Issue Number 9
Heritage of Pride
Report to TAMFS
Lisa at Waterford
In wilting heat, several Presbyterian Promise banner-bearers from CT and RI joined a good many more folks from Presbyterian Welcome and countless others, flowing onto 5th Avenue from their staging areas on side streets, to form this year's Heritage of Pride march.
We make affirmations – verbal and visible – not out of habit, but to remind us: who we are, where we've been, what we hope to be; lest we forget.
We are also permitted to have fun. It is, after all, June in New York and far enough from September 11 to allow the customary degree of unbridled enthusiasm and (by some standards) outrageous expressions of identity. The traditional 2:00 PM moment of silence though, does spark the remembrance of so many more who are no longer here with us.
Somber too is passing by St. Patrick's cathedral. The barricaded edifice standing in mute testimony to the troubled relationship between the Catholic church and the LGBT community.
And for me there is the uncomfortable remembrance of the cost of silence: the untold plans, the unutterable thoughts and dreams; given some small outlet here in the middle of Manhattan, amid the temples of faith, commerce and culture. There are also the uplifting occasions of applause and other acknowledgment from the crowds – recognition of Presbyterians! This is a pleasant and unfamiliar experience for New Englanders. And it brings me to something that dwells on my mind.
We are a Southern New England organization and while it is well and good to bear witness in so large and nearby a place as New York City, I believe it is more important to do so "at home." Several of our number recently did just that in New Haven but we have been sadly absent from Providence, the largest city in the Presbytery. The season of LGBT Pride observances is not over however, and so I express the hope that those who are able and feel as passionate about this as I do help celebrate my birthday in Hartford on September 21 – Bushnell Park, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. One more step on the road.
Activities begin with a rally at 11 AM. Following this, our booth opens from noon till about 6. We do need people taking turns staffing this. Please contact Dan Blackford (401) 273-2435 or Jack Hartwein-Sanchez (401) 624-6698 firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help out.
Even if you can't commit to a scheduled time, join us. This is a great time to learn what's happening in the GLBT communities and to share our story.
You're invited to her birthday party!
We'll be celebrating our witness to the Connecticut community and Janie's birthday at John and Brittany Merz' starting at 3 PM. Janie has asked for contributions to the regions and to the national That All May Freely Serve ministry instead of gifts to her.
Join us in Bushnell and then rejoice with us at John's. And take a moment to make an extra contribution to our ministries.
RSVP to John at email@example.com
or leave a message at (860) 523-5889. See you there!
I tried to be a truth-teller in our committee – after the moratorium folks presented a very cheerful and BENIGN view of what they were seeking I spoke at length, the first time in Committee – against it. I said flat out I though they were lying – they WERE trying to discourage discussion and change in our church – and that I believed the folks in the pews would take it that way, no matter how much they protested that what they really just wanted was for "us all to get along." Getting along at the price of silence is not worth the price of putting all our lights under a bushel, I said.
Anyway, what really struck me deeply at this assembly was actually FEELING how much what we did last year had created an EARTHQUAKE of sorts – not necessarily only for those squarely against it, but for everyone. I learned a lot more about the money and time and effort spent in reaction to Amendment 01-A and the SHOCK many felt. This was really surprising to me – after working here in SNEP all these years with you, it just seemed like a graduated movement toward sensible justice. But I FELT the POWER we had and the influence our work had, and it was really EXCITING to realize how I was part of causing such a quake and shudder in all those stodgy Presbyterians! I sort of knew this before this year's GA, but had not actually FELT it. It was amazing.
Afterwards, David and I went to Chipotle Mexican Grill, cause of many a case of indigestion when I lived in Columbus, where we had a stimulating discussion over burritos about Queer Theory and its relation to the GLBT Christian movement.
The worship service on Sunday was truly inspiring. After working with
a large group of volunteers, Katie and Lisa pulled together the call to
worship and little skits that took place throughout the service. Their
tag-team sermon was wonderful. The Mt. Auburn Collective led us in music
and they were rockin'. It struck me that the most spontaneously spiritual
worship services I have attended have been with congregations that have
gathered to celebrate GLBT inclusion. Hmmm. Wonder if there's something
I was also thrilled to be reunited with two of my former ministers. Steve Van Kuiken, now pastor of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian in Cincinnati, was pastor of my home church in Covington, KY, from 1987-1993. He played an important part in my early coming out process. Margaret Hawk from New Creation MCC, who participated in the service, was a good friend and minister to Brock and me when we lived in Columbus.
I was unexpectedly moved on Saturday night by the Moderator election. After getting over my initial frightened reaction to the TV screens throughout the convention center that were projecting multiple, giant cult-like video images of Jack Rogers, I started looking around at all the people gathered there. I realized this was probably the largest crowd of Presbyterians I had ever been a part of. They all seemed sort of nerdy and well behaved. Everything was being done decently and in good order. They were all deeply involved with their home congregations and concerned about the direction of their church. And I got a sense similar to the one I get when I go to gay pride events: that sense that, for better or worse, these are my people.
Since GA, I've had more of a sense of ownership about this church. After all, I was raised Presbyterian – infant baptized and teenager confirmed. My parents are Presbyterian; they met at a Presbyterian church. Their parents were Presbyterian. When those who oppose my full inclusion say I have no business being here, I must remind them, and myself, that I have as much of a right to be here as anyone else. I am the kind of person this church produces: a gay, liberal, pluralist believer who feels called to ministry. I'm not saying I'll never leave the PCUSA, but this GA has made it a lot harder. Because by the grace of God it's my church too.
On October 27, Reformation Sunday, at 3:00 p.m., members of welcoming churches in the Presbyteries of Southern New England, New York City, and Hudson River will gather at South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, New York to offer support, recognition, and encouragement to individuals and congregations who continue to heed God's call to inclusion. Rev. Hal Porter, pastor emeritus of the Mt. Auburn Church in Cincinnati, will preach. Rev Porter's outspoken leadership at Mt. Auburn, which stands in open dissent to the ordination ban, has been named in one of the many cases that mark the current judicial season. He has an extraordinary grasp of denominational history, clarity of vision, and a passionate eloquence that will be in itself worth the drive to Dobbs Ferry.
Please join us and our beloved friends from New York City and Hudson River. Please bring a friend. Whether you are already involved in Presbyterian Promise, More Light Presbyterians, Covenant Network, or if you simply want to learn more about our work to realize the hope of inclusion, we would be honored by your presence. Be with us as we celebrate the witness that has already been made and renew our commitment to a denomination reformed and ever reforming.
You can learn more by visiting the Reformation Sunday web site (created by Ralph Jones) at http://presbypromise.home.att.net or call us at (203) 777-4579
If you need a ride to the Reformation Sunday service in Dobbs Ferry, NY at 3:00, please call Dick Hasbany at (203) 777-4579. We will try to coordinate drivers and riders. If you can offer someone else a ride, please let Dick know as soon as possible.
In the fall we joined Presbyterian Welcome, churches in Hudson River Presbytery and TAMFS: National to sponsor John Rhodes in a campaign to get out a positive vote for "Amendment 01-A." We cooperated with clergy in this Presbytery to hold a planning luncheon and to get out the vote to ratify the Amendment. We also participated in a training session on organizational development with Janie Spahr, Ginny Davidson, Jim Vesper, and Susan Thomas in order to expand our membership and funding base.
Presbyterian Promise was born in the spring/summer of 1999 and now that we are three, we are able to walk and run, but we have a long way to go to becoming a well funded organization with an evangelist or outreach minister. During the year we appointed a search committee for an evangelist and a fund raising committee that sees its job as generating funds for at least a part-time position. We are incorporated thanks to the hard work of Barbara Hager and Ralph Jones, and we are looking for someone to do youth outreach we see this as a real need in the Presbytery of Southern New England.
On December 4, 2001 the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission declared moot the more than three year case concerning First Presbyterian Church of Stamford's decision to reinstall Elder Wayne Osborne. Wayne's intended three year term concluded in June 2001 and a successor has been installed.
At our annual meeting in February, Dick Hasbany and Letty Russell were elected as co-chairs, Ralph Jones as Treasurer, and Dan Blackford as secretary. The meeting included worship led by Maria LaSala and a meditation by Letty Russell on "God's Promise of Justice and Love," and a light supper provided by Terry Davis and the First Presbyterian Church of Hartford.
At the wonderful TAMFS Conference, chaired by our own Dick Hasbany in April, we also had a meeting with Hudson River churches and Presbyterian Welcome to search for ways to cooperate in our LGBT ministries, and to develop what we call the "Sleepy Hollow" network [our first meeting was near Sleepy Hollow on the Hudson River]. This led us to accept the challenge of the conference to make a national witness during Reformation Sunday. We sent out a mailing to all the Presbyterian Churches in the USA asking them to honor Reformation Sunday with a special observance "to offer support and recognition to individuals and congregations who continue to heed God's call to inclusion despite threats of discipline and invitations to leave the denomination." Our Sleepy Hollow group will also sponsor a joint service on October 27th to renew our commitment to a just and inclusive church, reformed and ever reforming." Lisa Larges will join us for the event. Hal Porter will be preaching.
Presbyterian Promise has had a spring and summer of Pride Day celebrations and progress toward our fall program events. We marched with Presbyterian Welcome in the New York Pride Parade, supported a LGBT table of ecumenical welcoming churches at New Haven Pride, and this fall we will have our own table at the Pride event in Hartford. This is part of our mission to reach out beyond the church to the community with a message of welcome!
As part of that message for youth in and outside our churches we held
a youth gathering sponsored by the Wilton Presbyterian Church and the First
Presbyterian Church of New Haven. Brian Cave was our special resource person.
We plan to continue these much needed youth outreach programs in our Presbytery
of Southern New England. In this area we are also cooperating with other
groups to see if they can bring the musical Luv According to Luc
to Yale in New Haven next year. We also offered a course in the spring
at the New Haven First's Center for Faith and Life, entitled "Practicing
Hospitality in a World of Difference," taught by Letty Russell and Shannon
Outreach to the churches continues with discussions in the churches and an invitation to interested churches to appoint delegates to the board and committees to as we build relationships. In May we sent out a letter to our supporters entitled, "An Invitation to Break the Silence" calling for solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Christ who are the objects of judicial harassment. In June we held a special service in New Haven to send off Barbara Hager as a commissioner to GA and to give thanks for the witness of Greg Price along with Wayne Osborne in the Stamford church. The service was followed by a potluck at Dick Hasbany and Craig Machado's home.
Our summer includes planning for the upcoming Pride Event in Hartford and for several fund raisers that will take place in the fall. Moving toward the possibility of having a part-time outreach minister remains an important goal for us as we look forward to these events. We have several very informative issues of Presbyterian Promise News on our web site and we invite you to visit the site at http://presbypromise.home.att.net or to contact our web spinner, Ralph Jones for further information.
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