Tag Archives: gay marriage

Gay Wedding – in Mennonite Church.

Marriage equality is rapidly becoming routine across much of Western Europe,  and also both North and South America. But that’s civil marriage.  Gay weddings in church remain a rare exception, outside of a handful of local congregations and dioceses in the more progressive / liberal denominations. That too is changing though, as demonstrated by this Canadian report, on the country’s first ever gay wedding in a Mennonite church.

Saskatoon gay couple 1st to be married in Mennonite church

Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens were married on New Year’s Eve

Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens were married by the pastors of Nutana Mennonite Church (where they currently attend) in Osler Mennonite Church, the church Friesen grew up attending.

Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens were married by the pastors of Nutana Mennonite Church

New Year’s Eve is a special time for many, and for Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens, it was especially meaningful.

The Saskatoon couple was married on Dec. 31 in Osler, Sask., in the presence of family, friends and the church community.

The men’s wedding marks a point in history for the Mennonite denomination in Canada. Friesen and Wiens are the first same-sex couple publicly married in a Canadian Mennonite church.

“Our relationship doesn’t feel different, but our relationship with our community and with our faith has changed at least a little bit. It was really beautiful and freeing,” Friesen said.

Matt and Craig

Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens were married on New Year’s Eve. (Rachel Bergen/CBC News)

​Friesen and Wiens are hopeful other LGBT Mennonites will learn from their example that they don’t have to choose between their faith and their sexuality.

(Read more at CBC News)

Continue reading Gay Wedding – in Mennonite Church.

40 Years In the Desert: Is the Promised Land in Sight? (Deuteronomy 8)

From the opening of the first reading for the feast of Corpus Christi, Year A (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14B-16A)

Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments. 

-V 2

desert-tracks

Queer readings of the Bible sometimes emphasise the story of Exodus, how the Israelites were led out of Egypt, the land of bondage, and into the promised land – just as the american civil rights movement did, years ago. However, it is perhaps more relevant, to recall that the Israelites’ deliverance was not an event, but a journey: the crossing of the Red Sea was followed by 40 years’ wandering in the desert, before the entry into the promised.

By a wonderful piece of timing, the US Presbyterians’ votes this week to permit same – sex weddings in at least some of their churches, and to support the global struggles against LGBT persecution, came on the same day that the Washington “March4Marriage” which was so strenuoulsy promoted by the religious right drew an response that was positively underwhelming. According to a facebook post at More Light Presbyterians on the day of the vote, General Assembly 221, which took these historic decisions, also marked a notable 40th anniversary of their own. It’s now 40 years since the first Presbyterian minister came out, very publicly, at a General Assembly

From the facebook post:

Today’s votes come 40 years after Rev. David Bailey Sindt showed up at G.A. with a sign, “Is anyone else out there Gay?” From that came PLGC / MLP. Today the hall was awash with rainbows, and the Spirit was at work. Thank you, David Sindt!

Actually, it’s 41 years. This was in fact in 1973, not 1974, but then biblical numbers are seldom meant to be taken precisely literally. GA 221 came also in the midst of Pride month, June – From a looser reading of “40 years”, we can also think back to Stonewall (1969, 45 years ago), or  to Rev James Stoll, the first ordained pastor to come out publicly as gay a few,moths after Stonewall, or to Rev Troy Perry, who founded the Metropolitan Community Church the year before that, or to Canon Derrick Sherwin Bailey, ,who in 1955 published “Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition”, the first notable book to challenge the traditional assumptions that the bible and homosexuality are in obvious conflict.

Whether we count it as 40 years, or half a century, it’s remarkable how far we’ve come, during these years of wandering in the desert of exclusion, in our journey of escape from the slavery of heteronormativity, and its attempts to force us to deny the truth of our sexual or gender natures, and our loves. Consider the fruits of these single pioneers:

  • Instead of a single pioneer at at General Assembly 1963, GA 2014 was “awash with rainbows”.
  • The year after James Stoll came out, the Unitarian Universalists passed the world’s first ever gay rights resolution, and later became the first church, anywhere, to conduct same – sex weddings – years before these could be recognized in law.
  • MCC, the church that Troy Perry founded with a small group in his living room, now has well – established congregations across the world.
  • Canon Bailey’s cautious book questioning the traditional Biblical interpretation on homosexuality, has been followed by what has become a flood of new titles, from every faith tradition, and moving from challenging the clobber texts, to celebrating LGBT figures in the Bible, to finding queer readings of a wide range of biblical texts (“The Queer Bible Commentary” devotes a chapter to every single book of the bible, except only the minor prophets, who share a chapter). 
  • From near invisibility in church, gay, lesbian and trans people are now serving openly as ministers in a wide range of denominations, in some cases even as bishops, moderators, and other leadership positions.

From widespread assumptions that the only unions that deserved celebration in church were marriages of different – sex couples, there are now many denominations that conduct either gay weddings, or confer blessings on same – sex couples. Many of those that do not, are visibly moving in that direction, with formal study groups of church commissions investigating.

For just about every major church grouping, there are signs of movement, either actively towards full LGBT inclusion, or at least away from previously harsh rhetoric and clear exclusion. Just as the start of our Exodus journey cannot be dated precisely to a single event, PCUSA’s three decisions this week do no mark the end of 40 years’ wandering in the desert of exclusion. There are many, many staging posts still to reach. But if we have not yet entered the promised land of full inclusion in church, we can at least begin to see it, or imagine it, in the distance.

Let us now read, and reflect on, today’s full reading from Deuteronomy:

Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments. 
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

“Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers.”

Related posts:

Blessed Are the Queer in Faith – for They Shall Inherit the Earth

Growing Support for Gay Marriage: BECAUSE We Are Christian

More thoughtful commentary on how the disputes around gay marriage are no longer between defenders of human rights and of religious belief, but about what it means to be truly Christian:

Gay_friendly_church

Antigay religion: How Catholics and evangelicals are coming to accept same-sex marriage.

Throughout history, religion has sanctioned and fueled the persecution of homosexuality. That dynamic may be drawing to an end. Polls, clerics, and denominations are shifting. Theology is adapting. Resistance to same-sex marriage is dwindling, and there’s no end in sight.

WILLIAM SALETAN

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right. Follow him on Twitter.

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For 15 years, the Ethics and Public Policy Center has hosted the Faith Angle Forum, a regular conference on religion and public life. Several weeks ago, the group met again to discuss current issues. Transcripts of the conference have just been posted on EPPC’s website. They underscore the extent of the anti-gay collapse.

The first session, led by papal biographer Paul Vallely and Boston Globe editor John Allen, focused on Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. Vallely, the author of Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, noted that before Francis became pope, he supported civil unions in Argentina. “I think he sees that as a human rights issue,” said Vallely. Allen pointed to the pope’s comment in a March 5 interview with Corriere della Sera:

Q: Many nations have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?

A: Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures … One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.

– full report at  Slate.

Students react to Eastside Catholic president’s resignation

Students at Eastside Catholic say they are one step closer to reinstating their ousted vice principal after the head of the school suddenly resigned on Tuesday.

Mark Zmuda was forced out of his job last month after the school discovered he married his male partner.

Many students and parents were are sad to see Sister Mary Tracy leave the private school, but some kids say its exactly what needs to happen to change the school’s stance on same-sex marriage.

“The goal of this whole thing is to get Mr. Zmuda back,” said senior Julia Burns.

What started as sit-ins and protests nearly a month ago has turned into a national movement to reinstate Zmuda.

“Now that she’s gone we can hopefully hire a new head of school that can be more open minded and definitely more sympathetic to the situation and get Zmuda back,” Burns said.

The president of the school, Sister Mary Tracy, suddenly resigned on Tuesday. The news sent shockwaves through Sammamish.

Now some Eastside Catholic alumni say it’s time for Zmuda to get his job back, and they’re circulating a petition.
Alumni plan to turn in their petitions to the school’s board of trustee’s during Thursday’s meeting

Read more: q13fox.com

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Methodist Clergy, Defying Church Restrictions on Gay Marriage

In December 2013, Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. Huffington Post reports on a similar case, and other Methodist pastors who are defying church regulations, by conducting same – sex church weddings, or by living openly with a same – sex partner.

Rev. Thomas Ogletree, Another Methodist Pastor, To Be Tried For Presiding At Same Sex Wedding Of Son

 

The United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz, announced Friday. It’s the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships. In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. The church considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference. Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son’s 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.

Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son’s request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legally recognized.

-continue reading at  .Huffington Post 

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"Hold Your Heads High, Your Liberation Is Near at Hand" (Psalm 24).

2013 has been dubbed the “Year of gay marriage”. Pope Francis was named  “Person of the Yea” by gay magazine the Advocate, and as  number two “Gay Rights Hero of the Year” by New Yorker magazine.  The words of the Psalm for today’s Mass will theerefore have particular cogency for LGBT Christians, as we await the celebration of the incarnation of Christ, later this week.

In Minnesota, just a few months separated the need to resist a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and the passage of marriage equality legislation – with vocal support by many Catholic groups.

Continue reading "Hold Your Heads High, Your Liberation Is Near at Hand" (Psalm 24).

LA Times: "Methodist minister won't surrender credentials in gay-marriage dispute"

A United Methodist minister who was suspended for officiating at his son’s gay marriage said on Monday he will not voluntarily surrender his religious credentials even though he cannot uphold his church’s doctrines on issues relating to same-sex marriage.

A man places a hand on the shoulder of The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist clergyman convicted of breaking church law for officiating at his son's same-sex wedding, as he enters a news conference, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A man places a hand on the shoulder of The Rev. Frank Schaefer, as he enters a news conference at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Continue reading LA Times: "Methodist minister won't surrender credentials in gay-marriage dispute"

"Indiana Catholic bishops issue statement on gay marriage ban" – Indianapolis Star

Indiana’s Catholic bishops issued a statement Thursday on the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — but they stopped short of taking a position on the hot-button topic.

Arcbishop Joseph W Tobin

The statement, signed by Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Indiana’s five bishops, emphasizes the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, but also the dignity of all people.

“The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, who ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,’” the statement says. “At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage, a natural institution established by God. By its very nature, marriage is a permanent partnership between one man and one woman ordered to the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children.”

Church officials said the statement isn’t intended to stake out a political position, but to inform people about Catholic teachings as they weigh the issue.

“People have the right to make their own decisions on these issues, but it needs to be done with an informed conscience,” said Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Archdiocese

-continue reading at Indianapolis Star

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Germans Support Marriage Equality – Poll

Nearly three quarters of Germans support same-sex marriage, according to a poll published on Wednesday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives weigh up extending more rights to homosexual couples ahead of a September election.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit (first row 2nd R), U.S. Ambassador to Germany
Philip Murphy (first row 3rd R), Britain’s ambassador to Germany Simon
McDonald (first row L) and the Green Party parliamentary faction co-leader
Renate Kuenast (first row 2nd L) open the Christopher Street Day (CSD)
parade in Berlin, June 23, 2012. The annual street parade parade is a celebration of
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lifestyles and
denounces discrimination and exclusion.
Nearly three quarters of Germans support same-sex marriage, according to a poll published on Wednesday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives weigh up extending more rights to homosexual couples ahead of a September election.
The survey for RTL television and Stern magazine suggested 74 percent of Germans were in favour of allowing homosexuals to marry and 23 percent against.
Support is strongest among people voting for the opposition Greens and centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) but even among those backing Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), almost two-thirds were in favour, the poll showed.
The CDU wants to boost its appeal among urban voters as it gears up for this year’s vote.
Merkel’s government is preparing to amend the law to grant same-sex couples greater adoption rights after Germany‘s constitutional court ruled last week that gay people should be allowed to adopt a child already adopted by their partner. Heterosexual couples already have the right.
The court has given the government until July 2014 to amend the law.
Last weekend, a close Merkel ally hinted that the party may also be ready to abandon its opposition to giving gay couples the same preferential tax treatment as married heterosexuals.
Homosexuals in Germany can form civil partnerships but cannot marry. Opposition parties accuse the CDU, staunch advocates of traditional family values, of dragging their feet on gay rights.
The CDU’s more conservative Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has warned against rushing to change the law.
Earlier this month, the lower houses of parliament in both France and Britain voted in favour of gay marriage.
(Reporting by Gareth Jones; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

CoE plan to bless gay couples' civil partnerships?

The Church of England is considering allowing gay couples to have their civil partnerships blessed  in church.

Insiders have told The Mail on Sunday that a top-level panel of bishops set up to review the Church’s policy on homosexuality is actively discussing the issue.

If the reform is approved, vicars would be permitted to conduct a  formal blessing service in church for a same-sex couple who have earlier ‘tied the knot’ at a register office.

Claire Balding Civil Partnership
Union: Television presenter Clare Balding (right) and Alice Arnold at their civil ceremony in 2006

Union: Television presenter Clare Balding (right) and Alice Arnold at their civil ceremony in 2006

But any move to relax the ban on such blessings would provoke the biggest split yet in the Church, which is already reeling from rows over women and gay bishops.

One option the panel is expected  to consider is a compromise under which gay couples seeking a blessing could be asked to declare they intend to remain celibate, in line with official Church teaching.

But this could create a backlash among gay couples, who would regard it as demeaning to be quizzed about their private lives.

A source close to the working party said that a ‘wide-ranging discussion’ was under way covering a ‘whole range of options’ and recommendations will be made to the House of Bishops later this year.

– more at  Mail Online.

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