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Heteronormativity and the Book of Order

[Disclaimer:  one of the functions of the MLP editorial board is to lift up alternate perspectives around the church. If others have a different take on this or other issues, your comments are also welcome here. ]

As I watched John Wilkinson offer an amendment to the proposed amendment to the Book of Order on marriage at the 221st General Assembly in Detroit, my heart sank. A clean simple statement that marriage involves commitment “between two people” had to be qualified: “between two people, traditionally one man and one woman.”

With the amendment coming from a More Light church pastor, and with this not being my first observation of GA plenary, I immediately recognized the move as strategy. I appreciated the “big tent” intention to include a wide range of views on marriage in the PCUSA. I understood the strategic move to appease some “traditional marriage” advocates in the church in order to ensure passage of the amendment in the presbyteries. Still,  this is deeply problematic language to enshrine in our constitution. Read more

Follow MLP at the 221st General Assembly

More Light Presbyterians will be blogging from the 221st General Assembly in Detroit at:

Sacred Work as Old as the Church

Recently I spent an afternoon at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, doing some research for a group who are bringing an overture to General Assembly, the governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

It had been a long time since I’d been in a historical society, but the smell of old paper, the hush of the reading room, the pressing desire to read everything soon seemed familiar again. The historical society is located in the heart of Old City Philadelphia, not far from Independence Hall, Washington Square, and the Liberty Bell, touchstones of our nation’s struggle, so many years ago, to forge a path to independence, liberty, and justice for all. Of course, historians of American history and activists alike agree that this struggle continues for many in the US, even with advances in rights for immigrants, people of color, women and LGBT couples. Read more

Inspired and Inclusive Equality: Going Back to Detroit to GA for Daddy

For the better part of the last thirty years, my father has been a social justice activist serving as a leader within his Christian denomination, most specifically in various leadership roles where he could be an advocate for anti-racism education, universal health care, peace with justice in the middle East, and for full inclusion of our LGBTQ family within the body of Christ. Read more

Love for Those on the Journey

The theme for More Light Sunday on June 1st is, “Life-changing conversations rooted in pride and love.” This year’s More Light Sunday theme gives us an opportunity to reflect on our call to engage in difficult, but life-changing conversations. More than at any time in the history of our work for the welcome and affirmation of LGBTQ people, these conversations offer the possibility to further God’s transforming work in our denomination. Read more

Queering the Marriage Discussion

A year ago in this blogspace I articulated concerns about the LGBT movement’s focus on marriage to the exclusion of other important justice issues in and beyond the LGBTQ community. As General Assembly rapidly approaches and marriage is again at the center of our agenda, I hope we can remember and reclaim what’s Queer about this particular struggle. Read more

An Honest Letter to Those Who Are Looking at Leaving the PCUSA

Just recently I had a conversation with a friend who is in deep distress over what is going on at their church. An outspoken group of their congregation’s leadership is talking of leaving the PCUSA if the church allows ministers and sessions to choose for themselves whether they will perform or host same-sex weddings. At the minimum the leaders of my friend’s church want to change their by-laws to make it clear that they will never allow same-sex marriages, just like they already did concerning ordination after the “fidelity and chastity” language was removed in 2011. Read more

“T” as in Teacher

Recently I met a young man transitioning from being a female to being the male God created him to be. A.J. is a mechanic. He told me the story of a day when a customer noticed the initials embroidered on the pocket of his uniform.

“What does ‘A.J.’ stand for?”

A.J. hesitated momentarily. Friendly co-workers listened to hear how the young man would answer. Then A.J. said, “Amanda Jo.” Co-workers laughed with A.J. The customer gave a discombobulated smile. Read more

Conversations Do Lead To Change

After so many years of hard fight and struggle, it was an honor to be part of the Presbyterian Church’s new day – a day when we are not fighting about sexuality.

That day was Saturday, May 3rd, 2014. Heartland Presbytery voted to approve my wife for ordination and approved me for transfer of membership. What made that day so amazing was not that Karen and I were approved. What made this day so amazing is that we were treated like everyone else. There were no questions about our sexuality. No one wondered about our marriage and its legality in the church. And no one insinuated that because we were married we might not abide by the Book of Order.

Saturday was the church at its best! Read more

First Openly LGBTQ Clergy Couple Candidates in PC(USA) Approved for Ministry in Heartland Presbytery

At its stated meeting in Gardner, KS, May 3, 2014, Heartland Presbytery voted unanimously to approve the ordination of Karen Wagner to the office of Teaching Elder. At the same meeting, the presbytery received Wagner’s wife, The Rev. Sally Wright, into membership, making them the first clergy couple in the PC(USA) to begin their ministry as openly out LGBTQ persons. Read more