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Author Archive

Lenten Meditations 2014

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)

    Palm Sunday
    (13 April 2014)
    by Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez

    The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”

    Matthew 21:6-9

    “Hosanna to David’s son!”

    With Palm Sunday´s celebration, we begin our spiritual itinerary into Holy Week. One more time, we are convened to the paschal mystery as Hans Urs von Balthar said, “There in Jesus´ paschal mystery we recognize that God has not just redeemed the world but disclosed God´s own being”[1]. I think we will never understand the profound reflection in this mystery, because it overwhelms us. That´s the reason we need to come again and again to this celebration, not just once a year, but every Sunday in our worship.

    Palm Sunday offers to us, in a concentrated, advanced way, all that we will celebrate during the Holy Days because present to us is the figure of Jesus, as the suffering King that is acclaimed, yet at the same time scoffed at.

    When the Cheering Stopped
    (Photo: philmoser.com)

    This Palm Sunday, we are not just recalling what happened almost 20 centuries ago; we have the opportunity to live with the same hope those in Jerusalem showed to Jesus in his triumphal entry. The call of the Christian liturgy is for us to be keenly present to the realities of an unjust world and live into our responsibility to change it.

    For me, it is so hard to imagine the Palm Sunday that Jesus experienced was a festive and organized celebration, with the people exhibiting good behavior. Of course, that is not what happened. I imagine their actions were more like an authentic, joyous manifestation of their hope. Finally, they felt it was the right moment to express loudly their expectations, not just in the spiritual way, but in their full lives with all their being. It was more like a protest, motivated by the sense that something was about to change for the better.

    Another World is Possible...
    (Photo: indymedia.org)

    We can celebrate in a new way this day, remembering that Jesus made his entry to Jerusalem mounted on a donkey, showing humility, gentleness, and peace, and surrounded by the crowd that was his community. We, as MCC, can celebrate Holy Week in the same spirit by being with the people in need, showing we have the conviction to reply to God´s calling with renewed, radical, inclusive acceptance of all people.

    Let me share with you one experience from my early days as a clergy person. I was ordained a catholic priest in 1994. My first mission was in a small town that had just one ranch. The new priest was required to be in charge of the ranch, which had around 50 families living on it. I will always remember the day I arrived in that community. I experienced an incredible welcome two miles before the chapel; all the people were waiting for me so they could offer a special reception with a mariachi, fireworks, and shaking hands with everybody. Of course, nothing comes without some requirement from our lives. I understood with humility, that was my Palm Sunday in my life as a priest.

    This is Not the Change We Hoped For!
    (Photo: news.mongabay.com)

    In the same community, just weeks later, I experienced the other not so comfortable face, when some people would stand up and leave the chapel because I was the priest in charge to celebrate the mass. At that time, I shared my ministry with a very old, traditional, and retired priest, who used to celebrate the mass in Latin. He told the people that I, the new priest, was a product of the devil because I did not use the Latin. This experience marked my ministry and my conviction; it helped me keep in my mind and heart that I would need to be prepared to live the reality that just because I am a clergy person does not mean I would always be welcome. Not everywhere would I hear “tu casa es mi casa.”

    I used to celebrated Palm Sunday in the communities with banners that showed what change was needed in the context where we lived. The crowd that welcomed Jesus in Jerusalem had the expectations that something new would happen soon. If we have the goal to welcome Jesus in our community with our palms, we need to also have the commitment to work to change the unjust things and behaviors in the world so that it can be a new day for our many siblings to expect a better future.

    Moderator Nominating Committee Alternates for General Conference 2016

    The MCC Governing Board has appointed Beulah Durrheim (South Africa) and Stuart Sutherland (Australia) as Alternates to the Moderator Nominating Committee (MNC). They will serve dual roles as MNC alternates and as Committee aides. Should circumstances arise that do not allow one or more of the MNC members to fulfill their roles through General Conference XXVI in 2016, one or both would be appointed to serve those terms. Additionally, they will participate in the processes and decisions of the MNC, having voice and no vote.
    We are pleased to introduce the alternates to the Moderator Nominating Committee: Beulah Durrheim (South Africa) and Stuart Sutherland (Australia) 

    Beulah Durrheim PIC

    Beulah Durrheim is currently the Pastoral Leader at Good Hope MCC in Cape Town, South Africa, a position she has held since September 2012. She also serves as the Spiritual Director for Africa Upper Room Ministries, as well as managing staff meetings in the Western Cape.

    Prior to this, she has served as a Pastor in two Methodist churches for a period of 10 years. She has participated in various pastoral search committees with the task of interviewing and finding replacement pastors. She has been a recent advocate of LGBTI rights, in particular testifying at a variety of meetings within the Methodist church, e.g. Synod (meeting of all the ministers in the Western Cape), youth groups. She has also made herself available to the presiding Bishop to participate/facilitate the conversations regarding same-gender relationships.

    She ran her own business, Creative Expressions, where she specialised in facilitating ceremonies, retreats, creating and designing teaching materials, and finding creative ways of facilitating spiritual journeys. It was a spiritual ministry based on the belief that every baby blessing, memorial, wedding, retreat, etc. should be a unique experience, tailored according to the personalities and needs of the client.

    She has also volunteered to serve on Chrysalis and Emmaus, inter-denominational spiritual enrichment and training weekends for church leaders. She has served in various leadership roles for 10 years and was elected to be the Community Leader for Chrysalis in the Western Cape from 1999 to 2001. This has included her leading and facilitating team selection committees.

    She and her spouse Charmaine were married in 2008, and they have two beautiful cats named Andor and Taishar.

    She holds a Bachelor of Theology degree from the University of South Africa.

    Stuart Sutherland picStuart Sutherland is currently the Vice Moderator of MCC Good Shepherd in Western Sydney, Australia (MCCGS), where he assists the church in organising fund raising events, leading worship, as Church Representative to local GLBTI Organisations, as MCCGS Representative to local churches, and as MCCGS Legal Representative.

    He is a lawyer/solicitor and barrister and has been practising for nearly 14 years.

    His job is the Principal Solicitor at Logical Legal Solicitors in Newtown, Australia. His partner Michael helps him run the law firm and works as his executive assistant. He has been helping MCC Sydney and MCC Good Shepherd in Australia with legal advice and governance issues.

    He attends the Supreme Court of New South Wales, District and Local Courts of New South Wales, and Federal Circuit Courts. His area of practice involves Corporate Law, Wills, Estates, Powers of Attorney, Guardianship, Family Law, and Mental Health.

    He has been active in the LGBT community representing clients in courts and providing legal advice. He has also been active in the past with organising the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras that is held in February/March each year.

    He assists Intellectual Disabled people in the community and worked as volunteer solicitor for the Intellectual Disability Rights Service. He has been the President of the Central Coast of New South Wales Blue Light Discos. He was one of the founding law firms on the National Pro Bono Scheme of Australia.

    Stuart holds a Master of Laws from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and a Bachelor of Laws from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He has been a part-time lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. He plans to finish a Juris Doctor at the University of Technology, Sydney.

    Stuart lives in Granville, Australia, with his partner Michael and their 8-year-old cross maltese/shiatsu, “Fido”, and their foster dog, a 3-year-old miniature poodle, “Barney.”

    Stuart and Beulah will join MNC members: Elisa Vega-Burns (Chairperson), Rev. Kevin Downer, and Rev. Dr. Lea Brown. Read more on: http://mccchurch.org/moderator-nominating-committee-for-general-conference-2016/

    Elisa Vega-Burns RevKevinDowner Rev. Dr. Lea Brown
    Elisa Vega-Burns, Chair Rev. Kevin Downer Rev. Dr. Lea Brown

     

    You will hear more in the next couple of months from the Moderator Nominating Committee regarding the process for recruiting and soliciting candidates to stand for election as the next Moderator of MCC at General Conference 2016.

    Please join us in welcoming the Beulah Durrheim and Stuart Sutherland!

    Reverend Onetta Brooks
    Chair, Governance Committee
    On behalf of the MCC Governing Board

    Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)

    Fifth Sunday
    (6 April 2014)
    by Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West
    The Raising of Lazarus from Martha’s Perspective
    John 11: 1-45

    On this fifth Sunday of Lent, I invite us to hear the familiar story of the raising of Lazarus from Martha’s perspective. What follows is what I imagine Martha would have said about what happened that day:

    Oh, hello. Just tidying up a bit. You know, I have a reputation for that. You remember that story, don’t you? Jesus had come to our house for dinner — the house that my sister Mary and my brother Lazarus and I lived in — we were his family of choice, and he was always hanging out at our house. Well, I was flying around in the kitchen clanging pots and pans trying to get everything ready. I was pretty stressed out about having Jesus over for dinner, so I really flew off the handle when I noticed my sister Mary was just sitting around chatting with Jesus instead of helping me out. So I said, “Jesus, don’t you care that I am in here doing all this by myself? Tell Mary to get in here and help me.” He replied, “Martha, Martha, Martha, you worry too much. Mary has chosen the better part.”

    Mary, Martha, and Jesus
    (Photo: pinterest.com)

    Well, I have sort of gotten a bad rap from that story ever since, but my brother wouldn’t have come back from the dead if I didn’t have chutzpah to march down the road and meet Jesus that day.

    I have to say, I was a little miffed with Jesus for not showing up sooner. Mary and I had sent word to him several days earlier that Lazarus was ill. So when I heard that Jesus was on the road just outside of town four days after we had buried Lazarus, I went out to meet him. With my hand on my hip, I said, “If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” And no sooner had those words come out of my mouth, I said in the same breath, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

    Trust
    (Photo: goodriskgovernancepays.com)

    Have you ever had that happen to you? You know, it’s like you make a complaint and a statement of trust all in one sentence. I pointed out to Jesus that because he was late, Lazarus was dead, then turned around and implied that he could do something about it.  Conversations with Jesus are often like that. He is just as interested in our complaints as he is in our trust and faith.

    Well, Jesus and I got into this whole theological discussion. He said to me, “Your brother will rise again.” And I thought he was talking about the belief our religious leaders, the Pharisees, had taught — that at the end of the age, the righteous dead would be raised. So I responded, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” But Jesus threw me for a loop when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”  Then he looked into my eyes and asked, “Do you believe this?”

    believe (GC 2013 theme)

    All of a sudden, I realized Jesus had shifted the conversation to a deeper level than just what the Pharisees taught about resurrection. He was asking me about my relationship with him. So there I was, standing in the middle of the road, and by this time my hand had come down off my hip, and in the eternity that gathered around that simple question from Jesus, “Do-you-believe-this?” I answered, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” It was a confession of faith that transcended any theological category or debate. Jesus was inviting me to move out of my head — thinking about him, Lazarus, what the Pharisees taught about resurrection — and to move into my heart: “What do you believe about me Martha?”

    After that conversation, the strangest thing happened. Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus had been buried for four days. There was a huge stone covering the entrance, and Jesus told those who were gathered there weeping and mourning to take away the stone. Well, you know me, the practical one. I quickly turned to Jesus and said, “Ewh! There is already stench, and you want us to open up the tomb?” Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” In that moment, I knew that consenting to rolling away the stone would not only change Lazarus’ life forever, but mine too.

    So they rolled away the stone, and after Jesus had prayed a very simple prayer, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” We had never heard Jesus raise his voice. I mean, it was really loud. I think that is where you get the phrase, ‘loud enough to wake the dead.’  And sure enough, a few seconds later, we saw this mummy-like figure stumble out of the tomb, squirming, trying to stay upright, trying to walk, but Lazarus’ hands and feet were still bound in his grave clothes and his face still wrapped in a shroud. We all just stood there speechless, and finally Jesus said, “Unbind him. Let him go.”

    You could say this is a coming out story. Jesus is always calling us to come out. To come out of the places that are killing us — maybe it is a job, or a relationship, or an addiction, or an attitude. Jesus says ‘come out.’ Jesus is asking us to consider the things in our lives that keep us bound and stumbling — half alive: fear, hatred, resentment. Jesus says those have no hold on us as his disciples.

    Come Out
    (Photo: testimoniesofhope.com)

    Oh sure, Lazarus came out that day, but I did too. I came out as a disciple of Jesus. My confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah was life changing. I had served Jesus meals in my home many times, and we had had many conversations, but that day on the road when he told me that he was the resurrection and the life, when he told me that everyone who lives and believes in him will never die — a great shift happened in my soul. Suddenly, I realized that the kind of life Jesus was talking about was ‘abundant life’ here and now. In that moment, without actually saying the words ‘come out,’ Jesus called forth a knowing in me that had been there all along, but now I was ready for it. Now I was ready to live more fully into the life that was before me.

    Well, it’s about time for me to go. But before I do, let me just ask you, “How do you need to come out? What stones in your life need to be rolled away so you can hear Jesus’ voice of life more clearly?” Those are some life and death questions to think about as you journey toward Easter.

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • MCC Announces the Judy Dale Scholarship Fund for Lay Leadership

    Metropolitan Community Churches is pleased to establish a scholarship fund in honor and memory of our iconic lay leader, Ms. Judy Dale. Judy’s service as a District Coordinator, her presence on MCC boards and councils, and her steadfast commitment to the priesthood of all believers has shaped the ministry of the laity in MCC for years to come. Rev. Dee Dale, Judy’s beloved partner, has approved the establishment of this scholarship fund.

    Money received for this fund will provide scholarships for the LEAD (Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship) program, MCC’s premier lay leadership training program. These scholarships will allow persons to participate in the initial LEAD retreat, as well as offer some financial support for current participants to complete course requirements. Currently, there are 89 people in the LEAD program in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australasia. LEAD retreats for 2014 are scheduled for May in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and for September in the Philippines.

    On 26 April, Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson will be presiding at Judy’s memorial service at MCC Louisville (Kentucky, USA). If you would like to honor Judy’s ministry by making a donation to the scholarship fund, you can click the Donate button below or send a check to P.O. Box 50488, Sarasota, FL 32432, USA.




    Judy-Dale

    Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)

    Fourth Sunday
    (30 March 2014)
    by Rev. Elder Darlene Garner

    No matter what our chronological age might be, many of us are probably still trying to make sense of our lives — to answer the proverbial question, Who will I be when I grow up? The global movement of MCC and our congregations are also beginning to engage the question, What is it that God is calling us to become and to do as 21st century people?

    E. E. Cummings quote
    (Photo: addicted2success.com)
    As though in response to our questions, the lectionary for the 4th Sunday in Lent presents four scripture texts for our reflection and consideration. The text from 1 Samuel 16:1-13 tells of Samuel’s search for a new king of Israel. Psalm 23 reminds us of God’s constant presence with us, even when we are in the midst of our deepest fears. John 9:1-41 presents Jesus as the light of the world, within the context of a transgressive healing story. Then Ephesians 5:8-14 calls all of us out to live as children of light.

    This is the one. 1 Samuel 16:12b
    I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Psalm 23:4b
    I am the light of the world. John 9:5
    Everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:13b

    From the moment of the birth of Metropolitan Community Churches, God claimed us as God’s own and said, “This is the one.” This is the newborn Body of Christ that can heal the broken world. As diverse peoples from every nation, this is the one that can embody my unconditional love, break down walls of exclusion, and bring forth justice and peace.

    Caroline A. Shearer quote
    (Photo: happyhealthy365.wordpress.com)

    MCC has gone through a lot of trials and tribulations through the years, and God has been with us every step of the way. When we were hiding in closets of shame, God led us out toward reconciliation of our sexuality and our spirituality. When our families rejected us and we were excluded from other communities of faith, through God’s grace, we created a beloved community that offers an Open Table where all people can find a place. Even when AIDS and other forms of disease ravage our bodies, God gives us the strength to overcome even as we offer comfort, consolation, and care. We have come, and are coming, through all of that and so much more. As we now look toward the future, we have no fear, for we know that God is still with us.

    MCC is illuminated by the light of Christ, and the spirit of Christ shines through us. This means that even today we are the light of the world. We are still a strong beacon of light that breaks through the darkness of ignorance and fear. We illuminate pathways to wholeness, holiness, and healing. We brighten the hopes of people seeking to begin a relationship with God and the aspirations of people yearning to be free from discrimination and oppression. Just because we exist, people can pursue their life purpose, the world can find its way to justice, and all of us can know peace.

    As wonderful and life-giving as MCC is, we cannot allow it to come about that tomorrow our light will have been overshadowed by the accomplishments of our past. We were not created to continue being who we were in former years. God is calling us now to transform ourselves into who God created us to become — an embodiment of God’s unconditional love that perpetually breaks down walls of exclusion and brings forth justice and peace.

    Dear Past, Dear Future
    (Photo: marsitariani.wordpress.com)
    While the needs of God’s people for acceptance and love are enduring, the world in which MCC ministers has changed considerably since we began in 1968. The future is not behind us; it is not even right now. God is calling us to a future that lies ahead. MCC recently adopted a new statement of vision that articulates who God has called us to become:

    Metropolitan Community Church is compelled by an unfinished calling and a prophetic destiny.
    We are a global movement of spiritually and sexually diverse people
    who are fully awake to God’s enduring love.
    Following the example of Jesus and empowered by the Spirit,
    we seek to build leading-edge church communities
    that demand, proclaim, and do justice in the world.

    The MCC Governing Board, Council of Elders, and Senior Leadership Team are gaining great clarity about what is needed from us in order to lead our movement closer toward this vision. We are as focused as a laser beam in pursuit of this vision. Yet YOU are the one for which the world still waits.

    Think Big
    (Photo: meejmuse.com)
    My hope is that each MCC congregation and, indeed, every member of MCC, will also pray and focus on our collective vision. Cast your light right where you are to see the things you can do that will transform our global vision into your local reality. And fear not. God will be with you in everything that you do to become a leading-edge church community that will demand, proclaim, and do justice in the 21st century world.

    “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us….
    There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you….
    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”
    Marianne Williamson

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • EMERGE: SPECIAL EDITION

    People of African Descent, friends, and allies conference

     

    2014 MCC Conference for People of African Descent, Friends, and Allies

    15-17 MAY 2014

    FIRST MCC of ATLANTA

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA

    BE THE CHANGE

    register

    The theme for the 2014 PAD Conference is “Be the Change” reflecting MCC’s commitment to Transforming Ourselves as We Transform the World. There will be amazing programming, soul-stirring worship, and informing plenaries on a wide range of topics that will support churches, clergy, and other leaders in becoming even more diverse and inclusive.

    HOT OFF THE PRESS!

    As a part of Saturday’s second plenary, “Intersectional Justice: Why Should I Care,” the Rev. MacArthur H. Flournoy, Director for Faith Partnerships and Mobilization at the Human Rights Campaign, will offer an opening talk to help us understand the significance of connecting justice and faith, especially in relationship to our layered identities. The following dynamic speakers will also accompany him, share their inspirational journeys and perspectives about embodying/being the change, and explain why it’s important to invest our time and talents into the liberation of others.

    PANELISTS 

    RevCedricReverend Cedric A. Harmon has a BS in media management from Emerson College and has completed extensive graduate work at Wesley Seminary. Cedric’s deep faith calls him to do the work of justice and equality, and to equip others to do the same. He served as pastor of a “radically inclusive” congregation in Washington, DC and is currently Co-Director with Ann Thompson Cook of Many Voices – a new nonprofit creating a Black Church movement for gay and transgender justice.

    KylarKylar W. Broadus is senior policy counsel and director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C. He was a full professor of business law at Lincoln University, a historically Black college where he previously served as chair of the business department. In 2010, Kylar was appointed to serve as Division Director within the Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities of the American Bar Association and continues to serve in that capacity, as well as Co-Chair for the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

    RevDrJoanThe Reverend Dr. Joan M. Martin, William W. Rankin Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics at Episcopal Divinity School, has been a member of the faculty since the academic year 1993, and began teaching in 1994.  In addition to her teaching and committee responsibilities, she serves as the coordinator of the Doctor of Ministry degree program, and advisor to the institutional anti-racism and anti-oppression, “Change Team II.” Presently, Martin is a member of the Womanist Group in Church and Society Steering Committee of the American Academy of Religion, and also serves in the Wabash Consultants Program.  Martin is an ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA).

    RevDeWayneRev. DeWayne L. Davis is the Senior Pastor of All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church in Minneapolis, MN. He currently serves on the MCC Moderator’s Public Policy Team and was a participant in MCC’s inaugural class of the Leadership Mentoring Retreat. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from Howard University and an M.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland at College Park.  DeWayne received his Master of Divinity degree with honors from the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

     

    LUNCHEON POP TOPICS

    During the conference there will be an amazing pop topic at each lunch gathering on Friday and Saturday. We will not only have an opportunity to break bread together, but will also hear about some of the inspiring work going on in our communities! The speakers will share briefly on the following topics and then attendees will have time to ask a few questions. And, of course, there will be plenty of time to eat and reconnect with friends and loved ones.

    register

    POP TOPICS SPEAKERS

    RevRolandStringfellowFriday, May 16th - We are excited to have our very own Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Pastor of MCC Detroit, join us to talk about the internally transformative work of the Umoja Project, an effort designed to facilitate safe, non-threatening dialogue about the diversity of human sexuality and the tension that sometimes exists within African-American faith communities in relation to LGBT individuals, as well as the curriculum that any church and organization can participate in.

    Rev.Dr.JenniferSLeathSaturday, May 17th – We welcome the Rev. Dr. Jennifer S. Leath to the PAD conference for the first time as she brings to us her talk, “No Place Like Home”?: The Formation, Vision & Mission of The Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics & Social Justice (CARSS). CARSS is a new project of Columbia University that seeks to facilitate dialogue with African American religious and thought leaders who are committed to sexuality and gender justice.

    Worship Preachers

    Find out more information about our worship preachers.

     News to know

    Conference Hotel Rate Deadline

     

    Attending the 2014 PAD Conference? Deadline for the conference rate at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta North Druid Hills – Emory Area is swiftly approaching. Reserve your room TODAY! Your credit card will not be charged until you arrive at the hotel.

    DEADLINE for Conference rate is APRIL 22, 2014.

     

    GenderNeutralRestroomsGENDER NEUTRAL RESTROOMS

    The PAD Conference is increasing access to restrooms for all people attending conference. Mindful of the challenges that facilities labeled “Men” or “Women” pose to many, the conference staff and host church devised a plan for more gender inclusive bathrooms facilities.

    Each bathroom will be labeled with either one of three signs: “Everyone”, “Women” or “Men”. We hope that this will meet the needs of all individuals. We seek to offer a conference in which all members of the community may choose the restroom that best matches their gender identity and expression.

    If you have questions or concerns, please contact Rev. Vickey Gibbs at RevVickeyGibbs@MCCchurch.net.

    ROOMMATE CONNECTIONS

    Do you want to attend the PAD Conference, but need a roommate? Let someone know. The PAD conference is providing a connection space where those who want roommates can find someone. Click here and see you in Atlanta!

    View the schedule to see all of the excellent programming in store for you.

    helpwanted

    VOLUNTEER TODAY!

    Do you have time to volunteer during the 2014 People of African Descent, Allies, and Friends Conference?  We are looking for people with kind hearts and generous spirits to volunteer their time. Volunteer opportunities include (but are not limited to): conference registration, worship (usher, greeter, acolyte), workshops, audio visuals, hospitality, VIP Buddies, and so much more.

    To find out more about all of the volunteer opportunities: http://padconference.mccchurch.org/register-attend/volunteer/

     

    Looking for: Musicians, Dancers, and Singers/Choir Members

    Contact: CassandraWhite@MCCchurch.net

     Can I Get An Amen!

    For many attendees the PAD Conference has made a difference in their lives, for their families, and and for their churches. We thought hearing some of their testimonies would inspire you. In this edition, we get an “Amen!” from Goldie Brown, Resurrection MCC, Houston, Texas. In her testimony she shares how enriched she has been attending the PAD Conference. For more testimonies, click here.

    From Goldie—

    Attending and joining an MCC church gave me a safe place to worship. Our worship services are very diverse allowing the members to see glimpses of their faith somewhere during service. Another entity where I see glimpses of my culture is from the services and activities during the PAD conferences. Both give me a sense of belonging. During PAD, a connection is made, friendships developed and networking conducted. PAD is a time to present our unique challenges and exchange of ideas and or solutions. I look forward to seeing those I have met from previous conferences. I get to put faces with names. When I travel, I look up those names. I also learn about the unique challenges that our allies face and help find solutions through listening and education. PAD is a much smaller (although attendance grows with each one) collection of people who are more like me than not. I bring back what I’ve learned and share them with my church. I get excited about connecting with those in my church who look like me and those who don’t. The bridge fades and is replaced with like minds and hearts. Plus I get to sightsee a new city!

    Register to join us for this powerful and inspiring event.

    Be a Pillar to help someone attend the conference.

    Volunteer to help make a difference at the conference.

    Become an Exhibitor or Sponsor to promote your business, movement, or ministry.

    If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Candy Holmes, PAD Conference Planning Chair for more information.

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    We do not celebrate the death of Fred Phelps….We choose love

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    Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 2014

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    I Am Beyond!

    Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a month to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders have made to American history, society and culture.

    presidentsigningAsian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month originated in 1978 when Congress passed Pub. L. 95-419 (PDF, 63KB). This law directed the President to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. On March 28, 1979, President Carter (photo credit: Associated Press), issued Presidential Proclamation 4650. In this proclamation, President Carter spoke of the significant role Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in the creation of a dynamic and pluralistic American society with their contributions to the sciences, arts, industry, government and commerce.

    Over the next ten years, Presidents Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush continued to annually issue proclamations designating a week in May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.

    In 1990, Congress passed Pub. L. 101-283 (PDF, 91KB) which amended Pub. L. 95-419.  Pub. L. 101-283 requested the President to issue a proclamation which expanded the observance of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week to a month in May 1990.  This law called on the people of the United States to observe Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with “appropriate ceremonies, programs and activities.”  President George H.W. Bush issued Presidential Proclamation 6130 on May 7, 1990 designating May 1990 as the first “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”

    The following year, Pub. L. 102-42 (PDF, 125KB) was passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush on May 14, 1991.  This law requested that the President proclaim May 1991 and May 1992 as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Months.”  This law also recognized the significance of May 7th and May 10th in the history of Asian/Pacific Americans.  May 7, 1843 is the date on which the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States while on May 10, 1869 the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed with significant contributions from Chinese pioneers.  In 1992, Congress passed Pub. L. 102-450 (PDF, 204KB) which permanently designated May of each year as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”

    Pursuant to Pub. L. 102-450 Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama have annually issued proclamations designating May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Heritage Month” and on May 1, 2009 President Obama issued Presidential Proclamation 8369 (PDF) which recalls the challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and celebrates their great and significant contributions to our society.

    Konrad NgKonrad Ng Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
    (Photo credit: http://newsdesk.si.edu)

    Since 1977, the month of May recognizes the achievements and contributions of Asian  Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians to the American story. The legislation honoring the significance of our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage was introduced by some of the finest Asian Americans in U.S. history: Congressman Norman Mineta, Senator Spark Matsunaga, and Senator Daniel Inouye.

    This May, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center theme for AAPI Heritage Month is “I Am Beyond.” The phrase captures the aspirations of the American spirit, how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have always sought to excel beyond the challenges that have limited equal opportunity in America. “I Am Beyond” recognizes Dalip Singh Saund’s election as the first Asian American Congressman in 1957 after campaigning for the rights of all Asian immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the civil rights work of Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz in championing for the rights of American workers across communities. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the achievements of Patsy Mink, the first woman of color and first Asian American woman elected to Congress, a woman whose legacy includes the promotion of equal opportunity in education. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the legacy of Chinese American Grace Lee Boggs, a major figure in the civil rights movement who continues to work on empowering communities in Detroit, MI at nearly 100 years old. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the passionate service of Daniel K. Inouye, decorated World War II veteran and long-time Senator, whom President Barack Obama has called “a true American hero” and “my earliest political inspiration.” “I Am Beyond” is the theme of the new Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center exhibition Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, a look at the history, art and culture of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in the U.S. beyond stereotypes.

     

    The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center invites agencies, cities, communities, individuals, organizations, and states across the country to join the commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month. Please join us in recognizing the rich and complex past, present, and future of AAPI communities, our organizations, our leaders and innovators, our artists and musicians, our organizers and activists, our teachers and students, our youth and elders—AAPIs from all walks of life. Create and share your interpretation of the theme through art, music, performance and literature or through an event, video, film or documentary. More details coming soon:www.apa.si.edu. For those on social media, please use the #IAMBEYOND hashtag. 

    One made a splash riding waves in Hawaii. Another made his mark walking the halls of Congress. Still another made history designing an American landmark.

    Duke KahanamokuKing of the Waves
    Duke Kahanamoku (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) came to be known as the father of international surfing, but the Hawaiian native made his first splash as a swimmer at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Born in Honolulu in 1890, Kahanamoku struck gold by setting a world record in the 100-meter free-style and earned a silver medal in the 200-meter relay. He won two more golds at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, a silver at the 1924 Paris Olympics, and a bronze at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Kahanamoku’s swimming and surfing talents caught the attention of Hollywood, and over the course of nine years, he appeared in nearly 30 movies. Kahanamoku went on to serve as sheriff for the City and County of Honolulu for 26 years. When the legendary swimmer and surfer died at the age of 77, he was remembered for his athletic talent and sportsmanship.

    To find out more about Duke Kahanamoku, go here.

    Dr. Feng Shan HoA True Lifesaver
    Dr. Feng Shan Ho (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) single-handedly saved thousands of Austrian Jews during the Holocaust. When Dr. Ho arrived in Vienna in 1937 as a Chinese diplomat, Austria had the third largest Jewish community in Europe. Just one year later, however, the Nazis took over Austria and began persecuting Jews. Although they tried to flee, Austrian Jews had nowhere to go because most of the world’s nations would not accept Jewish refugees. Against all odds, many would survive thanks to Dr. Ho. As Chinese General Consul in Vienna, he went against his boss’ orders and began issuing Jews visas to Shanghai, China. These lifesaving documents allowed thousands of Jews to leave Austria and escape death. After 40 years of diplomatic service that included ambassadorships to Egypt, Mexico, Bolivia, and Colombia, Dr. Ho retired to San Francisco, California. At age 89, he published his memoirs, “Forty Years of My Diplomatic Life.” Dr. Ho died in 1997, an unknown hero of World War II.

    Read Dr. Feng Shan’s biography, go here.

    Dalip Singh SaundA Political Pioneer
    Dalip Singh Saund (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) made history in 1956 when he became the first Asian elected to Congress. Born in India in 1899, Saund came to the United States in 1920 to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a doctorate degree in mathematics. Despite being highly educated, Saund discovered that his career options were limited due to anti-immigrant feelings in the U.S. As a result, he worked in farming for the next 20 years. At the same time, Saund began fighting discriminatory laws against Indians. In 1949, he and other Indians finally earned the right to become U.S. citizens. In 1956, Saund left the fields of California for the halls of Congress. He served three terms in the House of Representatives, working to improve U.S.-Asian relations. Saund’s political career was cut short when he suffered a stroke while campaigning for a fourth term. Still, he opened the door for Asian Americans to enter U.S. politics.

    To find our more about Dalip Singh Saund, go here

    Maya LinA Monumental Architect
    Maya Lin (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) rose to fame in 1981. Just 21-years-old and still an architectural student at Yale University, Lin won a contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her design beat out more than 1,400 entries. The Memorial’s 594-foot granite wall features the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. Each year, four million people visit the wall to pay their respects to these war heroes. Less than a decade later, Lin designed another famous structure—the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. The monument outlines the major events of the Civil Rights Movement. Today, Lin’s designs can be found in several American cities and continue to inspire the entire nation.

    To learn more about Maya Lin, go here

    Amy TanA Writing Pro
    Amy Tan (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) was born in 1952 in Oakland, California, the daughter of Chinese parents who had immigrated to the United States three years earlier. As a teenager, Tan and her family moved to Europe, where she attended high school in Switzerland. Tan later returned to the U.S. to attend college. She gained international attention in 1989 with the publication of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, a story about Chinese women and their Chinese-American daughters. The book has been translated into 25 languages and has been made into a movie. In addition to her best-selling novels, Tan has also written two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa. Besides writing, Tan plays in a rock ‘n roll band called The Rock Bottom Remainders with several other famous writers, including Stephen King and Scott Turow.

    To learn more about Amy Tan, go here

    Emerging Asian-Pacific American LGBTQ Leaders

    Gregory CendanaStrategist, politico and coalition builder Gregory Cendana (Photo Courtesy of APALA) is the first openly gay and youngest-ever Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement. He also serves as the Chair of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, as Treasurer for the Labor Coalition for Community Action and is the youngest General Board member of the AFL-CIO. Gregory has been named one of Washington DC’s most influential 40-and-under young leaders, one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 & the “Future of DC Politics”. Previously, he served as President of the United States Student Association (USSA), where he played an integral role in the passage of the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act and Healthcare & Education Reconciliation Act. In his spare time, Gregory enjoys singing karaoke, choreographing dances and trying to cook. Be a part of his journey by following him on twitter at @GregoryCendana.

    To learn more about Gregory Cendana go here

    Tom HayashiTom Hayashi (Photo Courtesy of OCA) currently serves as the Executive Director of OCA National Center in Washington, DC. Founded as “Organization of Chinese Americans” in 1973, OCA today is a premiere pan-Asian membership driven civil rights organization with a national network of over 80 chapters and affiliates. (He is the first openly gay OCA Executive Director of multi-cultural ethnicity.) Before joining OCA, Tom lead an organizational development firm by the name of Capacity Empowerment as its Principal providing services and counsel to over 80 nonprofit, government, and private sectors. He brings over 19 years of combined professional experience as a former health care provider/administrator, fundraising executive, educator, and community activist.

    To learn more about Tom Hayashi, go here

    Miriam W. YeungMiriam W. Yeung (Photo Courtesy of NAPAWF), Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) guides the country’s only national, multi-issue, progressive organization dedicated to social justice and human rights for Asian and Pacific Islander women and girls in the US. With offices in NYC and DC, and chapters in 12 cities, NAPAWF’s current priorities include winning rights for immigrant women, advocating for nail salon workers rights and safety, leading community-based participatory research with young API women, conducting national API opinion polling and winning reproductive justice.

    To learn more about Miriam W, Yeung, go here

    APHMonth Banner(photo credit: http://www.factmonster.com/)

    May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

    The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.

    http://asianpacificheritage.gov/index.html

     

    For Kids

    I Am Asian American

    On a Monday morning in September, ESL teacher Susan Azzu found she had a new student. Poh was entering the third grade. He was born in Thailand after his mother and sister escaped war and ethnic persecution in Myanmar. Through a refugee program, Poh had just arrived in Chapel Hill, N.C. He spoke no English. Read more http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-44-summer-2013/feature/i-am-asian-american?elq=7be0bfc520de4a8a8127921433a942a2&elqCampaignId=150

     

    Explore Asian Immigration

    http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/asian-american/visit.htm

    Immigration Stories: Yesterday and Today

    http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/index.htm

    Discover the plights and accomplishments of one of the largest immigrant groups in the United States.

    • In Angel Island (grades 4–8), one woman relives her childhood journey of immigration from her small village in China to Oakland, CA, in 1933.
    • In Japanese Americans: The War at Home (grades 4–8), students meet Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, who shares his boyhood experience as a victim of forced relocation during WWII.
    • Students read 10 biographies of Notable Asian Americans (grades 3–6) and can continue their research by clicking on related links.
    • By clicking on a map of Asia, students learn Asian American Statistics (grades 3–7), a great way to introduce math and to show students there are distinctions between “Asian American” and “Indian American” or “Korean American.”
    • Research Starter: Confucianism (grades 5–8), featuring related vocabulary, articles, and recommended research topics, introduces students to a major Asian religion.
    • Young students can study Asian culture by learning about zodiac signs, sun kites, and calligraphy with these Printable Activities (grades K–2).
    Asian-American Scientists

    (Feature) Nobel Prize winners, chemists, researchers

    Asian-American Athletes

    (Feature) Asian American athletes and sports anchors

    Asian Americans in Business and Media

    (Feature) Entrepreneurs, executives, journalists

    Asian Americans in Government

    (Feature) Governors, Senators, Representatives, Cabinet Members

    Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Origins

    (Feature) Origins of APA Heritage Month A national celebration established in 1977 by Ricco Villanueva …

    Asian American Writers

    (Feature) Asian American poets, playwrights, critics, and novelists

    Asian American Artists and Musicians

    (Feature) Asian American musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors, designers

    Asian Americans in Television and Movies

    (Feature) Asian American actors, directors, screenwriters

    Notable Asian Americans, A-Z

    (Feature) Alphabetized links to biographies of notable Asian American

    Asian American History Timeline

     

    A list of Asian and Pacific Island Countries.

    Asia

    Bangladesh
    Bhutan
    Brunei Darussalam
    Cambodia
    China Mainland
    China, Taiwan Province of
    China, Hong Kong SAR
    India
    Indonesia
    Japan
    Korea, Dem. People’s Rep. of
    Korea, Rep. of
    Laos
    Malaysia
    Maldives
    Mongolia
    Myanmar
    Nepal
    Pakistan
    Philippines
    Singapore
    Sri Lanka
    Thailand
    Vietnam

    Oceania

    American Samoa
    Australia
    Christmas Island
    Coco (Keeling) Islands
    Cook Islands
    Fiji Islands
    French Polynesia
    Guam
    Kiribati
    Micronesia, Fed. States of
    Northern Mariana Island
    Nauru
    New Caledonia
    New Zealand
    Niue
    Norfolk Island
    Palau
    Papua New Guinea
    Samoa
    Solomon Islands
    Tonga
    Tuvalu
    Vanuatu
    Wallis and Futuna Islands

     

    Application for Leadership Mentoring Retreat

    Leadership Mentoring Retreat Application (158.1 KiB)
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    28 April – 1 May 2014
    Applications due: 4 April 2014

    Goals and Expectations

    Do you feel called to change the world through serving MCC beyond the local level, either as a volunteer or as a full-time vocation as clergy or lay leader? Have you wondered if you might be called to be a member of our Governing Board or an Elder or to serve as part of the MCC Global Staff? Do you think about serving as a volunteer with our MCC Movement? Or do you want to understand more about the relationship of local church ministry and denominational/ movement goals?

    If so, then this retreat is for you!

    This retreat is designed for individuals interested in serving MCC beyond the local level. The faculty includes denominational leaders and staff who will provide participants with an opportunity for discernment about improving leadership skills in an MCC global context.

    This program also includes a small group experience in which you will participate with colleagues and faculty in a “circle of trust” as you design your own plan for improving your leadership skills and abilities. The expectation is that you will develop a plan and that you will meet with your circle on a regular basis, as the group agrees, after the retreat, for at least a year to encourage accountability for your plan.

    Application

    If you are interested in applying to participate in the Leadership Mentoring Retreat, please submit the following information to the Moderator’s Office: Linda@MCCchurch.net.

    Please include the data below in your application in addition to the Brief Essay.

    • Name, Address,

    • Email Address, Phone Number

    • Gender Identity, Age

    • MCC church of which you are a member

    • Senior Pastor’s name and email address

    Brief Essay

    1. Describe your history in MCC: maximum three pages double-spaced.

    2. Define or explore your sense of calling to Global MCC: maximum three pages double-spaced

    References

    Select two individuals to serve as references and ask each person to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf attesting to your qualifications to be selected to the Leadership Mentoring Retreat. Please ask those providing references to submit letters to the Moderator’s Office by 4 April 2014. Send to: Linda@MCCchurch.net.

    Anticipated Location/Costs/Application Review

    The Leadership Mentoring Retreat Faculty will review applications. Only eighteen participants will be accepted into this Retreat program.

    Participants are expected to cover their travel costs in addition to a registration fee of $398 USD, which includes four days and three nights lodging in a semi-private room and meals, in addition to tuition. An additional night may be available at $126 USD with advance notice to reserve the room. The retreat will be held at DaySpring Episcopal Conference Center in Parrish, Florida: http://dayspring.dioswfl.org/.

    If you need scholarship support for lodging, meals, or tuition, review the options below and list one of them on your application. Scholarship opportunities are very limited. Registration fees will be due to the Moderator’s Office by 11 April 2014. Participants may pay by check or credit/debit

    ______I will need a scholarship to cover tuition; I will pay $270 USD.

    ______I will need a scholarship to cover half the retreat; I will pay $199 USD.

    ______I will need a scholarship for the cost of room and board; I will pay for tuition: $128.

    ______I will need a full scholarship: $398.

    Applicants should arrive either at the Sarasota or Tampa airports and may rent a car or carpool to the conference center. Applicants should arrive in time for the 3:00 p.m. start on Monday, 28 April 2014, and can depart for the airport after lunch on Thursday, 1 May 2014.

    Deadline

    Submit applications to the Moderator’s Office by 4 April 2014. Send to: Linda@MCCchurch.net. Applicants will be notified soon after the deadline about the status of their acceptance into the Leadership Mentoring Retreat.