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Issue Number 4
March 2001

Articles 
What's New?
Letters
Vision Into Reality
Celebration
PresProm Comes Out!
News Notes
Education
Calendar
Contact Us
Invitation
 
 

What’s New?

Presbyterian Promise has been busy! We’ve been working both to respond to the vision of a more loving and just church and to develop a more effective organization. Details follow, but here’s a quick review.
Our BIG news: We are now Presbyterian Promise, Incorporated!!!
  • On January 26, the State of Connecticut formally approved us as a corporation.
  • And we hired David Lewicki as coordinator! David began working with us March 1st. His responsibilities include meeting with supportive churches and helping us move toward hiring an evangelist.
  • We now have our own bank account and are in the process of seeking tax-exempt status.
  • But clearly none of this matters unless we reach a new and more effective level of ministry. This is a big leap of faith. We are counting on God’s leading – and your support. Both are essential!
Outreach and Evangelism: We have been in rewarding conversation with leaders at the Wilton and Westminster churches. Wayne and Letty met with concerned people at Wilton in February. In December, Pat and Ralph discussed possibilities with Westminster’s Social Justice committee.

Program: All are invited to live in God’s kingdom, and one opportunity to experience this is coming soon! Come celebrate inclusive love with us at our first ever benefit -- Wayne Osborne and Friends -- Saturday evening, April 28, at Wilton Presbyterian Church. Be there! And Pres Prom is also playing a supportive role in the ecumenical worship on June 9th in New Haven, on New Haven’s Gay Pride Day.

Education is one of our founding purposes.

  • In September, October and early November, members and friends of Presbyterian Promise joined together to encourage our presbytery to reflect on and respond to the several aspects of our polity which discriminate against some of God’s children. At its November meeting, the Presbytery of Southern New England voted both to ask General Assembly to begin the process of removing G-6.0106b (which impedes the installation of officers) and to reject the attempt to ban blessing people in a great variety of loving relationships (Proposed Amendment 00-O).
  • Also this fall, Letty Russell taught her Readings in g/l/b/t liberation theology course at Yale Div School and opened it to members of the wider community.
  • Our website is now officially linked from TAMFS www.tamfs.org, or visit us directly at PresbyPromise.home.att.net
Changes: It was with real regret that the board recently accepted Wayne’s resignation as co-moderator. No job is ‘for life’ but still this is challenging. Wayne continues on the board and is available to meet with people and churches.

Legal matters: The precedent setting church trial concerning Stamford’s re-election of Wayne as elder is now before the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Committee, our highest church court.

We ask your prayers for all God’s people as we struggle to see more clearly. We are in exciting times!

Ralph Jones

Letters

Coordinator’s Report
March 12, 2001

I am pleased to be writing to you as the new Coordina-tor for Presbyterian Promise, Inc.! Two very exciting events have taken place since our last newsletter, both marking steps forward in the life of this organization. 

The first is our incorporation with the State of Con-necticut and application to the IRS for status as an independent 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. This status will enable us to move boldly ahead with effective fundraising for our educational and outreach work, permit us to oversee our own finances, and allow us to hire staff people to carry out Presbyterian Promise’s critical founding mission. Our incorporation in Con-necticut was recognized on January 26th and formalized at the February 11th Board meeting. Many thanks to Barbara Hager (and the Law Firm of Zeldes, Needle and Cooper) for their advice and support in the incorporation process.

The second event of note is that Presbyterian Promise has its first employee! I was offered and accepted the Coordinator position by the Search Committee and be-gan work on behalf of the organization on March 1st. Most recently I served as the co-founder and Operations Director for a youth-service nonprofit in New Haven, a position which I held for three years. I have been involved with Presbyterian Promise for just over a year, serving as an Elder representative from First Presbyterian Church of New Haven. During the next few months, it is my expectation to continue developing relationships with supportive churches in Southern New England, increase the organization’s administrative capacity, and prepare Presbyterian Promise for the hiring of a full-time Evangelist/ Coordinator.

It is truly a privilege to be involved in an organization with wonderful people doing important work. Please keep the mission of Presbyterian Promise in your prayers and join us in fellowship for our benefit con-cert in Wilton, CT on April 28th!

David Lewicki


 

March 13, 2001
Dear Presbyterian Promise Board Members,

It is with a great deal of sadness that I must resign as Co-Moderator of Presbyterian Promise, effective today March 13, 2001. The progress we have achieved has been amazing, while the incredible journey ahead is both exciting and humbling. Your commitment to sharing God's justice and inclusive love with all people is an inspiration to me and to many others and I thank you for letting me play a small role in the struggle.

I believe 2001 will bring some major breakthroughs. I believe with God's help we will defeat Amendment O, First Presbyterian Church of Stamford will win its case before the General Assembly PJC, Presbyterian Promise will have five supporting churches, the network of TAMFS & More Light will expand exponentially, and GLBT people will begin to know that this is for real.

While this letter serves as an official resignation from my role as Co-Moderator, I would request that the board allow me to continue in a "diminished" capacity as a board member.

Many thanks for your understanding and for your wonderful friendship and love.

Sincerely,

P. Wayne Osborne

 

Vision Into Reality

…is the theme of this issue. We are in the process of moving very suddenly and very publicly from a time of discernment and envisioning to the reality of active ministry. It is a scary time for us. It’s a time of ‘coming out’ (see Letty Russell’s essay on our history). It is a time of recognizing that the gifts a board must provide differ from those of a minister or evangelist. It is a time of recognizing that the work will not wait, even though we are not sure how it can be accomplished. It is a process of recognizing that we need help.

There are two main hopes for these Spring months and David’s work with us with us as coordinator: That we can develop a process leading us to the person called to do ministry with gay/lesbian/bisexual and transgendered people in Southern New England and that the benefit concert and your generosity will leave us with the financial resources to hire that person!

There are many unanswered questions. How will this ministry take shape? Will someone be willing to take on the risks of this call? Above all, can we afford to go forward? Change comes slowly in churches, and there are many demands on us all. But can we be faithful if we do not venture on? God came to us, and to our parents in the faith, when we were hungry, or lost, or both.

We commend ourselves into your hands – trusting in God’s love!

Ralph Jones
 

Benefit Concert Celebration!

Join us for a musical celebration of inclusive love called Wayne Osborne and Friends -- Saturday evening, April 28, at 7 p.m. at the Wilton Presbyterian Church. The con-cert features music by Wayne, a Presbyterian elder from Stamford, and will celebrate the efforts of the many dedicated individuals working to create a witness for God’s inclusive love. Mr. Osborne is a gifted composer, vocalist and pianist, and will perform a program of original songs inspired by his struggle to establish a place as an openly gay man and an ordained leader of the Presbyterian Church. The music will be interspersed with readings and reflections on the meaning and challenges of this particular form of Christian witness. The Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, a national leader with the advocacy organization That All May Freely Serve, will also appear on the program. The evening promises to be both good fun and inspiring. It should be an important and uplifting opportunity for all who share the vision of a just and inclusive church to come together in fellowship, spirit and song.

This is an exciting opportunity to witness God’s inclusive love! Your presence is essential to our success. For tickets and additional information, see the enclosed flyer.

David Lewicki


 

 

Welcome Worship in New Haven: A June Witness to Inclusion

It’s a first! Nine New Haven congregations, including First Presbyterian, will hold a June 9 worship service to proclaim their welcome of lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender people into their lives and communities. The worship will celebrate the promise that no one is left out of God’s love, and will witness to the spiritual richness and creativity of inclusive congregations. It is exactly this promise and witness that propels Presbyterian Promise in its work.

The congregations that have become sponsors of the wor-ship service believe that:

  • This worship can be an outreach to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender persons who have left their faith communities in anger and hurt because of exclusionary policies and hostility or lukewarm welcome.
  • This worship can be an instrument of healing and reconciliation.
  • The worship is for everyone. It is an outreach to the disaffected and unchurched, but it is also designed for the members of each of the sponsoring congregations--the parents and relatives of LGBT children, the friends and supporters of justice for all people, and those who seek a creative and inspiring worship of their God.
The preacher will be Rev. John Selders, a United Church of Christ minister now serving the Warburton Church in Hartford. He comes to Connecticut from the Urban Leadership Project of the Night Ministry of Chicago. He is an award-winning songwriter, musician and performer, and has worked for racial justice and HIV/AIDS education in several arenas, including regional and national agencies of the United Church of Christ and the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns. He was a major speaker in the Witness Our Welcome (WOW) 2000 conference in Illinois last summer.

The planning has been done by passionate and creative gay and non-gay folks, lay and clergy, people of color and people of commitment. The worship will be a preview of the Church as it can be.

Join us Saturday, June 9, 10:30 - noon at the United Church on the Green in New Haven. Contact me at dick_hasbany@yahoo.com or (203) 777-4579 or (203) 789-4311.

Dick Hasbany

Presbyterian Promise Comes Out!

The birth and development of our ministry in the Presbytery of Southern New England

Presbyterian Promise is a community of faithful Christians who are committed to witness and evangelism in the Presbytery of Southern New England and its member churches and communities. Over the past five years this community has grown in self-understanding and in its commitment to serving in an inclusive church. It has also developed its connections to the wider church and the many organizations that serve lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered persons.

Birth:  The story of the birth of Presbyterian Promise is also a story of the ministry of the late Tom Otte, a gay pastor in the Presbytery of Southern New England. In November of 1996 Tom organized a Tri-Presbytery (Boston, Northern and Southern New England) gathering of Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns. PLGC is a predecessor of More Light Presbyterians. Tom’s “Reflections,” shared at that gathering, focused on his years of struggle with his realization that he was gay. This meeting energized Tom as an organizer and evangelist in our region, inviting others to join in the meetings and work. More Light Presbyterians of SNE developed from these efforts.

 
 
 
Rev. Thomas Otte
about 1980
 
Tom Otte’s ministry was not without continuing cost and sorrow. In October 1997 his wife died, and in 1998 he resigned his position as pastor because he had come out to the session of the church he was serving and did not feel he could continue there. Tom led MLP/SNE in the witness on behalf of Wayne Osborne’s installation as elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford. This evangelistic ministry was cut short by Tom Otte’s tragic murder in his home on March 4, 1999, but the lasting gift of his courage has continued to inspire us all.

Development:  Out of this senseless violence, Presbyterian Promise was born. The memorial gifts directed by the Otte family to this new group provided initial funding for our ministry. In the summer of 1999 the connection of the group was expanded so that the ministry also was recognized as a regional group of That All May Freely Serve and the name, Presbyterian Promise and a Mission statement were adopted.

To proclaim God’s promise of justice and love in Jesus Christ by organizing inclusive and inquiring churches in the Presbytery of Southern New England into a community of mutual support for the empowerment of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender persons, and for outreach, education, and Christian evangelism.
The officers elected were Wayne Osborne and Letty Russell, Co-Chairpersons; Ralph Jones, Treasurer; Patricia Wales, Secretary. As Presbyterian Promise develops, it is slowly becoming a community of churches who are willing to share its ministry and outreach by supporting its work. With growing support the community hopes to honor Tom Otte’s example by hiring an evangelist to serve our Presbytery.

The development of Presbyterian Promise has been parallel to the events in the national church. Although our Presbytery voted against “Amendment B,” the majority of Presbyterians approved it in 1997 and it became G-6.0106b. It requires all church officers to “ . . . live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” Attempts to change this paragraph in the Book of Order have not yet been successful. Therefore, when in May 1998, the Stamford Church elected Elder Wayne Osborne to a second term, the trials of the church began and the appeals have not yet ended.

Presbyterian Promise also cooperates with the Covenant Network, which is a wider coalition of Presbyterian Churches committed to maintaining the unity of the church while working for the repeal of “Amendment B.” We share this commitment and continue our work of evangelism in this Presbytery. Our mission is to bring about a change of personal faith conviction and theological understanding that would make it possible for the church to remain faithful to its heritage and open to all those who ac-knowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Letty Russell
 

News Notes

Presbyterian Welcome Celebrates Full Time Ministry

December 17, 2000 – New York, NY – Commissioned with worship at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church and a festive reception across town at Rutgers PC, Presbyterian Welcome today celebrated going full time. Rev. Cliff Frasier, Pres Welcome’s Evangelist, moved from a part time call into a comfortable new office at Rutgers where he will be devoting full time to the ministry of hospitality….
 

TAMFS National Conference

March 26, 2001 – Atlanta, GA – Three members of the Pres Prom board flew to Atlanta for the annual national conference of That All May Freely Serve. David Lewicki reports a joyous time with many opportunities to develop understanding of the work of inclusive love. He continues that each year TAMFS National is becoming better organized to carry out its ministry. Exciting….
 
 

Education 

Letty Russell, Virginia Davidson, Janie Spahr
Three Women of Faith at YDS
Ralph Jones 
This fall Presbyterian Promise has been part of a class at Yale Divinity School taught by Letty Russell. The course investigates our theological understanding of Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender issues and has the informal title of “Queer Liberation Theology.” We have discussed our understanding of human sexuality, and have compared the teachings of church and biblical tradition with the experiences of LGBT people concern-ing what it means to be whole persons loved by God. 
Visits by Wayne Osborne, of Presbyterian Promise, as well as Janie Spahr and Virginia Davidson from TAMFS have been highlights. Their willingness to share their gifts with the class of about 40 people add to the ways we can reach out and share our own commitments and insights with other people. We hope to be able to do other programs of continuing education in the future! Several people responded to this opportunity for continuing education when it was extended in the first issue of our Newsletter. 
Letty Russell
Queer Liberation Theology Class
Ralph Jones

Bumper Sticker for the day:

Who took the FUN out of
FUNDAMENTALISM?
Presbyterian
Promise
News
Is published by
PRESBYTERIAN
PROMISE
Home

P. O. Box 227
Greenwich CT
06836-0227

203.961.9970

Wayne Osborne
Letty Russell
Co-moderators
Jack Hartwein-Sanchez
MLP liaison
Pat Wales
Secretary
Ralph Jones
Treasurer

Affiliations
That All May Freely Serve
More Light Presbyterian

Calendar of Events

     
    April 8
    Pres Prom board meeting -- 3 PM -- New Haven: First
    April 25 - 29
    Janie Spahr visits Presbyterian Promise
    April 28
    Benefit Concert -- 7 PM -- Wayne Osborne at Wilton PC
    May 11 - 12
    PSNE Meeting -- Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford
    June 9
    Welcoming Churches ecumenical worship
        -- United Church on the Green, New Haven
    June 7 - 16
    General Assembly -- Louisville KY
    September 15
    PSNE Meeting
    November 7 - 11
    Janie Spahr to visit Presbyterian Promise
    November 9 - 10
    PSNE Meeting -- Holy Family Retreat Center
OUR MISSION STATEMENT 
-- 
To proclaim God's promise of justice and love in Jesus Christ by organizing inclusive and inquiring churches in the Presbytery of Southern New England into a community of mutual support for the empowerment of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered persons, and for outreach, education, and Christian evangelism.

Invitation

  • Share this newsletter with your friends.
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  • Write a story for the next issue.
  • Keep your experience of God's inclusive love before the leaders of your congregation.
  • Rejoice!