Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ACTION ITEM: Urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act (SB 906)

Tell the Governor to Sign California Faith for Equality Co-Sponsored Bill Protecting Religious Freedom

The California Assembly passed the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act (SB 906) in a 46-25 vote on August 19, the bill is now heading to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

The bill, introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and also co-sponsored by Equality California and California Council of Churches IMPACT, protects clergy from performing any civil marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. The bill also protects religious institutions from losing their tax-exempt status for refusing to perform any civil marriage, and deepens the distinction in state law between religious and civil marriage by defining the latter as a civil contract that requires a state-issued marriage license.

Call the Governor today!

•Identify yourself as a CFE member
•Share your religious and congregational affiliations
•Share why it is important to you that clergy and congregations are protected
•Tell him to help clarify the distinction between religious and civil marriage by signing SB 906

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bishop Glasspool in Bakersfield

Hat tip to Episcopal Cafe for this You Tube look at Bishop Glasspool in Bakersfield (yes, the Bakersfield in the Diocese of San Joaquin!) on Sunday. Looks like a great time was had by all!

An Ode to Fish Who Know They're Wet

(AKA "Let's hear it for guys who 'get it'")

I tried Googling the quote but couldn't find an original source. But since I heard it first from Michael Battle I'm giving him credit for it. And the quote is:

"A fish doesn't know it's wet."

I first heard him expand on the concept a few years ago when he was our keynote speaker at Diocesan Convention. And it came to mind this last Saturday as I spent the morning in the parish hall at Ascension Church in Sierra Madre doing the every-five-year refresher course in misconduct awareness training mandated by my diocese.

The trainer was another Michael -- Michael Bamberger -- the rector of Ascension and the Dean of our Deanery -- an openly heterosexual, white, male, Nashotah House Episcopal priest. And he introduced the four hour session by talking a little about the changes he's seen in his life in the church.

"We are here," Michael said, "to make the church not just a safe place but a healthy place."

"And to do that we have to recognize that we do ministry on a playing field that is not always level," he continued. "What makes the field uneven is the balance of power we bring into relationships with each other. And what we're here to learn today is how to intentionally take care of that imbalance of power and to own our responsibility for maintaining the integrity of relationships by being attentive to the needs of others over our own."

"What I've had to learn," he said, "is that men are mostly clueless about the inherent power their gender gives them. And it took me a while because I grew up in a church where that power was so unquestioned -- where the sexism was so normative -- that there was literally no awareness of the power differential."

"And that," said Michael, "is where the danger is: it's when we don't recognize the power we have."

AKA: When fish don't know they're wet.

"What is or is not offensive," said Michael, "is determined by the person who's been offended. Not by the person with the power to offend. And in order to make this church not just a safe place but a healthy place, we've had to attend trainings like these to recognize the power we didn't know we had, we've had to change our behavior and -- in some cases -- to make amends to those we've offended by abusing the power we didn't know we had."

(Can we get an "AMEN!")

Michael Bamberger is a fish who knows he's wet. Scott Richardson is another. In his sermon here at All Saints on August 22nd, Scott offered another one of those quotes that stay with you. He said:
I came to understand that the language of shame is the language of oppression.
He was talking about those who tried to shame Jesus for healing on the Sabbath -- for violating the letter of the law in order to incarnate its spirit. But in his illustration he talked about those with power who try to shame the powerless for daring to speak up -- to stand up -- to aspire to wholeness. That shaming into silence is the language of oppression -- and it manifests itself in oh-so-many ways.

Making the woman who dares to point out the uneven playing field the problem -- the issue -- the troublemaker. The boat rocker. The attacker. And sometimes it's just too hard. Too much trouble. It seems that nothing will change anyway so why bother. And so rather than drown in the water of sexism, they choose silence and let the fish in charge continue to swim about -- clueless about the fact that they're wet.

But here's my word of hope and encouragement for those who need it. (And I know from my email inbox and my Facebook message center that you're out there.)

There are fish who know they're wet. And they are allies in this struggle to build a church that isn't just safe but to build a church that's healthy. For everybody. Where nobody is shamed into silence for speaking their experience. And where those with power take responsibility for maintaining the integrity of relationships by being attentive to the needs of others over their own.

AKA "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

So let's hear it for guys who get it. For Michael. And Scott. For Albert and Jim and Abel and Bruce and Ed an ... well, you add your own names. And then let's work together to overcome the fear, anxiety and denial that still gets in the way in too, too many places.

I know it isn't going to be easy but I know it can be done. I know because of what I learned on Saturday from an openly heterosexual, white, male, Nashotah House Episcopal priest. From a fish who knows he's wet.

BREAKING NEWS: CA State Senate Speaks Out on Uganda; Commends Bishop Senyonjo

August 30, 2010

CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

State Senate Calls on Federal Government to Help Stop Uganda’s Bill Criminalizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender People
Equality California-sponsored resolution condemns Uganda’s draconian law persecuting LGBT people

Sacramento – The California State Senate today passed a resolution (SR 51) condemning Uganda’s bill criminalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in 21-14 vote. Introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California, the resolution urges the U.S. government to intensify its efforts to eliminate the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide as well as to take more caution when funding faith-based organizations to ensure that U.S. government funds and resources are accessible to women, minorities, and the LGBT community.

"The U.S. government must do everything in its power to stop the bill before the Uganda legislature that would lead to the criminalization and even death of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “The California Senate has taken an important step in passing this resolution, which will help raise awareness of the crisis in Uganda and will put the state on record in support of the U.S. government strengthening its efforts to end the criminalization of LGBT people worldwide.”
The resolution also encourages faith-based organizations in the U.S. to support the creation of policies in other countries that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It is egregious that radical religious leaders from our nation are working to spread fears about and discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda,” said Sen. Leno. “These deplorable actions have encouraged violence, and even death against Ugandans. This resolution is a simple human rights appeal urging President Obama and our federal leaders to call for the decriminalization of LGBT people, not only in Uganda, but across the globe.”

Finally, the legislation commends Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, retired Anglican Bishop of West Uganda, for his work and ministry to create an inclusive church and society in Uganda free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the last year, Reverend Senyonjo has toured California, the United States and Europe to educate and bring attention to the hostility of the recent wave of religious-based homophobia in Uganda.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Makes the Heart Sad

From the Autumn edition of The Anglican Digest:
It's All In Her Genes

It's all in her genes
She likes to say
When avoirdupois
Won't go away.

Yes, look from behind
To see what she means
No doubt that you'll find
It's all in her JEANS.
- Anonymous Ancient Egyptian
Really. On page 20. Of a publication that says its "goal is to connect the Church by gathering articles that tell the vital story of our faith."

I'm wondering what "vital story of our faith" this one tells. Unless it's to remind us that sexism is alive and well -- which of course it is.
But if indeed that was the point -- and this is me now bending my credibility into a pretzel to "presume positive intent" -- surely there's a better way to "tell that vital story" than a not-very-clever ditty that perpetuates the objectification of women.
Yep. Makes the heart sad, all right. And if you think so, too, then take a minute and click here to let the Editor of The Anglican Digest hear from you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Healing homophobia an inch at a time

(Or, why it matters that we keep "believing out loud")

Nobody is more tired of my story than me. (No, not even you, Missy!)

"Born at Good Samaritan Hospital. Baptized at the Old Cathedral. Came out in the National Cathedral on the 4th of July. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah." Who cares? Why bother?

And another question is -- why should we have to bother?

Shouldn't our lives, our relationships and our vocations be entitled to equal protection, blessing and respect without our having to justify ourselves? To prove anything? Do we really have to invite strangers into our lives -- our stories --in order to "prove" that we deserve recognition of the full humanity God gave us by our heterosexual brothers and sisters?

Welcome to the kingdom not-yet-come! Of course all those things are true, and yet again and again -- over and over -- hearts and minds are changed when we risk ... when we speak our truth ... tell our stories ... share our lives ... offer ourselves to this Godly work of healing homophobia an inch at a time.

Here's a case in point -- from an online news report this week:

ELISABETH Hasselbeck changed her views on gay marriage after having dinner with lesbian singer Melissa Etheridge.
“I think there are a lot of, maybe, conservatives out there who are talking about gay marriage and not necessarily with someone who wants to have gay marriage or has been in a gay marriage,” said The View co-host.

“You know, I had Melissa Etheridge over, we had dinner, we talked for hours about gay marriage, and I would really challenge people: Get out there. Instead of just talking about it and hating on it, actually talk to someone who’s loved someone else and have the conversation about what can be done.”
So there you have it. Being tired of doing the work we've been called to do isn't an excuse for not doing it. And changing hearts and minds goes hand-in-hand with changing votes and political progress. We can't let it be an "either/or" thing -- it has to be a "both/and" thing.

And it's going to happen.

We are going to win.

Because the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.

And because it bends a little further every time we speak our truth in love.

The verdict is in ...

Update from Religion Dipatches

Rev. Jane Spahr, a retired Presbyterian minister who legally married 16 same-sex couples before Proposition 8 was passed banning same-sex marriage, has been convicted of violating church law.

A Presbyterian Judicial Council at the Presbytery of the Redwoods, handed down guilty verdicts in three of the four charges lodged against Rev. Spahr for performing the ceremonies. Two charges that she violated the Presbyterian Book of Order, that forbids PCUSA clergy from representing that "a same sex ceremony is a marriage," by performing the ceremonies, and another charge that she violated her ordination vows by failing "to be governed by the polity of the Presbyterian Church," were sustained by 4-2 votes. A fourth charge, that she "failed to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church," was unanimously rejected by the six-member panel.

Rev. Spahr could have been defrocked for the violations, but the council heeded the request of prosecutor JoAn Blackstone who asked that the penalty be censure. The panel has stayed its formal rebuke, however, until Rev. Spahr can appeal to higher authority within the church.

While the verdict is heartbreaking for Rev. Spahr, who has been before the panel twice before and been acquitted, the judgment against her is both bitter and sweet as the panel used its decision to take the larger church to task for failing to see the validity of same-sex marriages, and for failing to extend grace to all who seek it from the church.

In one of the most powerful passages of the decision, the panel begs forgiveness for the couples that Rev. Spahr legally married back in 2008. Eleven of them had testified on her behalf before the panel.
"As a commission, we give thanks for the courageous and heartrending testimonies of the married couples who shared with us their great hurt through the policies of our church. We also thank them for the joy in marriage they shared with us that that has brought healing in their lives and in their families through the ministry of Dr. Spahr. On behalf of the church, we ask for their forgiveness for the harm that has been, and continues to be, done to them in the name of Jesus Christ."

And, perhaps in the strongest rebuke to the church on this issue - the panel refused to convict Rev. Spahr of failing to "further the peace, unity and purity of the church." Instead, they chose to commend Rev. Spahr "for helping us realize that peace without justice is no peace."

Let those who have ears, hear.

Read the rest here ... and give thanks for the courageous witness of those like Janie Spahr who continue to incarnate God's love, justice and compassion.

Prayers for Janie & for Justice

Today is the day the verdict comes in.

Janie Spahr -- a retired Presbyterian minister and tireless advocate for LGBT equality -- was brought up on charges for marrying same sex couples back in those halcyon days of yesterday (May-November 2008) when liberty and justice for all really meant ALL here in California. (At least when it comes to marriage equality!)

Anyway, the trial has been in progress. The arguments have been made. I'm hoping to post here the closing arguments -- which I understand were brilliant -- but in the meantime:

Here's an overview of the case from Religion Dispatches

And stay tuned. We understand the "verdict" is due in at 11:00 a.m. PDT ... so in the meantime prayers for Janie and for Justice are totally in order!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ready or not, here comes "True Religion" Sunday!

I know it's only Thursday ... but True Religion Sunday is just around the corner.

Now your calendar might just say Sunday, August 29th -- or it may also say the 14th Sunday After Pentecost: 17C ... but mine says it's "True Religion Sunday" because of this Collect of the Day:
God of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
And I am not preaching this Sunday. So of course I'm thinking about what I would be saying anyway. And in the process came across this fun fact to know and tell: Did you know there's a brand of jeans called "True Religion." Well, you do now.

But that's not the kind of true religion I'm thinking about. This is:

Whenever we talk about “true religion” I think it bears repeating that the word “religion” turns out to have the same root as the word “ligament” – that which “binds together” – and one of its dictionary definitions is “that which binds together people in their quest for the divine.”

  • Not “that which insists that our way is the only way.”

  • Not “that which gives people license to villanize, exclude and even kill in God’s name.”

  • Not “that which creates enough rules and restrictions that everybody you disagree with has to stay out.”

  • And certainly not "that which gives you the power to take away other people's constitutional rights in California or pitch a fit when they want to build an Islamic Center in Manhattan." For example.
"That which binds together people in their quest for the divine."

I could end with "from our mouths to God's ears" but on this one God isn't the one who needs to be listening.

The ones who need to be listening are the folks who've decided to focus on beating people up rather than binding people together. On excluding rather than including. On questing for power rather than for the divine. On everything that isn't true about religion.

So let's hear it for true religion: the kind that binds together people in their quest for the divine. That's what we'll be praying for an increase of on Sunday. Won't you join us?

"Looking Backward, Thinking Forward"

Fredrica Harris Thompsett described a historian as "a person who backs up a thousand years or so to get a running start on the questions at hand." In this case, historian Christine Stansell only had to back up 90 years or so for this op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times.

A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday — the largest act of enfranchisement in our history — it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We’re inclined to assume that the passage of women’s suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors’ and mayors’ offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification.

Proposals for giving women the vote had been around since the first convention for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. At the end of the Civil War, eager abolitionists urged Congress to enfranchise both the former slaves and women, black and white. The 14th Amendment opened the possibility, with its generous language about citizenship, equal protection and due process.

But, at that time, women’s suffrage was still unthinkable to anyone but radical abolitionists. Since the nation’s founding, Americans considered women to be, by nature, creatures of the home, under the care and authority of men. They had no need for the vote; their husbands represented them to the state and voted for them. So, in the 14th Amendment’s second section, Republicans inserted the word “male,” prohibiting the denial of voting rights to “any of the male inhabitants” of the states.

In the ensuing decades, the nation backpedaled from the equal-rights guarantees of the 14th and 15th amendments. Black voters in the South were refused federal protection, and even in the North and West, literacy tests and educational requirements were used to turn immigrants and laborers away from the polls. The suffrage movement itself embraced anti-immigrant and anti-black views. In 1903 in New Orleans, at their annual convention, suffragists listened to speakers inveigh against the Negro menace. Black suffragists met far across town. (An elderly Susan B. Anthony paid them a respectful call.) It was the nadir of the women’s movement.

Later in the first decade of the new century, though, an influx of bold young women, allergic to the old pieties about female purity and comfortable working with men, displaced their moralistic, teetotaling elders. Black women, working women and immigrants joined white reformers in a stunningly successful coalition. From 1909 to 1912, they won suffrage in Oregon, California and Washington. More states followed, so that by the 1916 presidential election, 4 million new votes were in play.

“Antis” still managed to defeat suffrage measures in four Northern states that year. “Woman suffrage wants the wife to be as much the ruler as the husband, if not the chief ruler,” warned one antagonist. But such views were waning — everywhere but the South.

President Woodrow Wilson, who had been a genteel but firm anti-suffragist, was indebted to female voters for helping him win a close election, and in 1918 he endorsed a constitutional amendment. That year the 19th Amendment passed the House. It stalled in the Senate — blocked by conservative Southerners — but Wilson muscled it through in 1919.

Thirty-six of the 48 states then needed to ratify it. Western states did so promptly, and in the North only Vermont and Connecticut delayed. But the segregated South saw in the 19th Amendment a grave threat: the removal of the most comprehensive principle for depriving an entire class of Americans of full citizenship rights. The logic of women’s disenfranchisement helped legitimize relegating blacks to second-class citizenship.

Female voters would also pose practical difficulties, described bluntly by a Mississippi man: “We are not afraid to maul a black man over the head if he dares to vote, but we can’t treat women, even black women, that way. No, we’ll allow no woman suffrage.”

Nine Southern states joined by Delaware forced ratification to a halt, one state short. Only Tennessee was left, and the opposition had good reason to think it would line up with the rest of the region. But after a nine-day special session in the heat of August 1920, a legislator pledged to the nays jumped ship — he later said it was because his mother told him to — and the 36th state was in.

Even then, in several Southern states, die-hards went to court to invalidate the amendment, stopping only after the Supreme Court in 1922 unanimously dismissed their arguments.

In 1923 Delaware ratified belatedly to join the rest of the country, but the Southern states waited decades: Maryland in 1941, Virginia in 1952, Alabama in 1953. Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina came along from 1969 to 1971, years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had passed. Mississippi brought up the rear, not condoning the right of women to vote until 1984.

Today the country is again divided over how far the rights of citizenship extend. In the controversy over same-sex marriage, the prospect of constitutional protection calls up truculence from one part of the country, approval from another. How remarkable, then, that a parallel conflict — one that similarly exposes the fears and anxieties that the expansion of democracy unleashes — is now largely lost to memory.

Christine Stansell, a professor of history at the University of Chicago, is the author of “The Feminist Promise: 1792 to the Present.”
Fredrica Harris Thompsett quote from page 30 of "We Are Theologians"

Martin Luther King had a Dream; Glenn Beck is a Nightmare

You'll want to click here to join those speaking out against the travesty of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legacy being hijacked by Glenn Beck and the lunatic conservative fringe he represents.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Every day, thousands of gay and lesbian students are verbally and physically harassed in schools. BULLIED centers on the powerful story of Jamie Nabozny, a gay teenage boy, tormented for years by classmates. Jamie fought back, not with his fists but in a courtroom. His historic federal case established that gay and lesbian students have a constitutional right to be free from harassment and bullying.

Bill Brummel's latest short documentary project, BULLIED, starts a limited one-week theatrical run on Wednesday August 25. Brummel will be there on Saturday, along with some of the cast and crew. It's narrated by Jane Lynch, and includes a song by Ben Harper, with lyrics by Maya Angelou.

Watch the trailer on You Tube

Presented by the Southern Poverty Law Center
A Teaching Tolerance Film
A Bill Brummel Productions Documentary

The Landmark Theatre
August 25-31, 12 noon daily
10850 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Admission: $9.50 (online ticket purchase not available)

Available Free to Schools Nationwide

Visit Bullied on Facebook

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dr. Jay on the Radio

What a treat to hear my good friend Jay Johnson in this piece on KQED radio:

Presbyterians Try Minister Over Same Sex Marriages
A retired Presbyterian minister is facing sanctions from her own denomination for performing same sex marriages. The Reverend Jane Spahr went on trial today before a church panel in Napa.

She stands accused of violating the church's constitution when she married more than a dozen same-sex couples between June and November of 2008 -- the period when gay marriages were legal in California. Host Stephanie Martin talks about the trial with Dr. Jay Johnson, a theologian at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Monday, August 23, 2010

More on SB906

Important information from Friends of Jake:

In a recent poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute, specifically about Prop 8, the pollsters found that support for marriage equality in the Golden State is around 51%. If, however, civil unions are an option, 42% support marriage, with another 31% for unions.

However, support for marriage increases with specific reassurances:

A significant number of Californians who initially say they support civil unions but not same- sex marriage are willing to support marriage equality if the law addresses either of two basic concerns about religious marriages. When presented with an assurance that the law would guarantee that “no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for gay couples,” nearly one-third of Californians who initially only supported civil unions are willing to support marriage equality.

With this religious liberty reassurance, support for same-sex marriage increases 12 points, from initial support of 42% to a solid majority at 54%. Similarly, when Californians are presented with an assurance that the law “only provided for civil marriages like you get at city hall,” more than half of Californians who initially supported only civil unions are willing to support marriage equality. This civil marriage reassurance results in a 19-point increase in support for same-sex marriage, from 42% to more than 6-in-10.

To make this freedom explicit, CA State Sen Mark Leno introduced Senate Bill 906. The bill reaffirms the separation of church and state and clarifies under state law that no member of clergy will be required to perform a civil marriage that is contrary to his or her faith. The Assembly approved Senate Bill 906 with a 46-25 vote. The bill will return to the Senate for a routine concurrence vote before going to the governor’s desk.

Of course, the right wing opposes this bill, with lunatic arguments like these from a Roman Catholic opponent of SSM:

"SB 906 seeks to cause confusion by creating a new 'civil' class of marriage, implying it is different from religious marriage."

Response: Of course, there has always been a separate civil marriage, given that couples can be married by the county clerk with no religious expression at all.

"It also creates the illusion of new protections for 'religious' marriage by essentially saying that religions can't be forced to change their doctrine on marriage (which is already prohibited by the 1st Amendment).
Response: Yup, it does simply restate the 1st Amendment. It does this because the opponents to SSM apparently don't understand what religious freedom really means.

"It is clear this bill will be used to fool the voters into thinking that same-sex 'marriage' will have no impact on churches and people of faith."
Response: Umm, is that because it WON'T have any impact--except on those churches who WANT to marry same sex couples. They are panicked out of their mind to lose this favored talking point and spinning their wheels violently. Because if protections are explicitly stated, support for equality goes up.

Of course, none of this should be necessary. But the right wing has MADE it necessary, since they try to use this non-issue as a wedge.


So there you have it. Thanks to Friends of Jake for the update.

And --for me -- here's the bottom line: in order to keep moving forward toward liberty and justice for all we can't just be right about what the 1st Amendment protects. We have to be smart about how we respond to those who skipped the 9th Commandment and think lying is a Traditional Family Value. And SB906 is smart.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How'd I miss this one? "Leno Bill Passes in CA Assembly"

Assembly Passes Leno Bill Strengthening Religious Freedom
Thursday, August 19, 2010
SB 906 clarifies that no clergy member will be forced to perform any civil marriage that is against his or her belief system

SACRAMENTO – The California Assembly today passed legislation that clarifies the religious freedom of clergy members in California. The Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), reaffirms the separation of church and state and clarifies under state law that no member of clergy will be required to perform a civil marriage that is contrary to his or her faith. The Assembly approved Senate Bill 906 with a 46-25 vote. The bill will return to the Senate for a routine concurrence vote before going to the governor’s desk.

“This bill simply affirms that California is a diverse state, and that we can all co-exist and make space for each others’ beliefs without compromising the tenets of any religious group or individual,” said Senator Leno. “With the recent federal court ruling, we know that marriage for same-sex couples in California is on the horizon. Under the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act, churches and clergy members who fear their religious views are threatened by marriage equality will have clear and solid protections under state law. In addition, churches that welcome same-sex couples will continue to fully recognize those families within their faith.”

In addition to strengthening religious freedom in state statute, SB 906 also clarifies the differences between civil and religious marriage in state law and protects churches from losing their tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform any civil marriage. The bill is sponsored by Equality California and California Council of Churches IMPACT.

“Opponents of marriage equality have falsely claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry will force clergy to violate the tenets of their faiths,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “This bill should alleviate any concerns that restoring marriage equality will require clergy to perform weddings inconsistent with their faith.”

“Senator Leno's bill is essential to protecting our freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment,” said The Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director of California Council of Churches IMPACT. “It is as imperative that we protect the religious freedom to not solemnize marriages between same-sex couples for clergy and congregations who oppose it on the basis of their conscience or faith tradition as it is to protect the religious freedom of those who do support marriage equality to be able to solemnize all committed unions. California Council of Churches IMPACT represents faith traditions on both sides of this question and Senator Leno's bill perfectly codifies legal protection for all our faith communities,” he said.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Prop 8 Ruling Could Criminalize Christianity, Leaders Warn ..."

... And Liars Could Find Their Pants On Fire, Priest Warns

You can't make this stuff up. And even if you could, you wouldn't have to. Because they're doing it for you. From an article entitled: Prop 8 Ruling Could Criminalize Christianity, Leaders Warn:
(CNSNews.com) – Religious leaders warn that if an Aug. 6 ruling by a federal judge on same-sex marriage is upheld, it could wind up putting a gag on Christians speaking out about homosexuality – a gag that a top Southern Baptist leader says his denomination will not accept.

“It’s an astounding statement by a judge, and if that finding were to be upheld, it would criminalize Christian beliefs, because the Bible and Christian beliefs historically have clearly indicated that homosexuality is sex outside of marriage – and is contrary to God’s design,” Staver told CNS.

He added: “For this judge to say that Christian beliefs or religious beliefs contrary to homosexuality are actually harmful -- what that essentially says is, that if that’s the case, then you’ve got to change your religious beliefs, and if you don’t, you’re going to be penalized as result. That is a very dangerous aspect of this court decision
Two words for Mr. Southern Baptist leader: First Amendment. The one that protects freedom of religion. You get to believe whatever the heck you want to. You just don't get to write those beliefs into the Constitution. Got it?

Yes, I know it's over on CNS-News (not to be confused with CBS-News ... I did that once. Big mistake.) But it's exactly the kind of baseless, fear-mongering, manipulative bald faced lies that formed the foundation of the "Protect Our Marriage/Screw Your Marriage" campaign in California.

Here's the bottom line on this one: Good people of deep faith can read the Bible and come to different conclusions about a variety of things -- including what God thinks about blessing same sex couples but NOT including what God thinks about lying through your teeth.

9th Commandment.

Check it out. (And keep an eye on your pants while you're at it. Starting to see a little smoke. And you know what they say about where there's smoke ...)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sexism is so last century ... Not!

It's going to take is the same kind of courage it took in the 20th century to keep the journey toward equality moving forward in 21st. Women strong enough to speak up and men strong enough to listen. And a willingness to own that systemic sexism IS -- and that it's everybody's problem to solve.

A friend forwarded this post from a satire site called "Christwire.org: Conservative Values for an Unsaved World." It's entitled:

The 19th Amendment: Celebrating 90 Years of Feminism Destroying America, Vote by Vote

On August 18th, 1920, women were given the right to vote. On this fateful day, only 90 years ago, mankind in America — therefore the world — reached a sad end. Nowhere in our Constitution did the Founding Fathers give women the right to vote. All men are created equal, as per the wisdom of the men who fought to ensure a better land for a people, in a new nation under God himself, to thrive and raise families in Christian brotherhood and respect.

The list of offenses, the product of the female feminist vote, is too long to cover. It is not worth it. Let us keep it simple. Women are ruining society due to their inherent feminism, and against the will of our nation’s founding fathers, are now tearing us asunder.

It's supposed to be funny. And of course, it kind of is.
The idea of blaming everything wrong with the world on giving votes to women is -- from our enlightened 21st century perspective -- laughable. Hillary, Oprah and Rachel are national icons of strong-womanhood for heaven's sake. And in the Episcopal Church we have the dynamic duo of +Katharine & Bonnie -- while Kamala, Meg & Barbara fight it out in the midterm elections here in California.

Sure there are a some places left where this kind of rhetoric will cause heads to nod in agreement rather than shake in dismay. Rush Limbaugh comes to mind in the civic arena -- the Stand Firmites in the church world.

But they're the exception rather than the rule. Their antiquated rants about the evils of equality for women are a curiosity to some and an embarrassment to many. And satire about sexism is laughable because sexism is so passe. So 20th century. So old news.

Except when it's not.

I did not have either marriage equality or sexism on my "to do" list this August. I thought I was going to spend the month doing long range planning and cleaning out my office files. But just as Judge Walker's August 4th ruling on the Prop 8 trial added marriage equality to my August, a series of recent challenges faced by women colleagues added dealing with systemic sexism to my "to dos."
It started with a phone call here and an email there from a number of women in a number of different contexts.
"It's probably just me, but can't help feeling angry when my suggestions are ignored and my contributions devalued by the "guys in charge." But if tell them how I feel then I'm the problem. And if I don't, nothing changes. It's a vicious cycle and I'm sick of it."

"When the minutes of the meeting came out and nothing any of the women said was represented in the notes I called and asked the chair what happened. 'I just wrote down what I thought was important,' he said. And when I told him that made me feel invisible and ignored he said he felt attacked. What am I supposed to do now?"

"When I finally spoke up and said how having my ideas dismissed and being constantly out of the loop made me feel they told me I was wrong. How can my feelings be wrong?"

"Convince me that I shouldn't just quit. Nobody listens to me anyway. I might as well save my breath."

And I'm sitting here scratching my head thinking "Did somebody out there skip the 70's? If this is what "post-feminist" looks like then maybe we need some remedial reading assignments. And one place to start is with an excellent paper on the VISIONS, Inc. website by Cooper Thompson (an openly heterosexual white man:)
When women ... express their anger at the oppression they experience, we generally stop listening. Instead of trying to understand, we get defensive. as if we were the cause of their oppression. Or, we blame them for what has happened.
Which -- of course -- precisely echoes the experience of the women who feel so "stuck" in the quagmire of systemic sexism. And the sad thing is the men in question are just as stuck. Stuck in patterns of behavior that ARE "so last century." Stuck missing out on the creativity and energy the women who are being marginalized could be bringing to the table. Stuck feeling angry and threatened. Stuck in a place where everybody loses -- including the work that gets hamstrung and hijacked.

And it isn't something a blog can fix. Or an email. Or a pastoral care phone call. What it's going to take is the same kind of courage it took in the 20th century to keep the journey toward equality moving forward in 21st. Women strong enough to speak up and men strong enough to listen. And a willingness to own that systemic sexism IS -- and that it's everybody's problem to solve.

Put that on your "to do" list -- and let's keep talking!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pasadena Weekly Report: "No bells for now"

Great profile in this week's Pasadena Weekly.

Scout Masterson and Bill Horn spent much of the past week waiting to hear if they were any closer to being as equal as the rest of us.

They got their answer Monday when a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals halted same-sex marriages at least until December, dashing the hopes of gay and lesbian couples who’d been gearing up for gay marriage to resume in California on Wednesday afternoon, a week after federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Arguments in the appeal will be heard the week of Dec. 6 in San Francisco.

A four-month delay may not seem that long, “But when you’re a couple that’s been together for 10 years, like Bill and I, that wait from August to December feels like five years. It’s not a few months,” said Masterson, who was planning to meet Horn at a county courthouse with their 2-month-old daughter on Thursday to tie the knot. “We’re emotionally devastated about it.”

However, even if the appeals court had allowed gay marriages to resume while Proposition 8 proponents launch an appeal, the struggle for marriage equality would be far from over, since same-sex couples would still be prohibited from exercising more than 1,100 federally protected marriage rights, according to same-sex marriage supporters.

“This journey to marriage equality is a marathon and not a 100-yard dash,” said the Rev. Susan Russell, senior associate for communication at Pasadena’s All Saints Church, which began blessing same-sex unions in 1992 and where 46 same-sex couples married during the six months in 2008 when gay marriage was briefly legal in the state.

But as the Proposition 8 drama plays out in the courts, it may serve as a test of how the justice system responds when a majority elects to strip a fundamental right away from a minority, a notion Walker’s ruling roundly rejected, according to Russell.

“We think that is not just good news for gay and lesbian people wanting to be married, but for everyone who thinks Americans should be protected by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution,” Russell said. “If a bare majority can take away the rights of gay and lesbian couples, a bare majority can take your rights, too.”

For Masterson and Horn, the waiting has been the hardest part.

All Saints parishioners who met 10 years ago, they would have gotten married along with 18,000 other same-sex couples during
the six-month window in 2008, which opened between the California Supreme Court’s invalidation of a previous voter approved same-sex marriage ban in May that year and the passage of Proposition 8 in November.

But the fact that they could not share 1,138 other federal rights bestowed upon spouses of opposite sex — from hospital visitation to shared property to joint bankruptcy filing — gave them second thoughts.

Then, 52 percent of voters said yes to Proposition 8 and marriage took on new meaning. “I didn’t realize how important it was until it was taken away,” Horn said.

Now, Horn and Masterson have adopted a child, which gave yet more meaning to the idea of having their union officially recognized.

So when news came Aug. 4 that Judge Walker deemed Proposition 8 unconstitutional because it denied gays and lesbians “a fundamental right without a legitimate (much less compelling) reason,” the couple geared up to go to the courthouse for the marriage certificate that would make their union official, only to learn that Walker had issued a temporary stay keeping his judgment from taking effect for six more days.

“I was sitting at home with our baby on my lap and I came to this realization that I was waiting to see if I am allowed to get married,” said Masterson, 36. “It was sort of like, gee, I hope I’m worthy.”

Last Friday, attorneys for Proposition 8 proponents ProtectMarriage.com filed a 96-page emergency motion pleading for the appeals court to stay Walker’s judgment while they pursued an appeal “to avoid the confusion and irreparable injury that would flow from the creation of a class of purported same-sex marriages,” they wrote, citing reports that West Hollywood and the county were posed to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses as soon as Walker’s stay lifted.

The attorneys charged that Walker ignored “judicial authority, the works of eminent scholars past and present in all relevant academic fields, extensive documentary and historical evidence, and even simple common sense” in reaching his decision.

On Monday, the appeals court agreed and without explanation of its reasons granted the stay on same-sex marriages that will last until judges hear an appeal of Walker’s decision.

Proponents of Proposition 8, who largely relied on moral arguments in their failed district court case, have shifted their focus to the will of voters while railing against so-called judicial activism as the case enters the appeals process.

“California voters spoke clearly on Proposition 8, and we’re glad to see their votes will remain valid while the legal challenges work their way up through the courts,” Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, said in response to the stay from the appeals court. “Invalidating the people’s vote based on just one judge’s opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people’s confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself.”

But same-sex marriage supporters say that argument is a slippery slope, given that society would be much different today if some of the pivotal social issues this country encountered were left to voters alone, such as segregation.

“If this country legislated on opinion polls and votes, we might still not have bi-racial marriage,” Masterson said.

If gay marriage resumes in California, opposite-sex couples at All Saints might benefit too. When Proposition 8 passed, the church’s governing board voted unanimously to stop signing marriage licenses for all couples. But the board may revisit that decision depending on how the appeal shakes out, Russell said.

“We would love to get back to treating everybody equally, and we’re hopeful that’s what this decision is going to let us do,” she said.

The series of denials provoked an unusual act of catharsis for Masterson on Monday. After hearing the appeals court halted his marriage from going forward, he burned his marriage license application and posted a picture on Twitter, tagging it “Take THIS California.”

“We’re very disappointed,” he said. “We’ve waited such a long time to have a real marriage.

Let’s Play Q&A -- about the Prop 8 Decision

The landmark ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker issued on August 4, 2010 in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger will continue to have broad ranging impact and to be in the news and in conversations for the foreseeable future.

Here are a few Q&A’s – some from actual conversations I’ve had since August 4th and some from imagined conversations I’d like to have with some of the Letters to the Editors writers, bloggers and talk show pundits.

See what you think. And if you’re getting questions you’d like answers for … or if you’ve got your own list of FAQ&As then send ‘em on over! The more the merrier!

“What did Judge Walker actually rule?”
He ruled that the plaintiffs – the two couples who sued the State of California in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger -- were correct in their contention that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. From the decision:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs' objective as 'the right to same-sex marriage' would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy -- namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages.

So here are some questions:

“How can one judge overrule the votes of 7 million people? Isn’t this what they call ‘judicial activism?’”

• Equal protection is a core value of a nation that pledges “liberty and justice to all” – not just some. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees “equal protection” to all American citizens. That means a majority of citizens cannot take away constitutional rights from a minority.

• The Supreme Court decided decades ago that the right to marriage is a fundamental right in Loving vs. Virginia -- finding bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

• In Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, Judge Walker ruled that 52% of the population (the percentage that voted for Prop 8 in California) did not have the right to take away the fundamental right to marriage from same-sex couples.

• As for “judicial activism,” Prop 8 attorney Ted Olson has rightly noted that judicial activism is another term for a decision you don’t like.

• Another court “overruled the will of the people” in District of Columbia vs. Heller when it held that the people did not have the right to vote to take away 2nd Amendment rights by enacting gun control. We didn’t see conservative pundits talking about “judicial activism” in that ruling. You can’t have it both ways.

Bottom line: Equal protection means equal protection. Even when it’s equally protecting people you don’t like or agree with.

“I don’t care what the courts say. The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman and that’s what I believe.”

• Another key constitutional protection is in the 1st Amendment: freedom of religion. Your right to believe whatever you want about what the Bible says about anything – including marriage – is absolutely protected. So is the right of clergy people to make decisions about who they will or will not marry based on their own conscience and the dictates of their own religion.

• What is NOT protected is your right to write your theology into our Constitution. Nobody has that. And nobody should.

• Imagine if 52% of the voters in California were “traditional values” Muslims who believed that only sharia marriage (marriage that complies with their reading of Muslim religious law) was valid or recognized in the State of California. Wouldn’t the 14th Amendment come in pretty handy at that point? Wouldn’t you want your rights to be protected from somebody else’s theology?

Bottom line: Good people of deep faith are going to come to different conclusions about what the Bible says about many things. This is one of them. But the issue on the table is not who’s right about questions of faith. It’s who is entitled to equal protection by the Constitution when it comes to civil marriage. And the Walker ruling makes it clear that same-sex couples have that protection.

“I’ve heard that this decision will infringe on freedom of religion. Shouldn’t clergy be able to decide who they will or won’t marry without having to worry about getting sued?”

• Of course they should and they do. The 1st Amendment protects that right. Any suggestions that this decision will change those protections are completely baseless.

• For example, in the State of California we have had no-fault divorce since the 1970’s and divorced couples routinely re-marry and receive the protections afforded by civil marriage. However, a Roman Catholic couple cannot compel their priest to give them their church’s blessing on that marriage because it’s contrary to their theological practice.

• Likewise, interfaith marriages happen all the time but a rabbi cannot be compelled to preside at an interfaith wedding if it violates his or her religious conscience.

• It is exactly the same with same-sex marriages.

Bottom line: Some clergy will decide to preside at same-sex marriages and others will not. Nothing will change for those who choose not to marry same sex couples. However, those clergy whose religious conscience calls them to offer equal blessing to all couples coming to them for marriage will now be able to also offer the equal protection civil marriage gives the opposite sex couples they marry to the same sex couples they bless.

“You can give them equal rights if you want to why do you have to call it marriage? Why aren’t civil unions good enough for them?”

• Because Brown vs. Board of Education firmly established that separate is inherently unequal.

• Giving opposite sex couples the legal protections and cultural standing of marriage and offering equally protected same sex couples civil unions or domestic partnerships is inherently unjust, unequal and unfair.

• And until we overturn DOMA (the “Defense of Marriage Act”) at the federal level, no matter what we do at the state level opposite sex couples automatically receive 1138 federally protected rights that same sex couples are denied.

Bottom line: Separate-but-equal isn’t. Period.

“I’ve heard the Judge Walker is gay. How can a gay man make a fair decision on an issue like this that could potentially impact him personally?”

• Judges are trained to rule based on the finding of facts and on the law.

• By that reasoning African American judges shouldn’t rule on any case involving the civil rights of African American citizens, women judges shouldn’t rule on issues involving a woman’s right to choose and Hispanic/Latino judges should certainly not be hearing any immigration cases.

• And – it could be argued – judges in opposite sex marriages should recuse themselves from decisions involving marriage equality because they’d be unable to make a fair decision in a case about marriage.

Bottom line: If you’re resorting to attacking the sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, race, creed, marital status or any other personal characteristic of the judge it’s because you’ve run out of facts and law to argue. It’s a tribute to the strength of the ruling that the opponents of marriage equality are sinking this low.

“So what happens next?”

• The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals put same-sex weddings in California on hold, while it considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

• The appeals court's order trumps District Vaughn Walker's ruling that would have allowed county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on August 18th.

• The court also asked specifically that Proposition 8 supporters address whether they have "standing," the right to appeal to the court without a state official. (California’s governor and attorney general have both declined to appeal the decision.)

• The court will hear the appeal on December 6, 2010.

Bottom line: The arc of the history is long but it bends toward justice.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And around and around we go ...

You can set your clock by it. Everytime there's another move in the chess game called "marriage equality" the talk shows in general -- and Larry King in particular -- drag out their "diverse panel of experts" and let them have at it.
Last night it was "boys against girls" -- Bishop Harry Jackson and talk show guy Dennis Prager vs. CA Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris and talk show chick Stephanie Miller.

Stephanie was cute, funny and heartfelt. Kamala was spot on with the legal arguments. And neither of them brought ANYTHING to the party for the faith based, "traditional values" arguments Prager and Jackson brought. So nobody unrang the bells in the messages they continue to get out the American public.

Two particularly egregious "misses" struck me -- as I watched the segment from my Washington DC hotel room after a day saturated with message training, focus groups and "why family values that value all families make us a stronger America" sound bites.

Prager made the statement (and I'm paraphrasing -- the transcript isn't up yet): "But the churches never supported racism."

Really? What country did he grow up in? Ask my rector about the sermons he heard preached as a boy explicitly proclaiming from the pulpit: "God is a segregationist!" Just for starters. Ask the African American woman who showed up for an Episcopal Sunday service billed as Holy Communion and found it suddenly changed to Morning Prayer. Because there was no way they were going to let "her" take communion at "their" altar rail.

The church -- to its shame -- was in many, many ways and places on the wrong side of history on racism. Prager should know better. And if he doesn't we should tell him.

The second was Jackson dragging out the story we've heard over and over again about the adoption agency in Massachusetts that closed down rather than place children in need of stable families with same-sex families.

Here's the Word the Lord has laid on my heart for Bishop Jackson: Matthew 25:40. "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it to me." Not inasmuch as you have infused your bias and bigotry against same sex families and kept children from getting the homes they yearn for.

Meanwhile, here's the rebuttal story I want to hear the next time this story comes up on Larry King ... because it will. It's the story about the Holy Family Adoption Agency in Los Angeles that was de-funded by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese because it was committed to finding the BEST home for children in need ... committed to family values that value all families. They lost their funding and almost shut down ... until they -- the adoption agency -- was adopted by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

THOSE are family values. THAT's what builds up families, communities and makes us a stronger America. And we need -- we DESERVE -- strong, progressive faith voices out there to get that message into the mix.
Where was the Reverend Dr. Eric Lee from the SCLC -- a valiant supporter of justice for ALL in the fight for marriage equality? Where was Rabbi Denise Eger -- president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and a pastoral, prophetic voice for traditional values that value all families? Where was Bishop Gene Robinson or Diana Butler Bass or Ed Bacon ... or, or, or, or.

When are we going to stop letting these powerful progressive voices of faith be invisible on the airwaves? When are we going to jump up and down wherever and whenever we can and support the advocacy of organizations like California Faith for Equality and HRC's Faith & Religion Department and call for broader representation of faith based family values that value all families and a Protect Marriage Movement the protects all marriages?

What could we do? How can we claim our power and get our voices out there to balance those who want to use our faith traditions as weapons of mass disinformation? Is it letters? A Facebook group? Tweets? Phone calls to stations?
OK ... here endeth the rant. Getting close to time to board (I hope) for my return flight. But let's think about this. What could we do?

Monday, August 16, 2010


Disappointed while not surprised about sums up my reaction to today's decision to continue the stay on same-sex marriages by the 9th Circuit Court.
"While disappointed by today's decision by the 9th Circuit Court we are confident that the justice delayed today will not long be justice denied and that marriage equality will return to California.

In the meantime, All Saints Church. Pasadena will continue to abstain from participating in state sponsored discrimination by not signing any marriage licenses until we can sign all of them."
And may God give us the grace to keep on marching forward!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yep ... interesting times, all right!

I am once again loving the in-flight wifi on American Airlines. It's great for getting caught up on news, blogs and email.

Here's one that I just saw from today's L.A. Times about Prop 8 and the Supreme Court. You'll want to read it all ... it's by Harvard Law professor Michael Klarman -- the author of "From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality," which won the 2005 Bancroft Prize.

But here's the bottom line:
Although it would be mildly out of character for Kennedy to interpret the Constitution to impose the views of a mere handful of states on the entire nation, by the time a gay marriage case reaches the court, several additional states may be permitting same-sex couples to marry. Moreover, Kennedy can read handwriting on the wall as well as anyone else. What better way is there to win the plaudits of future generations of Americans than to author the Supreme Court opinion eradicating one of the last formal barriers to equal citizenship for gays and lesbians?
Whoever it is who's been praying for us to live in interesting times, it seems to be working!

Brava, Bonnie! (AKA "Madame President")

Great letter-to-the-editor by House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson in the New York Times responding to one of the recent flurry of commentaries on "clergy burnout." (I started a blog on the subject a week or so ago but Judge Walker [happily] got in the way and I've been too busy to be burnt out much less find time to write about burnout.) Anyway -- here's Bonnie's great letter:
To the Editor:

G. Jeffrey MacDonald ascribes clergy burnout to “congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.” The real problem is the provider versus consumer mentality.

Ministry is not solely the work of professionally trained clergy. Rather it is a shared enterprise in which lay people are equal partners. Clergy burnout occurs because both parties lose sight of this fact. The result is clergy who believe that they must meet everyone’s needs while playing the
role of a lone superhero, and members of the laity who are either infantilized or embittered because they cannot make meaningful contributions to their church.

Embracing a circular ministry model that values and uses the gifts of laity and clergy while sharing power and authority engages everyone in the work of reconciliation. The big questions are: Will the clergy be able to give up their ascribed power? And will the laity be able to step up to the challenge of their baptism?

Bonnie Anderson
New York, Aug. 9, 2010

*The writer is president of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church. *
And what it's reminding me of is my own ordination process -- which I began after serving as a lay professional in the church for a number of years.

"What can you do as a priest you can't do as a lay person?" was one of the questions we got during the process. The textbook answer is -- of course -- "bless, consecrate and absolve." But the "other" answer -- the one I gave -- was "work to dismantle clericalism."

I remember in one interview saying that we need to give up on the idea that the congregation hires a priest to stand up front and "be Jesus" for an hour a week so they don't have to. And to do that we were going to need to dismantle clericalism -- which the laity were complicit in perpetuating. And since we hadn't YET dismantled clericalism, in order to be part of the revolution of the baptized some of us needed to use the power of the white plastic around our necks to work from the inside.

And they ordained me anyway.

Go figure.

And Go, Bonnie!!!! (And once we get things settled down on the marriage equality front in CA maybe I'll be get back to that burnout blog.)

Dear Judge Walker,

Every Sunday there is a chance for the members of All Saints Church to put their faith into action by visiting the "Action Table" on the lawn.

This morning that action will be signing a letter of thanks to Judge Vaughn Walker for his landmark ruling against marriage discrimination. Please join us on Sunday if you can to add your name to those signing on in person.

And if you can't join us on Sunday in Pasadena, then consider other ways to swell the ranks of those thanking Judge Walker for all of us. We know he'll be hearing from those who think they alone speak for "Christian Family Values." Let's make sure he hears from us, too!


August 15, 2010

The Honorable Vaughn R. Walker
Chief Judge, United States District Court
for the Northern District of California
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear Judge Walker,

We write to you as members of All Saints Church, where our baptismal covenant calls us to respect the dignity of every human being. In the context of that covenant, we thank you for ruling in favor of dignity and against discrimination for gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage in California.

We write to you as a congregation committed to turning the human race into the human family. In the pursuit of that commitment, we thank you for equally valuing the gay and lesbian members of that human family and for rejecting “the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

We write to you as a church that has been blessing the relationships of same sex couples since 1992 and which had the privilege of marrying 46 same sex couple between May and November in 2008. We thank you for the hope your decision gives us that California will once again be a state where we can offer both equal blessing and equal protection.

And we write to you as religious people who are convinced that no one has the right to write their theology into our Constitution. We believe our first amendment rights to freedom of religion are strengthened by your ruling and that it moves us closer to that goal of a nation of liberty and justice for all our founders intended.

May God bless you and keep you in the days and weeks ahead. Be assured of our prayers for you – for those you love, serve and challenge – and of our thanks for your work on behalf of all of us.

All Saints Church
Pasadena CA

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Heading off "behind the Orange Curtain"

Off to Irvine today for OC Pride 2010 ... a chance to witness to God's inclusive love, hang out with cool people, listen to some great music and support our Bishop Mary as she speaks from the main stage at 1:25 p.m.

If you're in the neighborhood stop by and say hey! Film ... as they say ... at eleven!

Friday, August 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Judge Vaughn Walker from All Saints Church, Pasadena

Every Sunday there is a chance for the members of All Saints Church to put their faith into action by visiting the "Action Table" on the lawn. On Sunday, August 15th that action will be signing a letter of thanks to Judge Vaughn Walker for his landmark ruling against marriage discrimination. Please join us on Sunday if you can to add your name to those signing on in person.

And if you can't join us on Sunday in Pasadena, then consider other ways to swell the ranks of those thanking Judge Walker for all of us. We know he'll be hearing from those who think they alone speak for "Christian Family Values." Let's make sure he hears from us, too!


August 15, 2010

The Honorable Vaughn R. Walker
Chief Judge, United States District Court
for the Northern District of California
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear Judge Walker,

We write to you as members of All Saints Church, where our baptismal covenant calls us to respect the dignity of every human being. In the context of that covenant, we thank you for ruling in favor of dignity and against discrimination for gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage in California.

We write to you as a congregation committed to turning the human race into the human family. In the pursuit of that commitment, we thank you for equally valuing the gay and lesbian members of that human family and for rejecting “the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

We write to you as a church that has been blessing the relationships of same sex couples since 1992 and which had the privilege of marrying 46 same sex couple between May and November in 2008. We thank you for the hope your decision gives us that California will once again be a state where we can offer both equal blessing and equal protection.

And we write to you as religious people who are convinced that no one has the right to write their theology into our Constitution. We believe our first amendment rights to freedom of religion are strengthened by your ruling and that it moves us closer to that goal of a nation of liberty and justice for all our founders intended.

May God bless you and keep you in the days and weeks ahead. Be assured of our prayers for you – for those you love, serve and challenge – and of our thanks for your work on behalf of all of us.

All Saints Church
Pasadena CA

I just KNEW it!!!!!

This just in from Edge.online from Boston:
Stephanie Miller, a radio talkshow host, came out to her audience on her Friday, Aug. 13, program.

What makes Miller unique is her personal background. She is the daughter of U.S. Rep. William Miller, who was the running mate of über-conservative Barry Goldwater (who was himself a very late-in-life convert to gay causes) and chaired the GOP's national committee.
I've been listening to Stephanie since she was on local L.A. radio back in the 90's and loved, loved, loved her on AirAmerica.

And may I just say: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE! Welcome "out" girlfriend ... we are now OFFICIALLY "family!"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In case you missed it ....

... here's the Colbert Report on "Gay Marriage:"

I think this about covers it ...

Analysis of today's ruling by Judge Walker

I continue to check in with the Courage Campaign's "Prop 8 Trial Tracker" for some of the best and most timely coverage and analysis of this unfolding marriage equality saga. Here's the latest from them:

Judge Walker decided to deny the motion to stay his decision overturning Prop 8. But at the same time he also issued a temporary stay until August 18th to allow the Ninth Circuit time to decide whether or not it wants to stay the case pending the appeal. This is not surprising, and it is done out of respect for the Ninth Circuit.

Judge Walker is simply making the call that is his (that a stay should be denied) but giving the Ninth Circuit some breathing room to make the call on its own. If the Ninth Circuit does not issue a stay by August 18th, Judge Walker’s decision will take effect and marriages may resume in California. Until then, however, we remain in a holding pattern.

Meanwhile the NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) also has an analysis piece posted, which includes:
Why is the ruling today important?

Even though Judge Walker did not immediately let same-sex couples in California marry, the ruling provides important insight into the merits of the issues that the Ninth Circuit will consider on appeal. For example, in his ruling today, Judge Walker casts serious doubt on whether the proponents of Prop 8 even have “standing” to pursue an appeal because they do not speak for the state of California, and the official representatives of the state agree that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

Standing refers to whether a particular person has a legal right to bring an appeal. In his ruling today, Judge Walker said: “As it appears at least doubtful that proponents will be able to proceed with their appeal without a state defendant, it remains unclear whether the court of appeals will be able to reach the merits of proponents’ appeal.”
So we shall see what we shall see. So much for the "lazy" part of the Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, eh?

Speaking of Biblical Family Values

Look what the Lectionary Lottery gives us for Sunday's Gospel: Luke 12:51-53
Jesus said, "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:

father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
As the rector is wont to say: My, My, My!

Now THIS is very interesting

From the blog "Right Wing Watch" ... an interview by David Barton with Tim Wildmon and Marvin Sanders of the American Family Association discussing the Prop 8 ruling.
All three were convinced that the case was eventually going to end up before the Supreme Court and that when it does, Justice Anthony Kennedy was going to be the deciding vote in favor of allowing gay marriage. As such, Barton revealed that there is some talk on the Right of not appealing or fighting the Prop 8 ruling and letting California have gay marriage in order to keep the case away from the Supreme Court and thereby saving the marriage amendments in all the other states:
You can listen to the interview on the blog, but here's a transcript:

Barton: Right now the damage is limited to California only, but if California appeals this to the US Supreme Court, the US Supreme Court with Kennedy will go for California, which means all 31 states will go down in flames, although right now this decision is limited only to California.

So there's an effort underway to say "California, please don't appeal this. I mean, if you appeal this, its bad for you guys but live with it, but don't cause the rest of us to have to go down your path."

Wildom: So you think the better situation here would be California not to appeal ...

Barton: Well, I'm telling you that that's what is being argued by a lot of folks now because the other Supreme Court attorney who watched this from afar said "on no, you left too many arguments on the table, you stayed technical." And now, knowing what Kennedy has already done in two similar cases to this and knowing that he's the deciding vote, the odds are 999 out of 1000 that they'll uphold the California decision.

If they do, there's not a marriage amendment in the country that can stand. And so the problem is that instead of California losing its amendment, now 31 states lose their amendment. And that won't happen if California doesn't appeal this decision. It's just California that loses its amendment.

It all just gets curiouser and curiouser!

MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Coming (Back) Soon to California!

Today Judge Walker paved the way for both freedom and wedding bells to ring in California.

This ruling in favor of dignity and against discrimination for gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage in California has helped us take one more step forward on the journey to making liberty and justice for all a reality in our nation.

It is a blessing to have civil marriage equality restored in the State of California. And it is a great joy that California clergy will once again have the freedom to choose to offer both equal blessing and equal protection to all couples coming to us to celebrate the sanctity of their marriages.

While we celebrate today’s ruling lifting the stay on marriage equality, we continue to work for the day when the 1138 federally protected rights guaranteed opposite sex couples are also available to same sex couples.

Today’s step forward is not just for the gay and lesbian couples getting married. It is also a cause for celebration for all of those preach family values that value ALL families and who believe that protecting marriage means protecting ALL marriages.

PS -- And yes, of course something might change between now and August 18th but if and when it does I'll have an opinion on that. Right now, I'm celebrating Judge Walker's strong decision with this bottom line
"None of the factors the court weighs in considering a motion to stay favors granting a stay. Accordingly, proponents’ motion for a stay is DENIED. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment forthwith. That judgment shall be STAYED until August 18, 2010 at 5 PM PDT at which time defendants and all persons under their control or supervision shall cease to apply or enforce Proposition 8.”

Let Freedom -- and Wedding Bells! -- Ring!!

As we await Judge Walker's ruling today on the Prop 8 decision stay (due between 9am & 12noon PDT) California Faith for Equality issued this statement:
California Faith for Equality (CFE) is delighted to learn that Judge Vaughan Williams will rule tomorrow on whether marriage equality will return to California while his landmark decision in the case makes its way to an appeals court.

"CFE strongly opposes any stay on the too-long delayed guarantee of equal protection to gay and lesbian couples" said Samuel M. Chu, Executive Director of CFE. "Justice delayed is justice denied and we have advised our statewide network to prepare for a lift of the ban on marriage equality."

It is our deepest hope that tomorrow will be the day that our 6,000 clergy across the state of California will once again be able to offer both equal blessings and equal protection to the couples coming to them to celebrate the sanctity of their marriages. We know that the opponents of marriage equality will try everything to prevent this landmark ruling from taking effect but we stand ready as well -- ready to work with our allies committed to marriage equality and to persevere until liberty and justice for all really means all.

We will be ready tomorrow -- or whenever the stay is lifted -- because we know that we are on the right side of history and we are privileged to be part of this struggle.
And let me just add: Amen. Amen. Amen.

And let freedom ring, baby!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Two Marriage Equality Notes at the end of a long day

Two "breaking news" bits before I head out for the night:

A new nat’l poll released today says 52% of Americans favor marriage equality. We’ve NEVER seen that before. Read it all here

It is being widely reported that Judge Walker will rule on the stay on his ruling tomorrow morning. From advocate.com:
U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker will issue a Thursday morning ruling on whether to stay a decision in the Proposition 8 federal case pending appeal, according to a late Wednesday e-mail from the court.
And yes, that COULD mean rainbow wedding bells again. Stay tuned!

Why churches fear gay marriage -- by Richard Rodriguez

A "must read" by Richard Rodriguez in the salon.com archives:
While conservative churches are busy trying to whip up another round of culture wars over same-sex marriage, Rodriguez says the real reason for their panic lies elsewhere: the breakdown of the traditional heterosexual family and the shifting role of women in society and the church itself. As the American family fractures and the majority of women choose to live without men, churches are losing their grip on power and scapegoating gays and lesbians for their failures.
Read the rest here ...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"True Colors"

What a great way to end a Tuesday ... with this posted on my Facebook page. (Thanks, Ann!) Enjoy!

Claiming the Blessing 2.0 -- A Sermon for August 1, 2010 (Proper 13C)

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
Luke 12:13-21

Well, aren’t those a cheerful set of lessons for a summer Sunday? At this point I could just say, “Here’s what the Scripture tells us. Basically it’s all vanity, and no matter how much stuff you store up, you can’t take it with you.” Then I could sit down and we could go to brunch early.

But that’s not going to happen, because in some ways what we’ve just been reminded of is what we already know, and we all do it, don’t we? We collect stuff. Too much stuff. I’m going to pick on Sharalyn for a minute (pointing to her on the platform). Sharalyn is in the middle of moving, so she’s got all of her stuff in storage, waiting for one escrow to close and another escrow to close before moving her stuff. It can be kind of consuming – keeping track of all that stuff. And we’ve all been there – so let’s keep her in our prayers!

Meanwhile, even for those of us who aren’t in the middle of moving, the challenge is how we sort through it all, and I found myself rereading the work of the psychologist Timothy Miller in preparation for this sermon, and Dr. Miller wrote:

It’s just human nature to want a little more. People spend their lives honestly believing they have almost enough of whatever it is they want, and just a little more will put them over the top, and then they will be contented forever.

Now, that pursuit of “just a little more” is something Jesus talked about over and over again as he called us to live lives faithful to God, not in pursuit of possessions that ultimately end up owning us. In fact, in the stories of Jesus preserved for us in Scripture, Jesus talked about the role of possessions, about giving, about stuff, more than any other single theme. Way more. So check this out. It’s a tally of how many times Jesus talked about some things in the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Are you ready?

Believing – a really important thing, right? 272 times.
Prayer – even more important. 371 times.
But twice as often as both of those, Jesus talked about love. In the four Gospels, Jesus mentioned “love” 714 times. That’s pretty impressive.
Finally he talked about possessions, about "stuff," about giving things away – are you ready? – 2,172 times.

It’s not even close. And just for the record, the number of times Jesus talked about same-sex couples or women bishops: not at all. Instead, he talked about stuff 2,172 times, because Jesus knew how critical it was for us to be willing to give up the stuff that owns us.

Summer is a great time to do that. We’re cleaning out our garage; Louse would like to clean out our attic – we’re negotiating that one. And here at All Saints Church just a couple of weeks ago we cleaned out our stuff. We pulled boxes out of the attic; we went to the “print shop” on the corner of Euclid and Walnut, and it all got lined up in Sweetland Hall. We went in a through some stuff we didn’t even know we had. A lot of the stuff went where it needed to go – the recycle bin – and other stuff got labeled and put back where we could find it next time.

In the process, we found some interesting stuff – at least I did. Here is one of the things I found [holding up a red-jacketed book]: it is a book called Hearts on Fire ; it was written by Bill Lane Doulos back in the 1990s, and it is a chronicle of the history of All Saints Church up until 1994. I am going to share a little bit of it with you this morning because one of the things I believe, that I learned from one of my heroes and mentors, Frederica Harris Thompsett , a great writer and church historian, is that the reason we learn our history is in order to get a head start on our future.

So I want to share a few fun facts to know and tell about All Saints Church that I learned in my reading from the book we found in the attic.

Did you know that three rectors ago, Frank Scott had his sermons broadcast over the local airwaves, and summarized Monday mornings in the Pasadena Star-News? No, it wasn’t Oprah -- but it does give me a sense that we didn’t invent the idea of All Saints Church having a prophetic voice in the community or in the media.

Did you know that Dr. Scott not only protested the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II – which I knew – but was an outspoken supporter of the formation of the United Nations in the years after the war? And that he took a little grief for it?

And then there’s John Burt. John Burt succeeded Dr. Scott as rector, and he got into some hot water with a pretty radical suggestion. At the beginning of his tenure as rector he suggested we create a strategic plan! Let me read this part to you.
At an early Vestry meeting John suggested that the parish might create a 10-year plan, complete with goals and strategies. Such an approach was unheard of. A Vestry member asked how such a plan might be useful.
“We might find ways to enhance our ministry,” John replied.
“Like what ways?” responded the unimpressed Vestryman.
“Well, we might find, for example, that we need to provide specialized psychological counseling for troubled people,” said John, quickly searching his mind for what he thought would be a non-controversial illustration.
“Sounds like a pretty left-wing idea to me,” came the reply.
If he only knew.

Then there’s Margaret Sedenquist. Margaret was a virtual force of nature unleashed on the Diocese of Los Angeles in pursuit of gender equity back in the 1970s. Well, here’s the story:
Margaret Sedenquist was a lay delegate to our Diocesan Convention, and it came to her attention that the Canons of the time were loaded with hierarchical male language. Margaret took the microphone to move that the Canons be rewritten to give equal consideration to women.

The logistics of the undertaking would be massive, but Bill Rodiger, then Chair of the Commission on Canons, promised that his committee would work over the next year to have a recommended version ready for adoption at the next convention.

“Does that satisfy you, Mrs. Sedenquist?” Bill Rodiger asked from the podium.

“I’m not seeking satisfaction,” said Margaret, “I’m seeking justice.”
And finally, what is arguably my favorite exchange in the book, was between John Burt and Bob Morton. You can see in it the roots of our “Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself” mantra.

In response to an invitation to join the Vestry, Bob asked, “Do I have to believe in God?”

“Well, do you wish there were a God?” the Rector asked.


“Then pretend it is so and hope it is so and act as if it’s true. And welcome to the Vestry!”

It’s amazing what you can find, cleaning out the attic. I love finding out the stories behind the facts I already knew, and I’m happy to find out some facts I didn’t know, and it makes me all-the-more honored to be part of a congregation that continues to live out that vision of an inclusive church in the future.

I grew up in the shadow of All Saints Church, just over the hill in Eagle Rock, and I was beamed aboard the mother ship exactly 8 years ago today.

August 1, 2002, I came on board as the Executive Director of Claiming the Blessing (I also found a big old case of our theology statements in the attic in case anybody hasn’t seen it), which was a collaborative established in 2002 – All Saints Church was one of the partners – “committed to promoting wholeness in human relationships, abolishing prejudice and oppression, and healing the rift between sexuality and spirituality in the Church.”

Now, 8 years is a long time, I was thinking this morning; that’s 2 Presidential administrations. That’s twice as long as you were in high school! But even though 8 years is a long time, we are not quite done abolishing prejudice and healing the rift between sexuality and spirituality, but we’re further ahead than we would have been if we hadn’t started. Part of the reason I believe that we’re closer is that all of the work that we’ve done has been grounded in the Scripture text we shoes to frame our Claiming the Blessing work.

From the second chapter of Genesis: I will bless you … so that you will be a blessing.

That’s the promise that began the great Covenant between God and Abraham. “Bless you so that you will be a blessing.” Not, “So that you will be a gatekeeper.” Not, “So that you will be an attack dog.” And not, “So that you can use the Bible as a weapon with those with whom you disagree.” “Bless … so that you will be a blessing.”

Sometimes I wonder if that early text from Genesis isn’t one that got lost up in the attic or got stuck out in the garage somewhere, of those who presume to speak for Christian values. For example, this week in the news was the placard, the sign, at one of the “defending marriage” rallies that was going on around the country. It was a picture of a guy named Larry Adams, and he made a sign which said, “The solution to gay marriage” and had a text from Leviticus, and a picture of two hangman’s nooses!

Then there was the story yesterday on CNN about the Florida church that announced plans for the fall. They’re going to burn a copy of the Koran! On September 11! I find myself wondering, is there some kind of contest out there I don’t know about? Is there a prize for making Jesus look bad this week? Here’s a comment from my Facebook page just yesterday:

You’re smart to wear your sunglasses in your profile picture. What’s going on in the news right now doesn’t make Christians look very good. I’d be hiding, too.
Ouch! The sad truth is that we are surrounded by people yearning for a spiritual community, longing for the Good News that Jesus has to offer them, and thinking that they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one. And what they’re reading in the news about Christians isn’t helping.

But we can. And that brings me back to where we started this morning, to the very human tendency to accumulate stuff, and the periodic need to go through it and get rid of some of it. I’m not just talking about the junk that we cram into our attics and garages, or the stuff Sharalyn has at Public Storage. I’m talking about the dogmas and doctrines and biases and baggage that we’ve crammed into Christianity over the years.

In the opening collect this morning, we prayed for the Church, for God to “cleanse and defend it.” Well, guess who God has called to be on the clean up committee? That’s us. And that’s why knowing our history helps us get a head start on our future – because there is hope, and because knowing we’ve done it before can empower us to figure out how to do it again.

Here’s how author and publisher Phyllis Tickle explains it:

To understand what’s happening to us as 21st century Christians, we need first to understand that just about every 500 years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale. She reminds us that dealing in 500-year cycles, give or take a few decades, means that the last garage sale occurred in about the 16th century with the Great Reformation. And 500 years before that was the Great Schism that split the Eastern Orthodox and Western Churches. 500 years before that takes us to the fall of Rome, and 500 years before that… Well, I think you get the point.

At those 500-year cycles, says Phyllis, everything about the Church that we thought we knew gets reexamined. It gets put out on tables in the parking lot, sorted through, turned over and examined. Some of it is still good; some of it can be recycled and some of it… Well, frankly, some of it needs to go out to the curb.

It all sounds kind of exhausting, doesn’t it? Can’t we learn it once and for all and be done with it? Some people seem to think that’s how it works the “God said; I believe it; that settles it” folks. But the blessing we claim is being a part of a family of faith that questions, that challenges – that is blessed to be a blessing not only to those who are already here, but to those still standing at the gate thinking they are strangers to the God who yearns to draw them into her loving embrace.

So here comes the story some of you have heard before. It’s the one about my son Brian and his struggle to master long division in grade school. I remember the night that he announced at the dinner table that he had finally figured it out: First you guess, then you multiply, then you subtract, until you run out of numbers. Yes! And then he said, “So now I understand math.” I also remember his older brother quickly disabusing him of that misapprehension with the sobering news of algebra, geometry and calculus to come. “Oh no!” exclaimed Brian in disbelief and horror. “You mean there’s more?”

Well, yes there was more, for Brian and for us. We don’t just figure it out once; we figure it out over and over and over again. And every 500 years, it seems, just in case we think we’ve figured out math – or God – it’s garage sale time again! And it turns out there are things we have to get rid of in order to make room for the more that God would have us learn. That’s what our history teaches us as we claim our place in that arc of history that bends toward justice with all those who’ve journeyed before us, so that we might continue that journey into the future.

So Claiming the Blessing 2.0 is about so much more than claiming the blessing of the church on the love and relationships of the already-blessed-by-God same-sex couples – although we’re not done with that, and we’re not giving up until we are done.

Claiming the Blessing is about claiming the blessing of our history, our heritage, our spiritual DNA – the DNA that inspired John and Barb and Margaret and Phil and Abraham and all the faithful throughout the ages to speak out and to step out, to speak up and to act up when necessary, in order to be a blessing.

I want to close with these words from “Hearts on Fire:”

“Wherever you are on your journey of faith” is language that includes people of any religion and no religion, children and adults, people from many different ethnic and racial backgrounds, stalwart members of the parish and newcomers.

People who come to All Saints are not presumed to have lost their way any more than we have all lost our way. Each life is precious, and the place on the journey where we find ourselves can be a sacred place….

The journey has no predictable destination other than God. There is no minimum entry requirement of orthodoxy or respectability for participants. Some don’t care for this kind of ambivalence, but many others are energized by the authenticity. The only clear understanding is that this is a transforming journey of the people of God, and if you have even the vaguest sense of wanting to be with this people, and with this God, then come.

That is the blessing, my brothers and sisters, that we claim here at All Saints Church: the invitation to come.

Come to the table and claim for yourself the blessing that generations have claimed here at All Saints Church and wherever our father Abraham’s covenant to be blessed in order to be a blessing has been claimed. For we claim not just the blessing of the God who loved us beyond our wildest imagining, we claim the history of a people who have been willing to put that love into action an inch at a time, a blessing at a time, and – when it is necessary – even a rummage sale at a time.

Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Amen.

[With thanks to Bob Shull for his gift of transcription!]