Saturday, March 28, 2009

Presbyteries continue to move closer together...

It's true, I think.

Each time a presbytery in the PC(USA) moves toward a more inclusive church, we all move more closely together. In that proximity, I expect we will find the solutions we seek to faithfulness and unity; a faithfulness and unity that can only be achieved with full inclusion of the LGBT/Q community.

It is not the LGBT/Q community that has created the separation in our church, but G-6.0106b. Once gone or altered, we will be witness and practioners of a love greater than our differences for all to follow.

Today six presbyteries voted. All chose unity, love, and and justice. They are:
Western New York,
Genessee Valley,
Susquehanna Valley, and
New York City.

Philadelphia, Grace, and Western New York (a "no action" last time around) - represent three reversals from previous "no" or "no action" positions. They represent the 24, 25, and 26th presbyteries to do so. No presbytery has changed their vote from a "yes" to a no."

Prayers and thanks to all, and I mean everyone, who has been involved in and touched by this struggle. There is great healing and mission work that awaits us in a post-B world. The road to such a place continues to shorten....


Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's hard to describe...

Hi Folks,

I should be finishing up a sermon for tomorrow. And, I will, soon, but I just heard about some of the latest votes on Amendment 08-B.

The Presbyteries of Mackinac, Newark, and West Virginia have become the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd presbytery to reverse their last position on a G-6.0106b-related amendment, this time voting YES on 08-B. They were joined by Grand Canyon Presbytery, who also voted YES on 08-B.

You can view the full voting results on

I will report that these last votes bring the tally to 51 YES, 76 NO, and 3 Ties (which are counted as NO). As we all know, a total of 87 votes is needed to ratify the amendment, and there are 47 votes to go. Those of us who support ratification need, and hopefully will be blessed with, 36 of those remaining votes.

As we continue to work and seek your support in ratifying 08-B, what has been challenging to accept is that our church comes to decisions about how we will be church by votes; in different times and different situations, with one group "winning" and the other "losing." In that process, sisters and brothers - all, we sometimes leave the outcomes less unified, less graceful, and I think a little less compassionate toward one another, always with some hurting and some celebrating, but, I think, with more and more of us saddened at how we treat one another in the name of Jesus Christ.

In many meetings during this ratification time, presbyteries have done careful and sacred planning to prepare for discussions and discernment. In each of these gatherings, I believe we have come a bit closer to knowing one another and the God who calls us together. It is my opinion that this time of ratification of 08-B has done more to move us toward a new way of discerning such critically important actions than any other conversations in recent memory.

We know we can do better as a church, and I believe that is why the elimination of the current language of G-6.0106b has become so important, whether it happens this time or the next. I believe that this mission to repair the Book of Order has begun to unite us in ways that were uninmaginable only a few years ago; it has already started to happen. So far, 23 presbyteries in their new decisions have been witnesses to such powerful new unity, driven by the Holy Spirit.

It is true that what was once voted in to divide us will do so until it is voted out to unite us. So be it. It may just be that the LGBT/Q Community, allies, supporters, and opponents, alike, have been given this struggle so that we, the PC(USA), might become one family in the name of Jesus Christ, for all to see.

It's hard to describe, but that would really be something...


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sticking with God's choice...

Dear Friends - 

A love story this morning. Unabashed and unrelenting....for Lisa Larges, the Minister Director of That All May Freely Serve. 

At the end of this week, Lisa will find her case for moving toward ordination coming before the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Pacific. Lisa has been a candidate for ministry for well over 20 years, held back because of her openness as the person God ordained her to be, a Lesbian - created in the full glory of the Creator.

Unable to deter Lisa's love for God and the courage that has filled her from that place of call and creation, the opponents of LGBT folk are turning ever more diligently toward the "protections" they can find in the process for ordination and our polity. Some wonder whether these efforts have gone too far, raising the process and the polity to an ideologically rigid and idolatrous level, in effect, relegating the Spirit to second-class status.

In fact, the topic of idolatry is among some of Lisa's writings being raised up in the hearing as "evidence" that she is not fit to serve:

From the docket of Mary Holder Naegeli, J. Mark Stryker and Margaret H. Gelini, Complainants, v. The Presbytery of San Francisco.

"She [Lisa] is is a self-affirmed lesbian who has not been shy about her sexual orientation or behavior. The complaint culls from many of her written statements prepared for the presbytery. They include: 
  • She says she believes that “holy relationships of homosexuality … have parity with marriage.”
  • She calls “celibacy is morally repugnant.”
  •  She says Presbyterian polity “does not bar Presbyterian ministers from marrying same-sex couples.”
  • And she declares that G-6.0106b “makes an idol out of heterosexuality in a relationship of marriage between a man and a woman.”

These and other statements, my friends, clear expressions of Lisa's truth and love - are among the credentials for ordination. 

And, this kind of truth and love will always be targets; we are reminded of that directly during this time of Lent. Just follow the Scriptures...

 I am always struck by the irony that this time of the year, just like 2000 years ago, is a time chosen by the frightened and fearful who try to limit God's call in others. Especially, and almost exclusively, seeking to deter those of us who are LGBT and openly witnessing to the Spirit that insists we come out into the light.  

I am unsure, honestly, whether I love the love of God that is in Lisa more than I love Lisa herself for her courage and faithfulness. Then I remember that such love is always God, embodied in God's messengers, and that they are one and the same. 

God has chosen Lisa and I, in my growing wisdom, am sticking with God's choice.

Please remember to keep Lisa and the Synod of the Pacific in your prayers, praying that the Light of the Spirit gives oppression and marginalization little space for hiding.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yellowsone Presbytery Chooses 08-B; 16th Presbytery to Reverse Vote

Hello Everyone - 

Today, March 3rd, Yellowstone Presbytery reversed previous historical votes and chose the values and justice embodied in 08-B. Congratulations to all who have been praying and working so hard in this discernment process. And, to all those who are feeling pain and disappointment, we pledge to remain faithful to our call of being a unified church for all and working toward healing and unity - with all our differences.

Our work of keeping up the conversations on 08-B around the country continues. A growing group of advocates are calling members of all the presbyteries yet to vote, asking for support on 08-B, as well as encouraging the dialogue of healing and moving past the divide of G-6.0106b.

We ask your prayers for the intensifying work of all the progressive groups and our supporters around the country who faithfully seek solidarity for the ratification of Amendment 08-B. 

If you would like to help with calls or have any information that you believe would help us to better engage our sisters and brothers in these calls, please let me know.

This week, the following presbyteries will be voting. Again, we invite you to pray for these presbyteries:

Mission Presbytery 

Coastal Carolina 



John Calvin 


Whitewater Valley 

If you have any updates, please let me know.

We ask that you do all you can to support this effort in prayer and love for one another.

Peace, Ray