Open Letter from Bishop Christopher Senyonjo to Archbishop Rowan Williams

An open letter to the Anglican Communion on the place of human rights in communities of faith by Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, Retired Bishop of West Buganda and Director of the St. Paul’s Centre for Equality and Reconciliation, Kampala. February 8th 2011

Dear Archbishop Rowan Williams, Primates and fellow bishops, clergy and people of our diverse Anglican Communion.

Peace from God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I give thanks on behalf of the family and friends of David Kato for your love and prayers at this difficult time. All over the world, human beings are longing for liberation, love, respect and the dignity to have meaningful lives. This week alone, we witnessed it in Egypt .We also see this longing in the struggle for human rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people (LGBT) through the sacrificial life and death of David Kato. As human beings, we must respect our differences and be united in our call for listening and sharing with each other. To understand God, we are all called to understand the mystery of each other, including our sexualities. God has given us this gift and to defame, condemn, imprison and kill human beings because of their God-given nature, is a great human error. The church has a tragic history of condemning Jews, Moslems, scientists and LGBT people. Our teaching and theology has a causal effect and if we do not learn from our own historical mistakes, we will repeat the same sinful destruction of lives, families and communities.

When European churches failed to protect minority communities during World War II, people were sent to the gas chambers and concentration camps.  Many religious people in Europe emerged from that experience to help create the Declaration of Human Rights. We now have sixty years of building an internationally recognised framework for the protection of human rights in every country.  If Anglicans in one country dehumanize, persecute and imprison minorities, we must be true to the Gospel and challenge such assaults on basic human rights. They key to our ministry must be to educate our people and encourage LGBT people to tell their stories and the impact of homophobia in their lives. Listening to the stories of LGBT people was the beginning of my own transformation. This work of understanding the phenomenon of human sexuality should be taken seriously in our theological seminaries and schools. The clergy should be well equipped to serve and not to ignorantly repel the people of God. A required course in Human Sexuality should be required of all seminarians and clergy.

Many African countries imprison LGBT people because of who they are.  As a bishop in the midst of those countries, I am now a shepherd caring for the lost sheep that are persecuted by the Church and threatened by a pending anti-homosexual draconian bill in Uganda. I preach the new covenant of Jesus Christ sealed in love as we read in John 15:12. This is the heart of the Gospel-the Good News. This sacrifice of Love is mocked when sister churches tolerate or promote the violation of basic human rights. Life and liberty are at risk and we must hold each other accountable. A loving Anglican Communion should not keep quiet when the Rolling Stone tabloid in Uganda openly supports the "hanging of the homos," including a fellow bishop who pleads for their inclusion and non-discrimination! Silence has the power to kill. We have witnessed its destruction this past week in the tragic and cruel murder of David Kato.

We African Anglicans have a rich and powerful history of speaking out on human rights in the most difficult of situations.  Bishop Colenso worked with Zulus to establish an indigenous church while being fought by his fellow English bishops.  Bishops Trevor Huddleston, John Taylor and Desmond Tutu resisted Apartheid. We must not demean our great tradition by oppressing LGBT minorities under any circumstances, even to maintain Anglican unanimity. The criminalization of homosexuality remains the greatest state and church sanctioned violence perpetrated against LGBT people and their allies in many countries. We must agree to demolish all forms of institutional homophobia beginning with the removal of all laws that punish human beings for being gay or living in loving relationships. This will be the first step in providing basic human rights to a largely invisible international community who live in daily fear of their lives.

So in thanksgiving for the unity and commitment we have together, let us continue to listen to one another, to protect the vulnerable and marginalized within our own societies and to bring our collective wisdom to the work of repairing the world and correcting the great injustices in our local communities.

+Christopher

Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo

Further information on the work of the St. Paul’s Centre and Bishop Christopher may be obtained from Rev. Canon Albert Ogle at aogle@stpaulsfoundation.com. 619 338 8830

Please sign this petition calling on US-based pastors and orgnizations to stop their support of violent rhetoric & legislation in Uganda

Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches Calls the Nation to Prayer and Recommitment to Valuing All Life

As many already know, this morning Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and several others were shot.  While stories are varying at this point, we know that Rep. Giffords was hosting her first "Congress on Your Corner" event at a local Safeway Store in northwest Tucson, offering constituents a chance to learn more about the workings of Congress. 

Details from this horrific incident will not be sorted for some time, but what we can and must focus on as a nation of many creeds, colors, and cultures is the fundamental truth that all of life is scared regardless of political views, social or religious affiliations. 

The present turmoil of our nation, as we repeatedly battle over issues of human equality like immigration reform, just and equal wages, and universal health care access — things Rep. Giffords was known to champion — must not become for any of us, no matter our ideological positions, justification for violence in any form.  Jesus’ counsel was clearly and simply, "Love your enemies."  

It is with that word in mind, that I call the members and friends of Metropolitan Community Churches and people of good will across this nation to prayer.  Join me in praying not only for Rep. Giffords and all who were shot, along with their families and friends, but also for the young man who committed this crime and his family.  
    
To paraphrase one of our great prophets and martyrs, we must learn to live together in peace, despite our differences, or we will simply be consigned to die together.

Rep. Giffords dedicated her life to the principles of justice and equality for all, things she really believed in.  Let us now follow her example and lift up the one thing all of us who call America home say we believe in:  the right to life and liberty for all God’s children.

 Join me in praying:  

 Source of all life,
We give you thanks this day for the lives of those who
daily use that gift of life in service to others.
We especially remember now all those who lives were taken too soon from us
in today’s shooting,
and pray for the miracle of recovery for all those still in surgery or under hospital care.
Be with the families and friends of those targeted,
and the family and friends of the aggressor,
and surround them all in the light of your comforting presence.
Bless the community that must now struggle with the trauma and terror of this day.
And help us all to recommit ourselves to living together in ways
that honor your plan for a diverse creation.

+ Amen

  

Grace and Peace,
Nancy

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches

 

US Catholic Bishop Elections Signal Continued Targeting of Gay, Transgender People

This message is the property of the organization issuing the release as noted on the document. If you have any questions please notify the contact person on the document.

US Catholic Bishop Elections Signal Continued Targeting of Gay, Transgender People

http://www.dignityusa.org/content/us-catholic-bishop-elections-signal-continued-targeting-gay-transgender-people

Statement of Equally Blessed, November 16, 2010

Contact: Marianne Duddy-Burke 617-669-7810

The leaders of Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholics working for justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, have issued a statement expressing deep concern over the outcome of the election of new leaders for the US Catholic Bishops Conference.

“The election of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Louisville, Kentucky Archbishop Joseph Kurtz as President and Vice-President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sends an ominous message to LGBT Catholics and our families," said Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry and an Equally Blessed member. "Both men have made strong statements against gay and transgender people. Indeed, for the past two years, Archbishop Kurtz has led the US Bishops’ nationwide campaign against marriage for gay couples."

“It is ominous because the bishops broke with tradition and did not elect this past year’s vice-president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, as president, someone known to be more moderate on LGBT issues and signals that the bishops are targeting families with loved ones who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," said Nicole Sotelo, Program and Communications Director at Call To Action.

Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA, another Equally Blessed spokesperson added, "The selection of these two men as leaders of the US Bishops’ Conference means it is more important than ever for Catholics who want our Church and world to be more welcoming and just for LGBT people to speak out and to act for justice.  The majority of Catholics in the pews are supportive of LGBT people and issues, so this election is another example of how the hierarchy is out of step with the faith experience and ideas of Catholic people."

"At a time when Catholics and the larger society have become so painfully aware of how anti-LGBT religious messages and personalities have contributed to youth suicide, we wish the bishops would have elected leaders whose records were not so damaging," said Casey Lopata, Co-Founder of Fortunate Families. "As father of a gay son and as Catholics, we choose to tell our youth about Jesus’ unconditional love for them."

Equally Blessed is a coalition of faithful Catholics who support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people both in the church and in civil society. Equally Blessed includes four organizations that have spent a combined 112 years working on behalf of LGBT people and their families:  Call to Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.

Marriage Equality & Pastoral Care on trial again in the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rev Janie SpahMore Light Presbyterians Celebrate Love & stand in solidarity with Rev. Janie Spahr and Marriage Equality

 The National Board of Directors and national staff of More Light Presbyterians stand in solidarity and prayer with Rev. Janie Spahr and her faithful support for marriage equality and pastoral care.  The inspired and loving ministry of our beloved friend and colleague in ministry, Rev. Janie Spahr, is so much a faithful witness to a loving and just Church and society for all of God’s people that she has been charged once again for being a responsible and caring pastor by officiating at legal marriages of same gender loving couples.  "We rejoice in the faithful pastoral ministry of Janie Spahr.  There is no prohibition against same-sex marriage in Scripture or the Book of Order.  God created all of us for love and companionship, not just some of us," Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator. 

 "The growing support for marriage equality within the USA and around the world reveal a remarkable shift in the recognition of same-sex love and relationships.  Love is not restricted by gender any more than it is by race, ethnicity or religion.  One needs only look around to recognize the changing face of relationships within our families, congregations and world.  Love makes a family," Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer.

 We call all Presbyterians to join us in celebrating Love and praying for Janie and her trial on August 24 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Napa, CA.  "Please join us in praying for the commission of Redwoods Presbytery.  We celebrate the love and commitment of the same-sex couples who will testify at the trial.  It is our hope and prayer that the conscience and the call to pastoral care for Presbyterian ministers will be recognized and honored in the decision of this commission.  In addition to Janie’s ministry being on trial, so is marriage equality and pastoral care.  We are grateful for Janie and all Presbyterian ministers who follow their heart, conscience and call to ministry by caring for same-sex couples and their families, too.  Together we are building a Church for all God’s people," Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderator.

 Rev. Janet Edwards and Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderators, More Light Presbyterians
Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer, and the National Board of Directors and Staff, More Light Presbyterians, www.mlp.org

Soulforce action covered by The Presbyterian Outlook

Soulforce’s actions at the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s recent General Assembly were covered The Presybterian Outlook.

Arrest at the PC(USA) general assemblyAbout 20 protesters from a group called Soulforce disrupted the plenary of the 219th General Assembly tonight (July 9), and some were arrested by the Minneapolis Police Department.

A group of protesters entered the plenary hall shortly before 5 p.m., and silently moved as a group to the front of the plenary hall, carrying signs protesting the policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) regarding ordination standards; Christian marriage and same-gender unions; and pension benefits.

Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the assembly, immediately called a recess. She said during a news conference later that she didn’t know whether any of the protesters were Presbyterian, but said "I think they’re angry because this discussion (on ordination standards) has been going on in the church for quite a long time." Bolbach said one protestor told her she was a former Presbyterian who had left the church; some were gays or lesbians, or have children who are gay and lesbian.

Photo by Erin Dunigan

Read the full article at The Presbyterian Outlook

11 arrested at Presbyterian convention

Participants in an action at the PC(USA) General Assembly hold signs before being arrestedToday, participants at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly entered the convention center holding signs that read "Prayer: Ordination, Marriage,Pension" to remind attendees that justice delayed is justice denied in the wake of a vote to avoid any discussion, debate, or vote regarding marriage equality within the church. Eleven were arrested.

KARE 11 covered the event and you can read more on their website.
KSTP has video coverage on their website

Photo: KARE 11

Breaking News! 219th General Assembly votes for Ordination Equality

We are overjoyed and grateful to announce that the 219th General Assembly voted for Ordination Equality moments ago.  The Assembly approved by 53 to 46% the majority report from the Church Orders Committee which sent the "Revise-B" Ordination Overture from the Presbytery of Western Reserve to the Assembly for consideration.

This Ordination Overture offers our Church one ordination standard for all people in the Presbyterian Church (USA) regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and any other human condition. 

We are grateful to God for this pro-LGBT victory.  We are grateful to all of the Sessions, congregations and presbyteries that sent Ordination Equality Overtures to this Assembly. 

We are grateful to all those who support More Light Presbyterians and our allies who made this historic moment possible.  We are grateful for your financial and spiritual support that makes possible a "MLP GA Team" working here on the ground in Minneapolis.

We certainly celebrate and savor this joyous moment.  And, because this is an Overture calling for a change in the Book of Order it will need to be ratified by a simple majority of our 173 Presbyteries. 

So, let us all celebrate and give thanks to God for this moment of justice and love.  And, the ratification work begins now….

With hope and grace,
Michael

 PS — Please keep praying for the Assembly — the Marriage Equality Votesare set for tonight!  For more news and stories, check out the blog at http://www.ga219.org/

 Michael J. Adee, M.Div., Ph.D., Executive Director & Field Organizer
More Light Presbyterians, 369 Montezuma Avenue # 447, Santa Fe, NM 87501 USA (505) 577-0086, michael@aol.com, www.mlp.org

Pray In Schedule & Promotional Materials

We are pleased to announce the schedule for our actions in Minneapolis at the PC(USA) General Aseembly. You will also find this information on a small postcard which you can download, print, and distribute on your own or forward via email to friends and supporters.

Please join us at a national PRAY IN action hosted by Soulforce at the 219th General Assembly for the Presbyterian Church (PC (USA) in Minneapolis on July 7-10, 2010 at The Plaza (Outdoor Park at the Minneapolis Convention Center)

  1. 1 Nonviolent Resistance Training July 7, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
    (Not Required to Attend Action on July 8-9)
    Westminster Presbyterian Church CHAPEL 1200 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
  2. PRAY IN July 8-9, 2010 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    (Please bring your favorite scripture, prayer or reflection to read; or personal testimonies to share)
  3. Commissioning Event
    July 10, 2010 8:00 a.m. Soulforce Central
    (Not Required to attend action)
    Westminster Presbyterian Church CHAPEL 1200 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

We need your support to ensure that our Soulforce message about human dignity and worth is carried to the Convention floor and understood by the 8000 people who will be in attendance where these marriages are legal without fear of reprisals through the church courts.

Update on PC (USA) Events

Events To Consider at PC USA

Covenant Network dinner                 July 2   F          6;30-8:30 PM
PVJ Orientation                               July 3   Sa        7:00-8:30 AM
MLP reception                                 July 3               4:00-5:00 PM
(no registration required)
MLP dinner                                     July 3               5:00-6:45 PM
PVJ awards                                     July 4   Su        noon-2:30 PM
Covenant Network lunch                  July 5   M         noon-1:30 PM
Voices of Sophia breakfast               July 6   Tu         7:00-8:15 AM
MLP Educational lunch                     July 6               noon-2:00 PM
MLP worship celebration                   July 6               7:00-9:30 PM
(no registration required)
Witherspoon dance                          July 6               9:00 PM – 1:00 AM

 GA wide picnic July 4   5:30-10:30 PM

            
TAMFS training for their youth is all day July 1-2
            Covenant Network training/overview is on July 2
            MLP hospitality suite open in evenings @7:30 PM July 3-8
           
Observer at Meetings Opposing LGBT inclusion
            Presbyterian Lay Committee
            One by One (ex-gay type group) Lunch on July 6                                      

These events do not overlap with the Pray In.

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!