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!!!
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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
Our website is now officially linked from TAMFS www.tamfs.org,
or visit us directly at PresbyPromise.home.att.net
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!
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!
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
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!
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
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.
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
The congregations that have become sponsors of the wor-ship service
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or (203) 777-4579 or (203) 789-4311.
Presbyterian Promise Comes Out!
The birth and development of our ministry in the Presbytery of Southern
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
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.
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.
Rev. Thomas Otte
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.
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
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.
Letty Russell, Virginia
Davidson, Janie Spahr
Three Women of Faith at
|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.
Queer Liberation Theology
Bumper Sticker for the day:
Who took the FUN out of