Monday, July 12, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Points to ponder so far:
Why is it that we were able to get really encouraging votes in committee (2 to 1 in favor, people!), but barely squeaked by on the floor when it came to ordination and got totally shut down on marriage and civil unions?
How are we going to get ordination through our presbyteries?
I overheard that this is the first time marriage has come up as an issue at GA; if that is a true statement, why haven't we brought it up before?
Is there any effective way for us to block the manipulations of Robert's Rules of Order that the conservatives used to shut down the marriage and civil unions debate, that we'd be willing to do out of our ethical position?
And those are just a few for starters; there will be more as GA wraps up and all of us have time to process what has gone down. Let us pray for our denomination as we attempt to move haltingly towards full inclusion . . .
It would seem that the movie viewings were a failure.
The conversations team had planed two showings of the film “Fish Out of Water.” We had been handing out fliers all week and encouraging individuals to attend. We had previewed the film before the showing, discussed what conversations we could have. At one point, we considered skyping the director in. It should have had the making of a great showing! The film is superb and shot enough to hold the audience’s attention. And offered room for discussion on all the text.
Too bad no one showed up. 11:45 came and went that afternoon, and all who were in attendance were the TAMFS team. “Bummer,” I thought, “but at least we’ll have more of a turnout this evening.”
So we got there early to set up for the evening showing: corn was popped, projector up, and chairs arranged. And then 9:15 came around and apart from the members of our team—only two individuals walked into the room; a young man and woman—no GA nametags, or iconic rainbow stoles. Come to find out, they had no idea there was a conference going on, they didn’t know about the drama unfolding next door, they had not even received a flier. Instead, the young guy named Micah and his friend Amanda had merely walked by the church as some point and seen the sign on the door, redirecting viewers to the rear entrance of the church. Later, their movie viewing at the park was called off due to rain, so they decided to check out the film at this church. Throughout the film, the two seemed quite receptive. After the movie we broke into smaller groups to discuss the film and learned a bit more about our guest.
Micah informed us that the film was one of his few experiences with Christianity. He was not a very religious person and said that he had always viewed the church as the primary opposition to GLBTQ rights. The movie served as not only a new look into scripture, but also as a new look into himself as he shared with us that he had come out just three weeks before. Micah explained that he had been feeling as though he had to relearn how to interact with the world around him and that his struggle had led to a different form of relationship with those he knew. He was still unsure as to how to approach these issues and begin to accept his sexuality. As we listened to him speak we realized that the movie had provided not only an unexpected opportunity for evening entertainment, but a means to further explore his journey and the beginning of a support system within community.
As we exited the church he said that he was feeling a little overwhelmed by the curiousness of the situation. Not only had he happened upon the movie, but as he entered the church he had also seen signs reading, “Welcome”, and one banner preparing for Soul Force’s Pray-In that cited a passage from Micah. Imagine, as he entered a church with an assumption of barriers to his newly shared identity he was greeted by signs that called out to his name specifically. There could be little explanation other than the presence of the spirit bringing the possibility of a loving home through our work. What an incredible way to reach out to a man searching for a place at a table.
Matthew Dimick and Kate Trigger
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cups butter
½ cups brown sugar
¼ cup + 2 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup ground milk chocolate
1¼ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cups rolled oats, ½ cup ground
In a large bowl with a mixer at high speed, cream together the butter, the brown
sugar and the white sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing at high speed
until combined. Add the chocolate chips and the ground chocolate and mix on low speed
until combined. Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into the wet ingredients.
Add the oats and mix on low speed until combined.
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. For large cookies, measure out ½ cup of cookie
dough per cookie, less for smaller cookies. Flatten the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet
evenly until ½ inch thick. Allow 3 inches in between cookies for spreading. Bake until
the edges of the cookies just begin to firm and brown, about 15 minutes. Baking time will
vary depending on ovens and cookie size. The cookies will be very soft when they come
out of the oven.
Allow the cookies to cool for at least 7 minutes before attempting to remove them
from the cookie sheet. Gently lift the cookies off the cookie sheet with a large metal
spatula and let cool for at least another 5 minutes before serving.
20 ¼ cup cookies
½ cups butter
½ cups brown sugar
¼ cup + 2 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
½ cup raisins
1 cups + 2 tbsp flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups rolled oats
20 ¼ cup cookies
½ cups butter, softened
½ cups vegetable shortening
1½ cups sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups flour
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
In a large bowl with a mixer on high speed, cream together butter, vegetable
shortening and sugar. Add eggs & vanilla and mix just until combined. Sift together
flour, cinnamon, cream of tartar and baking soda and add to the butter mixture. Mix on
low speed until ingredients are combined, making sure to scrape down the sides. Do not
Pre-heat oven to 300°. Measure dough into 2 tbsp size balls and place on cookie
sheet 4 inches apart. Sprinkle with a combination of cinnamon & sugar and bake for
approximately 16 minutes. Baking times will vary based on individual ovens.
bake 300 degrees
½ cup cookies 20 mins
2 tbsp cookies 16 minutes
20 ¼ cup cookies
The service was led entirely by members of our team like me who are called to ordained ministry but are not able to serve openly because of our genders or sexualities. After each of us completed our portion of the service, we would announce, "Because of my gender or sexuality, I am not welcome to lead at this table," and leave the sanctuary. After each person left, the congregation responded in unison, "We feel your absence." Jeannine Oakes shared her moving testimony before the committee on church orders and ministry, Lisa Larges spoke about her statement of departure, and Alex McNeill provided a witness for the group.
After we sang "Amazing Grace," came my part in the service, and my tears. After announcing that I, too, was not welcome, I invited all others in the congregation who were not welcome to leave with me and join us for a vigil in the park across the street. Five or six of us left together. Shortly afterwards, the remainder of the congregation joined us and we celebrated Holy Communion. Standing in a circle of solidarity with my friends and allies painfully aware of the struggle in which we are all engaged, my tears dried and I was filled with a real sense of joy. I think it had something to do with the song we were singing: Over My Head.
As we sang, "Over my head, I hear music in the air, there must be a God somewhere," I was no less aware of, in James Taylor's words, the task that lies before us and the road that lies ahead. Added, though, was an awareness of the great gift that we have been given by God in the opportunity to live and work in such a beautiful community striving to transform the church through the power of love. And so I danced and I laughed and I clapped and I sang and I prayed and I continue to wait for the day in which I am welcome to lead at the table, but I did all of that with dry eyes.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
For several years I resisted my call to ordained ministry in this church because of the ordination standards in our constitution. I even thought about leaving the church to seek ordination in a more welcoming denomination.
But it was while I was interning with a UCC congregation that I realized that the Presbyterian Church is my home. I strongly believe that in order to fulfill my call I do not need to leave the church that I love and I am not alone in this struggle.
Never have I been in the presence of more qualified, passionate, and talented candidates for ministry than when I gather with gay candidates to minister to one another.
We have not left.
We are still here.
We are active in the mission and ministry of this church
This church still speaks to us.
Yesterday in worship we confessed: “You give yourself freely to us but we have held ourselves back from you and from others.” Friends, it’s time to stop holding Presbyterians back from their call in the church. The same Spirit that has called so many gay Presbyterians to ministry is calling us to live into full inclusion.
Yesterday in worship Bruce Reyes Chow urged us to consider the mountains we are making to tremble. Friends today, let’s move this mountain together.
What if art was not about the product? What if it wasn't about being perfect or talented? What if it was about the process? What if art-making was a deeply nurturing spiritual practice that
invited you to participate in creation and reflection? Or a way of worshiping with your whole self, your head and heart, your hands and body?
Join us for a workshop and become the artist for the afternoon.
Join us for a moment of peace and reflection in the midst of a busy week. Liturgical Artist Shawna Bowman (and friend of the Welcome (R)evolution), painter in the GA opening worship, will lead us in a Spiritual Art Practice and share tips and information about creating art in and for worship. No experience in art is necessary and supplies will be provided!
Wednesday, July 7th from 4-6pm
In the Westminster Presbyterian Church courtyard
and I was expecting our interaction to end right after she granted my request.
Aside from getting the cigarette I requested, the exact opposite happened.
This woman asked me when I realized that I was gay. I told her I had pretty
much always known. She told me that she herself had numerous lesbian sexual
experiences in her life and even had a long-term relationship with a woman
whom she deeply loved.
At this point in the conversation I was thinking I was speaking with an ally. I
couldn’t have been more wrong. She told me that one morning she woke up
and looked at her girlfriend and thought to herself “what am I doing?” She left
her girlfriend and ended up marrying the man who is now her husband. She had
three children whom she loves deeply. Had she not come to this realization,
she told me of how she would not have been blessed with her own biological
children. “God gave you the parts to make children… why don’t you want to use
them for that?” was the question she followed with. I could have used tons of
scientific terms, but I chose to just hear her out. I did, though, tell her that I had
been a sperm donor for a lesbian couple and that that would have been a way
for me to have a biological child. I didn’t get much of a response to that, but the
conversation just continued. She wondered why I wouldn’t consider changing
my sexual orientation. Basically, I find it hard to defend myself to someone who
claims to have “changed” their sexual orientation.
I took quite a bit away from this conversation, but the biggest thing I feel is that
God was telling me to stop smoking.
Broadening our ordination standards is hugely important to me. When I started seminary, I had no plans to fight this battle. I came close to leaving for the UCC, but each time I met Presbyterians, or went to a Presbyterian service, or as I learned about Presbyterian polity, I realized that this is my church, and I am a Presbo through and through.
As I stood in line, I heard some affirming and powerful testimonies, and I heard others that were filled with (self-)hatred and ignorance. I did my best not to listen to the painful stuff, as I was getting ready to speak, and instead I thought of my favorite place on earth -- the chapel at Union Seminary. I remembered feeling affirmed in my call to ministry, supported by my community, and I remembered some of my brilliant colleagues, who are also excluded from ordination.
I kept these friends on my heart as I stepped up to testify. I told the committee that I know some people are worried about the future of the church, but I could assure them that the church is in good hands. I know what passionate, talented, and Spirit-filled hands will lead our church into its future. But, I told them, so many of them -- of us -- are queer. Almost none of us look exactly like what we're used to. The church is in great hands, as long as we can trust God enough to ordain the leaders that God calls.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Here's something you may not know about stilts: When you're on them, you can't stop moving your feet. Not even for a couple seconds, or else you'll topple right over and getting back up will be a chore. Freddie and I spent the morning on 18" stilts having conversations with people and inviting them to our worship service tonight. And the number one question we were asked went along the lines of, "Why are you walking in place?" It came in just ahead of, "Is that as hard as it looks?" (The answer, by the way, is no, it's pretty easy once you get used to it. Here's a picture of me on my first day. My feet are a little more steady on the stilts today than they were on Friday!)
We started the morning hoping to hand out flyers inviting folks to our worship service, and we certainly did that and hope to have a great group of folks tonight, but we spent a good amount of time just wandering the exhibit hall, chatting with old friends and making new ones. When it came up, we'd explain to why we were here at GA and what our group does to promote justice and inclusion for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters, but, most importantly, we were living our vision of the church: engaged in conversation, focused on hospitality, not taking itself too seriously, and (perhaps most of all) imbued with a hearty dose of laughter and a sense of fun.
If you saw me today on stilts, please come say hi while I'm on the ground and we continue our conversation. If we didn't get a chance to chat today, keep an eye out - we'll be back!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Always wanted to be a part of a Flash Mob?
Always wanted to make the world just a little bit better, and just a bit more welcoming for LGBT folks?
Always wondered what it would be like to make a Presbyterian smile?
We thought so.
During the week of July 3-10, That All May Freely Serve, an organization working for fairness and equality in the Presbyterian Church will be initiating several Flash Mob events.
Join us at 12:50 pm every day this week, at the Wesley Church, 101 Grant Ave. next to the Convention Center in Minneapolis, to go over the plan and see who all wants to participate. Here's the breakdown of the week's Flash Mobs:
Monday: Freezing in place
Tuesday: High Fives!
Thursday: Marriage Proposals
Friday: Word Scramble
For more info, email Jennifer.lauren.martin@gmail.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
But worship we did. Centered around a spirit of fears and hopes, the worship team walked us through the emotions that fill us before the Assembly begins: "What are your fears for this week? What do you bring with you to the Table?" (And we'd love to head your answers to these questions in the comments!) As an ally, I am painfully aware of my privilege: married, ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) serving in a progressive, affirming congregation. At one point in our planning I stepped back and asked the group if they really thought I was the right person to preside over communion. Wouldn't they want someone lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer to serve at the Table? Wouldn't that embody our message more than me?! Could I really offer the message of an open Table when I, in fact, embody much of the privilege that so many people in the church do not have access to?
Power and privilege are not easy to bear. And so with the guidance of the worship team I approached the Table, I offered these words to our group: "Here, in God's Creation, there are no boundaries. God knows not of ordination standards, polity, ordination exams and yes, even the Book of Order. It's hard to believe, I know! This night we are all invited into the story of that Jesus' fateful evening..." We all joined in the story of Jesus' last meal with his disciples as the bread was broken and the cup poured out. We used our own words, stories, and memories to share in the narrative of God's story among us. To say that we are welcoming moves beyond the human made boundaries that we create. It is to say that we are uniquely called to be a part of the full body of the Church, one that calls and ordains each one of us to service in Creation. It says that we are not only welcome to the Table, but active participants in the life-giving meal that has been prepared for us.
by Larissa Kwong Abazia
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
There is something about the ABC salvation mentality that lead me to believe as a child that faith in God meant simply believing he existed. In some way or another, it's a mentality that i've carried with me to this day. Sort of this idea that faith in God didn't mean he had to be active or do much in particular--just be.
But God isn't inert, inactive, or disinterested. He is living, working, breathing life, and shaping the world. We don't place our faith in simply his existence, we place our faith in His active work.
1 Samuel 17 include the narrative of David and Goliath. The scene takes place in a valley with the Israelite army camped on one side and the Philistines on the other. The story is familiar: Goliath challenges the army, only the young David accepts, he slays the giant and victory ensues. But it's more than a children's story--it's a story about faith. Yes, the Israelites "believed" in a God, but only David, an errand boy, had the faith that God would prevail.
Here is where i meet this scripture: as an activist, as a social work student who aspires to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and as a member of a socially conservative church and family, sometimes i am burdened. I look back and i see all the failings, and the mistakes. I know the pain of the loss of marriage equality in CA, and i was there in Portland, Maine when activist, students, and all of us who went door to door--having those conversations--discovered we had lost equality. I look ahead and see how impending the challenge to equality and peace are. I know that the HIV infection and death rates are still increasing and far from plateauing. Do i fight because it's a fight that just needs to be fought? Or do i believe there is hope?
Not content to remain an errand boy as the battle wages on, as the enemy taunts--young and perhaps naive, i enter the battle.I know it will take miraculous work to get us though this. So i pick up my faith, in an active loving God, and i move forward, trusting He will prevail in all things.
This I commend to you as well.
I anticipate that the next few weeks will be a little like Advent and Lent for me. That may sound weird but hear me out. This is a period of waiting, longing, hoping for our time to meet one another and seek some radical change in the church we all love so dearly. As such, it feels a little like Advent to me and during Advent I like to add something to my daily routine. So I would encourage you all to add some spiritual practice, as brief as it may be over the next 2 weeks. I personally will spend 10 minutes in prayer every morning at 7am CST specifically for our TAMFS GA team and that our work at GA will be memorable and transformative. You are welcome to join me. I also plan on giving something up, thus making this journey a little like Lent, as a way of reminding myself of what is lacking in the church namely a love that transcends the binaries of gender and sexuality, a love that is so inclusive and welcoming that JC would smile down upon us. So I will be giving up desserts. By giving up sweet things these next two weeks I will be reminding myself of how sweet it will be to finally meet with you all in person to do God’s work for our beloved church. Blessings to you all as you prepare in your own ways for GA.
I suppose I should begin this devotional by making a confession. My name is Kate and I am a GA Junkie. My parents began dragging me to General Assembly at a very young age when they decided that was the appropriate thing for Louisville seminarians to do. I don't think they realized the addiction that they would instill into their child, perhaps they would advise some sort of rehabilitation program now, but alas here I am, arriving in Minneapolis on Wednesday. General Assembly for a child is not necessarily a bucket of fun. Sure, I was able to teach adults the macarena at the Witherspoon dance and find free pens throughout the exhibit hall, but all in all the dealings of committees and plenary sessions were not terribly appealing to a kid. Yet, here I stand as an adult returning once more. I have often been asked why I continue to come back well after my attendance was deemed necessary by my parents. As I walked through the halls of the San Jose Convention Center two years ago I kept coming back to that same question. By then I had found myself passionate about several of the issues coming to the assembly and was feeling frustrated by what seemed to be the constant tabling of overtures that I wanted to see passed NOW! I asked myself why I kept coming back to this place to fight these battles, why not take up with my home church or school, or why not even a secular national group? It was one thing that I witnessed in San Jose that provided my answer and led me to be writing to you all.
As I returned to the Convention Center in San Jose on one particularly sunny day I was greeted by a group of picketers. I had heard that they were coming and had been somewhat skeptical, as if these people would travel all this way just to hold a sign in front of us. Yet there they were with signs of hate and curses, enforcing a view of a God that not only disowns, but damns some of his/her own people. It was in my state of anger and confusion that I saw gather a group of people wearing rainbow stoles, people from TAMFS as well as other associations. Instead of fighting back, instead of making even a playful and somewhat taunting snarky remark, they surrounded the protesters and knelt in prayer. Each one connected to the person next to them, bowing their heads in front of people who would be happy to tell them they are hell-bound. It is then when I realized why I return. General Assembly has become a family reunion. We all gather, some family members closer than others, some distant relatives you've only heard of. Usually you meet one or two people that it turns out you should have met by now since you seem to know all the same people or go all the same places. Sure, there are some family members who don't agree with your views. Maybe there's a crazy aunt that you just can't seem to come to any sort of agreement with. But ultimately, we are all part of the same family. We will see it as we hold hands and bow our heads in prayer and as worshipers gather and committees break free. YAADs running around laughing despite voting differently in committee.
I share all this to hopefully quell some fears. We may be faced with what seems like unchristian behavior but it is important to remember as those in the prayer circle last assembly did, that we are all children of God bound together and chosen to be adopted into an infinite family. And with families comes love. (After all that is what we are fighting for isn't it? The right for all forms of love to be recognized!)
With the following scripture I wish you all a peaceful time until we see one another and a calm heart with which to approach the assembly. For those of you who are both new and old alike, this is your family too and I cannot wait to take all of our places at the table and hopefully remind the rest of God's children that this table is larger than we realize, large enough to fit each and every one of us and fill us all with love for one another and Christ.
1 John 4: 18-21:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. We love because God loved us first. If anyone says “I love God” and yet hates their fellow Christian, they are a liar, because the one who does not love their fellow Christian whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen. And the commandment we have from God is this: that the one who loves God should love their fellow Christian too.
So, hello, I’m Lisa, and I work here. Not here on this blog, but for That All May Freely Serve, the organization that thought it just might be fun to bring together a group of people and turn them loose at the 219th General Assembly, to practice hilarious feats of hospitality, and occasional provocations to laughter, and a totally earnest love for the church and for God’s people, just to see what could happen.
But, let’s refocus on me, for a minute. We thought we would use some of this blog real estate to introduce our team members, so, I agreed to try.
Me? I’m a lifelong Presbyterian, and a candidate for Ministry. I’ve been a candidate for Ministry since 1986, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!
I’m a member of Noe Valley Ministry, a lovely, eclectic, faith-seeking, justice-loving Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. Come visit!
More about me
Likes: San Francisco fog, the perfect 20 minute nap, history, old game shows, and people singing together.
Dislikes: funny movies that aren’t (they just infuriate me!) Cheerios – another long story, and not much else, really!
And, here’s the most important thing: I grew up in Minnesota, and I’m so excited that General Assembly is going to be in my home town.
Here’s the thing about Minnesota, from an insider’s point of view: people in Minnesota are really nice – in line at the grocery store, on the phone, stuck in traffic, at coffee hour – even if you wake one up suddenly in the middle of the night, a Minnesotan will be nice! “Minnesota Nice” it’s called. First they made it in to a joke – in that kind of self-deprecating way we have, then they started marketing it. You can get “Minnesota Nice” on T Shirts, and oven mitts, and coffee mugs and other stuff like that. Please don’t buy me any, ok? Thanks!
And here’s the thing about “Minnesota Nice.” I’ll admit it, I used to make fun of it; used to think it was artificial, and superficial, and co-dependent, and frankly annoying, which, sometimes it is. But, now that I’m an old lady, and now that it seems like the rest of the world is bent on being un-nice, I really appreciate some Minnesota Nice!
What I appreciate more than nice is “kind.” Kind is nice, but without the superficiality. You can have an open disagreement with someone, but still show deep generosity, caring, openness, and courtesy toward one another. So, if we can match “Minnesota Nice” with “Presbyterian Kindness,” I think it will be just about the best General Assembly ever!
But that’s just my opinion.
Have a nice day!
Hey, and thanks for reading!
~ Lisa Larges ~