Posts tagged ‘Janie Spahr’

May 24, 2012

Call for Letters and Motions in Support of Janie, Redwoods, and us all!

Dear Friends,

We need YOU to do something.

On Tuesday, May 15th at the Presbytery of the Redwoods meeting a remarkable thing happened. The Presbytery of the Redwoods voted 74-18 to oppose the imposition of a rebuke against The Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr for conducting same-gender marriages. The presbytery stood in solidarity with the pastors and the LGBT community they serve. As far as we know, never before has a presbytery opposed imposing a directive of the GAPJC, the highest court in the PC(USA). In effect, they said to Janie, “You are our pastor. We called you to serve the LGBT community. You have done this and more and now it is time for us to say Enough! We’ll take the heat from here. You have pastoring to do!”

Even more, this courageous Presbytery of the Redwoods took a stand as a governing body alongside the LGBT community, its families, friends, and allies. The Presbytery of the Redwoods stood with us.

Take a minute to take that in… It really is something.

Now, here’s what we would like you to do.

First: please write a letter or card or send an email to Robert Conover, Stated Clerk of Redwoods Presbytery, thanking him and the presbytery for their willingness to let the motion opposing the rebuke go forward and for the vote to stand with our pastors and community. Let them know how important this is to you. If you can, be personal. And, if you would, forward this request to everyone you think might be willing to send a note. Here’s his information:

The Rev. Robert E. Conover, Stated Clerk
Presbytery of the Redwoods
1226A Salvador Avenue
Napa, CA 94558-1817
robertconover@gmail.com

Second: if you are able, please propose a similar motion within your Councils/Sessions and Presbyteries, asking them to pass their own motion opposing the imposition of this rebuke. The motion that was used by Presbytery of the Redwoods can be found here. You can find more information about the ruling and appeals on Janie’s site, as well as on the More Light Presbyterians and Covenant Network websites (or by simply searching the web).

This is an exciting time! We have been working toward these rapidly changing conditions in the church for decades, and it is clear that the Spirit is truly on the move. Folks who are LGBT are being called to serve in churches and in seminaries. Two of the four recently ordained Teaching Elders (Ministers of Word and Sacrament) were ordained through the Presbytery of the Redwoods. And now again, they have affirmed that God’s love and justice must extend to marriage equality. We need to keep on saying thank you, wherever justice and love are so affirmed. So please… Let your voice be heard loud and clear!

We ask that you copy us on your emails at tamfs12@gmail.com. If you send a letter, please let us know that, too. If possible scan it into an email or send a copy to:

That All May Freely Serve
Rev. Ray Bagnuolo
Jan Hus Presbyterian Church and Neighborhood House
351 E. 74th Street
New York, NY 10021-3701

We hope to reach 500 hundred emails and letters/cards within the next 30 days. So, please keep us up-to-date. If you need any help or want to talk about other ideas you may have – drop us an email or give us a call.

Peace,
That All May Freely Serve

PS: Thought you would also like to know:

Yesterday, The Presbytery of Hudson River in New York approved the action of the yoked churches in Highland and Marlboro (Ulster County) to call Laurie McNeill to be their installed minister. Laurie and her partner spouse Lisa are thrilled to be called to serve in these congregations!

We have only just begun…

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May 16, 2012

From the Executive Presbyter of Redwoods Presbytery

Dear Members of the Presbytery,Image

Yesterday at our stated meeting, the presbytery voted by a 74/18 majority to express its opposition to the imposition of the rebuke to the ruling by the Presbytery Permanent Judicial Commission, and upheld by the Synod PJC and General Assembly PJC, that the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr had acted contrary to the Constitution of the PC(USA) when she conducted same gender marriage ceremonies. The entirety of the motion which was approved is attached. There may be a variety of interpretations of the presbytery’s action by members of the presbytery. You may also hear a variety of interpretations by the news media.

The motion was very thoughtfully crafted and carefully worded to express the presbytery’s opposition. In other words, the vote of the presbytery was effectively a collective dissent by an overwhelming majority of members present. While ordinarily expressed by an individual, the opportunity to dissent is provided for in the Constitution of the PC(USA) and is an important means by which a member may express herself or himself. The opportunity to dissent is a value held by the PC(USA) and it is certainly a value held by the Presbytery of the Redwoods. While the action of the presbytery yesterday does not undo the judicial decision, it does express the presbytery’s collective opposition to the imposition of the rebuke. The position of the presbytery by yesterday’s vote is clear. The decisions of the Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly PJCs are also clear. Does this create some ambiguity? Possibly, but it is hardly the first time people of faith have been confronted by ambiguity, and I have every confidence that we will remain firmly grounded as we find our way through it.

The presbytery recognizes that not everyone at the meeting, nor in the presbytery, agrees with the motion that was approved. The opportunity was given and encouraged for any who wanted to dissent from the approved motion to do so, and we expressed our willingness to assist in the dissent or protest process. While none availed themselves of this opportunity, we always seek to display such openness to hearing opposing points of view. This is the way we learn and grow.

Same gender marriage is at the forefront of society, national politics, and the church. The Presbytery of the Redwoods has displayed repeatedly, and did so again yesterday, a way of being and behaving in the midst of challenging issues that is an example for both the church and the world: openness, grace and respect, even in the midst of profound disagreement and pain. I trust this to be the way of Christ for the life of the world.

With my blessing and peace,
Robert E. Conover

May 16, 2012

Ray Bagnuolo: Courage in The Redwoods

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Presbytery of the Redwoods took a stand on Tuesday morning. They really took a stand. Rather than accepting the ruling of the GAPJC and its rebuke of The Rev. Dr. Janie Adams Spahr for marrying same gender loving couples during the time in California when such weddings were legal — rather than sitting quietly while one of their own was censured — they opposed the rebuke.

Yes. They opposed the rebuke; by a vote of 74 to 18, the Presbytery stood with Janie. They stood with the minister who has been a part of the presbytery for more than 38 years. They stood with one another and with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community and by their action said what the courts did not say: The church is wrong; we support our minister and really mean it when we say that all are welcome here. We accept responsibility for the actions of our minister; we stand with her. If you have any questions about this, see us. Leave her alone. She and our other pastors have work to do.

In this unprecedented action, something has shifted in this church. Something has been put into motion that is hard to know at this point, but will surely have an impact in our efforts to continue the work of a building a fully welcoming church for all in the PC(USA).

By this action, The Presbytery of the Redwoods has invited other councils and presbyteries to do the same. They have invited churches and governing bodies to pass their own statements of support for this presbytery; statements that affirm full pastoral care and inclusion of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community in the work and worship of this church under the care of its ministers. Statements that say enough with scapegoating our LGBT community; enough of the inherent violence in these trials and rebukes. It’s time for this to change. Enough. It’s time to get back to who we really are as loving Christians, loving one another — in word and action.

Thank you to all in The Presbytery of the Redwoods for stepping up in this most important of ways.

May 15, 2012

Janie Spahr’s “rebuke”

Today is the day that our friend and co-founder Janie Spahr goes before the Presbytery of the Redwoods to be rebuked. She was charged — by one anonymous person, which is legal in our system — for celebrating the legal marriages of same-sex couples. The presbytery, the synod, and the General assembly permanent judicial commissions (church courts) all ruled against Janie. Janie has insisted all along that by officiating at these weddings was part of the pastoral care she gives; to not do so, to walk away and say “no” to these couples, would be reneging on her responsibilities as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament.*

Here’s “chapter and verse” from the PC(USA)’s Book of Order which, along with the Book of Confessions, comprises our constitution:

D-12.0000 CENSURE AND RESTORATION IN A DISCIPLINARY CASE

D-12.0100 Censures

D-12.0101 Degrees of Church Censure

The degrees of church censure are rebuke, rebuke with supervised rehabilitation, temporary exclusion from exercise of ordered ministry or membership, and removal from ordered ministry or membership.

D-12.0102 Rebuke

Rebuke is the lowest degree of censure for an offense and is completed when pronounced. (D-11.0403e) It consists of setting forth publicly the character of the offense, together with reproof, which shall be pronounced in the following or like form:

Whereas, you, (Name) ___ , have been found guilty of the offense(s) of ___ (here insert the offense), and by such offense(s) you have acted contrary to (the Scriptures and/or the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)); now, therefore, the Presbytery (or Session) of______, in the name and authority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), expresses its condemnation of this offense, and rebukes you. You are enjoined to be more watchful and avoid such offense in the future. We urge you to use diligently the means of grace to the end that you may be more obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer
This formal rebuke shall be followed by intercessory prayer to Almighty God.

We hold Janie, the couples, legal counsel, family, friends and other supporters in prayer. We also hold in prayer those who have opposed Janie, that their minds may be opened and that they may realize that they are saying no to love. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaimed that “we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'”

Amen.

For more information go to Rev. Janie Spahr Charged (Again) by Presbyterian Church (Facebook) or Rev. Janie Spahr Trial Updates.

__________

* Now called Teaching Elder in the PC(USA)

March 29, 2011

Lisa Larges: Tying the Knot

For a few months in 2008, 18,000 same-gender-loving California couples tied the knot. Fifteen of those 18,000 couples had the privilege of having their wedding service conducted by the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr.

Of course, “Tying the Knot”—that jaunty old-school slang for marriage—doesn’t fit the momentous nature of those 18,000 weddings, and less so the fifteen. By the time they turned to one another and exchanged vows, those fifteen couples, like all the other couples who called on Janie to officiate at their weddings, knew the depth and the seriousness of the covenant they were then making.

We know this because we heard the testimony of many of those couples last year as they were called as witnesses in the first trial (at the Presbytery level) brought against Janie for violating a disputed portion of the Presbyterian Constitution. Those couples testified to the hours of pre-wedding counseling they were required to undertake with Janie before their marriage; they shared the depth of their joy at finally being able to legally marry; they talked of what marriage meant to them, in everything from the practical legal protections to the greater symbolic significance; and most of all, they talked about what it meant to have their pastor, Janie, officiate as they made their vows before one another, their community, and their God.

So “tying the knot” just isn’t right for something so serious and so sacred. But it does seem to be the right metaphor for what our Presbyterian judicial process is doing as it grapples with cases, such as the one brought against Janie, of Presbyterian Ministers fulfilling their pastoral responsibility by officiating at weddings fully sanctioned under state law. The church has itself tied in a big knot, a knot which is impinging on the right of conscience, legal authority and pastoral responsibility of its ministers. A knot which is adding to the confusion and diminishing the witness of our church to the LGBT community and our families. A not-so-attractive knot—a snarl really—which dishonors the founder and head of our Church.

It’s clear already that in not too many years, marriages of same-gender-loving couples will be both legal and commonplace. The prejudice and misinformation that has been the underpinning of withholding full civil rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons is disintegrating all around us. Acceptance of full and fair equal rights for LGBT persons—including the right to marry—is the new normal. In a not-very-distant future, we Presbyterians will only be embarrassed that our church did not lead the way, but chose instead to take cover in a tangle of judicial knot-making.

Hey Church, it’s time to untie the knot. We can do this!