagan) Thoughts on the Making of “All Things New”• Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2018)• Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2016)• O Sacred Season of Autumn• “Thou Hast Thy Music Too”• Autumn Hues• The Beauty of Autumn in MinnesotaImage: Mic […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

    • Newman Canonized, and Talk of His Love for Ambrose St. John Rocks the World of Macho-Heterosexist Clerics: My Thoughts October 14, 2019
      1/ It has long been a tactic of homophobes to claim that one cannot identify people in the past as gay when they did not identify themselves that way, even when they spoke or wrote about same-sex relationships in their own lives. This tactic wants to invisibilize gay people.— 𝕎𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕚𝕒𝕞 𝔻. 𝕃𝕚𝕟𝕕𝕤𝕖𝕪 🌈 (@wdlindsy) October 14, 2019As Cardinal Newman is canonized, a […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • Jeff Chu on Meeting the Woman Who Fired Him Because He Was Gay: Valuable Twitter Thread for #RiseUpOct8 October 8, 2019
      The US Supreme Court will hear arguments this week on whether LGBTQ people are protected by existing anti-discrimination law. I've been thinking about this topic. On Saturday at #EvolvingFaith19, I came face-to-face with a woman who fired me from a freelance gig because I'm gay.— Jeff Chu (@jeffchu) October 7, 2019The Twitter thread Jeff Chu shared […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • In The Closet of the Vatican: New Investigative Study February 22, 2019
      In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy - just published today, February 22nd, 2019.Thanks to Kittredge Cheery of the wonderful gay Christian blog,  QSpirit Blog, for the heads up about the publication of this major new investigative study into the secret homosexual double lives of many priests (and bishops and cardinals) in the vatican […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
    • Wanderer by Sarah Leon: Gay Debut Novel of the Year February 11, 2019
      A very young Sarah Leon published this heat-wrenching  love story in French in 2016 when she was barely twenty years old. Three years later we are blessed to have this exquisite English translation of the work  by John Cullen, a translator of note with many books to his name. It is one of the most affecting love stories you will ever read.Wanderer has alread […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • Another World is Neccessary: Anarchism, Christianity and the Race from the White House July 30, 2008
      I’ll be presenting at the upcoming Jesus Radicals conference in Columbus, Ohio. My session (on the relationship between Church and State) will be on Friday afternoon. If you’re in the area, drop by. I’d love to meet some of the folks who frequent this site. Here’s the info: August 15-16, 2008 St. John’s Episcopal 1003 W Town Columbus, OH [...]ShareThis […]
      Mark Van Steenwyk
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Trump abandons the Kurds October 14, 2019
      People ask why not just wait until the next election to remove Trump instead of trying to impeach him. The answer is that every day he is in office gives him another opportunity to cause harm. A recent case in point: his abandonment of our allies, the Kurds ....Wikipedia has a page on the current Turkish offensive, and here is part of what they have for toda […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)
  • Advertisements

Roman Catholic female ordination

Call to Action logo Call to Action is the largest group of progressive Catholics with roots in the liberalizing reforms of Vatican II, originally sanctioned by the American Council of Bishops, but which became an outsider organization as conservative retrenchment set in during the papacy of John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II repeatedly dashed hopes for any internal liberalizing during his lifetime, and he prepared for the future by appointing as bishops only men who upheld his views on contraception and the ordination of women. Meanwhile, there were crackdowns on theologians like [Hans] Kung and an insistence from Rome that diversity of opinion was not to be tolerated.

The organization is stronger than ever and continues to a thorn in the flesh of the patriarchal and hierarchal Vatican:

We appeal to the institutional church to reform and renew its structures. We also appeal to the people of God to witness to the Spirit who lives within us and to seek ways to serve the vision of God in human society.

We call upon church officials to incorporate women at all levels of ministry and decision-making.

We call upon the church to discard the medieval discipline of mandatory priestly celibacy and to open the priesthood to women and married men…so that the Eucharist may continue to be the center of the spiritual life of all Catholics.

We call for extensive consultation with the Catholic people in developing church teaching on human sexuality.

We claim our responsibility as committed laity, religious and clergy to participate in the selection of our local bishops, a time-honored tradition in the church.

We call for open dialogue, academic freedom, and due process.

We call upon the church to become a model of financial openness on all levels, including the Vatican.

We call for a fundamental change so that young people will see and hear God living in and through the church as a participatory community of believers who practice what they preach.

Another group of progressive Catholics has moved beyond advocacy to open defiance of the Vatican by ordaining women despite excommunication.  Called Roman Catholic Womenpriests, the organization now has five female bishops who are actively ordaining women to the priesthood around the US. 

The Sarasota Florida Herald Tribune offered a lengthy article on Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and her ordination of two women as priests and one as a deacon over the weekend.

A former nun who the Vatican says has been excommunicated will ordain two women priests and one deacon in Sarasota today, part of a growing and controversial movement claiming to be an offshoot of the Catholic church.

The ordinations will be the first in Florida by the group known as Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which preaches equality for women by allowing them into the priesthood and plays down allegiance to the pope.

Bishop Bridget (center) and two new womenpriests The official Catholic church calls the movement and the ordinations illegitimate, and the local diocese sent letters to parishes saying any Catholics who support the ordination of women by attending today’s ceremony will be automatically excommunicated — a banishment from participating in church sacraments such as baptism and communion until forgiveness is given by a priest.

“Good!” said Bridget Mary Meehan, the former nun who is performing today’s ordinations and is one of five bishops in the national movement. “They’re upping the ante. People will have to be courageous to support us and that is what this is about. Like our sister Rosa Parks, we refuse to sit on the back of the bus any longer.”

A similar story comes from the Sacramento Bee newspaper in California.

To parishioners in her small Sacramento congregation, Elizabeth English is their Catholic priest: She presides over their Sunday Mass, leads them during Communion and baptizes their babies.

To the Roman Catholic Church, English symbolizes a topic that church leaders consider closed: the ordination of women priests.

English left the Roman Catholic Church five years ago to pursue her calling to the priesthood. She is now a priest in the Independent Catholic Church, a group not recognized by the Vatican. She is the only female Catholic priest in the Sacramento region.

“I had to leave the church; there was no place for me,” she said. “I wish there was.”

Another of the five Womenpriest bishops, Andrea M. Johnson, will appear tomorrow at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University.  Bishop Johnson will speak and participate in a blue ribbon panel discussion about female ordination.  This information comes from blogger Wild Hair whose self description is “Roman Catholic Priest, still in reasonably good standing; aka: eminence, the cardinal archbishop of HGN.”

Finally, Bishop Bridget mentioned earlier has her own blog with lots of info and links about the Womenpriest movement.  Check it out.

This article is cross posted at Spirit of a Liberal.

Advertisements

Prop 8 trial reveals abuses of reparative therapy

If you haven’t heard, a civil trial is underway in California contesting the constitutionality of Prop 8.  If you don’t know about Prop 8, it was a California referendum that passed by a slight majority in the 2008 election, and its effect was to preclude same gender marriage in California.

This is a much ballyhooed trial, not merely for its subject but also for its participants.  The two main attorneys that are pursuing the case are the same who opposed each other in Gore v Bush, the 2000 presidential election Florida recount case, who now join in common cause to have Prop 8 overturned as unconstitutional.   One of these is well known Republican and conservative attorney Theodore Olson, formerly of the Bush and Reagan administrations.

Attorney Olson explains his views in a Newsweek article, entitled The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage.

My involvement in this case has generated a certain degree of consternation among conservatives. How could a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, challenge the “traditional” definition of marriage and press for an “activist” interpretation of the Constitution to create another “new” constitutional right?

My answer to this seeming conundrum rests on a lifetime of exposure to persons of different backgrounds, histories, viewpoints, and intrinsic characteristics, and on my rejection of what I see as superficially appealing but ultimately false perceptions about our Constitution and its protection of equality and fundamental rights.

Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.

Pastor Candice Chellew-Hodge is “the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as associate pastor at Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia, S.C.”  A religious progressive, her blog post today carries the subtitle, “testimony shows the ugly side of religion”.  The subject is the discredited and abusive practice of reparative therapy—the misguided attempt to turn gay persons straight.  (See my prior blog post about reparative therapy here.)

The testimony, as reported by Pastor Chellew-Hodge, is compelling and heart wrenching.

I’m gay. I’m short and half Hispanic those things aren’t going to change.”

Those are the words Ryan Kendall uttered in a federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday as the trial over whether or not to overturn Proposition 8 that stripped gays and lesbians of their right to marry in California, got into its second week.

Kendall took the stand to recount his harsh treatment in an “ex-gay ministry.” His deeply religious parents forced him into so-called “reparative therapy” after finding a note that Kendall had written to himself confessing his sexual orientation at the age of 13. Kendall said his parents “flipped out, (they were) very upset, yelling. I don’t remember a lot of what they said, but it was pretty scary the level of their reaction. I remember my mother telling me I was going to burn in hell.”

Read the rest of the blog post and more testimony here.

Gun sights for Jesus

Howard Friedman Howard Friedman is Professor of Law Emeritus at Toledo University, and he publishes a blog about the intersection of law and religion.  His blog is named Religion Clause, and the blog’s byline is the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… –US Const., Amend. 1”

His latest post contains a troubling investigative report from ABC News about a defense contractor that has a contract for supplying 800,000 high powered rifle sights to the US Marine Corps and more for the army.  The problem is that each rifle sight contains a Biblical reference, a coded citation to either 2nd Corinthians 4:6 or John 8:12 affixed to the end of each gun sight’s serial number.

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (2 Co 4:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Jn 8:12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

It is unclear why the gun sight manufacturer chose these particular verses.

An overt Biblical reference included on any government ordered product is undoubtedly a violation of the establishment clause.  Professor Friedman has a Sgt Joe Friday (Dragnet) style of writing (“Just the facts, ma’am”); thus, one is left to infer his legal opinion about the constitutionality of the practice from the mere fact that he published the post.

Jesus with a gun (borrowed from Seven Whole Days) Blogger Scott Gunn at Seven Whole Days is less subtle, and he writes less from a legal/constitutional point of view (although he agrees the practice is unconstitutional) than from his perspective as an Episcopal priest.  Apparently, the company spokesman dismissed critics of the practice as “uppity ‘non-Christians’”.  Gunn responds, “Well, this priest in Christ’s Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is outraged.”

Where to begin? Let’s start with practical matters. It will (rightly) inflame Muslims to learn that US military forces are fighting a war with equipment that contains references  to the Bible … How can we have any credibility when we say we are not fighting a new crusade, while our forces use equipment that is marked with verses about following Jesus?

Continuing to speak as a priest, I am further outraged by the perversion of the faith to which I devote my life. Jesus surely wants us to share the Good News with the whole world, but not in the side of deadly weapons. More to the point, killing in Christ’s name violates every teaching of the Gospels. I might concede that war is a necessary evil, though I have strong pacifist leanings, but we can never imagine that we have God’s approval to fight wars. Every war, every weapon, and every death in battle represents a tragic sin. To mock Jesus Christ by stamping “the light of Christ” on a rifle scope is to engage in deadly blasphemy.

To lawyer Friedman, I say “Counselor, we join in your arguments.  Your comments are incorporated herein by reference.”  To Pastor Gunn, I say, “amen, brother.”

Cross posted at Spirit of a Liberal Blog

ELCA Social Statements: Consensus Teaching Documents: Part I

The teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church, referred to as the magisterium, resides in the episcopacy and especially the papacy.  The parallel teaching authority of the ELCA is the process of study, debate, and adoption of various social statements.

Social statements are social policy documents, adopted by an ELCA Churchwide Assembly, addressing significant social issues.  They provide an analysis and interpretation of an issue, set forth basic theological and ethical perspectives related to it, and offer guidance for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, its individual members, and its affiliated agencies and institutions. They are the product of extensive and inclusive deliberation within this church.

At the 2009 Church wide assembly in Minneapolis, the ELCA adopted revised ministry policies encouraging “recognition and support” for persons in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous” same gender relationships and also allowed such persons in such relationships to be ordained.

Separately and coincidentally, the ELCA adopted its tenth social statement entitled, Human Sexuality:Gift and Trust.  Of course, it was the two pages (out of thirty two) devoted to homosexuality that garnered the most interest and resistance.  The significant aspect of the document vis a vis homosexuality is that gay sexual ethics are treated exactly the same as straight sexual ethics.  Human sexuality, both gay and straight, is treated as gift of God entrusted to humans for good but also with the potential for abuse.

Sexuality especially involves the powers or capacities to form deep and lasting bonds, to give and receive pleasure, and to conceive and bear children. Sexuality can be integral to the desire to commit oneself to life with another, to touch and be touched, and to love and be loved. Such powers are complex and ambiguous. They can be used well or badly. They can bring astonishing joy and delight. Such powers can serve God and serve the neighbor. They also can hurt self or hurt the neighbor. Sexuality finds expression at the extreme ends of human experience: in love, care, and security, or lust, cold indifference, and exploitation.

The process of adopting a social statement begins with an enabling resolution from the church wide assembly of voting members.  Typically, the enabling resolution calls for the formation of a task force, a blue ribbon panel, that will consider issues theologically and with appropriate input from secular, social science.  The process typically takes years of study, debate, dissemination of preliminary documents for feedback from all ELCA constituencies, and finally the preparation of a lengthy document that will be considered and voted upon by the biennial church wide assembly of voting members, the ultimate legislative authority of the church.  For instance, the enabling resolution for the recently adopted human sexuality statement dates back to the 2001 church wide assembly, so the process from beginning to end spanned 8 years.  According to the ELCA constitution, social statements require a 2/3 supra majority for passage, and the 2009 assembly adopted the human sexuality statement by precisely that 2/3 majority without a single vote to spare.

The human sexuality statement was the tenth social statement adopted by the ELCA.  Here is the list; each statement may be reviewed and downloaded from the ELCA website:

  • Abortion
  • Church in Society
  • Death Penalty
  • Economic Life
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health and Healthcare
  • Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust
  • Peace
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Culture

The 2009 Convention also called for the study process to begin on another possible social statement entitled “Justice for Women”.  The process of study and creation of a social statement takes years and resources (about a million dollars).  The recommendation that was adopted calls for Churchwide assembly action in 2015.  Two other study processes are already underway based upon earlier Churchwide authorizations—Genetics and Criminal Justice.

Here, in Part I, I will offer brief snippets from the first few policy statements passed in 1991.  Each quote comes from the statement itself, and is offered as insight into the gist of each statement.

Abortion (passed in 1991).

Marriage is the appropriate context for sexual intercourse. This continues to be the position of this church. We affirm that the goodness of sexual intercourse goes beyond its procreative purpose.  Whenever sexual intercourse occurs apart from the intent to conceive, the use of contraceptives is the responsibility of the man and of the woman.

Prevention of unintended pregnancies is crucial in lessening the number of abortions. In addition to efforts within church and home, this church supports appropriate forms of sex education in schools, community pregnancy prevention programs, and parenting preparation classes. We recognize the need for contraceptives to be available, for voluntary sterilization to be considered, and for research and development of new forms of contraception.

This church recognizes that there can be sound reasons for ending a pregnancy through induced abortion.

Church in Society (passed in 1991).

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is called to be a part of the ecumenical church of Jesus Christ in the context in which God has placed it — a diverse, divided, and threatened global society on a beautiful, fragile planet.  In faithfulness to its calling, this church is committed to defend human dignity, to stand with poor and powerless people, to advocate justice, to work for peace, and to care for the earth in the processes and structures of contemporary society.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is part of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” church. Its witness in society is informed by the history and the various theological traditions of the one church of Jesus Christ. The suffering and hope of churches in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas strengthen its life and calling.

The gospel does not allow the church to accommodate to the ways of the world. The presence and promise of God’s reign makes the church restless and discontented with the world’s brokenness and violence. Acting for the sake of God’s world requires resisting and struggling against the evils of the world.

Death Penalty (passed in 1991).

The human community is saddened by violence, and angered by the injustice involved. We want to hold accountable those who violate life, who violate society. Our sadness and anger, however, make us vulnerable to feelings of revenge. Our frustration with the complex problems contributing to violence may make us long for simple solutions.

The state is responsible under God for the protection of its citizens and the maintenance of justice and public order. God entrusts the state with power to take human life when failure to do so constitutes a clear danger to society.  However, this does not mean that governments have an unlimited right to take life. Nor does it mean that governments must punish crime by death. We increasingly question whether the death penalty has been and can be administered justly.

Yet, capital punishment makes no provable impact on the breeding grounds of violent crime.   Executions harm society by mirroring and reinforcing existing injustice. The death penalty distracts us from our work toward a just society. It deforms our response to violence at the individual, familial, institutional, and systemic levels. It perpetuates cycles of violence.

In Part II to come later, I will address the other six ELCA social statements.

What does a juggernaut look like?

At the 2009 Church wide assembly of the ELCA (largest Lutheran denomination in America), various LGBT favorable resolutions and policy statements were adopted.  Gays and lesbians in committed relationships will be “recognized and supported” and allowed to serve as ordained clergy.  During the Assembly, I served as a volunteer for Goodsoil, the LGBT advocacy group.  The opposition centered in two barely indistinguishable groups called the WordAlone network and Lutheran CORE.  Since the assembly, amidst much bluster, Lutheran CORE held a Convocation in September and has since announced plans to form a splinter denomination, entirely separate from and in opposition to the ELCA.

I have blogged extensively about these issues and events on my own blog, Spirit of a Liberal.  The following is cross posted from my entry of December 6th.

In a Lutheran CORE article published over the weekend, CORE spokesperson Robert Benne said,

During the preceding six years we had spent huge amounts of time, energy, money, and determination to stop the juggernaut. We didn’t and we won’t.

Earlier, James Nestingen’s WordAlone article in a blatant falsehood claimed,

[T]he hallways and the back of the assembly fill up with gay advocates bussed in to influence the voters using, commonly enough, intimidation up to and including physical threats.

Or, consider the speech of Kenneth Sauer to the Lutheran CORE convocation that referred to “the elites of the ELCA’s membership” and a “powerful political machine” whose “strategy was to do what was necessary to win”.  Benne’s article also refers to the “cultural secular elite”.  In her fiery speech to the Lutheran CORE convocation, Jaynan Clark intimated it was Satan “invisibly in the driver’s seat working his simple agenda”.

What is the face of this juggernaut, physically threatening intimidator, ELCA elite, cultural secular elite, or the devil incarnate?  Check out the video below, which is a PBS documentary that will soon be appearing on a public television station near you.  Her name is Emily Eastwood, and she is the leader of Lutherans Concerned North America, a partner within Goodsoil, the LGBT friendly advocacy group at the 2009 ELCA Church wide Assembly.

The democratic polity of the ELCA

As an ELCA Lutheran who experienced graduate studies at a Catholic School of Theology (Benedictine St John’s University of Collegeville, Minnesota), it is my perspective that the greatest difference between Lutheranism and Catholicism is ecclesiological.  Since the Roman Catholic hierarchy is a prime focus of this blog, allow me to explain the polity of the ELCA for whatever such information may be worth.

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—the ELCA makes it clear that “Evangelical” is an historical term and implies no relationship with the 20th century evangelical movement) is the largest American Lutheran denomination (roughly 4.5 million members), ahead of the Missouri Synod (LCMS–slightly over 2 million members), Wisconsin Synod (WELS–less than half a million members), and numerous smaller Lutheran organizations.  The ELCA is also the only moderate Lutheran denomination, and the others are all considerably more conservative.  The predecessors to the ELCA began ordaining women over forty years ago (the others do not), and at the 2009 church wide assembly, the ELCA voting members voted to allow gay clergy in relationships (defined as “publicly accountable, lifelong, and monogamous”).  Prior to 2009, the ELCA policy had allowed gay clergy only if they promised to remain celibate.

ELCA Assembly Applause, 2009

Continue reading

What’s happening in my Lutheran world

For my first post to this collaborative effort, I will borrow a previous post from my own blog, because it serves to define what has been happening in my world.  I am an ELCA Lutheran, and I was present at the historic assembly this August when gay clergy and blessing of gay relationships was ratified by the voting members.  I’m a gay ally, and I was at the assembly as a Goodsoil volunteer, which is a Lutheran LGBT advocacy group that has been around for awhile.  This post appeared immediately after the momentous vote.

Since then, a dissident group called Lutheran CORE has been saber rattling and causing many congregations to withhold funds from the mission of the national church.  A trickle of congregations is following the constitutional process of withdrawing from the ELCA.  More about post-assembly machinations to follow.

“They called the question!”

When the facilitator in the darkened computer room made this announcement, many abandoned their computer screens and scrambled back to the floor of the assembly.  Others, tweeters mostly, remained at the ready to release the news – what news? – into cyberspace.

Up in the Goodsoil Central room, LGBT folks, some volunteers but others gathered from around the twin cities to share in this moment, clustered around a big screen TV monitor, clutching the prayer scrawls wrapped warmly around their shoulders.  A horde of red vested volunteers left their desks or their floor monitoring stations and assembled around the big screen in the registration area.

Was this another false alarm?  The question had been called at 11:00 a.m. but the vote to stop debate failed.  The plenary session was adjourned for the midday worship service and those with differing views shared bread and wine together.  Then came the lunch break followed by other scheduled business.  In mid-debatersafternoon, the question was called a second time, but again the motion to end debate failed and emotional three minutes speeches continued rapid fire, first from the red mike, then the green, then red again.

The tone of some was harsh: “Are you willing to jeopardize your mortal soul?” asked one, but that was the exception; most expressed the angst of interior wrestling, along with Jacob at the ford of the Jabbok, to discern the will of God.  Some reached across the aisle to touch their brother as if to say, “I disagree, but I know your heart, and it is pure.”

The motion to end debate and call the question succeeded on the third try, and the hall hushed as Bishop Hanson said, “Let us pray.”  And then came the electronic vote, “push one for yes, two for no,” intoned the bishop.  Seen only by him, the tally appeared on the Bishop’s monitor; he hesitated for a moment, and then said, “when the results appear on the big screen, please do not respond with clapping or cheering but with prayer.”

559 yes, 451 no.

prayers No one was surprised, but the moment had arrived.  Gays who love their God but also love another would be allowed to serve as ordained, rostered leaders of their church.  Openly.  Recognized and supported.  The reaction among a thousand voting members and another thousand assembled guests and observers was muted.  By twos and threes and fours and fives, the children of God huddled together in tears and prayer, some in joyous thanksgiving and others in grief.

Thy will be done.