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

RE: Marriage Equality at the 219th General Assembly… and what’s next?

Yesterday was a day of mixed experiences and mixed emotions.  We rejoiced with the extraordinary pro-LGBT vote approving by 53 to 46% a "Revise-B" Ordination Overture.  This vote advances the moral equality of LGBT persons in both Church and society within the USA and around the world. There are Presbyterians in over 100 countries.  So, creating one standard for ordination for all persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or any other human condition in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is remarkable statement for justice and equality.  

Historic levels of support for Ordination Equality during the 2008-2009 Ordination Amendment 08-B Campaign offer hope and encouragement.  We look forward to the life-giving and liberating conversations and work of a national ratification campaign to ensure passage of this overture. Everyone participating in this national grassroots ratification campaign will ensure its passage.  

Late in the night after a drawn-out discussion of the Civil Union & Marriage Task Force’s report commending the PCUSA to study marriage, the Assembly voted narrowly to have all of the other marriage overtures "answered" by the vote to study.  This was a painful moment for those of us at the Assembly and I can only imagine how painful it was to see this happen via live-streaming.  

This vote was certainly a disappointing response by not even bringing to the floor for discussion:  (1.)  the reality of faithful, same-gender loving relationships in our Church, (2.) the reality of legal same-sex civil marriages in states where Presbyterian pastors serve and the Authoritative Interpretation offering pastoral discretion to perform civil marriages in states where they are legal, and (3.) widening the Church’s understanding of marriage to "two persons" in a faithful, loving relationship rather than the restriction of marriage between "a man and woman."  

This morning there is work being done to encourage a reconsideration of last night’s vote on marriage to bring to the floor the work of Committee 12.  Please join us in praying that this will happen.  "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied" signs and "Reconsider 12" were held by Soulforce, TAMFS and MLP supporters around the Assembly Hall.

Last night after the vote, Sylvia Thorson-Smith, Presbyterian Voices for Justice, and Elder, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Tucson, AZ, a More Light church, reminded us that:  "It is important to remember that marriage equality, widening the understanding of love and marriage to include same sex couples, and challenging the definition of marriage from "a man and woman" is new to our denomination."  

At the General Assembly in 2006, there was one marriage equality overture from Baltimore Presbytery, a handful in 2008, and historic levels of support for marriage equality with 14 Overtures and concurrences for this Assembly in 2010.

The Overture Advocates for Marriage Equality offered powerful and inspiring teaching on marriage, testimonies before Committee 12 were remarkable.  We know what happens when Presbyterians have a chance to actually meet and hear the faith and love stories from LGBT persons, our families and allies — a change of hearts, minds and votes happens — as was the case when Committee 12 approved by a large margin the "Marriage AI" and the "Expand W-4" characterization of marriage to two persons. 

So, we hope and pray that the Assembly will reconsider Committee 12 today.  No matter what, we have our "marching orders" as Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator, MLP, reminded the group of activists, Commissioners and delegates last night in the MLP hospitality suite.  Those marching orders are to get the conversation moving and educational resources on marriage equality in all 173 presbyteries.  

The Presbyterian Church (USA) does not have the final word on the goodness of God’s creation including God’s LGBT daughters and sons.  God does.  

The Presbyterian Church (USA) does not have the final word on the goodness of Love and the sacred gift of sexuality and companionship,  God does.  

The Presbyterian Church (USA) does not have the final word on Love and marriage,  God does.  

We have plenty of faith and love stories to celebrate and share with our Church.  So, may all of us share those faith and love stories with our families and local congregations.  Start now to create opportunities in your presbytery to do what the 219th General Assembly has said — study marriage.  Let all of us be good stewards of this opportunity.

With hope and grace,
Michael 

PS — a great 2-page resource for you right now is our "More Light on Marriage" available here: http://www.mlp.org/resources/MLonMarriage.pdf

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!

PC(USA) General Assembly Hotel Accommodations

COMFORT SUITES – Downtown Minneapolis
7 blocks to Convention Center
2 blocks to light rail station
Minneapolis
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 is attending the 219th PCUSA General Assembly and Seeking Presbyterians to Join the Effort!

The Presbyterian Church (USA) established a “Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage” at its 218th General Assembly and charged it to answer the question, “What is the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community?” The committee has met and filed a preliminary report and requested feedback from Presbyterians at large.

And, the Presbytery of Detroit voted to send an overture to the 219th General Assembly meeting in Minneapolis in July that removes barriers to the ordination of LGBT members as elders, deacons, or ministers.

And, More Light Presbyterians, individual members and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA) working for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the full life of the Church, is planning its strategy for continuing its work at the upcoming General Assembly. MLP declares that “Spiritual equality, ordination equality and marriage equality inspire our work, outreach and legislative organizing for the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), July 3 – 10, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.”

In this setting, SOULFORCE is planning to attend the 219th PC(USA) General Assembly and bring our unique witness for truth and justice to the voting members and other attendees. And, we’re looking for a few good Presbyterians who are interested in helping plan and participate in our SOULFORCE witness. If you’ve been involved in SOULFORCE actions in the past, maybe even the 2000 Soulforce action at the PCUSA General Assembly in Long Beach, CA, and you’re passionate about giving the Presbyterian Church a hand with its confusion about the wholeness and goodness of the LGBTQ members of its denomination, then please send a note to us at info@soulforce.org and let us know about yourself and about your interest in being involved in this exciting direct action.

SOULFORCE, guided by the spirit of truth and empowered by the principles of relentless nonviolent resistance, works to end the religious and political oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people. Join us as we join the effort to end this oppression within the Presbyterian Church.