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    • To my Republican Friends July 6, 2020
      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
      Obie Holmen
    • Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist May 4, 2020
      The Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) recently named Wormwood and Gall as one of three finalists for a Midwest Book Award in the Religion/Philosophy category. The awards program, which is organized by MIPA, recognizes quality in independent publishing in the Midwest. The post Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist first appeared on S […]
      Obie Holmen
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  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Quote of the Day December 6, 2022
      Your teachers are striking. Your nurses are striking. Your railway workers are about to strike. “Nobody wants to work anymore” is deliberately obstuse. What nobody wants anymore is to work in understaffed, overburdened, underpaid positions so two dozen people can get rich.– Medic Kimvia FacebookDecember 5, 2022Related Off-site Links:Biden Signs Law Thwarting […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Rob Sheffield Pays Tribute to the “Peaceful and Stormy at the Same Time” Songs of Christine McVie December 6, 2022
      Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine has written a heartfelt and insightful appreciation of the life and music of Christine McVie, who died last Wednesday, November 30.Following, with added images and links, are excerpts from Sheffield’s tribute that particularly caught my attention.Christine McVie always came on like the grown-up in the room, which admit […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

    • So the Former US President and Current GOP Candidate for the Presidency Calls for a Coup and the End of US Democracy — And? December 5, 2022
      President Donald J. Trump 2 March 2019, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD; official White House photo by Tia Dufour, at Wikimedia CommonsHeather Cox Richardson, "Letters from an American: December 3, 2002":The leader of the Republican Party has just called fo […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • I'm Now on Mastodon — Please Feel Free to Connect December 2, 2022
      I've now succeeded in setting up an account on Mastodon.My handle there is @wdlindsy@toad.socialPlease feel free to connect to me there if you wish. I'm hoping to reconnect via Mastodon to as many of the friends and conversation partners I had on Twitter, with whom I've lost touch after I left Twitter when Musk acquired it. I'm a total no […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
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    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
       A saint for the millenials: the young Italian teen, Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 of galloping Leukemia, will be beatified today in Assisi by Pope Francis (last step before being officially declared a saint). Carlo came from a luke warm Catholic family, but at the age of 7, when he received his first 'Holy Communion', he displayed an astonishing […]
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    • Ronan Park and Jack Vidgen: The Travails of Gay Pop Stars October 28, 2019
      (Jack Vidgen)Quite by accident, through a comment from a performance arts colleague of mine, I stumbled across the recent bios of two boy teen singing sensations, both of whom made a big splash worldwide 8 years ago. The first, Jack Vidgen, won Australia's Got Talent Contest in 2011 at the age of 14, primarily for his powerful renditions of Whitney Hust […]
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    • An article December 6, 2022
      There's another pro-life article at America magazibne. I tried to leave a comment there, but I it didn't show up, so I thought I'd comment on the article here. Why? Because the article, like many of the pro-life articles at America, is filled with misleading statements, and that just really bothers me. Here are a few bits ... Former Democratic […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Now it’s the Presbyterian’s turn

The Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) is commonly labeled “mainline Protestant”.  According to Wikipedia, the attribution “mainline Protestant” suggests the following:

Mainline or mainline Protestant (also sometimes called mainstream) denominations are those that comprised the vast majority of American Christianity from the colonial era until the early 1900s. Most were brought to America by their respective historic immigrant groups. Today, most are rooted in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States.

As a group they have maintained theologies that stress social justice concerns together with personal salvation and evangelism. They have been credited with leading the fight for social causes such as racial justice and civil rights, equality for women, rights for the disabled and other key issues. Many of the issues that such groups have advocated for have been embraced by American law and society, but at the same time mainline denominations have been somewhat marginalized. In addition, mainline churches and laity founded most of the leading educational institutes in the US.

In typical usage, the term mainline is contrasted with evangelical. Mainline churches tend to be more liberal in terms of theology and political issues. This places them to the ideological left of the evangelical and fundamentalist churches.

With approximately 2.4 million members, the PCUSA is the third largest of the mainline Protestant denominations behind the United Methodists (UMC–8 million) and the ELCA (4.4 million) and just ahead of the Episcopal Church (2.1 million).  Many of these denominations hold formal agreements with each other that mutually recognize clergy and sacramental practice.  For instance, the ELCA has full communion agreements with six other denominations, including the UMC, PCUSA and Episcopal Churches.

After wrestling with the issue of women’s ordination a generation or two ago, that issue is now settled and females comprise a significant percentage of the clergy within these mainline Protestant denominations.  Presently, LGBT issues roil these denominations.  The United Church of Christ (UCC) has the longest record of allowing gay clergy, and LGBT issues seem less contentious for that 1.1 million member denomination.  The Episcopal Church now has two LGBT bishops and adopted policies a year ago that succinctly offer “all the sacraments for all the baptized”.  But, the Episcopalians’ relationship with the worldwide Anglican communion has been strained and a conservative, dissident group of American Episcopalians has splintered away.  Also last summer, the ELCA changed its policy and now recognizes and affirms committed gay relationships and allows partnered gay clergy, but not without defecting individual and congregational membership.

PCUSA assembly logo All of this is background to the PCUSA weeklong 219th Annual Assembly that convenes in Minneapolis on July 3rd.  Coincidentally, the venue is the same Convention Center that was the location of last year’s momentous ELCA church wide assembly (CWA09).  I was present last summer as a volunteer for Goodsoil, a coalition of LGBT advocacy groups, and regular followers of this blog know that I have posted extensively about that experience.  The parallel LGBT advocacy organization within the PCUSA is “More Light Presbyterians (MLP)”, and they will advocate for repeal of provision G-6.0106b within the PCUSA Book of Order.

Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.

At the 2006 assembly, the delegates voted by a 57% majority that this provision was “non-essential” but without repealing it, which would have required ratification by the various presbyteries (regional bodies) of the PCUSA.  Detractors decried this “end run” around the PCUSA constitution.  Indeed, at the next assembly in 2008, the provision was amended by the delegates, but the amendment was subsequently derailed by the Presbyteries that failed to ratify the assembly action.

In addition to regular business of the assembly, including the election of a new moderator, the issue will certainly arise next month in Minneapolis.  I intend to blog extensively on this issue in the coming weeks so stay tuned.  As a non-Presbyterian, I also confess to partial knowledge of the details, and I welcome any Presbyterian comment or correction.

Cross posted at Spirit of a Liberal blog.

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Today is the day: ELCA rosters gay clergy

From the moment they called the question and the resolution passed by a 55-45% majority at last August’s ELCA churchwide assembly, Lutherans knew that partnered gay clergy would soon become rostered on the list of ELCA ordained clergy.

Today is the day.

A visible sign of the wondrous changes in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the reinstatement of Pastor Bradley Schmeling and Pastor Darin Easler to the roster of ministers of the ELCA. Both had been removed from that roster for being in a committed, same-gender relationship.

The leading Minnesota newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reported on the local angle, noting that Darin Easler had earlier served in the SE Mn synod (now my home) and also mentioned Anita Hill whose own celebrated case in St Paul was an important waypoint on the journey toward full inclusion.

Because they both had been rostered before, the process was different than for them than, say, the Rev. Anita Hill, who has been pastoring St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church in St. Paul since 2001 without being on the ELCA roster. She said that she’s going to apply for rostering but is waiting so that the distinction of being first goes to a California minister who was the first lesbian to challenge the old ELCA policy.

And, speaking of the 20 year old California extraordinary ordinations of gay and lesbian pastors, here is a video that retells and celebrates the story of Jeff Johnson, Phyllis Zillhart, and Ruth Frost.  The video was released on the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) blog.  Susan Hogan at Pretty Good Lutheran’s blog has more background information, and I also cite my own past post.

Cross posted at Spirit of a Liberal blog.

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.

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.