In a few days, the United States will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of one of the most famous events in Civil Rights History: the March from Selma to Montgomery. It was a painful and bloody moment in the struggle for racial equality, where activists of many faiths, backgrounds, and regions of the U.S. gathered to press government at every level for dignity, justice, and the right to live freely. Marchers were met with extreme violence that was broadcast around the country on television and in newspapers. Hate and violence were exposed for the world to see. While the segregated South died a legal death, racial discrimination is still a reality for far too many.
As people of faith whose movement was born out of discrimination and violence, MCC and the Global Justice Institute (GJI) know the harm injustice can do to a people. We stand in solidarity with all who live on the margins and stand in need of a more just and equitable society. We recognize that the movement for LGBT equality in the U.S. was rooted in the Civil Rights Movement. Hatred motivated people to bomb both the 16th Street Baptist Church and Founders MCCLA. Through the lens of faith, one cannot see a difference between charred bodies hanging from of a Louisiana lynching tree or the charred body framed in the window of a fire bombed Upstairs Lounge. We are united. And we seek to practice a faith that crosses lines of race, gender, gender expression, sexuality.
In this spirit, we extend an invitation for you to join us for the 50th Anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. We invite all MCCers, friends, allies, and all people of faith to join us in Selma, Alabama, 5-9 March 2015.
Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin, who was raised in segregated Alabama, will lead a delegation from the Global Justice Institute and Metropolitan Community Churches in participating in the commemoration of the march. The GJI/MCC delegation will take part in all the weekend’s activities, including the march across the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on Sunday 8 March.
Join us. And pray for justice.
For more information, please contact:
Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin
Executive Minister, Sunshine Cathedral MCC
Governing Board Member
MCC Global Justice Institute
As a former member of the White House Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Dr. Nancy Wilson was called on to engage MCC churches and members in this historic bi-partisan campaign.
“Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) around the world know what oppression is. This bipartisan legislation aimed at eliminating slavery and human trafficking around the globe is a powerful step,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Global Moderator of MCC. “The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015, sponsored by Republican Senator Bob Corker and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, reminds us that slavery and human trafficking touches all of us and must be stopped! MCC members are urged to spread the word on this freedom movement and to contact their congresspersons and urge them to support the legislation.”
“Today more than 27 million people, many of them women and children, suffer under forced labor and sexual servitude in over 165 countries around the world, including our own,” said Sen. Bob Corker. “As I have seen firsthand, the stark reality of modern slavery is unconscionable, demanding the United States and civilized world make a commitment to end it for good. Despite the pervasive nature of this horrific practice, modern slavery is a crime of opportunity that thrives where enforcement is weak, so raising the risk of prosecution can achieve significant results.”
“Human trafficking, in the form of forced labor and sexual exploitation, debt-bondage, involuntary servitude and the sale and exploitation of children – is one of the great moral challenges of our time,” said Sen. Robert Menendez. “We must end modern slavery in all its forms and U.S. leadership is critical in the effort to combat this grave injustice. Democrats and Republicans speak with one voice on this vital issue. I am proud to stand with Chairman Corker and look forward to the speedy passage of this legislation.”
Advocacy groups and faith-based institutions issued support for the effort, including the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST), International Justice Mission (IJM), United Way Worldwide, Freedom House, Rotary International, and Circle of Friends, Inc., among others.
The introduction of the legislation coincides with the End It Movement’s push this week to raise awareness about modern slavery by encouraging supporters to mark their hands with a red “X.” The “Shine a Light on Slavery Day” will culminate on Friday, February 27. The act will charter a 501(c)(3) non-profit grant-making foundation in the District of Columbia to be known as “The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation.”
The initiative will fund programs outside the United States that:
Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change, aging, and global human rights. MCC was the first to perform same-gender marriages and has been on the forefront of the struggle towards marriage equality in the U.S. and other countries worldwide.
Queridas Personas Clérigas y Delegadas Laicas:
Nos encontramos emocionados de anunciar que siete nuevos Obispos y Obispas para servir por un período de 5 años comenzando el 1° de junio de este año.
El Consejo de Obispos y Obispas ha votado y aprobado los nombramientos, que aparecen más abajo y la Junta de Gobierno ha aprobado los nombramientos.
Hace varios años, cuando las Regiones se disolvieron y en anticipación a la transición de Moderador(a), comenzamos trabajando en un que nos ayudaría en clarificar el papel y responsabilidades de los miembros del Consejo de Obispos y Obispas. Anteriormente, Obispos y Obispas automáticamente pasaban a formar parte del personal a tiempo completo y como miembros del Equipo Directivo de Liderazgo. Actualmente Obispos y Obispas son voluntarios que, como Consejo junto con la Moderadora, ofrecen apoyo espiritual y pastoral, y liderazgo de las iglesias, pastores y personas de ICM.
Deseamos que el nombramiento de los nuevos Obispos y Obispas por un periodo de cinco años ofrezcan al Nuevo(a) Moderador(a) la capacidad de continuamente reconfigurar el Consejo para el bienestar de ICM, y con el tiempo, ofrecer a más personas la oportunidad de servir.
Cerca de sesenta personas nos fueron recomendadas de parte de los delegados(as) laicos(as) y clérigos(as) de ICM. Creemos que era una respuesta clara y saludable de nuestro pueblo.
Invitamos a doce personas para enviar sus solicitudes para ser Obispas, las que habían sido recomendadas en varias ocasiones por clérigos(as) y delegados(as) laicos(as). De esas doce personas, diez presentaron sus solicitudes y siete fueron nombradas como Obispas.
Confiamos que nuestros siete nombrados, tendrán un apoyo unánime de los Obispos y Obispas actuales, reuniendo los criterios sin excepción.
Trabajos arduamente, para balancear las muchas consideraciones de diversidad, con nuestro compromiso de elegir aquellas personas que nuestro pueblo había recomendado, y quienes fácilmente serían reconocidos como Obispos y Obispas.
Entre las personas nombradas, cuatro sirven como pastores o han servido como pastes en una Iglesia tipo programa o una Iglesia grande; uno es pastor de una Iglesia tamaño familia; una persona es laica; tres hombre (dos son cisgéneros, uno es un hombre trans); uno es bisexual. Los siete representan tres países y tres grupos de idiomas. Dos son parte del personal de la denominación.
Obispos y Obispas tienen un lugar especial e histórico en los corazones de ICM en todo el mundo y ofrecen liderazgo espiritual y pastoral para ICM global. Debido a que los Obispos y Obispas nombrados servirán en el Consejo de Obispos y Obispas, el cual es un cuerpo de discernimiento para el Moderador(a), los Estatutos de ICM requieren que la Conferencia General afirme la decisión de la Moderadora y del Consejo de Obispos y Obispas. No es una elección; sino una oportunidad para que las personas clérigas y delegadas laicas expresen su apoyo a nombre de todos los miembros de ICM en el mundo.
En un par de semanas, la Junta de Gobierno anunciará oficialmente un Foro de Negocios de la Conferencia General Especial, agendada para el 9 y 11 de abril, y una votación virtual el 6 y 7 de mayo. Marquen las fechas en sus calendarios y manténganse al tanto para más información.
Rev. Ines-Paul Baumann: Pastor de ICM Colonia, Alemania es el nominado más joven, en el rango de los 35 a 49 años. El Rev. Baumann será el primer Obispo Alemán y el primer Obispo No-conforme FTM Género Queer.
Rev. Tony Freeman: Fue Pastor de ICM San Diego; actualmente es parte del Equipo Directivo de Liderazgo y Director de la Oficina de Vida y Salud de la Iglesia. El Rev. Freeman sirvió en la Junta de Gobierno hasta el 2013.
Nancy Maxwell, J.D., LL.M.: Profesora de Derecho en la Universidad de Washburn y una de los tres líderes de nuestro Equipo LEAD que supervisa el programa a nivel global.Profesora Maxwell posee una considerable experiencia global e imparte cursos de derechos humanos y ley. Ella será la primera mujer laica en ser Obispa.
Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis: Fue Pastora de ICM Washington, D.C., y actualmente es Pastora de King of Peace ICM en St. Petersburg, Florida. La Rev. Shultis ha servido a la denominación en muchas capacidades, incluyendo a la Junta de Gobierno. Ella es la Presidenta de la Comisión sobre la Declaración de Fe de ICM.
¡Alégrense conmigo que hemos llegado a este lugar después de años de preparación! Por favor oren por los Obispos y Obispas nominados, por sus familias e Iglesias mientras transcurrimos estos tiempos juntos.
Rev. Dra. Nancy Wilson
Moderadora Global, Iglesias de la Comunidad Metropolitana
Dear MCC Clergy and Lay Delegates:
We are excited to announce seven new Elders have been appointed to serve for a five-year term beginning 1 June of this year.
The Council of Elders has vetted and approved the appointees listed below, and the Governing Board has approved the appointments.
Several years ago, when Regions were disbanded and in anticipation of a Moderator transition, we began working on a plan that would clarify the role and responsibilities of members of the Council of Elders. Previously, Elders were automatically full-time staff and members of the Senior Leadership Team. Now, all Elders are volunteers who, as a Council with the Moderator, offer spiritual and pastoral support and leadership to the churches, pastors, and people of MCC.
We hope that appointing the new Elders to a five-year term will give the new Moderator the ability to continuously re-shape the Council for the good of MCC, and over time, give more persons the opportunity to serve.
About sixty people were originally recommended to us from the lay delegates and clergy of MCC. We believe this was a strong and healthy response from our people.
We invited twelve people to apply for Elder, all of whom had been recommended multiple times by clergy or lay leaders. Of those twelve, ten applied, and seven were appointed.
At the beginning of the Elder selection process, we had expected to appoint no more than five new Elders. Instead, we chose seven, based on the strength of their applications and believing that having more people in this role will help the Council of Elders to be even more responsive to the needs of our churches and our people.
We are confident that our seven appointees, who have the unanimous support of our current Elders, meet this criteria without exception.
We worked hard to balance many of the considerations of diversity with our commitment to choose those who our people have already recommended, and who they would easily recognize as Elders.
Among those appointed are four people who serve as pastor or have served as pastor for program-sized or larger churches; one who is the pastor of a family-sized church; one lay person; three men (two are cisgender, one is a trans-man); and one who is bisexual. The seven represent three countries and three language groups. Two are denominational staff.
Elders occupy a special and historic place in the hearts of MCCers world-wide and provide spiritual and pastoral leadership to a global MCC. Because the Elder Appointees will serve on the Council of Elders, which is a discernment body for the Moderator, MCC By-laws require that the General Conference affirm the decision of the Moderator and Council of Elders. This is not an election; rather, it is an opportunity for clergy and lay delegates to voice their support on behalf of MCCers around the world.
In a couple of weeks, the Governing Board will officially announce the Special General Conference Business Forums, scheduled for 9 and 11 April, and virtual voting on 6 and 7 May. Save the dates, and stay tuned for more information!
Rev. Ines-Paul Baumann: Pastor of MCC Cologne, Germany, and the youngest nominee, in the 35-49 age bracket. Rev. Baumann is also the first German Elder and the first non-conforming FTM GenderQueer Elder appointee.
Rev. Tony Freeman: Former pastor of MCC San Diego; currently on the Senior Leadership Team as the Director of the Office of Church Life and Health. Rev. Freeman served on the Governing Board until 2013.
Nancy Maxwell, J.D., LL.M.: Professor of Law at Washburn University and one of three leaders of our LEAD team that oversees the program globally. Prof. Maxwell has considerable global experience and teaches courses on human rights and the law. She is the first lay woman to be appointed as Elder.
Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis: Former pastor of MCC Washington, D.C., and current pastor of King of Peace MCC in St. Petersburg, Florida, Rev. Shultis has served the denomination in many capacities, including on the Governing Board. She is currently chairing the Commission on the MCC Statement of Faith.
Their bios and photos are included below.
Rejoice with me that we have come to this place after years of preparation! Please pray for the Elder appointees, their families and churches as we move through this time together.
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
Global Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
I live in Cologne/Germany/Europe/World/Creation/God.
I spend most of my time being Parent and Partner, pastoring in MCC Cologne and earning money as Webdeveloper.
My firstname tries to express that I no longer care what gender/s I’m supposed to form.
I came to MCC in 2004 after my queercore-punkrock-band had split. The General Conference 2010 in Acapulco/Mexico was my first experience with the global fellowship outside Europe. I was ordained in 2012.
I love discussions AND decisions. I love questions and questioning. I love to “collect data” before I make up my mind. I appreciate a diversity of lifestyles, abilities, views and traditions. I can share clearness regarding a common ground AND openness regarding it’s different ways of practical meaning.
As an elder I would like to serve WITH and FOR rather than OVER people. I’d like to proceed with healing by seeing the sainthood not only of those aspects (religions, traditions, opinions, people and self-experiences) that parts of Christianities outside and inside of ourselves already acknowledge as saint. I feel a bit uneasy with the unclear boundaries we have regarding the judicial, legislative and executive power for elders in MCC.
But I share enthusiasm for transforming ourselves as we transform our worlds. I’m committed to explore and be a voice for our understanding(s) of church, faith and spirituality – for and with LGBTIQ*- communities, but what we have to offer is so relevant for so many inside and outside of MCC and Christendom also!
Thank you for taking me into account for the search for additional Elders. God bless all applicants and your considerations and decisions!
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner is currently the Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of New York, where she has served in various capacities for the past 33 years. Rev. Pat is also the Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute, traveling, writing and speaking on behalf of MCC world-wide, addressing a range of social justice issues, forging on-the-ground partnerships, and supporting efforts to promote an inclusive human rights agenda. She chairs the Moderator’s Public Policy Team and holds a seat on the Council for Global Equality.
The Founder of The Sylvia Rivera Memorial Food Pantry at MCCNY and Sylvia’s Place, she has become a leading visionary in the quest of the Queer community to build coalitions and deal with hunger and homelessness, as well as homophobia and other social prejudices. Named for the late civil rights leader, Sylvia Rivera, Sylvia’s Place serves as New York City’s emergency shelter dedicated to providing safe space, food, medical and psychological care, and spiritual support for homeless LGBT youth.
Educated in the Roman Catholic tradition, Rev. Pat has become a sought-after speaker and preacher across denominational divides, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, serving as the 2011 New York City Pride Grand Marshal.
Her current focus involves work with activists in Costa Rica, East Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Eastern Europe, working with asylum seekers in New York City, and developing presentations that address human trafficking as a Queer rights issue.
The proud grandparent of 4 year old Joshua, she lives in the West Village of New York City with her spouse of 28 years, Mary Jane Gibney, and their puppy, Lily.
Rev. Tony Freeman
Since my initial licensure in 1995 as clergy in MCC, I have served in a variety of leadership roles in the local church (including all of the different church “sizes”) and at the denominational level in both volunteer and staff roles. My local church experience includes staff clergy, executive pastor, interim pastor and senior pastor. Denominationally, I served as Chair of the Strategic Growth Initiative, Chair of the Structure Review Team, and as Vice Chair of the Governing Board and I’m currently serving as the Director of Church Life and Health (and member of the senior leadership team). My MCC experience includes visiting and working with our churches around the world (United States, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada and Mexico). I have also presented over 20 seminars and workshops at MCC conferences
I live in Tucson, Arizona USA with my thirteen year old dog, Pollie. Although I’m frequently travelling on weekends, I do enjoy attending Water of Life MCC when I’m home.
I believe that being an Elder in MCC means you are called to be a servant- leader that embodies the core values of our denomination in ways that inspire and empower people and our churches to achieve their greatest potential. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share in this ministry and pray that God will bless us mightily as we together pursue our mission to transform lives and our world.
Rev. Dwayne Johnson
Rev. Dwayne Johnson came to MCC for the first time in 1978. At that time he was a member of the Church of Nazarene, a conservative evangelical denomination. MCC opened new windows personally and theologically and he became a member of MCC of Greater Kansas City in 1983. He became a Transfer Clergy at MCC of Washington, DC in 1990. His experiences include serving as Senior Pastor of MCC Richmond, Virginia (1992-96); Senior Pastor of Resurrection, MCC, Houston, Texas (1996-2009); and currently Senior Pastor of MCC of Washington, D.C., USA.
His denominational work includes service on various committees and working groups, including service as Chair of Clergy Credentialing and Concerns for the South Central District. He has preached at Leadership, District, and Regional Conferences and at General Conference.
Dwayne has a passion for outreach, justice and equality that is grounded in spiritual development. His ecumenical work includes serving with the Coalition for Mutual Respect from 1996-2009, including a 2006 peace mission to Israel with Muslim, Jewish and Christian educators and clergy. Currently he serves by mayoral appointment on the Mayor’s Interfaith Council in Washington, D.C., USA.
In January 2009 he became a member of the Academy for Spiritual Formation, studying with Grace Imathiu, Margaret Guenther, Glenn Hinson and other leaders in the Spiritual Formation movement.
Born in Lubbock, Texas, USA he has also lived in California, Kansas, Missouri, and Washington State. He is a graduate of Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, majoring in Communications, Psychology and English and earned his M.Div. from Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Dwayne envisions MCC as a denomination called to embody the strength of global diversity, power in global partnerships, and an unwavering voice for global equality.
Nancy G. Maxwell* holds dual membership at MCC of Topeka and the Church of the Trinity, Sarasota, Florida. She began attending MCC of Topeka in 1990 and recently joined the Church of the Trinity, Sarasota, Florida.
Nancy is a co-coordinator of the MCC lay leader certificate program, Laity Empowered for Active Discipleship (LEAD). She has attended the Moderator’s Leadership Mentoring Retreat, stood for election to the Governing Board in 2010, is a certified facilitator for Creating a Life that Matters, completed her LEAD certificate in 2013, attended the Size, Worship, Programming, and Stewardship Summits, and has presented on The Partnership between a Church’s Board of Directors and the Ministry Staff; The Large Church; and The Legal Aspects of LGBT Families. She recently completed a course in pastoral care at the Pacific School of Religion.
In July Nancy will retire from Washburn University School of Law, Topeka, KS, where she has taught Family Law, Sexuality and the Law, Criminal Law, Feminist Legal Theory and Alternative Dispute Resolution. She has served as the law school’s Co-Director of the International and Comparative Law Center, teaching comparative law in London, UK, Utrecht, NL, and Barbados. Nancy has presented academic papers in numerous countries; her legal research includes same-sex marriage, co-parent adoption, parentage issues, mediation, and legal education. Nancy holds a B.A. in psychology and a law degree (J.D.) from the University of North Dakota, and a master’s of law (LL.M.) degree in law teaching from Harvard. She is licensed to practice law in North Dakota and the federal Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; she is a trained child custody and visitation mediator, and implemented a student-run dispute resolution program in Topeka, Kansas, public school system.
Some of the skills and gifts Nancy brings to the role of elder include pastoral care, spiritual discernment, teaching/facilitating, and administration.
* Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston was a lay person at the time of her election as a Regional Elder and later entered the process of ordination as MCC clergy.
Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León, originally from Puerto Rico and living in Lisbon, Portugal, has been part of MCC since 1996. She was co-pastor of MCC Cristo Sanador in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the founding stage and Senior Pastor from 2006 to 2008. She was Executive Director of Amnesty International, Section of Puerto Rico and as has wide experience working with and taking action for human rights and LGBT rights through grassroots organizations and social movements. When moving to London, UK, she was pastor in the East London and South London MCC congregations from 2009 to 2012. At denominational level, she is part of Theologies Team since 2010 and works as Program Coordinator for Iberoamerica –Office of Emerging Ministries (in close collaboration with Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez) and is the Academic Dean of the “Darlene Garner Institute for Ibero-American Leadership Formation – OFLD.
One of her skills and passions is to help to build alliances and create networks between organizations, groups and people. She is a person of dialogue that embraces diversity and multiculturalism as a way of life. She enjoys encouraging people to understand their own strengths as a gift. She has curiosity for life and a passion for people.
She has a BA in Art and Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, an MA in Religion from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and Courses for Doctor of Philosophy program from the Graduate Theological Foundation. She speaks Spanish, English and Portuguese.
She is married with Frida Kruijt and they are mothers of Oshadi and Siboney, girl and boy twins of five years old.
Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis grew up in Kingston, NY and Pittsfield, MA. She earned her baccalaureate degree from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), B.B.A., in 1973, her master’s and her doctorate at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, M.Div., 1980 and D. Min., 2004. Her doctoral dissertation is entitled: The Creation of a More Diverse Congregation: A History of the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC. From November, 1973 through August, 1976, she served as a disbursing officer in the United States Marine Corps. She first attended the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC in 1979. Candace served as the Associate Pastor of MCC Washington from 1983 until 1995 when she was elected Pastor. She was called and elected to be the Pastor at King of Peace MCC, St. Petersburg, FL in December, 2007.
Candace has served in a number of denominational capacities including as Assistant District Coordinator (Mid-Atlantic District), as a member and then chair of the Clergy Credentials and Concerns Committee and as a member of the Governing Board. She presently serves as the Chair of the Commission on the Statement of Faith. She has preached in churches and at events from New Haven CT to Sydney Australia.
Candace brings the spiritual gifts of pastor, administrator, stewardship, leadership and discernment. She is a gifted preacher and teacher. She loves people in all the ways they show up and has a passion for the growth of churches and people.
She and her partner of 22 years, Barbara, also enjoy the company of their two dachshunds: Wendy, and Mister Redd (Really Extraordinary Dachshund Dog).
We are continually alarmed by the number of people, especially youth, who are subjected to so-called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” that seeks to teach them that their sexual orientation and gender identify or expression is inherently evil and can be changed. This is not only an affront to our religious beliefs, it has been repudiated by the American
Medical Association and the American Psychological Association and condemned by those who have survived it. It is spiritual and psychological abuse, and it is time to end it. Only two states (California and New Jersey) and the District of Columbia have statutory bans on “conversion therapy.” Several high profile teen suicides (Leelah Alcorn and countless others) offer us a wake up call. We have the power to create meaningful change in the lives of marginalized youth. We enlist your help to ban such harmful work in
every state in the nation.
Here are some actions you can take to help end so-called “conversion therapy” and to save the lives of countless LGBTQI persons who are forced to endure it:
Photo Courtesy: Out & About Nashville
and State Senators and ask them to sponsor legislation that would ban “conversion therapy.” State legislatures are meeting now. If you need help crafting talking points, the Public Policy Team can help you.
Leelah begged us to do these things. In her suicide note, she said, “My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f****d up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.” Do it for all the other youth whom we do not know. Help ban “conversion therapy” everywhere. All of God’s children deserve our love, support, and action.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This action alert was prepared by the Public Policy Team of
Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.
Al Dios, único sabio
En este domingo de Adviento del Amor, nos centramos en la bendición del libro a los Romanos en la que Pablo glorifica al Dios “único y sabio.”
Aunque el mundo siempre ha necesitado amor, ahora más que nunca, necesita sabiduría y de un liderazgo sabio.
Cuando somos sabios/as, tocamos a Dios.
La sabiduría es un don tranquilo del Espíritu. Se trata de un recipiente que contiene cosas que parecen estar en contradicción y nos ayuda a ver un camino donde no hay camino, un camino a través de la comprensión y la esperanza, hacia un futuro. La sabiduría es la presencia en templanza que respira a través del nacimiento y la muerte, a través del sufrimiento y la alegría por igual.
Hoy en día, el mundo lucha con conflictos en todos los frentes. Cada grupo terrorista es sustituido por uno más vicioso. Niñas adolescentes son secuestradas. Los civiles son asesinados. El racismo al parecer estar resurgiendo, especialmente en los EE.UU., como si estuviéramos regresando a los años 1950 y 60. El duelo se multiplica. El salario mínimo es demasiado bajo para que la gente viva decentemente. Los derechos humanos están en juego en tantos lugares. Igualdad en el matrimonio está en una montaña rusa. Hermanos y hermanas trans siguen siendo “patologizados/as” y en alto riesgo de violencia. Economías en un sube y baja. ¿Cómo en un mundo así la iglesia es el Cuerpo de Cristo?
La sabiduría es un don espiritual, intercultural, interreligioso, que se extiende a través de nuestras diferencias como un puente. El apóstol Pablo era consciente de la predicación de la locura de Cristo en un mundo complicado por múltiples confluencias. ¿Cómo la sabiduría de Dios es más que el conocimiento humano, más allá de nuestros clichés y predicciones? ¿Cómo la sabiduría es el pegamento que nos mantiene unidos a través de los cataclismos, a través de los abismos de conflicto y de la disfunción? Necesitamos la sabiduría que es de la fe de que hay soluciones y vías a través de todas las dificultades! Cuando el dolor nos paraliza, la sabiduría nos susurrara para nos levantemos y sigamos adelante — en la confianza de que así como nosotros/as, el camino se revelará.
Cuando somos sabios/as, tocamos a Dios.
La sabiduría es la transformación intelectual / espiritual del amor.
Recuerdo cuando hace décadas aprendí la plegaria de la serenidad en el contexto de una reunión de doce pasos, “Dios, concédeme la serenidad para aceptar las cosas que no puedo cambiar, el valor para cambiar las cosas que puedo y la sabiduría para reconocer la diferencia.” Sabiduría fue el remate, la clave de todo el resto. Gané sabiduría en esas habitaciones, en esas reuniones de los 12 pasos, de la gente común que habían aprendido el secreto de dejar ir para dejar a Dios. Me enseñaron a respirar de nuevo, para respirar en la sabiduría que está disponible, sólo si yo humillarme la pido.
Cuando somos sabios/as, tocamos a Dios.
Muchos otros “dioses” compiten para gobernar nuestras vidas — fuerzas o cosas que son manipuladoras, egoístas, falsas, indignas de nuestra energía, amor y devoción. Tenemos que abrirnos al único y sabio Dios, quien es el que merece nuestra atención y conexión — el uno que no exige que nos sacrificamos, sino que se da a sí mismo por nosotros/as. ¿Cómo podemos confiar en el único y sabio Dios Creador, que nos ama más de lo que nosotros/as mismas nos amamos y más que los “dioses” que explotan nuestras adicciones?
Cuando somos sabios/as, tocamos a Dios.
Jesús enseñó como “uno con la autoridad” — él era sabio para su edad y experiencias humanas. La primera comunidad cristiana testificó que él encarnó esa Sabiduría. Es por eso que atrajo a tantos y atemorizó a otros. Su ser iluminaba a todos/as y a todo su alrededor. Fue una buena noticia para los/las pobres y juicio para sus opresores.
Dejemos que la Sabiduría brille a través de nosotros/as en esta temporada de la encarnación. Que encarnemos el “único y sabio Dios,” en nuestro discurso, en nuestras acciones por la justicia, en nuestros esfuerzos para crear y sostener la comunidad en este frágil planeta.
Cuando somos sabios/as, tocamos a Dios, y nos transformamos a medida que transformamos el mundo.
To The Only Wise God
On this Advent Sunday of Love, we focus on the benediction from the Book of Romans in which Paul glorifies “the only wise God.”
Though the world needs love as much as it always has, right now it needs wisdom, and wise leadership even more.
When we are wise, we are touching God.
Wisdom is a quiet gift of the Spirit. It is a container that holds things that seem to be in contradiction and helps us to see a Way where there is no way, a way through to understanding, to hope, to a future. Wisdom is the unanxious presence that breathes through birth and death, through suffering and joy alike.
Today, the world struggles with conflicts on every front. Each terrorist group is replaced by one more vicious. Teenage girls are kidnapped. Civilians are murdered. Racism is resurging it seems, in the U.S. especially, as if we were revisiting the 1950s and 60s. Grief is multiplied. The minimum wage is too low for people to live decently. Human rights are at stake in so many places. Marriage equality is on a roller coaster ride. Trans brothers and sisters are still pathologized and at high risk for violence. Economies rock and roll. How is the church to be the Body of Christ in such a world?
Wisdom is a spiritual gift, cross-cultural, inter-religious, spanning across our differences like a bridge. Paul the apostle was aware of preaching the foolishness of Christ in a complicated, intersectional world. How is God’s wisdom more than human knowledge, beyond our clichés and predictions? How is wisdom the glue that holds us together through cataclysmic change, through impossible gulfs of conflict and dysfunction? We need wisdom that has faith that there are solutions and pathways through every difficulty! When pain paralyzes us, wisdom whispers to us to get up and to keep moving forward — to trust that as we do, the way will unfold.
When we are wise, we are touching God.
Wisdom is the intellectual / spiritual form that love takes.
I remember first learning the serenity prayer decades ago in the context of a twelve-step meeting, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Wisdom was the punchline, the key to all the rest. I gained wisdom in those rooms, those 12-step meetings, from ordinary people who had learned the secret of letting go and letting God. They taught me to breathe again, to breathe in the wisdom that is available, if I would only humble myself and ask.
When we are wise, we are touching God.
Many other “gods” compete to rule our lives — forces or things that are manipulative, selfish, false, unworthy of our energy, love, and devotion. We need to open ourselves up to the only wise God, who is the one worthy of our attention and connection — the one who does not demand that we sacrifice ourselves, but rather who gave her/himself for us. How can we trust the only wise Creator God, who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves and more than the “gods” who exploit our addictions?
When we are wise, we are touching God.
Jesus taught as “one with authority” — he was wise beyond his human years and experience. The early Christians testified that he incarnated that Wisdom. It is why he attracted so many and terrified others. His very being illuminated everything and everyone around him. He was good news to the poor and judgment to those who oppressed them.
Let Wisdom shine through us in this season of incarnation. May we en-flesh “the only wise God,” in our speech, in our actions for justice, in our efforts to create and sustain community on this fragile planet.
When we are wise, we are touching God, and we are transforming ourselves as we transform the world.
LGBT Black Christians and faith leaders join tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/denominations and allies to wear black to church on Sunday, December 14, in response to police brutality: “Black LGBT bodies must matter, too!”
Black America faces an unspoken agenda of terror and racism. In response, tens of thousands of historically Black congregations/denominations and allies across the country will be wearing black on December 14, 2014, to protest the criminalization, disproportionate incarceration, and killing of black and brown people by law enforcement. As Black lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) religious leaders, we are all too familiar with oppressive systems that discriminate and kill.
Over the last six years, fair minded Americans have moved the country to elect our first Black president, opened the doors of marriage to same gender loving people in over 35 states and Washington D.C., began a national conversation on the inclusion of transgender brothers and sisters, and confronted the need to finally address immigration reform. This decided shift toward progressive social values has been met with an escalating conservative backlash most abhorrently embodied in the aggressive policing of Black and Brown bodies. The conservative climate has also led to rampant unresolved murders of transgender people.
Action: As more than 150 Black LGBT faith leaders, we commit to mobilize our LGBT led congregations, denominations, and faith communities to participate in a day of solidarity and to pray for healing, justice, and holy boldness as we respond as a united front. We call for the Black community and our allies to stand with us. In turn, we sign on to the following actions:
We, as LGBT religious leaders across faith traditions and across our country have created an historic alliance among ourselves as we assert that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We declare and decree our wholehearted commitment to participating in a new wave of sacred resistance to power structures, which demean black bodies, and reinforce policies, that undermine the life, and vitality of our community. We uphold that All Black Lives Matter and condemn all the ways Black bodies are marginalized, and subjected to hostility.
To that end, we call for all Black religious voices to unite together across the diversity that exists among us to proclaim that we stand on the side of justice for all and that every life is sacred. To do so we must connect the dots between the forms of oppression that rise up from the toxic root of racism. We stand against oppressive practices wherever they exist and are committed to the practice of peace and we encourage our communities to find common ground.
We commit to moving from the margins to the middle as we articulate an integrated multi-issue justice movement embracing the totality of concerns impacting Black and Brown bodies: police brutality, mass incarceration, violence against trans people, income inequality, immigration discrimination, malnutrition, gun violence, the assault on reproductive health, unequal pay for women, inferior education, disproportionately high HIV/AIDS, Ebola, the homeless crisis among black gay youth, and the lethal exportation of homophobia to Africa by the Religious Right.
As demonstrators around the country are organizing themselves to speak truth to power, we join our voices to this chorus of justice seekers and stand in solidarity with all who seek to change the ways our communities are oppressed and disenfranchised.
In response to grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, and in other parts of the country where Black lives are ended senselessly over minor offenses or for no offense at all, our hearts are broken by the lack of justice for the victims of violence at the hands of law enforcement. We grieve with the families in St. Louis, Cleveland, and New York City who have lost their loved ones. We are also dismayed by militaristic police tactics that try to silence the voices of peaceful protesters reacting to the lack of justice from our legal system.
As religious leaders, we lift our voices in solidarity with the families, protesters, and all those who stand against discrimination. We affirm that the walls of racism, homophobia, transphobia and injustice must be pulled down in our communities, nation, on the continent of Africa and throughout the Diaspora.
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Metropolitan Community Churches
United Church of Christ
Global Justice Institute
Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies
Bishop Tonyia Rawls
Éste es el testimonio de Juan, cuando las autoridades judías enviaron desde Jerusalén sacerdotes y levitas a preguntarle a Juan quién era él. Juan les contestó: Yo soy una voz que grita en el desierto: “Abran un camino derecho para el Señor”
Juan 1:19a, 23
Me di cuenta en la red social ‘Tumblr’ que Adviento era un tema escogido. Cuando hice clic había varias imágenes y citas de cientos de blogs sobre Adviento. Iban desde los calendarios de Adviento extravagantes, poemas místicos, pegadizos de figuras de renos hasta recetas de galletitas. Ninguna de las imágenes o temas presentó un desierto. Sin embargo, es desde un desierto que Juan nos invita y emplaza en este tercer domingo de Adviento. Él es la voz de uno que clama en el desierto, y lo que es sorprendente es que las personas lo siguen hasta allí. Algunos de ellos querían cuestionar su identidad – “¿Eres Elías, el Mesías, un profeta???” Otros se sienten atraídos por su mensaje de arrepentimiento y la preparación para lo que habrá de venir. Se podría decir que el Adviento era un tema de tendencia en los días de Juan.
De entre todas las imágenes y sonidos de nuestro tiempo de Adviento actual, el desierto no suele estar representado. ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que vio una tarjeta de Navidad con una imagen de un desierto en su portada? Pero las Escrituras nos dicen que el desierto es importante para la historia de la salvación: el Éxodo de los israelitas conduce a través del desierto y el ministerio público de Jesús comienza después de un período de ‘prueba’ en el desierto. Estas historias enseñan que el desierto es un lugar no sólo en donde Dios puede ser conocido más profundamente, pero también es un lugar donde los seres humanos pueden conocerse más profundamente.
Comencé este tiempo de Adviento, literalmente, en el desierto. Mi esposa, Deb, y yo fuimos acampar durante una semana en el desierto de Big Bend, Texas (EE.UU.). Durante esa semana aprendí algunas cosas sobre el desierto y sobre Adviento. Ambos nos llevan a cultivar una actitud de vigilancia. Lo que podría parecer lo mismo día tras día, año tras año (¿cuántas estaciones de Adviento han vivido?), tiene belleza y profundidad si no nos dejamos arrullar por la igualdad. Cada mañana cuando salía de nuestro camper y cada noche antes de entrar me encontraba con la misma montaña. Pero me tomé el tiempo para estar atenta durante todo el día y me di cuenta de cosas diferentes sobre la montaña y el paisaje: las formas como las sombras se movían sobre las rocas; la variedad de colores de marrón, oro y fuego; pequeñas flores que parecían venir de la nada.
Es fácil quedar arrullado por la similitud de las tradiciones de Adviento, como colocar verdes o la iluminación de la corona de Adviento, incluso la historia del ‘niño envuelto en pañales, acostado en un pesebre.’ Un escritor ha dicho: “Adviento no es sólo acerca de la espera de un bebé. Se trata de la espera de una nueva realidad que se apodera de nosotros y nosotras, tomando primero de rehenes a nuestros corazones y almas para su justicia y su gracia. Y luego, porque no podemos vivir sino por su fuerza magnética, establece su demanda en todo el mundo a través de nosotros “. (John van de Laar, Sacredise.com) Seguir a Juan en el desierto durante Adviento me mantiene atenta y abierta a la nueva realidad que anuncia, que nunca se arraiga en mí exactamente de la misma manera año tras año.
El desierto es también un lugar de exposición. En este paisaje austero, no sólo se puede estar expuesto al calor y a la falta de agua, también se puede estar expuesto a los temores y a las ansiedades. Recuerdo varias veces durante esa semana de acampada sentirme ansiosa por estar en un lugar tan remoto. Me despertaba por la noche y pensando: “¿Qué pasa si hay un incendio en la caravana? ¿Qué pasa si una de nosotras tiene una emergencia médica?” Las historias del desierto del Éxodo, la tentación de Jesús en el desierto, y Adviento enseñan que Dios nos encuentra en nuestra humanidad, y la única forma que realmente podemos conocer a Dios, como Santa Teresa de Ávila decía, es cuando realmente nos conocemos a nosotros mismos.
Juan el Bautista nos invita a entrar en el desierto de Adviento no a experimentar algún tipo de santidad genérica o abstracta de la vida cristiana. Él nos invita a entrar en el desierto de Adviento a conocernos en verdad y a entender como el amor y la gracia de Dios se manifiesta en las particularidades de nuestras vidas.
Así que a medida que avanzamos más y más hacia esa “noche santa,” ¿cómo es la práctica de Adviento para usted?
Dear MCC members and friends,
When the Ferguson decision came down, we released an “Epistle to America” challenging every person of good will to start looking directly at the inequities in the economic and legal systems that impact people of color in this country. We pray for the United States, and we grieve with the families.
The bottom line is that we are all impacted by racism, whether we realize it or not.
Paul’s pastoral letters to the early churches show us that, while he was always loving, he was not always gentle. He prayed for the believers and reminded them of the riches of God’s love. Still, he was forthright as he exhorted them to move beyond the cultural pitfalls of giving privilege to the rich while sending the poor away hungry from the table of Christ. He challenged believers to understand that freedom in Christ goes beyond slave and free, male and female, Jew and Gentile.
Today, our pastoral letter is filled with love for each and every person. Indeed, it is out of our love that we address the situation of race in the United States. We do so with full knowledge that the treatment of African immigrants in Europe is a pressing concern, that Afro-Brazilians still live under oppression, that Hispanic and Native people in the U.S. also face massive discrimination, and that divisions by race, gender, and class are realities in all of our settings. There are lessons on human rights to learn from each situation. Right now, the world is learning the lessons of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
The primary lesson from recent events is that racism is still raising its ugly head and has morphed from one form to another through each generation. Within the United States, it has moved from slavery, to Jim Crow laws, to segregation, to rampant incarceration, to death by police. Young Black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than young white men. Racism always marginalizes people of color and supports the ideology of white superiority and Black criminality. Racism is so suffused in dominant culture, it appears to be no one’s “fault” — just an accident of history. But when no one is responsible, we all must take responsibility. Racism will continue unless we stop it.
With an unspoken agenda of terror, racism kills just enough people to silence and subdue people of color who are trying to protect their families. Parents of African American sons teach them to put their hands in plain sight WHEN the police stop them. Children are often severely punished for disobedience in the family so they learn that obedience in public could save their lives. Girls learn quickly they need to be strong and ready to raise their family by themselves, since the men in the community are targets for economic deprivation, imprisonment, and death.
Everyone is vulnerable to the ideology that Black bodies do not matter and can be wasted by the police state. White police officers, as well as police officers of color, are caught in the system too. This is why national police associations have called for reforms. When policing becomes dangerous to communities, it is dangerous for the police as well.
Few whites have firsthand experience of the day-to-day racism that people of color deal with. The long stare, the stalking security guard, the demand for additional identification, the forgotten names, the apologies “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you,” the caricatures on television, the rejection for jobs, just to name a few.
Those of us who identify as LGBTQ know we come from all walks of life and all races; many of us have firsthand experience with people telling us we might as well die. We were told that HIV/AIDS was God’s punishment for who we are. Our people were dying in droves in the 1980s, and President Reagan did not even mention HIV/AIDS until his second term in office. Too many people — especially religious people — were indifferent to our suffering.
Of all people, we should understand. Bigotry kills.
There is no easy or quick answer to racism, in the U.S. or anywhere in the world. Once we address mass incarceration and police state murders, be assured that other systemic forms will surge forth. Fighting racism is as generational as racism itself. If you are a white person who chooses to stand with those who resist, be ready to make mistakes, make amends, and keep moving. If you are a person of color, you already know what bravery is required to live another day through the grace of God.
Today, as the spiritual leaders of MCC, we call on all members and friends of MCC to pray for the redemption of this evil called racism. If we stay in denial about racism, we will not find redemption. We need to begin to talk and act before we can heal this wound of the spirit that affects all of us. We are believers in Christ who offers freedom to all. Like the early Christians exhorted by Paul, we must come to a fuller understanding of freedom lived through a life of a loving God and our neighbor — not as in abstract otherworldly freedom but in the ways we live loving lives each day.
Right now, our sisters and brothers of African descent in MCC, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, the wider movement, and the world need our solidarity, our compassion, and our action. No one can walk away and pretend “this is not my issue.”
Start the healing. Pray together, talk together, work together. It is time for God’s realm to come.
These actions will not repair the damage of recent cases, but nationwide demands for change may lay the groundwork for cases of police brutality and murder to see the light of an actual courtroom, rather than be buried behind the closed doors of grand juries.
Be MCC! Be JUSTICE!
The Council of Elders of Metropolitan Community Churches:
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Dr. Mona West, Rev. Hector Gutierrez, Rev. Darlene Garner