Tag Archives: LGBTQ community

After – Albuquerque 1996

1294519_10151934672121063_245716286_oAfter the prayers had been said
and the motions had been made;

after the rulings had been dispensed
and the speeches had been delivered;

after the instructions had been given
and the buttons had been pushed;

after the votes had been tallied
and the results announced;

after the passion
and the decent order;

after . . .
. . . the assembly sat in quiet contemplation,
pondering who had won
and who had lost,
considering what was gained
and what the cost.

My heart sundered the silence,
breaking, softly breaking,
for those, who by official action,
had been denied their full humanity,
and, whose gifts, but that same official action,
had been rejected.

A tear slid down my check,
coming to rest in tangled whiskers.
A single tear
shed for those beloved of God
who the vote would exclude
and for those
who out of fear
or prejudice
or lack of love
or for whatever reason
sought to shut doors –
and build walls –
and keep out –
and settle once and for all;
and in so doing
lost an opportunity
to join in
God’s amazing,
welcoming,
including,
affirming,
door-opening,
wall-smashing,
never-ending
love.

This was written after the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 208th General Assembly (1996). That assembly met in Albuquerque, New Mexico and took action to recommend a change the church’s constitution that would ban LGBTQ individuals from serving in ordained offices. I attended that assembly as an observer. As the United Methodist Church meets to wrestle with similar questions, I remembered this piece and choose to share it. 

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends, Human Rights, Poem, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Lent 2017, day 44

lenten-reflections-on-the-confession-of-belhar“The calling upon our lives is to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). Yet how can we do this when evil besets us, injustices overtake us, and the lives of black and brown folk are under attack? As we wander in the wilderness with Jesus during this Lent, there is a litany of names we could call right now as we wrestle with the militarization of the police–the names of boys and girls, and men and women who have been killed by police officers; and the names of unarmed people whose crime was being black. Additionally, the violence in our nation and the unattended spiritual and mental care of folks has precipitated last summer’s killing of police officers and members of the LGBTQ community at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida. … Belhar offers us insight on how to facilitate reconciliation and stand in solidarity with the oppressed.”
Floretta Watkins
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar

This Lenten season I am using a new resource to explore the Belhar Confession: Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, edited by Kerri N. Allen and Donald K. McKim. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in which I serve as a teaching elder (pastor), added the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions in 2016. This confession came from the Dutch Reformed Mission Church during its historic struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Books, Lent, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The Until We Meet again Tour – 29 July 2016, part 1

The  Until We Meet Again Tour returned to Max Caffe. Derrick McQueen joined me for a marvelous conversation that ranged from racism to oppression of the LGBTQ community to antiracism and other ways to address the intersectionality of oppressive systems. A challenging, life-giving, hope inspiring conversation. A conversation that leaves me with much to ponder and that will, in the words of Dick Watts, be continued. A conversation so engaging that I forgot to take a photo of Derrick.

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See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Friends, New York, Photo

Pam and Tricia, Tricia and Pam

Pam's buttonWe never work for justice, in any sphere of our living, alone.

Each of us does our part, whatever that part may be. But we do our part within the context of a larger community. That can happen without our ever meeting others in the community. Together we work, and our work together makes a difference but our paths do not cross in person.

It can also be the case that we work for justice with people on a daily or regular basis. That can be challenging and frustrating. It can simply be the way things are. It can be an absolute blessing. It can even be a mixture of all those dynamics.

My partner, Tricia, has worked for justice for our sisters and brothers in the LGBTQ community for over twenty years as a volunteer and in a professional capacity. She has worked for full inclusion in the church and for human rights within society. She has worked with many people through that time. And she has known frustration and challenge. And she has known joy and blessing.

Pam Byers served as the founding executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. Tricia worked with her as the network’s national organizer until Pam’s retirement. They made an amazing team. They developed a deep friendship. They worked well together and did good work.

Tricia and PamIn 2011, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) amended the Book of Order changed to remove G-6.0106b. Pam and Tricia, Tricia and Pam were among those who helped make this happen. As part of a community, they helped change the culture of the church in relation to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Work remains to do, much work, but Tricia and Pam, Pam and Tricia with their friends and colleagues helped bend the arc of justice a bit.

Pam Byers, child of God, justice-seeker, ruling elder, tireless evangelist, loving family member, devoted friend, died of cancer on October 27, 2014. And I grieve.

I grieve for and with Pam’s family who played an important role in her life and her ministry.

I grieve for and with her congregation and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which she loved so fiercely and served so courageously and faithfully.

I grieve for and with her colleagues in the Covenant Network, the LGBTQ community, and other groups and individuals committed to, and working for, justice.

And I grieve for and with Tricia who mourns the death of a trusted and respected colleague, a dear friend, and a sister in Christ.

But as I grieve, I give thanks. I give thanks that Pam’s pain is ended. I give thanks for her life and love, her witness and faith. I give thanks that the journey to justice continues. And I give thanks that, in the Communion of Saints, Pam Byers accompanies us on that journey.

See you along the Trail.

A word about the photos. The first photo shows a button Pam regularly wore at meetings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly. Tricia posted it on Facebook. The second photo shows Tricia (in the flowered jacket under the banner) and Pam (to her right in the photo) among friends and colleagues as is only fitting. It comes from Ray Bagnuolo.

You are invited to join in a toast, beverage of your choice, in memory and honor of Pam Byers at 20:11 (8:11 PM) Eastern time or in your own time zone.

 

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Filed under Family, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Standing and sitting in the rain for justice

My friend Tim Luttermoser wrote this. He granted permission to post his words and photo.

TimHey Francis,

The past few days on campus, a conservative preacher (Tom the Preacher, you can google him) has been on campus doing… well, the typical conservative preacher things. But with larger displays and more professionally, unfortunately. Over the last two days I designed a poster (you can see it, sort of, in my profile picture) of welcoming congregations in the area, including Episcopals, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians (I’m happy to say), UUs, and a Reform Judaism temple, and today I stood across the way from their display for several hours, providing people with an alternative perspective and reminding them that this wasn’t the only face of Christianity or religion in general. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, Tom and Grace Campus Ministry (which invited him to campus) left me alone when I made it clear I was not interested in engaging.

I’m telling you all this because, if you have a minute on Sunday, I’d like you to pass along my thanks to Noble Road Presbyterian Church for me. I can say with confidence that being raised in that particular community has shaped me into who I am today, and I am grateful for the influence. Even as I’ve personally moved on to other religious and spiritual traditions, I always remember the loving and welcoming community of Noble Road, and when faced with hatred and bigotry, I can always draw on my history there and be reminded that there are wonderful religious communities with better approaches. Noble Road did a fantastic job modeling not only acceptance of LGBTQ people, but actively fighting for them, particularly within the religious community, a fight I still consider absolutely essential. While I’m fairly confident I would be supportive of LGBTQ people regardless of where I grew up, I know that growing up in NRPC specifically was what gave me the energy and the passion to contact these congregations, create this display, and stand through the two brief rainstorms to keep making my point all afternoon.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do, both you in particular and NRPC as a whole.

Mark Koenig and Tricia Dykers Koenig – this thanks LARGELY goes to you as well, don’t forget.

Francis Miller, to whom Tim wrote, is currently the pastor at Noble Road Presbyterian Church. Tim lived in South Euclid and attended the church before he went to school. Tricia and I were co-pastors there at the time.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends, Human Rights

Thank you, Brittney Griner

Check out a related post on Jason Collins.

As with pro basketball, I do not follow college basketball on my own. I pay enough attention so I can  hold conversations with my wife who rather avidly and faithfully follows both the women’s and men’s teams from a university in Durham, North Carolina. The result is that I do know who Brittney Griner is – although I could not run down the details of her amazing career.

Earlier this evening, I posted about Jason Collins coming out of the closet.

I am grateful to my friends Margaret Aymer Oget and Shaya Gregory Poku for reminding me that Brittney Griner left the closet on April 17.  In doing so, they helped me realize that I should have posted about her actions as well.

The words I wrote about Jason Collins apply to Brittney Griner as well:

But as of today – and that today should have been April 17, Brittney Griner is one of my heroes. 

I give thanks for the witness and courage and faith and grace of Brittney Griner. I pray that her actions will make life better, safer, fuller, more human, and more humane for the people I know and love and for all the LGBTQ members of the human family.

A number of questions need discussion as we ponder the different reactions to the same act of coming out by Brittney Griner and Jason Collins. For starters:

  • What role does sexism play?
  • What role does patriarchy play?
  • Are female athletes stereotyped as lesbians?
  • Do female athletes who come out fuel male fantasies while male athletes who come out fuel male fears?
  • Does a greater level of tolerance related to sexual orientation exist in the WNBA and women’s sports than in men’s sports? If so, why is that and what role does it play?

No doubt we need to address other questions – many other questions. For now, those make a good beginning.

And for me, one part of the answer lies in thanking Margaret Aymer Oget and Shaya Gregory Poku for raising these questions for me, no matter how poorly I have addressed them at the moment. And another part lies in saying:

Thank you, Brittney Griner.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Sports