Posts tagged ‘Ray Bagnuolo’

June 16, 2012

Lisa Larges: Final Letter

Dear Friends of That All May Freely Serve,

“Changing minds by changing hearts” has been the shorthand way of describing the mission of That All May Freely Serve. This is what we’ve done together as we worked, for instance, for the change in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church to allow for the ordination of all persons who are called to serve. This is what we’ve done as we’ve worked for marriage equality and the right of pastors to marry all couples seeking to make a covenant of love. We changed votes by changing minds. We changed minds by changing hearts.

For the sake of truth in advertising, we didn’t change any hearts at all, that’s God’s doing. We just tried to do our best to remain faithful to our assignment: to share our stories, even when doing so was risky; to come with open hearts, and a willingness to listen; to build relationships across lines of difference; to deepen the conversation; to remain patient when patience was generative; to challenge when doing so was healing; to seek the best in everyone; to remember, finally, that the Gospel message is that love always wins out over fear.

Hearts changed. Minds changed. Votes changed.

But what I want to tell you here, in the privilege I have of writing this one last letter to you as a part of my official work with TAMFS – what I want to tell you is how my own heart changed. This hasn’t so much been a job, or even a calling as it has been a journey of love.

When we’re engaged in the work of trying to change an institution like the Presbyterian Church, it can be easy to get mired down in an awareness of the many and sometimes tragic flaws of that institution: the mean-spiritedness, the indifference, the judgmentalism, the willful ignorance, the resistance to change of any sort, the failure to heed the prophets in our midst, the turning away from the Gospel message. All of that can be summed up in a word, and that word is fear.

But, what I’ve learned in these last ten years, and what I try to remember is how fleeting and inconsequential all of that is, compared to the slow, steady, and enduring power of love.

I have been mentored in love by those whose lives seem to glow with the Holy Spirit, “Saints on earth and saints above” alike. I have been sustained by love – by those who have opened their homes as we’ve traveled, by those who have quietly taken on the minutia of the behind the scenes tasks that are

necessary to build an organization, by those who have gone on the road with us and shared their own journey of faith with strangers, by those who have served on boards and committees, and so much else.

Time and again, thousands of people across this country have drawn from that deep well of generosity and given their time, their financial support, their talents, and their willingness to commit to believing in a better day, even when that day was slow in coming.

All of that is love, pure and simple. To each one of you who has given so generously from your heart, I am so deeply grateful. It’s love, in the end that changes us. I know, because it has changed me.

I am so grateful that Ray Bagnuolo will be our new Evangelist of love and hope as That All May Freely Serve begins a new chapter. Ray lives from the very center of his heart, and that’s how we knew it was right to call him to take on this ministry. Soon Ray will be telling you more about his plans and dreams, but for now, I want to say how glad I am that he has felt called to serve in this way.

You can watch our celebration service, marking this new day in the life of That All May Freely Serve by visiting us at www.tamfs.org. You can also read there more about Ray and about his dreams for the journey ahead.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to have worked with That All May Freely Serve for these last ten years. Thank you for sharing this journey of love with me. May you know all the blessings of love, the strength of hope, and the abundance of joy in all the days ahead.

With love and so much gratitude,
Lisa Larges

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…

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.

April 25, 2012

Something new is stirring

Only a few short months ago, That All May Freely Serve was making plans to end our ministry and find some appropriate ways to pass on our legacy.

Then, we got a note.

Our friend Ray Bagnuolo was feeling the deep tug of the Spirit to begin a ministry of healing and witness with the Presbyterian Church as together we seek to live in to a new constitutional era of welcome and inclusion.

Where fear remains, there needs to be reconciliation;

Where hope springs up there needs to be nurture.

Ray wondered whether there might be a place for him to begin such a ministry within That All May Freely Serve.

We listened.

We prayed.

“Yes,” we said.

We do not yet know how all of these things will unfold.

We do know that Ray envisions a ministry that is grassroots, simple, and integrated fully with the tapestry of our movement for fairness and full equality in the church.

We’re planning a Service of Remembering, Rejoicing and Renewal on June 10 to be held in Rochester to honor this transition.

And we’ll keep you posted as we go.

God continues to work and move among us.

May we listen well.

Lisa Larges
Minister Coordinator
That All May Freely Serve