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Archive for March, 2013

Our Presence, Not Amicus Briefs, Change the World

“There is power in our presence,” writes Chinese American journalist Jeff Chu in the Washington Post. “So we keep making our appeals, not through amicus briefs or oral arguments but through our mundane lives.” Chu is the author of Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America.

Jeff Chu reminds us that it is our courageous and loving presence among our family, friends and communities of faith that really changes the world. This is especially true in the difficult places where LGBTQ people have not found acceptance yet. Our presence in our beloved communities undergirds the social change we seek. Read more

MLP Executive Director Search

More Light Presbyterians is pleased and grateful to announce the formal launch of its national Executive Director Search. This search follows the successful completion of a broad Movement Study and much prayerful and strategic analysis by the MLP Board of Directors and key stakeholders.

The results of this important work have been incorporated into a comprehensive Recruitment Profile – including detailed Position Description and Candidate Specifications – which has now been approved by the Board and Search Committee for distribution. You will find a link to that Recruitment Profile below. Read more

Sack Cloth & Ashes

Palm Sunday has come and we are still in Lent. A symbolic crying out for all that is broken in ourselves and the world. As the body of Christ, we the Church participate in the mourning together. We are united. One baptism, the consummation of the sacraments, serving God in Christ through the mission of the Church. Our souls weep and lament with deep reflection. In full confidence and understanding we know the resurrection has already wiped every tear from our eyes. No longer wallowing we have life anew, in abundance and joy there will be a time to rightfully shout and claim “Hallelujah!” Easter is such a time for it reminds us of our promise and salvation. The love of God through Christ has a strong presence on Easter Sunday. The Church is reminded that God is love and God calls us to love one another. Such is a force that creates unity enabling communities to be formed, strengthened and re-formed again. Read more

The Courage to Come Out

“You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.” ~ Harvey Milk, “That’s What America Is.” Speech given on Gay Freedom Day (June 25, 1978) in San Francisco.

One of Harvey Milk’s central messages was the importance of coming out. Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from Ohio, changed his views about LGBTQ people after his son Will came out to him. Portman is a Republican legislator who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and against adoption rights for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia. Read more

Presbyterian Women Changing History for LGBTQ People

Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.
– Myra Pollack Sadker

March is Women’s History Month and The Advocate is celebrating ten women and persons of faith who have made an incredible difference for LGBTQ people. There are two Presbyterian women on the list, former MLP board member Rev. Dr. Erin Swenson and current MLP board member Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards. Read more

Working for Marriage Equality in Kentucky

Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard is a student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a progressive Baptist minister. He is organizing a march/rally for marriage equality to the Kentucky State Capitol to coincide with the Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Proposition 8.

Rev. Blanchard and his partner Dominique James were arrested in January after refusing to leave a county clerk’s office that denied them a marriage license. Blanchard told police he had a “spiritual obligation” to stay. “If we don’t act, we are accomplices in our own discrimination. We have to resist.” Read more

Our Transgender Daughter Is Just Another Girl

Six-year-old Coy Mathis has been barred from using the girls’ bathrooms at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, CO because she is transgender. The district ordered her to use the boys’ bathrooms, a staff bathroom, or the nurse’s bathroom instead. The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) has filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division because Colorado prohibits discrimination against transgender students in public schools. Read more

Children Flourish in LGBTQ Families

“My moms have shown me and the world what a lasting, loving relationship can look like. And when I think of my own wedding, I can’t imagine two better role models to base a family around than my moms.” ~Brian Arsenault, Children’s Voices Amicus Brief: Proposition 8 & DOMA Cases

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Research has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation, and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish.” A recent study by family experts at the University of Cambridge confirms this conclusion by the APA. In addition, the Williams Institute completed a study showing that as many as 6 million American children and adults have an LGBTQ parent. Read more

Christ Transforming Culture

At the invitation of the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of the Diocese of California, 29 bishops across the Episcopal Church signed on to the amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court last week to strike down DOMA (in Windsor) and Proposition 8 (in Perry). Collectively the bishops represent 23 out of the 24 dioceses in jurisdictions with marriage equality laws. Several groups within the Presbyterian Church (USA), including More Light Presbyterians, signed the same briefs. Read more

Building an Inclusive Church Training

What if our welcome to LGBTQ people sparked a renewal of our entire community’s faith life?

The Building an Inclusive Church trainings help you design and implement a process for your congregation to publicly and intentionally welcome people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Building an Inclusive Church equips you with ways to create dialogue, deepening relationships throughout the congregation rather than sparking debate and division.

“Helping the Church be more faithful and accountable to the gospel values of radical hospitality and extravagant welcome requires something of us all. We need to know how to share our stories strategically, we need to know how to listen with genuine curiosity and engagement. We also need to root ourselves biblically and shape our welcoming processes around the culture and personality of each of our congregations. That’s why the Building An Inclusive Church workshops are invaluable. In them, participants are equipped with the skills to come home and help lead their congregations through a welcoming process or empower their congregations to witness for LGBT justice in the broader society.

Presbyterians and other multifaith partners used the skills they learned in the Building an Inclusive Church workshops to help them become engaged in the Minnesota marriage equality struggle, as well as successful non-discrimination and anti-bullying campaigns in several other states.

One translation of the Micah 6:8 text is ‘and what does God require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk PREPARED with your God.’ Building an Inclusive Church is a powerful way for us, as Presbyterians, to walk prepared with God…prepared to offer Christ’s hand of hospitality and justice in real and concrete ways.”

~Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for Welcoming Resources and Faith Work Director

Upcoming training opportunities

For detailed schedules, registration and travel information, visit the Institute for Welcoming Resources.

What to expect from this training?

The training has been designed specifically with congregations and their leaders in mind. We will explore topics which will help you to become a more effective leader in working with congregations on issues related to human sexuality and gender identity for the purpose of helping a congregation discern God’s call to become more welcoming and inclusive, particularly of LGBTQ persons. Topics include:

  • Faith-based community organizing techniques
  • Congregational conflict theory and resolution
  • Managing change in congregations well
  • Effective strategies for helping congregations discern the call to be welcoming
  • Building relationships for change
  • Dealing with difficult conversations around biblical material, stereotypes, the “b” and the “t” questions, and other areas of concern
  • Opportunity to build relationships with others who share your concerns
  • Personal spiritual enrichment
  • Opportunity for growth and challenge
  • Intense few days of hard work, laughter, and fun

Who should come?

Anyone who is interested in seeing the Church (meaning all churches) become more welcoming, supportive and inclusive of LGBTQ persons. This could include:

  • Ruling Elders
  • Teaching Elders
  • Denominational or presbytery leaders
  • Practical Theology professors at PC(USA) seminaries
  • Members who care about these issues
  • Leaders and members in denominational LGBTQ groups

Training materials

The training materials for Building an Inclusive Church are available in our resources area.