Archive for ‘Christianity’

May 4, 2011

Coat of Many Names needs your name!

Lindsay Louise Biddle is a Presbyterian minister living in Scotland. She pastored More Light Churches in the US, and is the author of a biblical self-defense course that can be found on the More Light Presbyterians website resources page (archived, but it’s there: She’s forwarded the following request, and YOU (or someone you know) might want to participate!

Dear More Light friends,

I Lindsay Biddle have been appointed as the PC(USA) delegate to this year’s General Assembly meeting of the Church of Scotland, which is expected to act upon “ordained ministry and same-sex relationships.” As an ecumenical delegate, I am encouraged to wear my “national costume” and so I plan to wear a Coat With Names of Ordained Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay Presbyterians

  • Email me your name (however you want it to appear) and I will affix it:
  • Add your partner’s name (however they want it to appear) and I will put you together in the X-shape of Scotland’s patron Saint Andrew.
  • Deadline: May 15

Then when people ask I can respond, “These are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered Presbyterians who are ordained deacons, elders, or ministers.”

And I’ll stay warm and dry!

April 25, 2011

Lisa Larges: Our Chance to Be the Church

Whether you are passionately for or passionately against Amendment 10-A (the amendment now before the Presbyterian Church which would replace existing language in our Constitution which effectively bars LGBT persons from holding ordained office) here is some good news: God is still in charge. Sure, believers across the world would agree with this fundamental truth, but we Presbyterians believe it with a particular ferocity. We count as our spiritual forebear one Mr. John Calvin, who was strenuous on the point:

“Truly God claims omnipotence to himself, and would have us to acknowledge it,–not the vain, indolent, slumbering omnipotence which sophists [quibblers] feign, but vigilant, efficacious, energetic, and ever active– not an omnipotence which may only act as a general principle of confused motion, as in ordering a stream to keep within the channel once prescribed to it, but one which is intent on individual and special movements. God is deemed omnipotent, not because he can act though he may cease or be idle, or because by a general instinct he continues the order of nature previously appointed; but because, governing heaven and earth by his providence, he so overrules all things that nothing happens without his counsel.”

That’s how very in charge God is. But, John Calvin was a practical theologian and his emphasis on God’s omnipotence was meant less as an instruction on who God is than on who we are to be. It’s a point that Paul made directly and succinctly to the Church in Rome: “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought …” For Calvin, as for Paul God’s sovereignty requires our humility.

A few weeks back, I was an observer at the called meeting of San Francisco Presbytery as the presbyters voted on Amendment 10-A. At several points during the proceedings the Moderator reminded the body of the controversial nature of the vote, and urged graciousness and decorum, especially after the vote was announced and the meeting adjourned. “There will be those who will be celebrating,” he said, “and those who will be upset by the results and we need to treat one another with kindness and respect.”

He was right. When it comes to votes on LGBT issues, San Francisco Presbytery is just about evenly split. I appreciated the call for civility and grace; but still, the word “celebrate” hit an off note in me.

As it turned out, Amendment 10-A passed in San Francisco Presbytery, which would put me in the camp of the celebrators. But—though I was glad about the outcome— “celebrating” didn’t have much appeal.

I’ll confess to you right here, right now, that there have been times at presbytery or at a General Assembly when I’ve felt gleeful about the result of some vote or other. I’ll further confess that, once or twice (and I’m not proud of this) I even felt just a wee bit of glee that others, who had worked so strenuously against something that I cared about, were now feeling the sadness of having a vote go against them. Calvin would have had a word for that kind of cheap glee, and that word is sin. It’s sinful because it breaks relation with another part of the body of Christ, and it’s sinful because it demeans the sovereignty of God, as if we could be certain of God’s purposes.

The church is surrounded by a culture that measures the world by winners and losers. So saturated are we in it that we drag that language of win/loss, victory/defeat in to the church, where it never belonged, and where it only does us harm.

All of this is meant as a little shout out to those, who—like me—will be rejoicing should Amendment 10-A be ratified. It’s a reminder to all of us to practice the spiritual discipline of equanimity.

Paul again:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through the One who gives me strength.”

Here’s our chance. Here’s our chance to be a living demonstration of graciousness, humility, and generosity. Here’s our chance to practice radical hospitality.

And, as a whole Church, bound by the unity of Christ’s body, here’s an opportunity to model a bit of positive Calvinism. We are not in charge – ain’t that good news?

April 22, 2011

Covenant Network and Presbyterians for Renewal Joint Call to Prayer

Following the last General Assembly of the PC(USA), this prayer was jointly offered by the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and Presbyterians for Renewal. It’s always a good time to pray for peace and reconciliation, but especially during Holy Week.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. The 219th General Assembly again put before the PC(USA) an amendment regarding ordination standards. Following the 218th General Assembly (2008), an amendment to delete G-6.0106b was supported by 78 presbyteries and defeated by 91. Presbyterians from across the country and across the theological spectrum acknowledged that deliberations were more respectful and less antagonistic, but there is a weariness with this debate on all sides.

Presbyteries are already considering the current amendment with new language about ordination standards. While we who serve in the leadership of Presbyterians for Renewal and the Covenant Network of Presbyterians do not agree on the desired outcome of this overture, we can find agreement in the hope that elders and clergy within the presbyteries of the PC(USA) will engage in this new round of deliberations in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). It is our intent to witness to the reconciling love of Christ, even and especially when we disagree.

We invite you to join us in this commitment and in prayer:

Most gracious God,
we humbly pray for your Church.
Fill it with all truth; in all truth with all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purge it;
where it is in error, direct it;
where anything is amiss, reform it;
where it is right, strengthen and confirm it;
where it is in want, furnish it;
where it is divided, heal it,
and unite it in your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

[from The Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland (first line adapted)]

February 28, 2011

Video: Wind Up Squirrel

We have a new video up for you to watch!

Or you can see all of our videos on our You Tube channel.

Creative Commons License
Wind Up Squirrel by That All May Freely Serve
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
February 25, 2011

Dreaming of The Church That Can Be

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” –Victor Hugo (Les Miserables), French novelist, born Feb. 26, 1802

January 24, 2011

TAMFS at Creating Change

Some of us wish that we could be at Creating Change, but can’t. We’re glad that Lisa Larges will be there leading a workshop!

Creating Change



Humor, Hospitality, and Heliotropes as Tools for Social Change
Practice Spirit, Do Justice • All Audiences

In this workshop we address the nature vs. nurture debate: Are queers born with a more highly developed sense of humor, or is it an acquired characteristic? Since the anti-equality activists have co-opted tactics of fear, anger and smoldering resentment, we’ll focus on the leftovers: joy, love and hospitality. We’ll share tactics for creative social change: instant theater, flash mobs, well-placed “mocktivism,” guerilla acts of hospitality, and other stuff we haven’t thought of yet!

Presenter: Lisa Larges, That All May Freely Serve, Rochester, NY

January 22, 2011

Lisa Larges: Sometimes People Just Get Along – Go Figure

Last Sunday I visited a type of Presbyterian Church that seems to be a little retro – a church where a diverse range of theological and political perspectives was represented in the membership. I can’t give you the metrics of just how diverse they are, and I don’t know firsthand how well they all get along or not. I can only report anecdotally, that several people – four or five or more – said to me, without prompting, “I really like it here. We don’t all agree on everything, but we all get along.” I can also report that the place had a wonderful feel about it. Lots of churches like to promote themselves as “friendly,” but usually the friendliest churches are the ones that don’t think to mention it. At least, that’s been my experience.

Some pastors I’ve met along the way seem to cling to the idea, against all evidence, that keeping peace in a congregation requires avoiding conflict. But the keep-a-lid-on-it strategy always ends with a spectacular mess of one sort or another. In those churches, like the one I visited last week where folks from across the theological spectrum come together in a church that seems healthy and thriving, I don’t think it’s because folks have just decided to “agree to disagree. I think it’s more a matter that people feel that they are valued, that their opinions count, and they don’t need to shout, act out, or stir things up to be heard. As soon as we start to feel that we’re being squeezed out, whether by overt or covert means, then we turn up the volume and start stomping around in the glow of our own self-righteousness. Once congregations find that sweet spot where everyone feels more or less like they have an equal share and an equal say, then everyone calms down just a bit, and everyone has just a little more room to breathe, a little more trust that things will work out alright, and a little more freedom to risk kindness and forgiveness.

How do we find that sweet spot?

Thanks for asking, as I happen to have the five steps for creating a diverse, healthy, warm, welcoming congregation. Here they are:

    • Grace
    • Grace
    • Grace
    • Grace
    • Grace