Issue Number 1
|WELCOME! ... to the
first issue of the Presbyterian Promise newsletter! "Oh No! Not another
newsletter! Our mailboxes are full already!" How can more words be needed
about something so obvious? I remember Chris Glaser’s aggrieved comments
at the 1998 GA MLP celebration. “…after civil rights and the ordination
of women, we figured this would be a piece of cake! Five years max!” Well,
it's thirty five years after women were ordained to what Presbyterians
now call the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. The talents of many, many
called, gifted and faithful Christians have been squandered and lost. And
it's not just gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangendered people who've lost
faith and given up on the church.
No matter how urgently needed and prayed for, no mere change in polity will resolve our struggles to understand God's love. Each day brings good news and bad news. One day Wayne Osborne can be installed. The next, the matter is stayed again. The Session at Stamford recently received a supporting opinion from Southern New England's PJC, but the matter has now gone back to the Synod PJC. We may expect it eventually to go to the GA PJC.
We're in this for the long term. God's Grace does abound. We are free to enjoy and rejoice. This inaugural issue reflects times of grace we've recently shared. We hope it serves both to encourage you and to invite you to the celebration.
Ralph Jones, editor
WOW 2000 -- Presbyterian Promise Should Be There
Witness Our Welcome, 2000, or more affectionately known as WOW 2000 can be a great resource for Presbyterian Promise's work in Southern New England. Sponsored by the welcoming programs of eight denominations in this country and Canada, WOW is an historic witness of people who believe that God's love includes people of all sexual orientations. Over 1200 participants are expected to converge on Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois from Aug. 3-6, 2000 for a weekend of creative worship, Bible Study, celebration, and preparation to further our shared vision of a truly inclusive church of Jesus Christ.
The weekend will bring together some of the most famous theologians, thinkers, and activists of the welcoming movement, including Carter Heyward, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, and Jimmy Creech. More Light Presbyterians have been involved in WOW from its inception and the people who've worked for welcome in our denomination are prominent in the program. Rev. Jane Spahr will preach in the Sunday worship, and she will be joined by Chris Glaser, Michael Adee, field organizer for More Light Presbyterians, and Martha Juillerat and the Stoles Project. In our work since 1978, Presbyterians have contributed much to the welcoming movement, and we will be able to share much of that in DeKalb. But welcoming groups in other denominations have also struggled mightily and have a lot to teach us as well.
The program includes over 50 workshops led by people from all eight denominations. Some of the workshops focus on how lives have been changed by people coming to a new understanding of gay and lesbian Christians. Many focus on the work of spreading the word of welcome and will be useful tools for our work in Southern New England. There will be workshops on doing outreach to congregations, supporting welcoming congregations, developing non-hostile communication skills, working with parents of lesbians and gays, developing welcoming worship, creating truly inclusive youth ministry. In short, many workshops are aimed at equipping us to do our work right here.
We hope that people from this region will be among the 1200 gathering in DeKalb. For more information, please call Dick Hasbany, who serves on WOW's coordinating committee, at (203) 791-9926, and visit the website at www.wow2k.org.
That All May Freely Serve
National Leadership Conference
From March 24-26, eleven representatives from Presbyterian Promise attended the National Leadership Conference sponsored by TAMFS (That All May Freely Serve) in Rochester, New York. The conference provided a forum for regional representatives from across the country to gather together, plan organizing strategies, and infuse the work with an increased level of energy. Representatives departed Rochester on Sunday afternoon not only with briefcases full of new and exciting material, but enlivened by the time spent in fellowship with men and women who share a common mission.
As a new member of Presbyterian Promise attending my first national conference, I was eager to see the ways that our work on a local level ties in to the national movement. Toward this end, there was an extremely effective exchange of ideas throughout the conference between folks from across the nation, whether through formally structured workshops or informal discussions; people were very clear about what has worked in their regions and what hasn't. Further, the movement's national leaders, like Janie Spahr and Michael Adee, were accessible for one-on-one conversations throughout the weekend. It was critical for me to meet the people who are the public face of this movement, to hear the stories of how they came to be involved, and to allow myself to be caught up in the energy that they create.
By Sunday afternoon, several themes of the conference evolved that I hope to bring back to Connecticut to share with those who could not be present in Rochester:
David Townsend Lewicki
The Worship, Virginia!
The Second Annual TAMFS conference in Rochester this past March was a wonderful event due to the extraordinary mix of people and the ideas that are generated by such an intense and heady exchange of viewpoints, feelings, emotions, perspectives. I have always come away from these conferences - whether they've been More Light or (in a former lifetime) PLGC - drained, talked out, giddy, exhilarated and overwhelmed. Over the years of my on-again-off-again involvement with GLBT Presbyterians and their marvelous cohorts, it is the worship services that stick most in my heart and mind.
I don't know exactly what it is - this particular mix of people, their troubled but ultimately joyous journeys into truth and accountability before God, the "gay" spirit or sensibility always present, the love of art and music and drama - but worshiping together is a rare and ennobling treat. In fact, it comes closest to what I feel worship should really be always about: high drama, celebration, a reinvigoration of the customs and shared practice humans have developed to explore the perplexing mystery of life.
I must admit that I rarely have this same feeling in other worship venues where everything seems, in comparison, dry, understated, controlled, glossed over, minimized, rote. How do we bring the "good news" of the wonderful worships we have as LGBT & Company to the church at large? In between conferences the struggle plods on and I contemplate the next time we "all will be together, if the fates allow."
Notes from Rev. Janie Spahr and Virginia Davidson's Visit with Presbyterian Promise – March 2 - 5, 2000
Friday, Janie was able to revisit places in Rhode Island where she had lived when she was first married.
Among the responses:
Ralph Jones, with help from Dan Blackford, Jack Hartwein-Sanchez, Chris Delmar and Craig Machado
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