Category Archives: Justice

Pray on behalf of LGBT people in Uganda

A message from Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

Dear Friends,

In May of this year, we asked you to sign a petition and contact the Ugandan President regarding the “Kill the Gays” bill. Our voices, along with thousands of others, were heard, and the bill was tabled at the end of Uganda’s parliamentary session. We learned today that Uganda’s new Parliament will most  likely be bringing up this bill for a vote later this month. Please join us in prayer:

Compassionate God,

We pray for our LGBT sisters and brothers in  Uganda.

May your love for all creation be embodied and embraced by those in leadership within Uganda.

May a spirit of tolerance and acceptance sweep through the land.

As they reconsider the bill that would end lives based on whom a person loves,

May each person be reminded of the love they share in their lives.

May they be guided by understanding and compassion to stop this bill of hate.

God, be with those most at risk; surround them with your protection and keep them safe.

Help them to know they are not alone, and help us to be present for them.

Surround them with your peace and love.

We ask this in your many names and through Jesus the Christ.

Amen

In solidarity,

+ Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator

Metropolitan Community Churches

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Rev. Jane in today’s paper — “Local clery share a common ground”

Hi, folks. Deb just called me and let me know that Rev. Jane was in the paper today. What an encouraging story! Very cool. Laura

Published on Saturday, November 10, 2007

 

Local clergy share a common ground
By ADRIANA JANOVICH
YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC

Rev Jane & Monsignor Ecker

ANDY SAWYER/Yakima Herald-Republic
Rev. Jane Newall and Monsignor John Ecker, co-leaders of the Yakima Association of Churches and Faith Communities, stand outside La Casa Hogar earlier this fall
.

 

They appear to have little in common.

He’s in his 70s; she’s in her 30s. He took a vow of chastity; she has a partner and they have four children.

Monsignor John A. Ecker is a Catholic priest, the senior pastor at St. Paul Cathedral, a Yakima parish that’s more than 90 years old. The Rev. Jane Newall is the founding and senior pastor at a 13-year-old Christian church that’s open to people of all sexual orientations.

The two pastors from different backgrounds have worked together in the past on community projects and committees. And they’re working together again.

Newall and Ecker are the co-leaders of the 2007-08 Yakima Association of Churches and Faith Communities.

The association’s members — lay and religious leaders of local churches and faith communities — strive to put their theological differences aside in order to focus on what they have in common, and identify and meet the needs of the community.

“We certainly have different liturgical backgrounds, but we can work together,” the 38-year-old Newall says.

“The more secure you are in your own faith, the less you worry about other people’s,” she says. “I’m secure in what I believe. If someone else believes differently than me, I’m not threatened by that.”

Other members don’t seem to be either. They elected Newall to lead the Yakima association before they broke for their annual summer-long hiatus. Due to time constraints, she wanted to share the leadership role and responsibilities with Ecker.

“I said I would do it if John helps me,” Newall says.

“Our home lives are different. Our faith lives are different,” she says. But, “the variety of skills we have to offer coordinates well in terms of leadership. I have a lot of respect for the man.”

Ecker echoes that sentiment: “We have definite differences in church discipline and the way we worship,” the 74-year-old says. “We don’t talk about dogmatic differences very much; we talk about what we have in common.”

And that’s “a love of people and a love of the community,” Newall says. “Our common goals are altruistic. That’s where we share passion.”

So do other members of the interfaith association, which works to serve the community, Newall says, “without strings attached.”

“We’re not trying to convert anyone,” Ecker says. “We stress our similarities and what we can work on together to take care of the poor and homeless and the gangs in this city.”

The pair have known each other about as long as Newall has been in Yakima. She came here from the East Coast in the fall of 1993. By the following spring, she had started Rainbow Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church.

The association, traditionally made up largely of representatives of mainline churches — a group which includes United Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians — was already here.

But 59-year-old David Helseth, senior pastor of Yakima’s Englewood Christian Church and the out-going leader of the association, says it has evolved over the years and become more inclusive.

A particular emphasis to reach out to other denominations and religions was made after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Helseth says. Around that time, the group broadened its scope even further, loosening by-laws and including “Faith Communities” in its title.

Today, “All of these people are at this table,” Helseth says. “We are a very broad group, and that’s part of our strength and part of our challenge.”

The idea — and the group itself — isn’t new. In fact, the association has been around since the 1960s. Ecker helped start it following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

“There was an opening of doors and windows to work ecumenically,” he says. “That was pretty much the impetus.”

These days, the group meets for lunch and discussion once a month at Yakima’s Central Lutheran Church. About 20 pastors and lay leaders usually attend.

Members pledge to work together in mutual support, respecting each other’s convictions and distinctions and pooling their resources. The latest season of collaboration and cooperation — without compromising beliefs —
began in September.

Many attendees represented local mainline churches. Also at the table: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon church, and the current president of Yakima’s Temple Shalom. And on the rolls: representatives of the Bahá’í Faith.

Deciding priorities for the coming year was one of the first orders of business. And Newall emphasized the need for more outreach.

“We are such a diverse group it can be challenging to approach issues, especially ones that have any kind of controversy around them,” she says. “We might not agree on the how, but we probably agree on the problem.”

Issues up for discussion included gangs and prevention, family enrichment programs, health and wellness, immigration, and environmental concerns. After the tally, top priorities for this year were homelessness, race relations and cooperation with Yakima schools.

Says Newall, “I really think we can be more pro-active than we have been in years past.”

Traditionally, the Yakima association has been involved with the Yakima CROP Walk, an annual 5-kilometer walk to support the work of Church World Service. One-fourth of what is raised in Yakima stays here. This year, the monies went to Yakima Interfaith Coalition/La Casa Hogar, a faith-based organization that provides emergency services and helps Hispanic immigrant women and children.

Yakima Interfaith Coalition/La Casa Hogar is an outgrowth of the association, which continues to support the nonprofit through donations and offerings collected at interfaith worship services.

It also sponsors interfaith Good Friday and Thanksgiving services and participates in the local Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Association dues are $50 a year. The money is used to cover administrative costs. It’s also given to other organizations — like Yakima Interfaith Coalition/La Casa Hogar — to help address community needs

 

An MCC Pastor reflects on Saddam Hussein’s execution

Hi, everyone. This was posted as part of MCC’s Diverse Voices of Justice Newsletter (an ongoing series of reflections and op-ed articles by members of Metropolitan Community Churches). I thought it was worth re-posting on our blog.

Reflections on the Occasion of an Execution

The following reflection was authored by the Reverend Pat Bumgardner, senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of New York. Rev. Bumgardner serves as Chair of MCC’s Global Justice Team.

January 2007

Saddam Hussein was hung to death in Iraq before dawn on December 30, 2006, just prior to the call to morning prayer. Though accused of many things, the conviction and death sentence were for the massacre of 148 men and boys in the town of Dujail 24 years ago.

Four women stood before photographers for the New York Times with pictures of their slain loved ones, and people who witnessed the hanging said Mr. Hussein was unusually submissive and, in the end, simply resigned himself to his fate.

Not much was said about the letter authored to the Iraqi nation in the final days before this execution, calling for peace and attempting to quell any potential escalation of sectarian violence his death might inspire.

Following his death, the media devoted much time to the question of where the body of this one-time dictator would be laid to rest. Many fear death’s apparent ability — even in the case of those who have committed atrocities — to alter views of the past and inspire hopes for the future.

Perhaps that should be the real question we ask ourselves in our prayers this week, and the question we ask every morning in prayer: “What are our hopes for the future — our hopes for the world?”

Will executing human beings, even those of admittedly tyrannical repute, guarantee a better future for the hundreds of thousands of people who cling to life under desperate conditions in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East? What will restore hope and promise to a part of the world once hailed as the cradle of civilization?

Every morning in prayer, the breviary I follow begins with the words, “Open my lips, O God, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” What will proclaim the praise of God this day? Perhaps we should add to our morning prayers the recitation of the text we hold most sacred and the higher law we profess to live by: “Thou shalt not kill.” “God takes no delight in the sacrifice of life,” Psalm 51 says.

Not long ago, in this same corner of the world, in Iran, two young boys named Mahmoud and Ayaz, were hung to death because they, too, broke the law. They were gay. And in their country, being gay is a capital offense — it undermines the future of the people and dashes the promise of humanity, we are told.

Many will say there is no connection between the two executions. But many of us also learned early in life that two wrongs don’t make a right. Taking life is taking life. Maybe our morning prayer today should begin simply with a petition for forgiveness for all the ways we have worked against the promise of peace on earth and good will among all.

/authored by/
The Reverend Pat Bumgardner
Senior Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of New York
and
Chair, MCC Global Justice
E-Mail: RvPatMCCNY@aol.com

Is Jesus’s family not good enough for James Dobson?

Recently Time magazine published an article written by James Dobson, leader of the group Focus on the Family. The title of the article was Two Mommies Is One Mommy Too Many.

In response, Rev. Jane wrote the following letter to Time Magazine:

Is Jesus’s family not good enough for James Dobson?

Jesus’s great (times 27) grandmothers, Naomi and Ruth, raised Obed. Boaz was a sperm donor.

David’s love for the man Jonathan surpassed his love for a woman.

Biblical scholar Virginia Ramey Mollenkott counted 39 different families and living arrangements in the Bible, of which heterosexual marriage is only one.

We do not know if Jesus had a sexual orientation. He spent time with men and women. The disciple whom Jesus loved lay his head on Jesus’s lap during the last supper.

The prophet John the Baptist came with a message to turn the hearts of parents towards their children. James Dobson’s heart is not turned towards children. He advocates in his books physical violence as a way to discipline a child.

Why would Time magazine publish an article about what is best for children written by such a man?

children of same-sex parents may be better off

Check out this soulforce article from yesterday: Good News for Mary Cheney: Focus on the Family Is Wrong About LGBT Families.

It comments on a New York Times article on Mary Cheney’s pregnancy which included a comment from someone at Focus on the Family that, of course, it’s not good for children to be born outside the context of a married mother and father. But soulforce points out that sociological and psychological research finds no evidence of ANY harm. Then the article continues…

“In fact, Stacey [a sociologist] commented, children of same-sex parents may turn out even better by some measures: ‘It’s not because of the sexuality but because of selection factors. It’s because these are wanted children…. When you’re looking at heterosexual parenting, you have a lot of accidental pregnancies.’ “

Yes! I’ve often thought that.

P.S. Congratulations to Mary Cheney and her partner on their pregnancy.

Rev. Jane’s guest editorial on eighth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death

from Yakimaherald.com
Published on Saturday, October 14, 2006

Politics still tower over tolerance

BY THE REV. JANE EMMA NEWALL

Some thoughts from a pastor on the eighth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death:

* Marvin died on Maundy Thursday 2003 in Toppenish.

The first report was natural causes, but someone had messed up his trailer and run his Ford truck into a ditch at another location. Police also suggested Marvin had died of autoerotic asphyxiation, but ultimately, authorities concluded a few weeks later that the gay man had been strangled.

The crime remains unsolved.

* The couple wore smart outfits and had colorful flowers at their Holy Union. Their families sat in the church as they exchanged their vows and rings.

At a later date at Grant’s, the couple ate dinner with co-workers. But they took off their rings that night so no one would notice that they matched one another as they wrapped their hands around their beers. Read the rest of this entry