Tuesday, May 31, 2011

At work in the fields of the Lord (AKA Blogging from Baltimore)

Here's where the fields of the Lord are located for me this week ... the Maritime Institute Conference Center smack dab next to Baltimore's BWI airport.

Never heard of it? Neither had I.

Turns out it's a great meeting and conference center literally a stone's throw from the airport so it's easy to get to by plane, train or automobile ... and well suited for the work we'll be doing here for the next three-and-a-half days on the SCLM Blessings Project as we continue to respond to
General Convention resolution (C056) calling us to "collect and develop" "theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships."

It turns out lots of other folks HAD heard of it. Lots of Episcopal folks. Which explains why when I arrived last night the first person I ran into was House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson ... followed closely by long time colleague Diane Pollard, Bishop Steve Lane and Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows.

It was starting to feel like one of those weird dreams where people who have nothing to do with what you're doing are popping up all over the place ... until I found out there's another TEC "interim body" (The Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church) meeting here, too.

Who knew??? It was good to see some old friends and meet some new -- and it turned out some of them were as surprised to see me here as I was to see them! :)

Anyway, now it's off to work. Our SCLM task force members will be arriving throughout the day and our work together begins this afternoon and goes through Friday morning -- working on drafts of the reports of our work that will be offered to the SCLM for the "Blue Book" heading to Indianapolis and General Convention 2012 next summer.

I've got piles of paper to go through and lots of PDFs that came in over the last week while I was traveling from the four task forces: Theology ; Liturgy; Pastoral Care & Teaching; and Canonical Issues. I know our work will be rich and rewarding and it is an enormous privilege to be part of creating and developing these resources for the Episcopal Church as we continue to move forward into God's future.

One last note before I quit blogging and get to work: Loved that the first email I saw this morning was from a Canadian colleague with the Subject line "Seen this yet?" ... and it was
a link to this article from CBC News Canada entitled "Anglican same-sex blessings OK'd" -- reporting that Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had approved liturgies for blessing at their Synod meeting last weekend. Of course Episcopal Cafe is "on" the story ... you can read about it here.

It is so very encouraging that while parts of our wider communion family are still living in the anxiety of who might leave if we include everybody others are stepping out in faith and opening doors to welcome all into this Big Fat Anglican Family of ours. So a "Bravo" to the Diocese of N.S. & P.E.I. and a "Good Luck" to the work of the Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church and "Safe Travel" to all those heading here for our meetings.

And now I have homework to catch up on, so:

Here endeth the blog.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A "Defense of Marriage" Blog

It was by any standard a Wonderful Wedding.

Alex and Austin have known each other for ten years -- been engaged for three -- and share not only a deep love for each other but values like compassion and creativity -- not to mention a wicked sense of humor.

I was honored to be asked to come preside at their wedding in Sewanee ... where both of Alex's parents are studying at the School of Theology ... and after organizing pre-marital counseling at-a-distance (thanks, St. Bart's, Atlanta!) and all the many details that make up planning a wedding I headed to the Tennessee mountains for what was very much a "family wedding."

Here are a few photos:

The "wedding long shot" [photo credit: Brian Russell]

The giving-and-receiving of rings

The Blessing

The aforementioned "wicked sense of humor"

Afterwards, there were the obligatory "Kodak moments:"
and here are a couple of my favorites:

Me and my boys (being silly)

Mother of the bride [Lori] with my Brian, maid-of-honor
daughter Kimmie, bride Alex, my Jamie and me.

And as great and fun and lovely as all those are, here is arguably my favorite:

It's the table at the reception where guests were encouraged to pick up a packet of Jordan Almonds with this message attached:
In thanksgiving for your presence with us today, we have made a gift to the Nets for Life program sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development.
No monogrammed candy dishes or etched candles -- no overpriced wedding memorabilia to stick away in a drawer somewhere and look at every once in awhile and wonder if it's been long enough to send to the thrift shop. Not for this bride and groom.

Instead, a donation for hope and healing ... an outward and visible sign of one of the inward and spiritual graces we prayed for them in the wedding prayers when we said:

Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others.
Seems to me that they're already there.

And it seems to me that that -- right there on those Jordan Almonds -- is the essence of why we need more -- not less -- of this kind of love and commitment. And why these words from the homily I preached on Saturday in Sewanee are for me kind of a "Why Marriage Matters Manifesto:"

What we see realized today in Austin and Alex and in this community gathered is nothing less than the corporate face of God’s love. What we are witnessing today is not only the celebration of the love these two fabulous young people have for each other but the most amazing love that God has for all of us – love that is so much wider, broader and more abundant than we can either ask for or imagine.

For the love of God is broader than the measure of the mind.
And the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful, we should take Him at his word,
And our lives would be thanksgiving, for the goodness of the Lord.

Austin and Alex that are examples to us today of the covenant love between two people which is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace: of what it is to live into our full humanity as creatures created in the image of the one who’s very essence is love – in the image of the God who created us and sustains us.

Blessed to be a blessing, they help us experience the transformative love of God – blessing us so that we may be a blessing in return and draw others in to be blessed by being part of this community of faith. It is a grand and glorious circle – and it is the work we are called to be about – are privileged to be about as the people of God working with God to make the Garden of Eden grow green again.

The love we celebrated and the relationship the church blessed on Saturday in Sewanee transcended the gender of the couple making the commitment, sharing their joy, starting this part of their life togehter. The sacramental moment I had the privlege of being part of between Alex and Austin was just as present at the wedding of Mark and Gene, of Bear and Susan, of Mel and Gary and of Katherine and Mally. To name a few.

It's what I believe we're called as a country to protect and defend and as a church to rejoice and celebrate. It's a "theology of marriage" that builds up not just families but the future; sanctifies not just couples but communities. It lifts up marriage as an honorable estate -- not as a heterosexual privilege.

So here's to love. Here's to marriage. Here's to Alex and Austin. (And if you're of a mind to join with them and make donation to "Nets for Life"
here's a link to do that -- to reach out in love in response to the One who calls us to walk in love as He loved us.)


I had the chance to visit Arlington National Cemetery on the Thursday before Memorial Day. Here are some photos from that visit along with an annual prayer for the day:

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 29, 2011

Snapshot from yesterday's wedding

More to come on yesterday's festivities ... for but for now here's a snapshot of the wedding of Alexandra Elizabeth Thompson Fehr and Austin Arthur Holt here at Sewanee's All Saints Chapel.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Clergy Call Debrief

Last week I had the privilege of once again being part of the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) “Clergy Call for Justice” event in Washington DC. We spent our time getting updates on opinion polls and legislative strategy, networking with other clergy and faith leaders and being inspired by speakers, prayer and worship. On Tuesday we all trekked up to Capitol Hill for a press conference and then lobby visits with our representatives and senators urging their support for pending LGBT equality legislation.

Some highlights for me from this year’s Clergy Call:

One was getting to spend some time with long-time friend and newly elected Integrity President Caro Hall. Caro is stepping in to fill the unexpired term of David Norgard and I know that she’s going to do a great job, bringing her years of commitment to equality to her work with Integrity. I appreciated the chances in-between the meetings and events to hear about her ideas and vision for “what nexts” for Integrity’s work within the Episcopal Church and our witness to the wider Communion and culture.

Another was encountering in a whole variety of ways connections with folks and All Saints Church.

• From the clergy at the HRC Clergy Call who follow us on the website and in the news and wish their congregations were as bold about LGBT issues to
• Dr. Welton Gaddy who sent love and blessings for our June 26 “Faith Shared” event to
• Broderick Greer, the young man from West Tennessee who recognized me in the lobby at the Senate office building from our podcasts (he never misses a sermon!) and who was on the Hill lobbying for peace in the Middle East before starting seminary this fall to
• Washington Bishop John Chane who was out on the corner outside the Capitol demonstrating for the release of the Bishop of Jerusalem while the Israeli Prime Minister spoke to congress.
It was such a delight to see the Episcopal Church putting faith into action in so many different ways – and to see what a strong, influential voices All Saints has in speaking out and up for love, justice and compassion.

Finally, on Wednesday morning I had the opportunity to meet with our congressman Adam Schiff and other constituents who were in Washington for a variety of reasons. We had breakfast on Wednesday morning in the congressman’s office with folks there to lobby for health care, for special education funding and for air traffic controllers … along with a Pasadena family with three daughters on vacation.

We had the chance to talk about this issues that brought us to the nation’s capital … to connect some of the dots between funding priorities and our hopes for the country. I was able to thank Congressman Schiff for being a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act and he had some good questions about the Safe Schools/Anti-Bullying legislation we hope to see come to the House this session. And by the time we finished, I ran out of cards giving them to people who wanted to know more about All Saints Church.

It was a pretty intense couple of days but what a privilege to get to do this work with a boatload of amazing people as we work together to make God’s love tangible and give witness to the power of voices of faith united in commitment to love, justice and compassion.

And then it was on to Sewanee TN for a family wedding … but that’s for another blog!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Tide Turns One Wave At A Time

I've got a lot to say about the just-completed Clergy Call to Justice here in Washington DC ... where 296 clergy from 48 states gathered to pray, preach and lobby for justice for LGBT Americans here in our nation's capital. But for starters, here's what I said when I had the privilege to be one of the speakers at the interfaith celebration at Mt. Vernon UMC on Monday night.

The Tide Turns One Wave At A Time

What an honor, delight and privilege it is to be part of this Gathering of Gratitude ... of this great cloud of witnesses! And if this is what “Left Behind” looks like then may I just say we’ve been left in very good company indeed! And it’s a good thing because, my brothers and sisters, we have some work ahead of us.

It’s easy to make light of last week’s example of what I’m calling “Eschaton Abuse” and others “the Rapture-that-Ruptured.” Yes, we can roll our eyes at yet-another End of the World prediction gone bust -- but what I want to say tonight is that we cannot dismiss the damage that is done when the airwaves are dominated by voices of judgment claiming to speak for the God of justice. We cannot ignore when the core values of our faith traditions – love, peace, justice and compassion – are hijacked by those who want to turn the clock back … not move the kingdom forward.

But here’s one thing I know: The tide turns one wave at a time. And the tide is turning.

It’s turning in this country of ours as we watch poll after poll now show that for the first time marriage equality is supported by a majority of Americans. It’s turning in our denominations and congregations as we watch bars to ordination and blessing finally fall in some places and begin to be challenged in others. And so we stand tonight in the tension of so much to be grateful for … and SO much work left to do. But we stand knowing that the tide turns … one wave at a time ... and that we’re also standing on the shoulders of those who have led us thus far on the way.

We know their stories from the particularity of our own traditions – mine is the Episcopal Church. I grew up in a church where girls couldn’t be acolytes. Women couldn’t be ordained. And LGBT wasn’t even in the vocabulary, much less on the agenda. And I was inspired by those who were agents of changing all of that. I remember like it was yesterday the moment when Bishop Barbara Harris in put her hand on mine -- in the cocktail lounge of the Red Lion Inn in Ontario California in 1992 -- and she said “I want you to remember that the power behind you is greater than the challenge ahead of you.” And her words are as much for us tonight as they were for me that day.

Because behind us is the power of the arc of the moral universe that we have been promised bends toward justice. And justice -- Bishop John Hines famously taught us -- Justice is the corporate face of God’s love. The arc of the universe bends toward that love ... and so doing justice is an integral part of what we do as people of faith created in the image of the God of love and compassion. We do justice because of our faith … in response to our call … as part of our vocation ... as part of our historic response to making God’s love tangible. And some of us have been at this arc bending stuff for a VERY LONG TIME.

And so tonight I want to nominate someone as a poster child for this work we’ve been called to do. She’s spiritual ancestor for many of us and her story is found in the 18th chapter of Luke’s gospel. We know her as the Persistent Widow … the one who went again and again demanding justice and who eventually got it from the unjust judge. Not because she warmed his heart. Not because she changed his mind. But because she wore him out.

And so we -- like her -- come back again and again. Yes, we want to change hearts. Yes, we pray to change minds. And yes ... if it what it takes is making a way where there is no way by wearing away the injustice we're gonna keep on comin' back. Just like she did. And the arc will bend. And justice WILL roll down.

Do you have your list of persistent widows? I have mine: Louie Crew … who in 1974 called Grace Cathedral asking about a ministry to gay people ... and when they laughed at him he started one. The deputies who stood up at our General Convention in1991 and said “you’re not talking about an issue … you’re talking about us.” George Regas who blessed the first same sex couples at All Saints Pasadena in 1992 ... twenty years ago in January. And Ed Bacon who led us in marrying 46 couples between June and November in 2008. Walter Righter. Carter Heyward. Michael Hopkins. Gene Robinson. Mary Glasspool. My list could go on and on. And so could yours.

As so as we stand tonight on their shoulders in the tension of so much to be grateful for … and SO much work left to do … let’s remember that the tide turns one wave at a time ... but first we have to make some waves.

And like the Persistent Widows who went before us, that’s what we’ll do when we head to Capitol Hill tomorrow. As we do so I want to leave you with some words Bonnie Anderson – the president of our Episcopal Church House of Deputies – offered after her visits to Capitol Hill last week:
It is tempting to believe that a church with our membership cannot influence the course of legislation. Those who disagree with our political choices say so all of the time. But last week a legislative assistant told me that he loves it when faith-based organizations come to Capitol Hill. "It brings us good luck," he said.

Well, I don't think it is luck. I think that what faith-based organizations bring is moral courage. We reinforce the notion that it is essential to speak up with passion and commitment for all of those neighbors whom we strive to love as deeply as we love ourselves. I saw a lot of people with heart in those Capitol Hill offices, but they need encouragement. I met people who are bringing all that they are, and giving everything they've got, to the task at hand. They need to see the rest of us doing the same.

The soul of America is at stake … The people of God need to speak up, now.
And so tomorrow, my brothers and sisters, we are the people of God who are going to be speaking up. We’re going to speak up for Family Values that value all families and for a Protect Marriage Movement that protects all marriages. For safe schools. For equal employment.
We’re going to speak up for an America that is true to its core values of liberty and justice for all because we are speaking up for our core faith values of love, justice and compassion.

When we stand on the Mall in the shadow of the Capitol dome – when we troop through the halls of Congress -- bringing moral courage to our legislators and their staffs – we’re going to do it all aware of the deep privilege of doing this work … and also aware of the long list of Persistent Widows we take with us … on our hearts, in our memories, in our stories.

And with gratitude – deep gratitude – for being part of the tide that is turning one wave at a time … as we take our place in the arc of history that bends toward justice … and we are claim our call to make justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.

Monday, May 23, 2011

In case anybody is interested ...

... here's what we're doing today in DC.

More later!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011Mt. Vernon Place UMC: 900 Massachusetts Ave., NW
9:00-9:10 Invocation
· Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
9:10 – 9:15 Introductory Welcome Remarks
· Joe Solmonese
9:30-10:30 Keynote Address by Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry
· Introduction by Sharon Groves
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-12:15 Beyond Talking Points, Going Deeper with Faith Messaging
· Rabbi Denise Eger
· Rev. Harry Knox
· Bishop Gene Robinson
· Bishop Carlton Pearson
· Moderated by Dr. Thelathia “Nikki” Young
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-4:30 Movement Building/Movement Moments
· Beth Zemsky
4:30-5:00 Logistical Debrief: Dinner & Lobby Visit Scheduling
· HRC Religion and Faith Program Staff
5:00-7:00 Dinner
7:00-9:00 Interfaith Service
Open to the Public
· See Facebook Event Link for additional details
· Evening program to be distributed at service

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What gets “Left Behind” When the Crazy Christians Go Crazy

Spoiler Alert: Nobody Got Left Behind! May 21 came and went … and we didn’t. To put it more accurately “they” didn’t. It is the morning after the well-publicized predicted Judgment Day and Facebook and Twitter are full of reactions to the Rapture-that-didn’t-happen. On my Top Ten list is my friend Katie who wrote, “I’m still here. Guess I’d better do the laundry.”

Also on the list is this more reflective comment from my friend Joe: “I, for one, am not sorry to rise and find the flawed world still turning this morning; but am grateful to the predictors of The End for inviting us all to look up and around today, with an extra bit of wakeful reverence for just how truly beautiful the imperfect can be.”

I love Joe’s challenge to look beneath the hype for “an extra bit of wakeful reverence” at the beauty and joy of the world we’ve been blessed to savor and to steward. It shouldn’t take some Harold Camping confusing the Bible with a secret code book predicting the end of the world to remind us to “carpe the diem” – but if it has, then there’s something there to rejoice and be glad in … some lemonade from the lemon of this most recent example of Eschaton Abuse. And we need that after the collateral damage done by all this Rapture hype.

When the Crazy Christians take over the airwaves and dominate the popular media with their latest scheme to make Jesus look bad – as they have this week -- what gets left behind is the message of the one who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to love each other. What gets left behind are the core Christian values of love, justice and compassion. And when the dust has settled and the jokes are over, the collateral damage of Judgment Day Gone Bust are all those folks who now have even more evidence to convince them they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one. And who could blame them?

From the “we’re going to heaven and you’re not” foolishness of Harold Camping to the homophobic hypocrisy of “Family Values” candidates like Newt Gingrich to the “protect marriage” driven actions of the Minnesota legislature once again turning gay and lesbian families into sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics … no wonder Jesus wept. And no wonder so many people looking for spiritual community won't touch Christianity with a barge pole.

The truth is that life is fragile, unpredictable and precious. The truth is none of us “know the hour” and so we are called to live each day as if it could be our last: not in fear of a God of judgment, but in response to the God of love who calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. You don’t love your neighbor by taking away their right to marry the love of their life. You don’t protect marriage by refusing to equally protect same-sex marriages. And you don’t follow the Lord of love by living in the house of fear.

So here's my news flash for the Day After the Rapture That Didn't Happen: We have our work cut out for us – those of us who follow the one who called us to walk in love as He loved us. If Jesus’ message of love, justice and compassion isn’t going to get left behind in the craziness that too often passes for Christianity it’s going to be up to us to make it happen. An inch at a time. A sermon at a time. A phone call, lobby visit, letter to the editor, blog post, tweet or conversation at a time.

And this week – in Washington DC – some of us are going to have a chance to get a head start with HRC’s Clergy Call … as hundreds of clergy from across denominations and faith traditions step up and speak out for Family Values that value ALL families … for a Protect Marriage movement that protects ALL marriages. Let’s commit to use that “extra bit of wakeful reverence for just how truly beautiful the imperfect [world] can be” as we work together to make it more like the perfect world of peace, justice and compassion God would have it be.

And we're off ...

After lots of planning, organizing, networking and anticipating it's time to head to Washington for CLERGY CALL ... the Human Rights Campaign's Capitol Hill lobby day for faith leaders. My bags are packed and I'm ready to go ... looking forward to good work and the privilege of hanging out with a whole boatload of fabulous people. Here's an overview of what our time in DC looks like:

  • Sunday night Integrity is hosting a gathering for the Episcopalians in town (I understand we're 8% of the clergy coming ...)

  • Monday is a day of briefings from HRC staff with an interfaith service of celebration Monday evening. I'm honored to be one of the speakers at that and looking forward to music by our L.A. friend and ally Ani Zonneveld.

  • Tuesday we'll be on Capitol Hill -- where one of our speakers will be the fabulous Winnie Varghese ... and then we get the chance to meet with members and staff.
  • So I'm packing my clergy duds, my talking points and my walking shoes ... stay tuned for updates ... and -- in case you missed it -- here's a look at Clergy Call 2009:

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    And now the Gallup Poll folks weigh in ...

    For First Time Ever, Gallup Finds Majority Support Same Sex Marriage

    Yep ... another major national poll shows a majority of Americans support marriage equality.

    Lots of news stories out about it today ... here's the one from the L.A. Times ... which begins:

    Thanks to a radical shift in thinking among independents and Democrats during the past year, for the first time in Gallup Poll tracking a clear majority of Americans now approves of gay marriage.

    A new Gallup Poll released this morning finds that this month 53% of Americans say same-sex marriage should be recognized in law as equally valid with traditional male-female marriages.

    The spurt in support of 9% in the past 12 months was the largest registered since Gallup first tracked the topic in 1996. Back then, only 27% supported same-sex marriage and two-thirds opposed.
    If you're keeping track:
    Last month, a CNN poll also found for the first time that a majority of Americans supported same sex marriage, in the poll by a 51% to 47% split. And while a Pew poll back in March found Americans evenly split in their views on same sex marriage, that result furthered a clear trend of rising support over the past several years.

    The mounting pile of polls indicating growing support for same sex marriage couldn't come at a worse time for Republicans, as they've just suffered an embarrassing setback in their legal challenge to the White house over Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the Department of Justice would no longer defend DOMA.

    Republicans were outraged by that decision, and responded by saying they would defend the law -- which bars the federal government from recognizing same sex couples -- in court. But mere days after Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced that law firm King & Spalding had signed on to defend DOMA, the law firm backed out, prompting one of their attorneys, Paul Clement, to resign.
    So Onward and Upward, folks. (And yes, this is all good info to be taking to Washington this week for HRC's Clergy Call Lobby Day!)

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    And the Survey SAYS ...

    Majority of Americans say they support same-sex marriage, adoption by gay and lesbian couples

    A recent Religion and Politics Tracking Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, is the third national poll in as many months to find majority support for same-sex marriage: a slim majority (51%) of Americans now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, compared to 43% percent who are opposed.

    The results of the three polls are remarkably consistent even though the other two surveys were conducted by different organizations (ABC News/Washington Post; CNN/Opinion Research Corp.) using different question wordings.

    Majority also supports adoption by gay and lesbian couples.
    A majority (56%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, compared to 36% who are opposed.

    Read the rest here ... and give thanks for that arc of history that continues to bend toward justice!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Prop 8: Boies and Olson Explain It All

    Well, they don't exactly explain it ALL but they do a darned fine job of giving an accessible overview of where we "are" in the post-Prop 8 legal process and what we might reasonably expect to happen next. (Or at least what some of the likely options are.)

    You'll want to read it all here ... but here are a few highlights:
    There is, legal experts say, a distinct possibility the Court could determine that there is no one qualified to defend the state's interests in arguing that Prop 8 should not have been struck down. Both the governor and the attorney general have refused to do so. If that's the case, then Walker's overturn becomes de facto law. That would be a victory for gay rights advocates, but a narrow one. While it would likely allow for same-sex marriage in California, it would not address marriage in other states.
    "The fundamental issue is that this is not something that ought to be decided politically," he said during the briefing. "It’s very encouraging to all of us that there is this shift in public opinion [in favor of same-sex marriage]. Even in the absence of opinion in public, the fact of the matter is the constitutional protections are clear."
    Stay tuned!

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    June 26th set as celebration of "Faith Shared"


    The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. along with 50 churches in 26 states have already joined the effort

    Washington, D.C. – Christian clergy at churches across the country will host readings from the Qur’an and other sacred religious texts as they welcome their Muslim and Jewish colleagues on Sunday, June 26, 2011 for Faith Shared: Uniting in Prayer and Understanding. Faith Shared is a project of Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First, which seeks to send a message both here at home and to the Arab and Muslim world about our respect for Islam. The National Cathedral in Washington, DC, along with 50 churches in 26 states have committed to participating in this effort. Other participating churches include Christ Church in New York City and All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif. A full list of participating houses of worship can be found at faithshared.org.

    Faith Shared seeks to counter the Anti-Muslim bigotry and negative stereotypes that have erupted throughout the country in the past year and led to misconceptions, distrust and in some cases, violence. This countrywide, day-long event will engage faith leaders on the national and community levels in a conversation with their houses of worship, highlighting respect among people of different faiths. This event will help counter the common misperception abroad that most Americans are hostile to Islam. It will send a message that Americans respect Muslims and Islam, as they respect religious differences and freedom of religion in general.

    Faith Shared is designed to reflect the mutual respect shared among so many Muslims, Christians, Jews and other Americans, as they stand together to oppose the negative images that have dominated domestic and international news.

    “The anti-Muslim rhetoric that has pervaded our national conversation recently has shocked and saddened me,” said Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. “Appreciation for pluralism and respect for religious freedom and other human rights are at the core of our democracy. We believe that demonstrating our commitment to those core American values will help counteract the intensified level of negative stereotypes and anti-Muslim bigotry in our recent public discourse.

    “With Faith Shared, congregations will send a clear message to the world that Americans respect religious differences and reject bigotry and the demonization of Islam or any other religion,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke. “This message about the fundamental importance of religious freedom around the world is especially timely as President Obama prepares to reaffirm the United States’ support for democracy in the Middle East starting with a speech later this week.”

    “Few things are more important for the future of our world than to respect, to honor, and to commit ourselves to the well-being of every person—to embrace a sense of humility before the vast mystery of God,” said National Cathedral Dean Sam Lloyd. “As Americans and as people of faith, we must use our great traditions to come together for mutual enrichment and understanding.”

    At its core, this project will bring together Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy to read from and hear from each other’s sacred texts. In doing so, they will serve as a model for respect and cooperation and create a concrete opportunity to build and strengthen working ties between and among faith communities moving forward.

    For more information on this project, visit the Faith Shared website.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Press Release on SCLM Blessings Project: Online Archives Launched

    The Episcopal Church
    Office of Public Affairs

    Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music provides important resources, materials online Resolution C056, "Liturgies for Blessings"

    The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has posted important materials and resources online, offering easy access and free downloading for a myriad of references, resolutions, prayers, etc, on Resolution C056, "Liturgies for Blessings."

    Digital ArchivesMaterials, resolutions and transcripts are easily and readily available through the SCLM Digital Archives

    General Convention 2009 (GC09) Resolution C056, "Liturgies for Blessings," called for the SCLM to gather and develop theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships. As a result, an online resource area was developed, in partnership with the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

    The materials are presented in the four categories:
    Diocesan Resources;
    Liturgy and Worship;
    Church-Wide Resources; and
    Work of the Commission.

    Additionally, the resources prepared as a result of the Church-Wide Consultation in March in Atlanta are available in English and in Spanish. According to the website:
    This SCLM Digital Archive at The Archives of the Episcopal Church is meant to
    serve as an information resource to the House of Bishops, provinces, dioceses,
    congregations, church members and any interested members of the general public.
    These resources include collected liturgies, official statements of the Church,
    work of the Commission and more. These resources are for educational purposes
    only. The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ in 109 dioceses
    and three regional areas in 16 nations. The Episcopal Church is a member
    province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
    Episcopal Church Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    A Year Ago TODAY ...

    ... we gathered in Long Beach to help the Holy Spirit make two new bishops in the Church of God.

    Here's a look back at what was MOST "an amazing day" ... and with thanksgiving for all the work and witness of the last 365 days! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

    Eye on "the other side" -- NY "Mayday for Marriage" ad campaign ramps up

    • Want to know why it's so important to "Believe Out Loud?"

    • Wonder why progessive faith leaders need to step up and speak out for Marriage Equality?

    • Thinking the Defense of Discrimination crowd can't sink any lower with their attacks on our marriages?

      1. Watch this.
      2. Think again.
      3. Take Action!

    Day off for baseball

    Yesterday was a day off for baseball. In spite of the challenges the Dodgers are having this year both on and OFF the field, they've been "my team" since my Daddy took me to the Coliseum to watch them play while they were building Dodger Stadium. We watched the park being built -- with "field trips" over to check up on the progress from our house in Eagle Rock -- and were there on Opening Day Numero Uno ... and my love affair with the Boys in Blue continues ... in good times and in bad.

    Yesterday we had AMAZING seats ... thanks to a long time friend of Louise who got them from her Uncle Phil.

    We lost -- 1-0 on an unearned run. But the weather was great, the seats were fabulous, the company delightful and the Dodger Dogs ... ah, but I go on.

    Will have more to say about all sorts of things later on, but right now it's off to a Sunday full of church still grateful for a Saturday full of baseball.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

    (Unfortuate) UPDATE on yesterday's "Go, Navy!" story ...

    Navy officials have suspended recent guidance that would have allowed chaplains to perform weddings for same-sex couples at on-base facilities.

    In an April 13 memo on “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal training, Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains (pictured), clarified that base facilities are “sexual orientation neutral,” and that chaplains may perform marriages for gay couples “if it is conducted in accordance with the laws of a state which permits same-sex marriage[.]” Chaplains could elect to officiate should a ceremony be “consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization.”

    But Tidd reversed course late Tuesday, writing that his guidance is suspended pending “additional legal and policy review and inter-Departmental coordination.”

    Tidd’s about-face comes after outcry in recent days from a group of Republican lawmakers who want to bar same-sex weddings at base facilities, as well as religious conservative groups that have long railed against any change in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
    Read the rest here.


    Whether you call it the road to Zion, to wholeness or to "thy kingdom come" it is unarguably a long and winding one. But it's the road we've been called to to journey -- as individuals and as a community of faith -- as we follow the One who went before us. And last Sunday our friend and former-All Saints colleague Maggie Cunningham was in the pulpit and gave us this great beginning to a wonderful sermon with some fascinating food for thought as we make that journey together:
    The [Road to Emmaus] gospel concludes with the two disciples returning to Jerusalem where they find the eleven and others exclaiming excitedly, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” They have no doubt about the veracity of Simon Peter’s report – but it is a different story in the verses immediately preceding our section of the gospel.

    There, we are told that “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women with them” had gone to the tomb first, found it empty, and heard two men (presumably angels) say to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen.” The response of the eleven to this report was predictable: “These words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.”

    In the first century, the testimony of women was not only inadmissible – it was impossible. The words testimony, testify and testament are etymologically related to the word testicle. In the ancient Near East, a man would grab his testicles when swearing a solemn oath. Lacking the necessary equipment, women were incapable of testifying.

    As fascinating and amusing as this information is, it would be more so if that belief system behind it had completely disappeared – but that is a topic for another day.
    And I decided today was the day. And here's but one of the reasons. Have you seen this?

    It's the picture the White House released of the President and senior staff watching the Navy Seal raid that culminated with the death of Osama bin Laden.

    But wait ... there's more! Have you seen THIS ...

    Same picture ... photoshopped in a Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish weekly called Di Tzeitung to cut Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason (a female member of the National Security Council) out of the picture.

    Why? Because Maggie was spot on. Because the 1st century belief system that made it impossible for a woman to testify is alive and well in the 21st century.

    The newspaper has "regretted" the editorial decision, as the New York Times reports in its piece "Newspaper 'Regrets' Erasing Hillary Clinton." And well they should. But what about all the other less obvious times and more subtle places where women are erased -- ignored -- dismissed -- silenced.

    I know, I know. "There she goes again -- get out the feminist soap box."

    Yep. That's why I led with the "me with a megaphone" picture. Because whether we like it or not -- whether we admit it or not -- whether we're willing to confront it or not -- sexism is alive and oh-so-very-well in this world -- this country --and yes, this church.

    And it's our job -- ALL of our jobs -- to work to end it. And we will. We have the power. We have the determination. And we have the megaphone. That's all the "equipment" we need to put an end to women being erased from photos, being ignored on Boards, being dimsissed by bishops or being marginalized by those who have not yet gotten the message that we're STILL on the journey toward wholeness -- toward Zion -- toward "thy kingdom come."

    The GPS that guides us on that journey will not speak those longed for words -- "Arriving At Destination" -- until we've left behind (once and for all) the sexist baggage of our past as we move ahead into God's future. But we WILL make it happen.

    And to that I testify: "So help me God."

    More on yesterday's Presbyterian decision for equality

    Today's Los Angeles Times ran a follow up feature on yesterday's historic decision by the Presbyterian Church to end the ban on the LGBT ordinations. Pictured above are Bear Ride and Susan Craig ... All Saintsers and the second same-sex couple married here in 2008.

    Read the L.A. Times feature here ... and give thanks for the great work of Bear, Susan and all the others who have worked so long and hard for this day in the Presbyterian Church!

    More on the Sojourners Story

    Newsweek's "The Daily Beast" ran this story yesterday about the Sojourners Mother's Day ad controversy ... honored to be quoted along with Jim Naughton, Serene Jones and Integrity E.D. Max Niedzwiecki:
    Jim Naughton, who was involved in the Washington diocese of the Episcopal church and now operates a small communications firm, said people inviting Wallis to policy briefings and White House meetings should realize that he "is far to the right of the people he's allowed to speak for." And now, when liberal Christians "are making progress by the second," he added, is a particularly bad time to hedge on the church's welcome of gays and lesbians.

    Rev. Canon Susan Russell, an Episcopal minister and activist in Pasadena, California, said she considers Wallis an ally in opposing war and reforming immigration policy but that she believes the issue is a crucial one for his organization. "More disappointing to me was the statement from Wallis, who has stepped up many times for civil rights of LGBT people," Russell said. "The issue in the ad was, 'Is there room for a family in church on Mother's Day?' If [Sojourners] doesn't have a position on that, they need to re-evaluate."

    Max Niedzwiecki, executive director of Integrity USA, a group that promotes LGBT inclusion in the Episcopal church, said his organization would "keep holding Sojourners' feet to the fire."Whether liberal Christian groups will reconsider their partnership with Wallis is unclear. Daniel Schultz said the ad flap would probably have an effect at the individual level, prompting progressive Christians to think twice before giving Sojourners their money. The organization's magazine is aimed at an evangelical audience, but Schultz said he knows many mainline Protestants—generally more gay-inclusive than evangelicals—who subscribe. The magazine, he said, also depends heavily on seminaries for advertising, and seminaries tend to be the most gay-friendly Christian institutions. The ad kerfuffle could have repercussions in those circles, where Sojourners has been viewed as a lone ally in the conflict with the religious right.

    That alliance is likely strong enough to withstand this controversy, especially on the vast number of issues where Wallis and his more progressive allies agree. Most of the Christian leaders I spoke with expressed more disappointment than outrage and were hopeful that Wallis would eventually take stronger stands on gay rights. "Wallis has been so fantastic on issues of poverty and war, and any time we get a strong voice on that is to be applauded to the high heavens," said Dr. Serene Jones, the president of Union Theological Seminary. "But he has such dominance over the vast number of progressive Christians who have more developed positions on these issues, and they are not being represented."

    "I know there are people in Sojourners' organization and on its board who think it's time for them to be more brave," Russell said. "Maybe this is the moment for that."
    So there you have it. Let's not throw any babies out with any bathwater ... Jim Wallis and Sojourners have done amazing work challenging Christians to speak up and act up on issues of peace, poverty, education and other critical justice issues.

    And ...

    Sojourners has given the Believe Out Loud folks the best possible example of why their campaign is so desperately necessary. By not taking a "position" on LGBT equality Sojourners has taken a position. It is a position on the wrong side of both history and the Gospel -- and it is a position that friends of Sojo need to keep urging Wallis to "recalculate." It's never too late to do the right thing.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    BREAKING NEWS from "More Light Presbyterians"

    Our Presbyterian LGBT equality allies -- the More Light Presbyterians -- are celebrating the passage just a few minutes ago of Measure 10-A by the necessary 87th presbytery ... ending the ban on the "gay ordination" ban in the Presbyterian Church. Here's their press release:

    May 10, 2011

    Dear friends,

    Grace and peace. We give thanks to God that the 219th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 10-A was ratified tonight as Twin Cities was the 87th presbytery to approve it by a vote of 205 to 56 with 3 abstentions.

    Tonight Presbyterians join the United Church of Christ, the Episcopalian Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as denominations who have eliminated official barriers to full membership, leadership and service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. This is indeed a historic moment in the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but also in the worldwide Christian communion.

    More Light Presbyterians have been working for justice and equality since 1974 when the Rev. David Sindt became the first openly gay minister in our Church. "I am so grateful for the sacrificial effort of so many people over these years to bring this deeply Reformed correction to an error made by the Church. Both during these months as the presbyteries have voted and for the last 37 years, you have courageously and steadfastly given of yourselves in a host of ways to bring our Church to this moment. Every bit of your energy, intelligence, imagination and love was needed to come to this new day. I am grateful to God for the privilege of being part of this witnessing community," said the Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator.

    "My heart is full as I think of all of those children of God who were hurt, who persevered, who left, who stayed and who worked so hard to make the Presbyterian Church (USA) truly reflect the wildly inclusive love of Jesus Christ—too many to name. Now, candidates for office within the PC(USA) will be evaluated based upon their love of Jesus Christ, the wholeness of their lives, their call to ministry and the gifts they bring," said Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderator.

    "It is necessary and absolutely OK to celebrate this moment in the life and witness of our Church, the end of categorical discrimination against God's LGBT children which was wrong in the first place. What a journey this work for justice and equality has been. The thousands of prayers, faithful conversations, sharing of hopes and dreams are all part of building a Church that reflects God's heart and a world that respects all persons," said Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer.

    We are grateful for the work that still lies before us. The YES on 10-A Campaign continues full steam ahead until the last presbytery votes on June 28. Please keep believing, praying and working. We need to nurture and support churches to extend calls to LGBT candidates and help those candidates through the process for ordination in their particular presbyteries. We need to continue the conversation on marriage equality. Above all, we need to help the whole church see that the affirmation of LGBT persons and their families is a practical application of the Gospel message that God in Christ creates and loves us all. Proclaiming the Gospel lasts a lifetime.

    There is much work ahead of us for our Church. But tonight, let us recognize this kairos moment in the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the liberating gift it is for our future. Together we are building a Church that reflects God's heart.

    with hope and grace,

    Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator
    Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderator
    Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer

    Meanwhile, over in Presbyterian Land ...

    ... prayers are ascending as votes are counted in The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area on Amendment 10a -- the legislation that will open the way for LGBT clergy to serve openly in the Presbyterian Church. (And what IS it about the Holy Spirit that so much many of our landmark inclusion moments end up happening in Minnesota, you betcha!)

    Find out more about Amendment 10a and what it means for the Presbyterian Church here... and do keep prayers ascending for those working for full inclusion and equality for LGBT folk in ALL our faith traditions.

    (Follow results on twitter at #pcusa)

    Anchors Aweigh!

    The Office of Navy Chaplains has become the first branch of the service to authorize the use of Navy chapels for same-sex weddings. No kidding. Here's a link to the memo updating chaplains on current policies, including this info:
    The times they ARE a'changin' ... maybe not as fast as we'd like in some places and then faster than we might have believed possible in others!!

    Meanwhile, the American Family Association is -- of course -- livid and is -- of course sending their folks off to contact their senatores and representatives "asking them to stop unlawful homosexual advocacy and social engineering within our military."

    So take a minute and join with me in contacting YOUR senators and representatives and applauding this action by our Navy modeling what liberty and justice looks like for ALL. Here's a link for the House of Representatives and here's one for the Senate.

    Point/Counterpoint: What DO we say about Jim Wallis?

    The beat goes on in the Sojo Mother's Day ad story. If you "missed a meeting" Episcopal Cafe has all the back story ... here and here. The second link is to a piece that asks an important question, "What should progressive Christians do about Jim Wallis?"

    My opinion ... and of course I have one ... is that we continue to call him and Sojourners to live up to the values they commit to in their mission statement ...
    “to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world”
    ... and to call them to account for the times they fall short of that high calling -- which they (IMHO) clearly did by declining to run an ad that simply challenged churches to welcome families with same-sex parents.

    Which leads me to my "point/counterpoint:"
    “I’m afraid we’ll have to decline. Sojourners position is to avoid taking sides on this issue. In that care [sic], the decision to accept advertising may give the appearance of taking sides.” Sojourners spokesperson

    "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Jim Wallis is "good people." And by not taking a position on "this issue" Sojourners takes a position -- and the position is we have to make a choice between fighting poverty and war and fighting homophobia. It is, I believe, a dangerously false dichotomy.

    That's what I told the Newsweek reporter who called this morning. And that's what I continue to believe is the truth we're called to speak in love to Jim Wallis and to our partners in justice at Sojourners.

    Monday, May 09, 2011

    Tell Jim Wallis it's time to "walk the talk" -- Seriously!

    Yep, I was pretty disgusted when I read on Religion Dispatches that Sojourners had rejected an ad from the "Believe Out Loud" folks encouraging churches to welcome families-with-two-moms on Mother's Day because "Sojourners position is to avoid taking sides on this issue."


    Sojourners has a position on the "issue" of whether or not there's a place in a pew for a family on Mother's Day?


    So I was gratified when Integrity stepped up with this statement -- released about an hour ago:
    Integrity USA stands with those calling on Sojourners to re-evaluate their refusal to run the “Believe Out Loud” ad encouraging churches to welcome all mothers on Mother’s Day. We challenge Jim Wallis and Sojourners to live up to their own mission statement and to walk the talk of social justice they purport to embody.

    The Sojourners mission is “to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world” and their Diversity Statement includes "Publicly advocate for civil rights and legal non-discrimination to protect the safety and dignity of all people" and the belief “ that unity in diversity is not only desirable, but essential to fulfilling God's ultimate desire for God's people, as expressed in scripture (Acts 2, Revelation 7:9), and thus an essential element of seeking God's will on earth as it is in heaven."

    Given those articulated core values, it is incomprehensible to us that they would decline to run an ad that quite simply depicts a pastor modeling for his congregation that “all are welcome” as a lesbian couple and their son visit the church on Mother’s Day. The Sojourner spokesperson refusing the ad said their “position is to avoid taking sides on this issue” -- reducing a family seeking a spiritual community to “an issue” and needlessly politicizing the call for a pastoral response. It is deeply dehumanizing to gay and lesbian families and antithetical to protecting the safety and dignity of all people Sojourners claims to advocate.

    "Integrity is proud of its long history of building bridges of collaboration across differences with allies in the struggle for justice, said Max Niedzwiecki, Executive Director of Integrity USA. "We have through the years stood with Jim Wallis and with Sojourners on issues of poverty and peace – most recently in reflections on the death of Osama bin Laden and what it means to follow the Prince of Peace in times of war and violence. Today, we call on that long relationship and urge Wallis and Sojourners to claim this opportunity to be part of the solution – not a perpetuator of the problem – of homophobia."
    So won't you join them ... and me ... in shooting an email off to Jim Wallis and the Sojourners folks? Tell them it's time to "recalculate" their position ... to ask themselves "what WOULD Jesus do?" ... and to recognize that we do not have all agree on all the "issues" around LGBT justice to stand in solidarity against homophobia.

    You're either part of the solution or part of the problem. Sojourners made the wrong decision on this one. Let's encourage them to make the right one.

    Click here to email Sojourners ... click here to see a list of their Board of Directors and follow up with them ... and click here to thank Integrity for stepping up and speaking out. Because if we don't hold our justice allies accountable, who will? Seriously!

    Sunday, May 08, 2011

    Giving thanks for my boys on Mother's Day!

    Love you guys!!!

    THEN ... (Easter circa 1987)

    AND "NOW" ... (Summer 2009)

    Remembering my mom on Mother's Day

    Betty Lou (Bundy) Brown
    1925 - 2008

    Saturday, May 07, 2011

    Date set for Los Angeles celebration of the life of Bishop Bob Anderson

    Received via email this evening:

    Dear Friends,

    In thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Bishop Robert M. Anderson, we will gather at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 16, at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul (840 Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles) for Requiem Eucharist and interment of ashes. Let us continue to keep the Anderson family in our prayers.

    Rest eternal grant your servant Robert, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.

    Your Brother in Christ,
    +J. Jon Bruno
    Bishop of Los Angeles
    The obituary feature from The Episcopal News Service is here ... and prayers continue to ascend in thanksgiving for Bishop Anderson's life and for comfort for Mary and his family in their grief.

    Friday, May 06, 2011

    These are our PRIDE Shirts 2011 for the Diocese of Los Angeles

    Since L.A. Pride ... AKA Christopher Street West ... falls on Pentecost this year (June 12) designer Randy Kimmler came up with this great representation of spirit filled welcome for our Pride theme 2011.

    The shirts not only help us make God's love tangible on Santa Monica Blvd but the proceeds from their sale also help support the work and witness of the LGBT Program Group. If you're interested in buying one ... or a dozen ... click here to submit an online order.

    Join us in a Pentecost celebration of God's inclusive love -- and the Episcopal Church!

    Good News from Newark!!

    Remember Josh and Henry ... the same-sex couple facing deportation because the BIA (Bureau of Immigration) is bound by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (more aptly called the "Discrimination Against Our Marriage Act") not to recognize their marriage for immigration purposes? [if you "missed a meeting" here's the link]

    ANYWAY ... Here's the Good News from Newark today ...

    Same-sex couple wins delay in Newark deportation case
    FRIDAY MAY 6, 2011, 2:16 PM
    [source link]

    NEWARK — A federal immigration judge granted a petition of adjournment today for Henry Valandia, a Venezuelan native who married American Josh Vandiver in Connecticut last year and was facing potential deportation today.

    Valandia will have to appear in court again on Dec. 16, but in the interim can stay in their Princeton home.

    Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages.

    The state did not oppose the petition.

    The couple reacted with relief after the decision, hugging family members and wiping away tears.

    "I'm in shock," Valandia said

    "It's the best outcome that we could have hoped for," said gay rights lawyer Lavi Soloway, who added that the law could change by December.
    It's not time for "The strife is o'er, the battle won" ... but it IS cause for a few "Alleluia, Alleluias!"

    Wednesday, May 04, 2011

    Happy Almost Mother's Day!!

    It's my Mother's Day tradition: sharing this video of two sons who aren't-but-could-be-mine ... doing their best not to kill each other in the process of saying "Happy Mother's Day." ENJOY!

    Tuesday, May 03, 2011

    AMICUS CURIAE EPISCOPALIAS in California's Prop 8 case

    An amicus curiae is someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it.
    An AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF was filed this week on behalf of .. among others ... THE EPISCOPAL BISHOPS OF CALIFORNIA AND LOS ANGELES.

    You can read it all here ... but here's the part about the Episcopalians:
    Bishop Bruno’s Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles encompasses 85,000 Episcopalians in 147 congregations located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. Served by some 400 clergy, the Diocese also includes some 40 Episcopal schools and some 20 social service and chaplaincy institutions.

    The Episcopal Church’s governing body, its General Convention, resolved in 2006 to “oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions.” Bishop Andrus and Bishop Bruno welcomed the decision of the California Supreme Court with Bishop Andrus declaring: “All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law, and this decision recognizes that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal access to one of our fundamental human institutions. This decision gives our church another opportunity to partner with our state to ensure that all families have the support they need to build relationships that strengthen our communities, state and country.”

    Meeting last year in Anaheim, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention expressly authorized “bishops, particularly in those dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, [to] provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church while the Episcopal Church considers formal changes to its liturgy and canon law. Under this authorization, amici curiae Bishop Andrus and Bishop Bruno, along with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real and Bishop James Mathes of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, permit their clergy to provide liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.
    Speaking up. Stepping out. Letting their light so shine.

    THANK YOU Bishop Andrus and Bishop Bruno. The kingdom is a little closer for your witness ... liberty and justice for all a little closer to reality for your advocacy.

    Monday, May 02, 2011

    "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"

    Prayers and Lessons for Today

    O Almighty God, kindle, we beseech you, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God, now and for ever. Amen.

    A Reading from the prophet Micah

    1 In the last days
    the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains;
    it will be exalted above the hills,
    and peoples will stream to it.
    2 Many nations will come and say,
    “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
    He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
    The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
    3 He will judge between many peoples
    and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
    They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
    Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore.
    4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
    and under their own fig tree,
    and no one will make them afraid,
    for the LORD Almighty has spoken.
    5 All the nations may walk
    in the name of their gods,
    but we will walk in the name of the LORD
    our God for ever and ever.

    PSALM 85:7-13

    7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
    and grant us your salvation.
    8 I will listen to what God the LORD says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
    but let them not turn to folly.
    9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
    that his glory may dwell in our land.
    10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.
    11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
    and righteousness looks down from heaven.
    12 The LORD will indeed give what is good,
    and our land will yield its harvest.
    13 Righteousness goes before him
    and prepares the way for his steps.

    GOSPEL - Matthew 5:43-48

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


    O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    God, in your mercy;
    Hear our prayer.

    Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Creator; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever.

    God, in your mercy;
    Hear our prayer.

    Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    God, in your mercy;
    Hear our prayer.

    O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    God, in your mercy;
    Hear our prayer.

    A Prayer attributed to St. Francis
    Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

    When the going gets tough ...

    ... the tough reach for a prayer book.

    Like so many I wrestled through a complex set of emotions over the last 18 hours. Relief at the news that Osama bin Laden had been at long last apprehended. Proud of the resolve of our president. Anxious about the impact on the fragile state of world affairs. Queasy at the outbreak of triumphalism ... best captured in a comment on this blog:
    "I understand a sense of justice being done; I understand a sense of relief, but I was sickened to see celebrations like after a football game. It isn't that the man didn't deserve it – he did – but we have to ask what it does to our own souls when we rejoice at the death even of a clear enemy."
    And today ... Monday ...is my regularly scheduled day to preside at the Noonday Eucharist in the All Saints Chapel. We usually use the lessons for the upcoming Sunday. But I woke up this morning and reached for my prayer book to reconfigure the service to focus on peace and reconciliation.

    For the BCP geeks out there, we're using the Collect the Various Occasions lectionary for Peace for the lessons. And we pulled other various occasion prayers for the prayers of the people ... concluding with the prayer attributed to St. Francis.

    I'll read a statement from our rector -- Ed Bacon -- who is on sabbatical but sent words from "away" for the parish and the community. And then we'll gather around the table ... as we do every day at 12:10 and ask God to bless the bread and wine made holy and to send us out into the world as beacons of God's love, justice and compassion.

    And at this very moment I am more grateful than I have words to express that I have a liturgical container for all the complicated thoughts, feelings and emotions at this important moment in our nation's life -- and that when the going gets tough I can claim the ancient words of the perfect love that casts out fear preserved for us in our Book of Common Prayer.

    Alleluia! Christ is risen
    Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

    (And now I'm off to church!)