New Documentary to Walk Across the Country

The Road Less Travelled By is a documentary film about walking across America and opening a dialogue about same-sex marriage. The crew, led by director A.J. Goodrich, will begin the trek on February 1st 2011 in San Francisco.

The journey will cover approximately 3,900 miles and take a total of seven months to complete, leading the crew over mountains and deserts, through Native American reservations, to Texas and the Deep South, past the devastated Gulf and the country’s capital, ending in New York.

To learn more about the film and see how you can participate and support the team, please check out http://www.roadlesstravelledfilm.com/

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

Marriage Equality On Hold In California

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on Judge Walker’s ruling which declared California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Marriages, which were expected to resume this week, are on hold until the appeal decisoin. The court, however, demanded Prop 8 supporters to supply evidence as to why their appeal should even be heard and not simply thrown out. SF Gate has more details.

Courage Campaign is collecting 1 million signatures in support of marriage equality. Add your name to the list and send the video to your friends & family to let them know that equality matters.

Marriages Resume in California

a rainbow flag in San Francisco BREAKING NEWS: Soulforce is pleased to join in celebrations of Judge Walker’s announcement that marriages between same gender couples may resume starting August 18, 2010. We believe in full equality for LGBTQ in all aspects of society and will continue to work to resist religious & political oppression, changing hearts and minds, as the case is appealed to higher courts. Be sure to read Rev. Gil Caldwell’s recent blog post "Prayers & Support for the resumption of same gender marriages in California".

Yahoo! News has more information from the Associate Press

Stand Up to NOM

No More Hate Yes on Marriage Equality

Recently, Soulforce executive director Rev. Dr. Cindi Love urged people everywhere to stand up to the hate and lies of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and meet them with nonviolence at NOM’s stops around the country.

While Soulforce is unable to organize an "official" action, our strength lies in our committed grassroots networks of concerned people around the country. We are calling on you to stand up to NOM. View the list of stops for NOM’s "Summer of Marriage" tour, review Soulforce’s core values & pledge to nonviolence, put together a group or meet others on location, and take justice to the streets.

We’ve put together a one-sheet poster you can print on standard computer paper or have printed on a tshirt. Download your poster here (also available as a PDF).

Download the flyer here

Proposition 8 Decision Day: Unconstitutional

A minister from Middle Collegiate Church holds a sigin reading 'Middle Church for same-sex marriage'California was given a "do over" as the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger was handed down, today, August 4 (www.hrc.org). There are major implications for all of uswithin the LGBTQ & A community which we will address more thoroughly in a later alert. This notice is to help everyone understand what has happened in the past and what happened today. We want to acknowledge Chris Geidner, Washington, D.C. for his excellent comments regarding the context for today’s decision contained herein.

Read the full comments (and discuss them) on our blog.

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

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!