Sister Joan Chittister famously said, "We are each called to go through life reclaiming the planet an inch at a time until the Garden of Eden grows green again." Reflecting on that journey -- a blog at a time -- is the focus of this site.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
From yesterday's "Meet In The Middle" Rally in Fresno
And let the people say: AMEN!
When I was growing up in the church, it was "Whitsunday" ...
Whatever you call it, wherever you are may you experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit on this festival day. And may the Spirit of Truth continue to lead us -- individually and collectively -- into all truth in believing in the power of God's transforming and inclusive love.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
MEET IN THE MIDDLE: Today in Fresno CA
As reported in today's L.A. Times:
Streams of cars are headed north on the 5 Freeway this morning, sporting banners saying “Equality Now,” as supporters of same-sex marriage travel to Fresno for a 1 p.m. rally to kick off a renewed campaign to win back the right to marry in California.
Many of the cars are flying rainbow flags from their windows as a symbol of unity. Organizers are calling the rally “Meet in the Middle.” They chose Fresno as a rally site because voters there backed Proposition 8 by more than 2 to 1 and will be crucial to the new campaign. Organizers could seek to put the issue back on the ballot next year.
A march from the nearby town of Selma to Fresno was planned before the rally. But even as the activists road-tripped from Los Angeles and San Francisco into the heat of the Central Valley, their work would not go unchallenged.
On Friday afternoon, the ProtectMarriage committee, which organized the Yes on 8 campaign, announced what amounted to a counter-protest — a “Celebration of Marriage,” to be held Sunday in Fresno and San Diego. -- Jessica Garrison
Maya Angelou on Marriage Equality
Ms. Angelou said she felt compelled to speak out because she believes that legalizing same-sex marriage is a matter of social fairness — a subject that has been a theme of her writing.
“I would ask every man and every woman who’s had the blessing of having children, ‘Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?’ ” she said.
Ms. Angelou said she believed that society made gay relationships hard enough without the added burden of making marriage illegal.
“To love someone takes a lot of courage,” she said. “So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, ‘I forbid you from loving this person’?”
Talking Points 101: "Talking Equality"
On the bishop suffragan election in the Diocese of Los Angeles
We will be electing two bishops suffragan to follow in the footsteps of our Bishop Suffragan Chet Talton and our Assisting Bishop Sergio Carranza -- both retiring in June 2010.
Details on the process are available on the diocesan website for the election scheduled for December 4-5 in Riverside CA.
For the record, here's a copy of the letter I sent to the Reverend Julian Bull, Chair of the Suffragan Search Committee:
Dear Julian & Bishop Suffragan Search Committee Members,
I am writing to thank you for the high honor of having been nominated for the position of bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles -- and to say that after due prayerful consideration I do not believe that I am -- at this time -- called to the episcopate.
If I was, I could not imagine a better diocese to serve or better colleagues to serve with than those of you the Holy Spirit has called to empower us to call our next bishops suffragan. I may be a little biased, as I am a child of the Diocese of Los Angeles: born at Good Samaritan Hospital, baptized at the Old Cathedral and serving it first as a lay professional, then as a deacon and now as a priest. I not only have great love and affection for this my "home diocese" but in my eclectic career, I have also had some extraordinary opportunities to observe the wider church beyond our diocesan boundaries.
I served on the National Board of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW), as President of Integrity USA and as part of the team representing ECUSA to the Anglican Consultative Council in 2005. From those vantage points, I can truly say "there is no place like home" ... and while God is clearly not finished with the Diocese of Los Angeles yet, we are a blessed people who have been blessed by extraordinary episcopal leadership that has "brought us thus far on the way."
Los Angeles deserves the best possible candidates for bishop and we are trusting you to give them to us. You and the work of your committee will be MUCH in my prayers in the days and weeks to come as you discern for us who to consider as bishops to continue to lead us forward. I trust that you will be open to the Spirit working in and through you and through this discernment process ... and I trust as well that the candidates coming forward will be considered without bias based on any extra-canonical suggestions about requirements for the episcopate.
With deep gratitude to each and every one of you for your work and witness,
Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose new bishops for this Diocese that we may receive faithful pastors, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Friday, May 29, 2009
The things you learn on Facebook!
"Little known fact....The first testicular guard "Cup" was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. It took 100 years for men to realize the the brain is also important."
No Marriage for Straight People
Two California pastors have found a perfect way to rally against the state supreme court’s decision to uphold Prop. 8 -- they won’t be officiating any heterosexual marriages at their churches.
The Reverend Art Cribbs of San Marino Congregational Church and the Reverend Anne Cohen of the First Congregational Church in Glendale have both said they will not be performing wedding ceremonies of any kind until the ban on same-sex marriage is lifted.
The two are expected to hold a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss their decision.
And here are some photos from that press conference -- held at the Pasadena Court House (just about a block from my desk here at All Saints Church) just a few minutes ago:
A good media turnout ... everything from The Pasadena Weekly to CNN.
The Reverend Art Cribbs ...
And me ... doing the "standing in solidarity" with thing. (Note former ASC Senior Warden Bob Long in the background there ... what a trooper!)
Declining to officiate at opposite sex weddings is NOT the position All Saints Church has taken in response to Proposition 8. We are continuing to offer sacramental equality to all our couples while working to achieve civil equality with our justice allies through our work with California Faith for Equality.
And it was a tremendous privilege to stand today in solidarity with courageous clergy who have made another choice, modeling exactly what I think we're talking about when we talk out valuing both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
We reject the right of anyone to write their theology in our constitution because we are a nation that values freedom from religion in our foundational value of separating church and state. We are also -- thankfully -- free as citizens of this great nation to make the decisions our conscience dictate about who we choose to marry (or not!) within our respective faith traditions BECAUSE of the freedom of religion that is also a foundational American value. And so I applaud the choice that Art and Anne made so publicly today.
From the statement read today by the Reverend Art Cribbs:
In the aftermath of our state’s highest court ruling to ban same-sex marriage, it is my personal and painful decision to no longer perform weddings in the State of California until discrimination against same-sex couples is ended. This decision does not come without sacrifice, but it is necessary for the ministry to have any integrity, I must stand in solidarity with men, women and families who suffer and are unjustly hurt because of discrimination now protected by Proposition 8.
Our State Constitution is a document that protects the rights of all citizens and increases the civil liberties of the people of California. This week, the stain of shame marred our State Constitution and the California Supreme Court failed to protect a vulnerable minority from the tyranny of the majority. I will not conduct another wedding in California until this wrong has been corrected.
It is love that has been put on trial. It is love that suffers the fate of injustice. It is love that stands in the glare of malicious assault. In sacred covenant, loving couples share their love openly as a reminder of God’s love for us. Those whom God has joined together let no one separate. Not even the California Supreme Court or the vote of the majority who dare to rein tyranny on a minority.
And let the people say, AMEN!
UPDATE: News report from the Pasadena Star News.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Archbishop Tutu in Scotland
It's A Virtual Epidemic of Errant Emails!
Whoops. The Republican National Committee (RNC) has apparently inadvertently released its list of talking points on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
Included on the released list were a few hundred influential Republicans who were the intended recipients of the talking points. Unfortunately for the RNC, so were members of the media.
Click here for the talking points ... and note this word to the wise: Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey:
Meanwhile, in another corner of the "kingdom" ...
The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the celebrity priest removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month, has left the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami to join the Episcopal church and announced that he will marry the woman he has dated for two years.
Joining him in becoming an Episcopalian was the woman in the photos, Ruhama Buni Canellis, 35.
The small, private ceremony happened at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami.
Cutié, dressed in a white dress shirt, a black jacket and black dress pants, sat smiling beside his fiancé during the half-hour ceremony. Priests and deacons from the Episcopal church were by his side -- many notably accompanied by their wives.
Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, officiated as Cutié and Canellis knelt in front of the bishop and were received into the Episcopal church.
The bishop also gave Cutié special status as a lay minister, meaning he can preach in Episcopal churches but not celebrate the Eucharist, the symbolic body and blood of Christ.
Cutie will give his first sermon as an Episcopalian 10 a.m. Sunday at the Church of The Resurrection in Biscayne Park. It will take Cutié at least a year to be certified as an Episcopal priest.
Read the rest here ... (who SAYS the Episcopal Church isn't growing??? :)
What we're reading ...
Riane Eisler was our Rector's Forum speaker earlier this month -- and her new book is "blurbed" thusly by Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
The Real Wealth of Nations gives us a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking . . .this brilliant book shows how we can build economic systems that meet both our material and spiritual needs."
I'm not through it yet ... (it's been a trace busy around here, as you may have noticed!) ... but here are a couple of her thoughts about the Domination System vs. the Partnership System that emerged in a staff conversation earlier today that have so engaged my thinking about all KINDS of systems that I think they beg a wider audience:
In the domination system, there are only two alternatives for relations: dominating or being dominated. Those on top control those below them and policies and practices in this system are designed to benefit those on the top at the expense of those on the bottom. Trust is scarce and tension is high as the whole system is largely held together by fear and force.
The partnership system supports mutually respectful and caring relations. There are still hierarchies, as there must be to get things done. But in these hierarchies, which I call hierarchies of actualization rather than hierarchies of domination, accountability and respect flow both ways rather than just from the bottom up, and social and economic structures are set up so that there is input from all levels.
Policies and practices in this system are designed to support our basic survival needs AND our needs for community, creativity, meaning and caring – in other words, the realization or our highest human potentials.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Video of Last Night's Prop 8 Rally
Here's another film for your consideration -- a short doc on last night's Prop 8 Rally here in L.A. It was such an honor to be part of the clergy contingent on stage with the SCLC's Reverend Eric Lee ... check it all out here:
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Decision Day Rally: Los Angeles
National Support for California Today: "Won't Back Down"
Statement from All Saints Church, Pasadena on today's Supreme Court decision
Nevertheless, All Saints Church will continue to receive all couples, wherever they find themselves on their journey of love, commitment and faith, as we continue to treat all couples equally for the purposes of ceremonies and sacraments. All Saints Church will also continue to stand with our California Faith for Equality allies to support actions and policies that will once again bring full equality to all people under the law of the State of California. We know that the arc of history is long but we also know that it bends toward justice - and we look forward to the day we will stand on the right side of that history on the issue of marriage equality. So today we recommit ourselves as a peace & justice church to work without ceasing toward that day when all of God's people will be treated with equality, dignity and respect.
The All Saints website will continue to track this developing story with links to everything from news updates to pastoral care resources. For further information contact Keith Holeman at email@example.com.
The Reverend J. Edwin Bacon
Rector, All Saints Church, Pasadena
Pix from today's Decision Day Press Conference
Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Denise Eger
From Justice Moreno's Dissent
Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. This could not have been the intent of those who devised and enacted the initiative process.
In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning. Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons. I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution.
California Faith for Equality responds to today's CA Supreme Court decision
The verdict is in: this morning, the California Supreme Court ruled that the 18,000 marriages are upheld, but so is Proposition 8. Our hearts are full for those 18,000 couples who are still married in the eyes of the law, but our hearts are breaking because even in our own country we are not free.
Some of us will seek comfort and community in our congregations, some of us in private meditation, and some in the crowds gathering in the streets. As a Jew, I am reminded of the words spoken by Jacob when he awoke from his sleep: "Surely God is in this place and I, I did not know" (Genesis 28:16). Having dreamt of God, Jacob realized that even in the vast desert, with only a rock for a pillow, he was not alone. Even in the absence of justice, the Divine is with us.
Though today our comfort might feel insufficient like a stone, know that more than ever, as our allies pour into the streets, we are not alone. As our congregations become more welcoming, we are not alone. As state after state recognizes the legal and moral necessity for marriage for same-sex couples, we are not alone. The presence of the Divine is with us - everywhere.
Bishop of Los Angeles responds to today's CA Supreme Court Decision
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
Statement, May 26, 2009
I feel blessed that the California Supreme Court has upheld the marriages of gay and lesbian couples that occurred in our state last year. Although short-lived, it is marriage equality for some of the gay community in California, and I will work to have these rights returned for all gay and lesbian people.
Sadly enough, a small majority - 52 percent of voters - was able to alter the constitution of the great state of California.
It is saddening for me that we will have to mount another battle to join states in New England and the state of Iowa to open doors of equality to gay and lesbian people again in California.
The initiative process wrests away from the legislature and the courts the ability to legislate and affirm justice.
As human beings, all are to be given equality under the law. This referendum has proven that there is a flaw in the law that allows us to inhibit the rights of gay people under the constitution of the state of California.
Within the Episcopal Church, to quote one of our great former Presiding Bishops, Edmond L. Browning, "there will be no outcasts in this church."
+ J. Jon Bruno
Bishop of Los Angeles
Intergrity Response to today's CA Supreme Court Decision
“This morning we saw justice both denied and delayed,” said Integrity President Susan Russell. “Today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court does not just affect the lives of same sex couples hoping to live happily ever after with the love of their life, it sets a terrible precedent that a simple majority of voters can relegate millions of citizens to second class status. Until “liberty and justice for all” really means “all” we are not yet the nation we are called to be and today was a sad step backward on that arc of history that generations of equality leaders have told us bends toward justice.”
“It is a decision that is not only antithetical to the core American values of liberty and justice for all, it flies in the face of the core Christian commitment to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is a decision that grieves the heart of God, violates core values of both our faith and our founding fathers and puts the State of California on the wrong side of history on the issue of marriage equality. It is a decision that should not and will not stand.”
“As the mother of a son in uniform,” said Russell, ”I find it deeply ironic that our Supreme Court would issue an opinion allowing discrimination to be written into our statutes the day after a national holiday dedicated to the memory of the brave men and women who have given their lives to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic – to preserve for their fellow citizens the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“Integrity will work, pray and advocate for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments within the Episcopal Church and work with our California Faith for Equality allies toward marriage equality in California as we continue our thirty-plus year history of giving voice to the LGBT faithful within the Episcopal Church and from the church to the world.”
For more information contact:
The Reverend Susan Russell, President
714.356.5718 – mobile
Ms. Louise Brooks, Media Consultant
626.993.4605 – mobile
Monday, May 25, 2009
God of love and mercy, receive our thanks this day for the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country. Help us to honor them in our work for peace through justice, that people across the globe may live abundant lives freed from the threat of war and violence. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Also at All Saints Church today ...
Dana Parsons(c) 2009
The Associated Press
(AP) — LOS ANGELES -- The major monotheistic faith traditions teach that the young are special in the eyes of the Almighty. So what does God do when one of them commits a horrible crime and is consigned to a life in prison?
That was the message delivered over the Memorial Day weekend at some 200 churches, synagogues and mosques around California by an interfaith coalition trying to change people's attitudes about long sentences for juveniles -- especially those facing life without the possibility of parole.
Read the rest here.
Increasing our sense of who we call "us"
The rector's sermon title was "The Direct Route to Spiritedness" ... and is available on the All Saints Church website here.
I loved the focus on interconnectedness: on the idea that when Jesus prayed that we "might be one" it was not about unity of belief -- which the institutional church has so often settled for -- but about "increasing our sense of who we call "us" as opposed to who we call "them." Or -- as a quote Ed used from John Muir put it, "Everything is hitched to everything else."
And then there was this "therefore" -- for those of us focused on "Decision Day" here in California and our own General Convention just down the road:
Let the people say, "Amen" ... and let the people stay tuned for further developments!
Friday, May 22, 2009
CA Supreme Court Media Advisory
Release Number: 21 Release Date: May 22, 2009
Supreme Court to Issue Opinion on
Prop. 8 on Tuesday, May 26
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the opinion will be available on the California Courts Web site at this link.
Proposition 8, a state ballot initiative, was approved by a majority of voters at the November 4, 2008, California election. Proposition 8 added a new section to the state Constitution which provides that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
The day after the election, three lawsuits challenging Proposition 8 were filed directly in the California Supreme Court.
On November 19, 2008, the court agreed to hear those cases. The court directed the parties to brief and argue the following issues: (1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution? (2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution? (3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?
Briefing in the Supreme Court was completed on January 21, 2009. Oral argument was held on March 5, 2009. For more information, including online briefs, see the California Courts Web site.
Here comes the "other shoe!"
By 10:00am on Tuesday, 36,000 of our community will know if their marriages will continue to hold legal standing. Thousands more will know if our Constitution really protects all Americans.
We have been waiting for months, but we have not been idle. Our faith and LGBT communities across the state are prepared to act for and celebrate justice. Here are three things you can do to be prepared for Decision Day and the days after:
Sign up for National Center for Lesbian Rights text service to know exactly when and how the Decision comes down.
Dial in with hundreds of other people of faith on Friday @ 10am. RSVP to http://bit.ly/zAszd for call-in information.
Attend a Decision Day event in your area and Meet CA Faith for Equality in the Middle at our "Faith Tent." You can find Decision Day events listed in the websites in the right column.
EARTH TO CONGRESS:
You have enough ACTUAL issues on your plate to deal with ... do NOT let the "Yes, We Can!" legislative agenda get bushwhacked by the "No, 'They' Shouldn't Be Able To" opponents to marriage equality.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
In California, we're still waiting for the other shoe to drop ...
Update from the California Supreme Court website:
May 20 2009 -- No opinions were announced for filing on Thursday, May 21, 2009.There is no pending notice of forthcoming opinion filings. When opinions are expected to file, notices are generally posted the day before. Opinions are normally filed Mondays and Thursdays at 10:00 a.m.
All California courts will be closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2009. The filing of any opinion by the California Supreme Court that would normally occur on Monday, May 25, will instead be filed on Tuesday, May 26 at 10:00 a.m. If any opinion is to be filed on Tuesday, May 26, a Notice of Intended Filing announcing the court's intent to file the opinion will be posted on the California Courts Web site by Friday, May 22, 2009, at this link.
Breaking through the Dark Cloud of B033
As we move toward General Convention 2009 and look beyond to the mission and ministry we have the capacity to accomplish in the Episcopal Church, it becomes increasingly clear that undoing the damage done by B033 is a primary objective.
This discriminatory resolution—passed in an emotional vortex under the shadow of the threats to exclude American bishops from the 2008 Lambeth Conference—continues to have a chilling effect.
Its influence is much wider than those dioceses seeking new episcopal leadership and those LGBT baptized who are called to the episcopate.
It is a dark cloud hanging over all aspects of our mission and ministry as it focuses our attention on excluding a percentage of the baptized from a percentage of the sacraments rather than calling ALL members of the Body of Christ fully into the work and witness of the Gospel.
It is time for it to go. There are many strong leaders working long and hard to make that happen and—in the end—I am confident that we will move beyond B033 in Anaheim. But it won’t happen unless we make it happen.
Our challenge in 2009 is less about organized resistance and more about generalized anxiety. And the tipping point—I am convinced—will be persuading bishops who want to do the right thing but are afraid to do it now, to move out of what Henri Nouwen called “the house of fear” and into the house of love—and inclusion.
Here’s a page out of the history books to make my point. It is the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s meeting with 1930’s labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph—a meeting where Randolph spoke eloquently about his thoughts and dreams for the end of discrimination and the full inclusion of ALL Americans into their rights and responsibilities as American citizens.
At the end of it Roosevelt said to him, "You know, Mr. Randolph, I've heard everything you've said tonight, and I couldn't agree with you more. And as President of the United States I do have the capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit."
Roosevelt concluded, "But there is one thing I would ask of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is that you go out and make me do it."
Our job is to go to Anaheim and make our bishops do what they know they need to do—and that work starts NOW. Many of our bishops “couldn’t agree with us more” — and what they are waiting for is for us to go out and make them do it.
They are waiting for the groundswell of advocacy they cannot ignore from their diocese telling them the cost of justice delayed is too high to pay—that the mission and ministry of this church is too important to continue to be held hostage by the bias and bigotry of those who would exclude the LGBT baptized from the full and equal claim the church has been promising them since 1976.
It starts by talking not just to your bishop but to your deputies. It starts by getting your friends and allies to do the same. It starts by building a broad ranging coalition of folks across this church who will make their voices heard and give their bishops what they need to do the right thing. Watch the “Marching to Anaheim” video here. Give to the Anaheim Appeal here. Talk to your bishops and deputies.
And most of all, pray for the renewal and mission of the Episcopal Church.
Teach us in all things to seek first God's honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Methinks there's a Mrs. Beamish or two ...
Monday, May 18, 2009
VOICES OF WITNESS AFRICA Coming to Pasadena!
Don't miss the West Coast premiere screening of this important new documentary giving voice to the witness of the LGBT faithful in Africa. A Claiming the Blessing production, "Voices of Witness Africa" is being offered as a gift to the Anglican Communion -- and All Saints Church is proud to be one of the screening sites.
"As our Anglican Communion family continues to wrestle with issues of human sexuality "Voices of Witness Africa" offers an important response to those who dismiss the full inclusion of the LGBT baptized as a "western issue," said the Reverend Susan Russell. "Inclusion is not a western issue -- it is a gospel issue."
"And as the Episcopal Church prepares to gather for its 76th General Convention under the theme of "Ubuntu" it is critical that "I am because you are" extends not only to the neighbors across the street we are called to love as Jesus loved us, but to the neighbors across the the communion. All our neighbors: including LGBT Africans who have so courageously offered their stories and their witness that lives might be touched and hearts might be changed."
For more information contact Anthony Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626.583.2744.
A new job for our friend Giles Fraser!
The Revd Dr Giles Fraser, currently Vicar of Putney in the Diocese of Southwark, is to be the next Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral.
As Canon Chancellor, Dr Fraser will fulfil the role of Residentiary canon overseeing the work of the St Paul’s Institute for ethics, and its ambitious, outward-facing programme. He will play a full part in the life of the cathedral and will contribute to its overall mission as a place of prayer, pilgrimage and debate.
Couldn't happen to a better bloke! Blessings, Mazel Tov and Huzzah!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
God's Facebook Page
Bishop of Rochester speaks out for marriage equality
When same-sex couples are treated as less than anyone else, it is my problem; my spiritual problem.
I would personally be delighted for New York to allow loving, committed same-sex couples to be married.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
It was Confirmation Day at All Saints Church ...
+Chet retires next year so this was his last official "episcopal visit" to All Saints Church and we were deeply blessed by his presence.
It is amazing for me to stop and realize that +Chet has been our bishop suffragan for EIGHTEEN YEARS now ... both how much has happened in those years and how quickly they've gone ... and I was remembering today his consecration up the street from All Saints in Pasadena at Lake Avenue Congregational Church.
+Barbara Harris was the preacher -- I was in the choir -- and as we stood in line to receive communion from her ... the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion ... I felt like we were totally touching a piece of the history of this church.
Today I looked out at the congregation gathered ... a church full of people there to support these new members in their life in Christ ... and I realized a bunch of those about to be confirmed hadn't even been BORN yet when +Chet became our bishop suffragan. They have never known a church that didn't have women bishops; never known a diocese without bishops of color; never known a parish that didn't have gay clergy or bless same-sex unions; never had a rector who didn't challenge them to put their faith into action.
It's not the church I grew up in -- this church we confirmed or received 48 new members into today. It's better.
And part of the reason it's better is +Chet Talton. So tonight I'm offering grateful prayers for his work and his witness -- for his 18 years among us as bishop and friend and for the time we have left with him before his retirement. AND for the "good time that was had by all" at All Saint Church today.
Here's a little taste of that good time ... AKA Confirmation Day 2009!
It was a year ago yesterday ...
"An individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."
We began marrying couples at All Saints Church on June 18 ... the first day we could ... with the wedding of Mel White and Gary Nixon followed by Susan Craig and Bear Ride on June 19 ... 46 in all -- couples married who had access to the legal right to marry the person of their choice ... the man or woman of their dreams ... between June 18 and November 4. (That's right, blog watchers: no "moratoria" here. Never was. Isn't going to be.)
And now -- a year later -- we wait for "the other shoe to drop" in the form of a pending CA Supreme Court ruling that will either reiterate that we are a nation of liberty and justice for all or uphold the ability of a bare majority of citizens to take legal rights away from a minority population.
Reflecting back on the year past, a quote that still stand out for me is one from Anna Quindlan:
"Here's what I don't understand: is there so much love and commitment in the world that we can afford, as a society, to be contemptuous of some portion of it? If two women in white want to join hands in front of their families and friends and vow to love and honor one another until they die, the only reasonable response to that is happy tears, awed admiration and societal approval. And—this part is just personal opinion—one of those big honking KitchenAid mixers with the dough hook."
So today ... as I get ready to head over to All Saints in a few minutes for a confirmation service that will bring 40 or 50 (don't have the list in front of me but it's a whole slew) new members into the Episcopal Church, I give thanks for the ghosts of weddings past still echoing about our sanctuary.
I give thanks that new members are coming toward us because when we say "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" we don't have an * after "You*" with some caveat that reads "unless you're gay or lesbian and want to live happily ever after some day."
And I give thanks for all who are committed to the "good fight" of continuing to work toward that day when there will be equality in both our church and in our state ... heck, let's make that in our nation, our communion and our world.
Because, at the end of the day, there will never be so much love and commitment in the world that we can afford, any of us, to be contemptuous of some portion of it.
And the time to start celebrating it is now.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Gift of Homosexuality
Thursday, May 14, 2009
NH governor backs gay marriage
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Gov. John Lynch said Thursday he will sign a bill to make his state the sixth to legalize gay marriage as soon as the Legislature makes some changes, which legislative leaders immediately said they would back.
Lynch asked that the already-approved legislation be revised to better protect churches and their employees against lawsuits if their beliefs preclude them from marrying gays.
Gay marriage supporters said they do not object.
"Throughout history, our society's views of civil rights have constantly evolved and expanded," Lynch told reporters. "New Hampshire's great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections."
Lynch said he personally opposes gay marriage, but decided to view the issue "through a broader lens."
A gay marriage bill and companion legislation were adopted last week, but had yet to make it the governor's desk. Now, they will be held until the changes proposed by Lynch are approved, said Senate President Sylvia Larsen.
Larsen and House Speaker Terie Norelli predicted the Legislature would act quickly to adopt the changes, perhaps as early as next week.
Half a quote is NOT better than none ...
My hope is that we not attempt to repeal past legislation at General Convention. It's a bad practice ... a bad legislative practice. I would far more prefer us to say where we are today in 2009 ... to make a positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church and that we be clear about who we are as the Episcopal Church.
That's the verbatim.
Here's how "The Living Church" reported the story ... with the headline: P.B. Opposes Revisiting Resolution B033
Do you notice the part they left off the quote? The second half of the sentence that included "to make a positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church."
In response to a question regarding the repeal of B033, the resolution approved at General Convention in 2006 that recommends caution in consecrating bishops whose manner of life might cause distress to other members of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Jefferts Schori said B033 would be debated, but that she opposes its repeal."
“I would far more prefer that we say here is where we are today,” she said, adding that it was a more positive way to express the mind of the church."
Probably not an accident. The Presiding Bishop -- in answering Zoll's question -- made it very clear that believes the way forward is a positive statement about inclusion ... and we know that such a statement would indeed move us beyond B033. And there are pending resolutions that do precisely that and we look forward to their adoption in Anaheim.
By leaving off that second half of her response, TLC reframes her comments to fit their headline. We're going to see more of this before we see less ... and the time to start challenging this kind of shoddy journalism is now.
The Presiding Bishop deserves the respect of having her quotes fully represented in ALL media outlets ... and an publication such as The Living Church has absolutely no excuse for not accurately reporting the news -- ALL the news -- even the news that doesn't work with the headline they've already written for the piece they plan to print.
Take a minute to write or call them today and urge them to raise their journalistic standards up a notch -- to rise to the ethical standards we expect from those reporting on the critical issues facing this church we all love and serve.
You can comment on the online article here.
You can email them here.
You can use their online "contact us" page to send feedback here.
Or you can call them at: 414-276-5420
Please join me in making our voices heard and let them know that half a quote is NOT better than none and that the challenges of being the church in the world demand better than we're getting from "The Living Church."
Nice profile of Mel White in "The Pasadena Weekly"
Former Pasadenan Mel White shows the world that gay dads can be great
Mel White well remembers the craziest thing he had ever done: skydive — at age 68 — over the Swiss Alps in an attempt to become a millionaire.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment that’s not only etched in his memory, but one witnessed by up to 12 million television viewers nationwide and perhaps tens of millions more around the world on the CBS reality series “The Amazing Race,” in which 11 pairs of contestants raced against time and faced other challenges all over the planet to win a million dollars.
But jet-setting around the globe was just another in a series of unique life experiences for White, a onetime Pasadena resident and a biographer and speechwriter for such conservative Christian icons as Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham. In 1982, the then-41-year-old father of two came out publicly about his sexuality and embarked on a quest to show that gays had a place in Christian churches.
“Mel has been a profoundly influential voice for those seeking to reconcile their spirituality and sexuality in a culture that for too long sent messages that it was not possible to be a faithful Christian and be gay or lesbian at the same time,” says Rev. Susan Russell, a minister at All Saints Church. “As a trailblazing ‘out’ Christian, Mel’s leadership helped bring countless LGBT people of faith out of the closet and into the community. And his work with Soulforce — focused on peaceful, nonviolent protest as a means of achieving equality — has been an inspiration to those who are working in the civic arena to make liberty and justice for all not just a pledge but a reality.”
Read the rest here ...
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
A little preview from Anaheim
Here are a couple of snapshots of a few square blocks that will be VERY familiar turf to General Convention Going Episcopalians by the end of July:
The Anaheim Convention Center ...
The adjacent Hilton ... complete with convenient "happiest place on earth" tram.
You can watch the whole webcast here ... but for my money, this was the "take away" quote from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- in response to a question from AP reporter Rachel Zoll about the likelihood of "repealing B033."
My hope is that we not attempt to repeal past legislation at General Convention. It's a bad practice ... a bad legislative practice. I would far more prefer us to say where we are today in 2009 ... to make a positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church and that we be clear about who we are as the Episcopal Church.
We can not only live with that ... we can WORK with that. A positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church is EXACTLY what we mean by "the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments" -- and it is exactly what we are going to Anaheim to help our deputies and bishops both craft and implement.
Rabbi Steven Jacobs Rocks Capitol Hill
Fun Facts to Know and Tell ...
Here in California there is mounting anticipation of the soon-to-come California Supreme Court ruling on the legal challenges to Propostion 8.
In case you missed a meeting, the Court ruled in May 2008 "that people have a fundamental 'right to marry' the person of their choice and that gender restrictions violate the state Constitution's equal protection guarantee."
At the end of a well-funded fear-mongering campaign of disinformation, a bare majority (3%) of California voters passed Proposition 8 in November 2008 -- a ballot measure stating that "only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the State of California."
In March 2009, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments that Prop 8 was not an amendment but a revision of the constitution -- and the clock began ticking toward their ruling ... which was due within 90 days.
So here's where we are NOW ...
From the CA Supreme Court website: "Supreme Court opinions are normally filed at 10:00 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays."
And since they give 24 hours notice .... and having had no notice today of a decision tomorrow (rumors to the contrary!) our attention now turns to keeping our eye on Friday to see if it might come Monday the 18th (another widely rumored "D Day") or -- failing that -- to gear up again next Wednesday for a possible May 21st date.
Whenever it comes ... and whatever it is ... we'll be ready to continue to stand for marriage equality.
Stay tuned ...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Live, From Anaheim ...
OK -- it doesn't have quite the punch that "Saturday Night" has but The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs is producing a live webcast on Wednesday, May 13 (that's tomorrow morning) which will address topics related to General Convention 2009. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson and others will field questions from audience, online.
Air time is 8 am PDT, 9 am MDT, 10 am CDT, 11 am EDT, 5 am HST, 7 am Alaskan Time and the webcast will originate from Anaheim, the site of this year’s General Convention.
Participants in the live webcast will be: Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori; President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson; Executive Officer and Secretary of the General Convention, the Rev. Dr. Gregory Straub; and Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles, the host diocese.
Questions will be accepted via email here
To access the live webcast, go to the Episcopal Church home page
The web link will be available before the webcast.
And Louise and I will be in the studio audience. So tune in ... check it out ... send in a question or two ... and let the Countdown to Convention Continue!
by Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times [05/12/2009]
The Reform rabbi and lesbian denounced the ballot measure at news conferences. She pressed fellow rabbis to join the cause. She performed dozens of weddings for gay and lesbian couples -- sometimes five a day.
Given Eger's activism, one might expect her to champion the issue in her newest official capacity as the first female president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
But Eger, who was installed Monday night at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, said the board's 300 rabbis must tackle a broader agenda, one that deals with hunger, interfaith relations, professional growth for religious leaders and affordable housing in Los Angeles. The housing issue will be addressed during a forum at Eger's first board meeting Wednesday.
"It's not my goal to use my position as president of the board of rabbis to deal with a campaign issue," Eger, 49, said in an interview before her installation. "It's not my agenda."
But Eger and the board share common ground on the issue of marriage: Members voted overwhelmingly last September to oppose Proposition 8, partly a reflection of the group's composition: Reform and Conservative rabbis account for 85% of its members. Orthodox rabbis, who generally oppose same-sex marriage, make up 8%. The rest are Reconstructionist and nondenominational rabbis.
Eger said she expects to speak out -- as an individual or as rabbi of her West Hollywood synagogue, Congregation Kol Ami -- as the California Supreme Court prepares to rule on Proposition 8 in coming weeks and as possible political campaigns get underway over yet another ballot initiative in 2010.
The issue has personal ramifications. Eger not only presided over 60 same-sex weddings last year, she remarried her longtime partner, attorney Karen Siteman, 56, in an October ceremony at their Cheviot Hills home. (They were married by a rabbi in 1994.)
Eger and Siteman are among an estimated 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who married last year before Nov. 4, when Proposition 8 amended the state Constitution to outlaw the practice.
"I believe that injustice, when it is present, demands Rabbinic addressing," Eger said.
Eger has been a fixture of Los Angeles' Rabbinic community for two decades, serving as rabbi of Beth Chayim Chadashim, a gay and lesbian congregation, before founding the West Hollywood synagogue.
From the start, she saw activism as a key part of her work as a rabbi.
She chaired a spirituality advisory committee for AIDS Project Los Angeles and co-chaired the Gay and Lesbian Rabbinic Network. She also was founding president of the Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Interfaith Clergy Assn. and campaigned against Proposition 22, the successful 2000 voter initiative that defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman.
Fellow rabbis say Eger is well known for her work in the larger Jewish world, not just for her activism on gay and lesbian issues.
"When you meet her, you don't meet a person who is a gay, female rabbi. You meet Rabbi Denise Eger," said Joshua Hoffman, a Conservative rabbi from Valley Beth Shalom in Encino who was installed Monday on the board's executive committee.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Reports from the ACC Front
But I've just taken a few minutes to check in and see what's going on so here's some of what's up:
The latest news seems to be that efforts to paste on a fourth section -- with disciplinary provisions in it -- to the Covenant draft has gone down in the flames it deserves.
Chris Sugden -- one of the architects of both the schism du jour and the convenant charged with healing the wounds inflicted BY the schism du jour (try explaining all this to someone outside looking in and this is the part where they say, "you're kidding, right???") is most unhappy with this development, posting over at Anglican Mainstream "without section 4, which deals with issues of discipline, the covenant was meaningless."
Inspiring a colleague to note: While this comes as no surprise to most of is it does need underscoring: if the Covenant is (according to one of its prominent – and connected –proponents) "meaningless…..without section 4" – without disciplinary mechanisms – then the Covenant is really only about discipline – or, to put it another way, the primary goal of discipline is achieved by using the tool of the Covenant.
Mark Harris has this to say about that ... and Colin Coward has this very interesting account of nearly having his camera seized by a not-very-happy-Nigerian caught confabbing with conservative allies in the hallway.
Then there's this from George Conger on "Religious Intelligence:"
Delegates from the Church of Nigeria stated they were perplexed by Dr Williams’ actions. “All of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s contributions were positive” up until the last moment of the meeting, Bishop Ikechi Nwosu of Nigeria said.
Nigerian Archdeacon Abraham Okorie said there was a “satanic” spirit of confusion in the air. He noted it was hypocritical of the ACC to make a great noise of using African ways of decision making in addressing the covenant, but then resorting to slippery parliamentary tricks to thwart the will of the meeting.
Hmmm. Why is this sounding vaguely familiar? Maybe because it's the same M.O. His Archbishopness pulled at Lambeth when the bishops went through what seemed like months of Indaba process only to get the "Gospel According to +Rowan" in his final address (as noted in my final "Report from Lambeth"):
By pushing his preference that the American and Canadian churches abide by the moratoria on blessings of same sex unions and the consecration of any more openly gay bishops, he undid in a two-hour span a good percentage of the good work that had been accomplished over the two- week conference.
At this point, I'm pretty much over the whole darned lot of them and wondering what the Anglican version of tea in the Boston Harbor would be. Any thoughts?
Chicago Consultation Responds to ACC
Chicago Consultation Urges Deeper Communion Through Justice, Mission
CHICAGO, May 11, 2009--The Chicago Consultation released this statement today from its co-convener Ruth Meyers in response to the Anglican Consultative Council’s affirmation of the recommendations made by the Windsor Continuation Group and its decision to postpone the release of the Anglican Covenant for consideration by provinces:
The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), meeting now in Kingston, Jamaica, has committed itself to the hard work of debating recommendations and documents that seek to define the Anglican Communion. We are grateful for the efforts of its representatives, and we especially commend the decision to delay sending a draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant to the provinces until more work has been done that might strengthen, rather than tear down, our common life.
However, we believe that the ACC and the Windsor Continuation Group have made a grievous error by concluding that God is calling us to exclude baptized Christians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender for the sake of communion. These moratoria, which were requested in the Windsor Report and by the primates, have not been formally agreed to by the democratic structures of the Episcopal Church and are inconsistent with both the Anglican tradition of seeking unity through diversity and with scripture’s mandate to do justice.
Moreover, much of the recent debate suggests that we are in danger of coming to believe that the Anglican Communion is defined by meetings, documents and resolutions rather than by our call to be the body of Christ in the world. All baptized people share equally in that call and no resolution or moratorium can diminish it.
At its best, the Anglican Communion is a manifestation of the body of Christ in which the Holy Spirit blesses members from different cultures and contexts in various ways and gives us grace to embrace all of these gifts. All around us, we see evidence that this Communion—strengthened by common prayer and sacraments, mutual mission, and ministry of our gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters—offers rich possibility for our common life.
Sometimes this way is difficult, but we believe it is the path on which God is calling us to go forward together. We urge the Anglican Consultative Council, the working group to be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Episcopal Church to follow by doing justice and seeking true communion, without fear about where God might lead us.
The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.
The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Elizabeth Kaeton "Does the Math"
No surprises, really, especially parts c, d and e, to wit:
c. affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates’ Meetings (2005, 2007 and 2009), and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the Consecration of Bishops living in a same gender union, authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for Same Sex unions and continued interventions in other Provinces;
d. acknowledges the efforts that have been made to hold to the moratoria, gives thanks for the gracious restraint that has been observed in these areas and recognises the deep cost of such restraint;
e. asks that urgent conversations are facilitated with those Provinces where the application of the moratoria gives rise for concern;
A colleague of mine asked, "Okay, so the hill we have to climb in Anaheim just got piled higher. What are we to say to the 'movable middle' (whatever THAT is, anymore) or those bishops who have been drinking the Lambeth Kool-Aid who say 'but the Communion says . . .'?"
Here's my answer: DO THE MATH!
Gay Marriage is now legal in five states: Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa. Massachusetts. and Maine. It has passed the NH legislature and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor.
Gay Rights Activist are predicting a sweep of the North East (little RI) by 2012.
Last month, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of legislation recognizing same-sex marriages from other states as marriage in the District -- a move lauded by lawmakers as a step toward legalizing gay marriage in the city.
President Obama has pledged a full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which currently guarantees that no state needs to treat a relationship between two people of the same sex as marriage, even if it is considered a marriage in another state, and further directs the Federal Government not to treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.
So, to recap: There are five states which allow gay marriage and nine others (California, New Jersey, New Hampshire (marriage pending), Oregon, District of Columbia, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, and Colorado) have domestic partnerships or civil unions -- with one, New York, on the cusp of marriage equality (and California awaiting their Supreme Court decision on marriage).
If you've been keeping track, that's 15 (one immanently pending) jurisdictions in The United States with some form of marriage equality.
What does that mean for Episcopalians?
There are THIRTY dioceses of the Episcopal Church now have members within their jurisdiction calling on their church to provide pastoral care in the celebration and blessing of their unions.
Don't believe me? Here are the facts:
Jurisdictions with domestic partnership or civil unions
Dioceses: 6 - California, Northern California, El Camino Real, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, San Diego
State: New Jersey
Diocese: 2 - New Jersey, Newark
State: New Hampshire (marriage pending)
Diocese: 2 - Oregon, Eastern Oregon
State: Washington, DC
Diocese: 2 - Spokane, Olympia
Diocese: 2 - Maryland, Easton
Jurisdictions in the U.S. that offer marriage equality to same-sex couples:
Dioceses: 2 - Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts
Jurisdictions with pending marriage equality legislation:
State: New York
Dioceses: 6 - Albany, New York, Central New York, Rochester, Western New York, Long Island
AND THE TOTAL IS: 30
How significant is that?
Well, there are 110 dioceses in The Episcopal Church - which means that 27% or well MORE THAN 1/4 of the Episcopal dioceses are affected by marriage equality.
Like math? Want more?
Look at the latest numbers for Communicants and Average Sunday Attendance. I know. We all know that these are just estimates, but let's work with what we've got.
There are a reported 1,795,325 Communicants in good standing in The Episcopal Church.
The Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in The Episcopal Church is reported at 768,320.
If you look at the numbers for the 15 affected dioceses, there are a reported 664,166 Communicants.
The Average Sunday Attendance in those diocese is 28,334.
That means that 37% of Communicants in The Episcopal Church as well as those who attend our churches are directly affected by the pastoral concerns of their LGBT members who enjoy the civil right of marriage.
What does any of this have to do with recommendations of the ACC?
A whole lot.
We've been repeatedly asked to understand the contextual realities of the various dioceses and provinces in the World Wide Anglican Communion. And, I think we have made a serious effort to do just that.
It's time, however, to put the sacristy slipper on the other ecclesiastical foot.
The contextual realities of The Episcopal Church are that 27% of our dioceses and 37% of our Communicants in good standing are directly affected by the issue of marriage equality.
Isn't it ironic that the religious community, which has taken the lead on every Civil Rights issue - with the exception of the Americans with Disabilities Act - is woefully lacking in leadership on the issue of Civil Rights for its LGBT citizens?
Are we to turn our backs on this growing pastoral need in the name of unity?
How can we continue to honor the moratorium for authorization of liturgical rites of blessings for same gender couples when more and more states are moving ahead on the issue of civil rights for LGBT people?
I think the answer is obvious: Do the math!
Bottom line for me: Our call to the church gathered in convention will be to challenge it to live up to its pastoral responsiblity to minister to the reality of life "on the ground" in now 30 dioceses of The Episcopal Church. The parallel with women's ordination is a very real one.