PC(USA) General Assembly Hotel Accommodations

COMFORT SUITES – Downtown Minneapolis
7 blocks to Convention Center
2 blocks to light rail station
COMFORT SUITES – Downtown Minneapolis
425 South 7th Street
Minneapolis, MN US 55415
Phone: (612) 333-3111
Fax: (612) 333-7425
Comfort Suites Minneapolis website

 RATE:  $69.00/nite (king or double – 2 persons) + $9.50 tax
Parking: $12/day
Rates available: July 4 thru 15, 2010
Amenities: Suite room with cook to order omelette breakfast
CUT OFF DATE:  June 24, 2010
GROP NAME: Soulforce
Call 612 333 3111 for reservations
Cancellation: 4 pm date of arrival

Can take Minneapolis Light Rail from airport to Government Plaza Station ($1.50-2.00 depending on time)
Rooms are blocked on upper floors (updated rooms)

Anyone seeking roommates for your stay in Minneapolis, please send an email to kara@soulforce.org.  Kara will collect and share this information.

Soulforce Symposium: Philadelphia 2010

Soulforce Symposium: Philadelphia, PA November 5 - 7, 2010

More information: Speakers, Presenters & Contributors

We had an amazing experience in Philadelphia at the 2010 Soulforce Symposium. More than 300 people gathered over the two-day scheduled events, including the Life Rally on Friday night and the Symposium on Saturday. Seventy percent of these individuals were at theirfirst Soulforce event of any kind.  I want you to hear some of their feedback so you know what you have helped create with your support.

@Jaybakker It was awesome to see you this past weekend at the Soulforce event. Thank you for being more than an ally. #ss2010less than a minute ago via txt


The soulforce symposium was stupendous – Everyone did great n totally professional job, so proud of my joyful diverse family! Thanksless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone


We needed 3 pages for all the words people had to describe the conference. Pretty inspiring stuff. #ss2010.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry


The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story by Jay Bakker while he was with us as a plenary speaker.  NPR interviewed him.  The EPDN and Edge covered the events.  Journalists from France and Norway stayed with us all day interviewing participants.

Bill Meyer from Duke Medical Center had a standing room only crowd for his incredible research about the unholy partnership of media and religion in the historical abuse of non-gender conforming people (LGBTQI).

Christine Bakke’s workshop participants produced amazing life stories in art that will be reproduced on our site.

Making ex-gay survivor art

Rev. Jeffrey Jordan’s MCC Philadelphia members held a vigil at NARTH and then joined us to share what they saw and heard.

Petersen Toscano presented a cabaret on Saturday night that combined segments from several of his plays—deeply moving, incredibly funny and inspiring.

Six panelists and a facilitator Kevin Jones, Vincent Cervantes, Melanie Martinez, J Mason, Amanda Lee Genero, Jeffrey Jordan, and Cathy Renna responded to a question in ways that had all of us thinking again about what it really means to operate at the intersections of justice.

Dr. Daniel Helminiak took us on a spiritual journey at the closing session, reminding us that at the Spirit level of our lives, labels mean nothing.
We captured video of sessions and people’s stories that live on now as encouragement and catalysts for nonviolent resistance.

We learned so much about what is real in the lives of people who have experienced religious abuse and spiritual violence from brilliant activists and writers.  We explored the "bullies in our own minds" that Mel speaks of so beautifully in his new "It Gets Better" video.

I think we gave real hope to people and created safe space for intense conversations about their lives and how to move forward in the midst of oppression.

We already have requests to bring the Symposium experience in the Spring to the West Coast and the Appalachians. More will follow.

We hope you will help us continue this work throughout the United States. In 2011, we are planning to take Symposium-like panels to at least five of the colleges and universities where the Equality Riders have gone and hold our EQ Leadership Camps to train at least 50 young advocates who apply for the Equality Ride in 2012.

You can help ensure the success of future Soulforce programs by donating today.

Sponsored in part by
COIL Foundation
COIL Foundation

Soulforce at the PC(USA) General Assembly

Our schedule and promotional materials for the event

Dear Friend,

MinneapolisYou are invited to join Soulforce in a historic moment of speaking truth to power at a mass Pray In at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly (GA) in Minneapolis, July 7-10.

Please make your plans now to join other Soulforce volunteers and staff team members as we bear witness to the Presbyterian community and the world.

At the Pray In, we will tell the members of the GA that religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people and our allies must end.

We will call upon the General Assembly to repent of policies and practices that encourage spiritual violence. We will tell them that we have suffered too long, and that the suffering must end. If you will not be with us in person, we invite you to send testimonials, reflections, meditations, and prayer requests to Cindi Love (cindi@soulforce.org) which will take with us to the General Assembly actions.

Our best information tells us to expect the votes on our issues on Thursday July 8, Friday July 9, & Saturday July 10.  On these days, we will assemble in mass prayer, not blocking and not provoking, but in a highly visible process that encourages the members of the PC(USA) GA to do what needs to be done.  Whatever action the GA takes, we plan a powerful conclusion to the assembly that we pray can be a celebration of justice and love. If there is no cause to celebrate, we will be there in the words and spirit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, to demonstrate: "…to those who have mistreated us so long that we are tired — tired of being segregated and humiliated; tired of being kicked about by the brutal feet of oppression…We have no alternative but to protest."

If possible, please plan to attend the pre-Pray In training on Wednesday evening July 7, 2010 and the post-event de-brief on July 10, 2010.

Follow Soulforce in real time during the PC(USA) General Assembly: http://twitter.com/SoulforceOrg
Promote the PC(USA) General Assembly via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=130936533607436&ref=mf

In addition, a core group of Soulforce Presbyterians will assist 5 Presbyterian groups already working on LGBTQ equality issues (Covenant Network, More Light Presbyterians, Presbyterian Promise, Presbyterian Welcome, and That All May Freely Serve). 
Covenant Network and More Light Presbyterians need volunteers to:

  • Staff exhibit hall booths and hospitality suites at the Convention Center
  • Set up for their dinners and luncheons (Fri/Sat/Mon/Tue)
  • Witness at opening worship on Sun (July 4) & MLP worship service Tue evening (July 6).
  • Knit or crochet one or more of 1500 rainbow scarves to be distributed as witness to God’s radically extravagant love.  Instructions and yarn type and color can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/256or4s

In addition to the Soulforce signup (below) we highly recommend that you review the schedule for the General Assembly at the PC(USA) GA website.  For lodging, you may avail yourself of one of the GA hotels ($104-125 + tax) within walking distance of the Convention Center by registering at their website before June 1.  Or you can stay at the official Soulforce hotel, the Comfort Suites – Downtown Minneapolis ($69 + tax, walking distance to Convention Center and the light rail line), by following this link for information about the hotel and how to make your reservations directly with the hotel. More information on how to register with Soulforce’s group rate.

Dr. Stephen Sprinkle at Brite Divinity School likes to say that we are "walking systemic interventions" when we enter into dialogue face-to-face with those who discriminate against us. Don’t miss this moment in time to stand for your own liberation and be part of changing the world for our community!

ELCA Reinstates Openly Gay Minister Couple in a Committed Relationship

A visible sign of the wondrous changes in the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America (ELCA) is the reinstatement of Pastor Bradley Schmeling and
Pastor Darin Easler to the roster of ministers of the ELCA.  Both had been
removed from that roster for being in a committed, same-gender

As a committed, same-gender clergy couple they will serve openly on the
roster of ELCA ministers under the now-revised policy.  The new policy is
the result of the decisions of the August 2009 Churchwide Assembly
directing the removal of the barriers to service in the church by
ministers in committed, lifelong, same-gender relationships.  That new
policy was implemented by the actions of the ELCA Church Council in early
April 2010.

Schmeling was on the roster of the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA at St.
John”s Lutheran Church in Atlanta.  In 2006, he told his previous bishop
that he had found his partner for life.  That bishop filed ecclesiastical
charges for violation of the-then policy that required celibacy of gay
ministers.  Famously, at the end of the 2007 trial, the Discipline Hearing
Committee”s ruling said that they found nothing wrong with his ministry
or commitment to the work of the church, that they would hold him up as
exemplary, and that they thought the policy was wrong and ought to be
changed.  But, they said that, obedient to the law, he was to be removed
from the roster.

Schmeling”s congregation, which had thrown a celebratory party when first
told about his commitment to Darin Easler, informed the bishop they were
keeping him as their pastor, as they have done for the last three years.
No formal charges were filed against the congregation.  However, from that
time, the ELCA officially considered the pulpit at St. John”s to be
vacant.  But, no more.  Pastor Schmeling”s ministry will be officially
recognized by his reinstatement to the roster.

Darin Easler was on the roster of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the
ELCA, successfully came out to the congregation he had served for five
years in Zumbrota, Minnesota, but because of the previous policy, chose to
leave his call in 2003. He was later dropped from the clergy roster solely
because of his committed relationship with Schmeling.  Subsequently, he
received ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ, who welcomes
gay ministers in committed relationships.  His ministry in Atlanta is as a
chaplain and grief counselor to patients and families in hospice care.
Pastor Bradley Schmeling says, "One of the stones of injustice has been
rolled away from the door, and Christ now lives more fully in the life of
the church.  The old policy, a dead end for so many for so long, has
fallen in the face of Easter’s gracious power.  It’s been striking how
deliberately and how clearly the church has moved forward to make the
assembly’s witness a reality.  These are exciting days to be part of the
church, and I’m looking forward to years ahead in ministry both with the
church I love and with the partner that God has given me.  To be on the
roster together makes Isaiah’s vision of an everlasting place within God’s
house a wonderful, living reality in our lives."

Easler said of the reinstatement, "Today is a day of hope, not only for
those of us in the LGBT community who can return to our church family and
to the ELCA clergy roster, but for all those, young and old alike, who can
now imagine a future in the church, and truly experience the church as a
place of full welcome and unconditional love."

Laura Crawley, Congregational President of St. John”s Lutheran Church,
said, "St. John’s has seen history turn many corners in its 140-plus years
as a Lutheran congregation in Atlanta. With the change in ELCA policy that
enables Bradley and Darin to return to the ELCA roster of ordained
ministry, we rejoice that we’ve been a part of righting one of the wrongs
of history."

"The larger church continues to struggle with this issue. Many people are
saddened by the policy change and worry for the future of the Lutheran
church. I hope they’ll come to St. John’s to worship with us one Sunday,
so we can welcome them and make them feel at home again in their church.
"The St. John’s congregation never doubted Bradley’s and Darin’s calls to
ministry. We’re honored by their ministry gifts and by the example of
their loving, committed relationship. We’re so glad the ELCA is welcoming
them home!"

Ross Murray, Interim Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned/North
America, said, "We celebrate that Bradley is the first pastor to be
reinstated to the ELCA roster and that Darin is being restored to the ELCA
roster, both under the new policy.  And, we celebrate that they are able
to serve openly in the ELCA  as a same-gender clergy couple. Our continued
prayer is that they will be the first of many people who are able to come
out and serve the church with honesty and integrity.  Such a day calls for
celebration, not only in Atlanta, but by all who value full participation
and the continued spread of Christ”s message.

Murray continued, "We look forward to celebrating with every pastor and
lay leader who is being received or reinstated onto the ELCA clergy
roster, every person who is able to be more honest about his or her
personal life because of this policy change, and every congregation who is
freed to call the leader with the gifts that will suit them best.  There
is still much work to be done to achieve full inclusion of LGBT people in
the life of the church."

Pastors Bradley Schmeling, Darin Easler and the congregation of St.
John”s Lutheran Church will jointly celebrate the reinstatements at a
congregational event to be scheduled for mid-June.

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.

Asher named one of The Advocate’s Forty Under 40

AsherAsher has been named one of the Advocate’s "40 under 40!"  His story is on page 6 on the link below.  It’s also, of course, in the current print issue if you have that available.

Congratulations, Asher!