Tag Archives: More Light Presbyterians

We Won’t Be Erased

Alex Patchin McNeill, Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians, has written a powerful post responiding to “the ways in which the Trump Administration is working to ‘define transgender people out of existence.'”

Read the article. Read the whole article!

But here are some suggestions on how to support trans people and to make sure no one is erased.

 

  • If you’re looking for some more education to increase your confidence in engaging around trans inclusion, we recently released Connecting the Dots Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation as a two-part video series. It’s a great way to learn more so you can help push back against transgender erasure. Check it out here: https://mlp.org/connecting-the-dots-gender-identity-and-sexual-orientation/

  • Worship can be a great way to be sure people in your congregation know that God loves trans people just as they are. This weekend, consider naming trans and non-binary people in the prayers of the people, or in your sermon. You could even read part of the GA overture “Affirming and Celebrating the Full Dignity and Humanity of People of All Gender Identities” as part of worship:

    • Standing in the conviction that all people are created in the image of God and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all people, the 223rd General Assembly affirms its commitment to the full welcome, acceptance, and inclusion of transgender people, people who identify as gender non-binary, and people of all gender identities within the full life of the church and the world. The Assembly affirms the full dignity and the full humanity of transgender people, their full inclusion in all human rights, and their giftedness for service. The Assembly affirms the church’s obligation to stand for the right of people of all gender identities to live free from discrimination, violence, and every form of injustice. Making these affirmations, the Assembly acknowledges that the church has fallen short of these commitments and obligations. In the world and in the Church, transgender people too often experience and suffer discrimination and violence.  The church has failed to understand fully and to celebrate adequately the full spectrum of gender embodied in God’s creation. As a result, we have participated in systemic and targeted discrimination against transgender people, and we have been complicit in violence against them. The Assembly affirms the scriptural obligation to work for justice for all God’s children, and particularly here to work for justice for people of all gender identities. We have fallen short of this obligation, and – by the grace of God – commit ourselves to do better.
  • Support transgender led organizations working hard to preserve and promote trans lives. Most transgender led organizations run on a shoestring budget, whether you support them with your dollars or even sharing about them with people in your life, a little goes a long way.

    • More Light Presbyterians: Yes! We are a trans-led and run organization working to center the voices of those often silenced in churches.
    • Trans LifeLine, fighting the epidemic of trans suicide and improve overall life-outcomes of trans people by facilitating justice-oriented, collective community aid
    • Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement founded at the beginning of 2014 by trans and queer immigrants, undocumented and allies, youth leaders and parents which organizes, educates, and advocates for the issues most important to our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) and Latino communities
    • Sylvia Rivera Law Project: SLRP works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence. SRLP is a collective organization founded on the understanding that gender self-determination is inextricably intertwined with racial, social and economic justice.
  • Immerse yourself in positive representations of trans and non-binary folks to explore the big, beautiful world of trans-created art.

    • Them: I’m currently getting inspiration daily from this incredible Instagram account and trans-led media/news company

    • We Are Transilient: A traveling photo and interview project featuring the daily lives of trans folks

    • To Survive on This Shore: a photo and interview project of transgender and gender non-conforming older adults. It’s a beautiful project you can experience online or as a hardcover book!

 

We are all God’s precious children. God delights in us as we are. Nothing can separate any of us from the love of God.

See you along the Trail.

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

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.)

Around Christ’s table, under a rainbow flag

The West-Park Presbyterian Church congregation gathered around the communion table for the benediction and closing song. As I moved forward, I looked up. There I saw the rainbow flag hanging from the balcony (I should have taken a picture). I stood under the flag and around Christ’s table with the cross, the cup, the platen. A light went on for me.

West-Park Presbyterian is a “diverse and inclusive community of people. West-Park emphasizes a progressive, dynamic, and responsive theology that is ‘reformed and ever-reforming.'” The congregation has a deep, rich history of seeking justice – a history that is still being made as they engage in rebirth, working with their community to create a sweat-free neighborhood, and supporting programs ranging from the West Side Campaign Against Hunger to God’s Love We Deliver to Living Wage NY, Justice Will Be Served, the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association, the Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness, and more.

The congregation is developing a partnership with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations as one way to make local-global connections. My colleague Ryan Smith was there last Sunday to speak of our ministry and global discipleship.

Today, West-Park’s pastor, and my friend, the Rev. Bob Brashear invited me to join him in a dialogue sermon. We reflected on changes in the Middle East and North Africa and how those will impact the work of the church, my passion in ministry, and the resources I use to keep current on events. The sharing of the offering and a hymn followed. Then, as is the custom, we gathered around the communion table.

There I saw the flag. There I realized that I had failed to share a wonderful joy during the time of prayer.

Yesterday, Scott Anderson – now the Rev. Scott Anderson – was ordained again as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Scott had been ordained but had set aside his ordination in 1990 when members of the congregation he was serving learned that he is gay and threatened to use that against him.

For over 20 years, Scott has remained faithful to Christ, faithful to Christ’s Church, faithful to that manifestation of Christ’s church known as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). For over 20 years, Scott has remained steadfast to God’s call, serving in many capacities – most recently as the Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

For over 20 years, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had in place policies that denied Scott the possibility to serve in ordained ministry.

That changed this year with a change in the church’s constitution. The Rev. Scott Anderson’s took place because of that change.

That change occurred in part because of the witness of West-Park Presbyterian Church and other Presbyterians who have worked patiently, tirelessly, faithfully to open the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) to our GLBTQ sisters and brothers.

The More Light movement played an important role in this change. More Light congregations are those which made a public affirmation that sexual orientation alone would not be a bar to ordination. The first church in the denomination to make a formal statement from the pulpit declaring itself a More Light Church: West-Park Presbyterian Church.

I did not interrupt the response to the benediction; but when the last note ended, I slipped over to Bob and said, “You know, we should have given thanks for Scott’s ordination.” Bob did not miss a beat. He called the congregation back and around Christ’s table, we gave thanks to God.

See you along the Trail.

The photo shows the flag flown outside their living quarters by this year’s college staff at Ghost Ranch.

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Filed under New York, Worship