Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lutherans Concerned leader talks with Lady Gaga about faith and shelter


Trinity Place Shelter, New York City
Fair warning: the attached video contains a single instance of saucy language. Earlier this week, Jeremy Posadas, former Secretary for the LCNA Board of Directors and Bible Study leader for the 2010 LC/NA Biennial Assembly at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, received a telephone call from Lady Gaga, popular singer-songwriter and prominent advocate for LGBT causes. Having won the opportunity to talk with the pop star diva via a raffle, Jeremy took the call from his auditorium seat during a concert in Atlanta on Monday. Such calls are a featured part of Lady Gaga’s concerts as she travels the country on her current “Monster Ball” tour.

Not one to be star struck, Jeremy jumped at the chance to lift up the ministry of Trinity Place, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth housed in Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City. As Jeremy told Lady Gaga, Trinity Place is “one of the only church-based shelters for queer youth in the entire country.”

Jeremy Posadas receives a call.
About the encounter, Jeremy told LC/NA, "At any moment, you have to be ready to organize to create (and sustain!) the change we seek to make in the world, in society, and in our church. It really didn't feel any different from all the story-telling trainings we've done in LC/NA for the past few years, or when I was the closer in plenary debate at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly [before the ELCA adopted its first action beginning to eliminate policies of discrimination against members in a same-gender relationship]. You lift up a vision of what you and another person can do together, and then you challenge them to step out in faith with you, acting with conviction for justice."

Jeremy’s conversation with Gaga shows the great power of bringing our Lutheran voices of faith into the public arena—in this case, quite literally a public arena of about 13,000 people. Jeremy’s engagement prompted a discussion—right there before God and Gaga—of what it means to be faithful. Certainly there are theological differences between the Lutheran message and that of Lady Gaga’s “monsters,” as her fans are affectionately called. But the central message of caring for one another comes through clearly. Just as clearly, we sense the hunger of (mostly) young people who are more than ready to express their faith—or at least, to express what their love and care for each other credits to them as faith. A challenge for the church today is to provide a context for a generation who is often distrustful of the church, an institution that has to them come to seem not only irrelevant but also, in many cases, distinctly un-Christian.

Lutherans Concerned thanks Jeremy for his witness.

See also a post-concert interview with Jeremy.

Jeremy Posadas is currently a doctoral candidate at Emory University, Atlanta. This fall, he will begin teaching at Austin College in Sherman, Texas (which is not near Austin, but an hour north of Dallas), holding a faculty appointment in the area of Critical Theological Studies.
Backstage at Gwinnett Arena, Atlanta:
Jeremy Posadas and Lady Gaga 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RIC in the Hamptons

This week we held our closing interview with Pastor Katrina Foster, wrapping up the Reconciling in Christ process at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Bridgehampton, NY. The congregation has been living the work of welcome for many years now, but on April 10th, 2011 passed their official welcoming statement,
We of Incarnation Lutheran Church seek to welcome and share the love of Christ wish all regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, marital status, sexual orientation and history of imprisonment, addictions, abilities orany other condition that could divide us. We are a Reconcilng in Christ congregation and strive to know Christ as savior who welcomes all.
The Rev. Dr. Foster also has a public access show which you can watch online. Below you'll find her piece "Marriage Equality" featuring HRC field organizer Lisa Votino-Tarrant.


Marriage Equality from Pastor Katrina Foster on Vimeo.

Incarnation Lutheran Church, we are thankful for your ministries and your courageous welcome.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jamie Ann Meyers Elected to Lutherans Concerned Board as Transgender Representative

Press Release
LUTHERANS CONCERNED/NORTH AMERICA
April 18, 2011   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jamie Ann Meyers Elected to the Lutherans Concerned Board of Directors as Transgender Representative
The Board of Directors of Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) is pleased to announce the election of Jamie Ann Meyers as the Transgender Representative on the Board for the remainder of the 2010-2012 biennium.

Jamie Ann is a transexual woman, currently active as a lead trainer for the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance. She also serves on the board of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, and is involved with GenderFold in the Coalition of ONA churches of the United Church of Christ.

Retired in 2010 as Professor Emerita of Geoscience, Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, she takes her 39 years of teaching experience into training both secular and faith communities on concerns of the GLBTQIA community, focusing on Ally, Transgender and Bisexual issues.

Married 44 years to her wife, Peggy, they have two adult children and three grandchildren, and have lived in Winona, Minnesota for 31 years.

The Board welcomes Jamie Ann as an activist and advocate for social justice and against oppression.

Her term expires at the July 2012 Biennial Assembly of LC/NA, along with the rest of the Board. Her election to the Board resulted from her predecessor becoming the Secretary to the Board. The By-laws of LC/NA provide that the Board may fill vacancies on the Board that occur during a biennium.

About Lutherans Concerned
Working at the intersection of oppressions, Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) embodies, inspires, advocates and organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities within the Lutheran communion and its ecumenical and global partners. LC/NA is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Further Information
Contact: Phil Soucy, Director Communications
703-980-2038
communications@lcna.org
www.lcna.org

Monday, April 18, 2011

Release for More Light Presbyterians: Presbyterians Celebrate San Francisco Presbytery Vote in Support of Allowing Gay Clergy

We're happy to update you on the work of our siblings in Christ at More Light Presbyterians as the votes on a historic changein clergy policy continue to come in. God's blessings be with you, MLP, and our prayers as well!

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Media Contact: Janet Edwards
Media Release: April 12, 2011

photo courtesy of http://www.mlp.org/
All across the United States, Presbyterians have been voting in each of the 173 regional presbyteries to determine whether or not the Presbyterian Church (USA) will drop the ban on gay clergy. The yes vote in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 12, puts the denomination seven votes away from the simple majority required to enact this historic change. But contrary to public opinion, San Francisco Presbytery was not necessarily expected to vote yes.
“While San Francisco has often led in equality in civil society, the San Francisco presbytery did not always vote to support LGBT people in ministry. But here, and in places like Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia, we are seeing changed hearts. We believe God's Spirit is at work as more people are understanding that faith and character are more important considerations for ministry than one's marital status or sexuality,"
said Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians.

The 198-143 vote on Tuesday, moves the Presbyterian Church one step closer to joining the millions of people in three other major Protestant denominations that accept ministers based on their skills and qualifications rather than who they marry or chose as a life partner.

The nationwide vote to garner a majority of the 173 regional presbyteries began after their national legislative body meeting in July of 2010 in Minneapolis. For the fourth time, leaders at the General Assembly voted to eliminate the requirement of "fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness" which has been a barrier used against gay clergy. Previously the amendments did not pass; but each time more and more support was recorded in the presbyteries. Today, with 35 presbyteries left to vote, only seven more “Yes” votes are required for the amendment to pass. Supporters are hopeful that the 51% required votes will be reached by the middle of May.

"This amazing support for amendment 10-A reveals that Presbyterians want to return to the historic Presbyterian way of selecting officers to serve in the Church. Local governing bodies can more effectively discern the gifts and qualifications of ministers, elders and deacons. Our Church and world will benefit from the service of LGBT persons as we learned when we removed the barriers to women serving in the Church,"
 said the Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards, co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians.

More Light Presbyterians, a network of people seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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This article is re-posted from the More Light Presbyterians blog.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Story of Welcome

As a member of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps myself, I (Emily Hamilton, intern extraordinaire) was thrilled to receive this blog post from January about the meaningfulness of welcome to Justin Remer-Thamert, an LVCer in Maryland. Justin begins,
Raised in the ELCA, I now lie somewhere between Quaker and Lutheran with little offshoots of admiration for a handful of other faith traditions. I have to say what drew me to the 99 Collective is the same thing that has always impressed me about the Lutheran church. Lutherans feel a strong sense of responsibility to welcome the stranger.
Justin goes on to talk about different experiences of welcome, from a relationship between St. Paul's church and the local synagogue and mosque to the church's Reconciling in Christ experience. It's always a blessing to hear that taking the step of publicly affirming welcome continues to carry such weight. I highly recommend the blog post.

Thank you, Justin.

Video: Collaboration on Aguilera's "Beautiful"

Participation in the "It Gets Better" project and The Trevor Project continues to grow. One of our members found a reference to Ohio's efforts in the Advocate recently. Adding their voices to the mix, the Columbus, Ohio Gay Men's Chorus and Columbus Children's Choir performed together at the beginning of the month. As their encore, they sang "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera in honor of youth struggling with bullying. Their conductor notes,
"The Columbus Gay Men's Chorus can think of no better way to contribute to this campagin than to combine with the Columbus Children's Choir creating a video contribution to the It Gets Better campaign with Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." We choose this song because it is current, it is a song that the youth hear often and can identify with. So whatever issues our youth are struggling with today we say to them to hold on, and it does get better. 'You are beautiful no matter what they say/Words can't bring you down.'"


You can even see LC member Neal Coryell in the back row at about 2:45 and 3:55! Thank you to both of these groups for their song of solidarity.

Monday, April 4, 2011

LC/Central Florida Hosts Forum on Bullying

The St. Petersburg Times reported this week on the a forum organized by the Central Florida chapter of Lutherans Concerned. Participants at the panel discussion talked about bullying in Pinellas County schools, especially anti-gay bullying on the middle school level. As Elaine Markowitz reports,
"The discussion was led by three professionals who have worked with young victims of gay bullying: Shelbi Day, a lwyer for the American Civil Liberties Union Tampa branch; Steve Kornell, a St. Petersburg City Council member and Pinellas schools social worker; and the Rev. Buz Van Horne, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg."
Participants discussed laws and policies in existence to help prevent bullying and to guide responses to it, but the law is only half the battle. The other half, Kornell noted, is enforcing the policy, whichdoesn't always hapen, espcially if parents aren't supportive of their LGBT children. However, he also noted points of hope, including the establishment of gay-straight alliances in schools.

Bullying is a problem across the United States and cannot be addressed until our communities start talking about it. Our thanks goes out to the Central Florida chapter and community for bringing bullying to light. To read more about their event, visit the St. Petersburg Times.

Ministry Highlights

Are you familiar with St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wheaton, IL? This wonderful faith community, whose welcoming statement includes, "persons of all races, national and ethnic origins, ages, mental and emotional condition or capacity, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, economic situation and those who suffer from addictions," has been doing incredible work to combat HIV/AIDS in their congregation and community. Their participation in Wheaton's "Make a Difference Day" hlped earn the city official recognition by USA Today (you can find the article in the April 10th issue).

As the ELCA notes,
St. Paul Lutheran Church has organized at least three community HIV screenings since 2009, working with the DuPage County (Ill.) Health Department, whose personnel conduct the testing. Each time, St. Paul Lutheran Church has encouraged its own members and the Wheaton community to get tested and learn more about HIV and AIDS, said the Rev. Melody Beckman Eastman, senior pastor, St. Paul Lutheran Church.


The screenings may help reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people who are HIV positive and help people learn about their own status, possibly preventing the spread of HIV, Eastman said. Through the screenings, the congregation is contributing in its own way to the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS, she said.
Organizing members of the congregation bring their own personal connections to HIV/AIDS work, including relationships with HIV positive family members. The solidarity this congregation shows within its membership and to the world through its work truly embodies our call to be with all in need. God's blessings to you, St. Paul, and thank you for your ministry!