Somos un grupo de personas que estamos aquí en una diversidad de creencias y prácticas espirituales. En esta liturgia les reflejamos de vuelta lo maravilloso y la alegría en sus corazones y les estamos agradecidos.

 

Hoy nos reunimos para celebrar la fe, la esperanza y el amor de la comunidad transexual, bisexual, de Lesbianas, de gays y queers, de nuestra familias, amigos y de todos nuestros aliados.  Honramos la memoria de aquellos que crearon para nosotros una herencia de coraje popular de bases, la sabiduría y la resistencia ante la opresión: el movimiento de mujeres, Gandhi, los derechos civiles, Stonewall, los años 80 y el SIDA, la lucha transgénero y sus muchas víctimas, “Occupy”, los actuales ataques contra las mujeres …

 

Afirmamos la energía con la que apoyamos el bien común. Reivindicamos el espíritu del deseo de amar y cuidar de nosotros mismos y mutuamente. Esta es la pasión y el poder en que confiamos todos los días. Sabemos que lo que hacemos realmente hace una diferencia.  Esto es importante para nuestras vidas como individuos, y abarca la vida de nuestras familias y amigos, vecinos y comunidad. Y esta creencia _practicada_ nos anima a actuar, viendo como nuestros sueños y visiones se vuelven  realidad.

 

Hoy nos unimos como comunidad de denunciar una vez más la realidad del “nosotros” y “ellos”. Recordemos el mensaje permanente sobre el 1 y el 99%, la presencia de aquellos quienes con miedo y odio están tratando de imponer sus puntos de vista religiosos sobre la Constitución del Estado. Actúa, sé poderoso: vota en contra de la enmienda este martes!

 

Como comunidad, queremos llegar a ser “nosotros” para nuestros sueños de justicia y de convivencia pacífica. Nosotros, como individuos estamos conectando más allá de las diferencias de género, raza y clase, buscando el bien común. Llenamos la necesidad de ser justos y amables unos con otros, mientras definimos lo que somos como familia.

 

Somos una comunidad de personas donde la acción por el bien común define nuestras decisiones. Optamos por abrir nuestras vidas al cuidado de otros. Estamos juntos des-haciendo la inhumanidad de la intolerancia y la indiferencia, presentes incluso entre y dentro de nosotros mismos. Estamos donde el espíritu inspira a la gente a actuar con respeto a la dignidad humana de todos los demás, porque “todos importamos, todas las familias importan”.

 

Vamos en paz. Diviértanse, disfruten del día y sepan que todos son bienvenidos! Sientan el amor! (Es lo que necesitamos, todos nosotros) … En verdad, háganlo!

composed by Lea Salas Cordova

We are a group of people who stand before you in a diversity of beliefs and spiritual

practices. In this liturgy we reflect back to you the wonder and joy in your hearts and we are thankful.

Today we gather to celebrate the faith, hope and love of the Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay and Queer community, our family, friends, and all of our allies. We honor the memory of those who created for us a heritage of grassroots courage, wisdom and resilience in the face of oppression: the women’s movement, Ghandi, civil rights, Stonewall, the 80’s and AIDS, the transgender struggles and its many victims, occupy, the current attacks on women …

We affirm the energy with which we support the common good. We claim the spirit of the desire to love and care for ourselves and each other. This is the passion and power that we rely upon every day. We know that what we do does make a difference. It matters to our lives as individuals, and embraces the lives of our family and friends, neighbors and community. And this practiced belief encourages us to act, our dreams and visions becoming reality.

Today we join together as a community denouncing once more the reality of “us” and “them.” Remember the lasting message about the 1 and the 99 %, the presence of those who in fear and hate are trying to impose their views on the State’s Constitution.  Act, be powerful: vote against the amendment this Tuesday!

As a community, we want to become “we” for our dreams of justice and peaceful coexistence. We as individuals are reaching across differences in class, race and gender to connect in the common good.  We fill the need to be fair and kind to each other while we define who we are as family.

We are a community of people where wish and action for the common good define our decisions. We choose to open our lives by caring. We stand together un-doing the inhumanity of bigotry and indifference, present even among and within ourselves. We stand where spirit inspires people to act with respect for the human dignity of all others because “all of us matter, all families matter.”

Let’s go in peace.  Have fun, enjoy the day and know that all are welcome! Feel the love! ( It’s what we need, all of us) … Truly do!

written by Jenna Zirbel and edited by Lea Salas Cordova

Pathways to power was the main topic of discussion at the “Empowering Action for the Common Good: Affirming Faith Forum” at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Friday, March 23, at 6:30 pm. The goal to work for the common good extends to and beyond the vote on May 8th. The forum generated more ideas on how to join with others in improving relationships in the community while working to defeat the proposed amendment to the state constitution.    (more…)

Andy and I are in conversation with ministry leaders throughout the country who are working in diverse and challenging endeavors  Being the emerging face of ‘church’ as the body of Christ. As co leaders of the Ministry Development work area for Church Within A Church, we explore the celebratory actions and the struggles of Being the church we want to see. Whether any of us feels that we are the outside other or the inside ministry leader seems to depend on the energy of the Spirit at that moment.  Evangelism truly is a queer triangle.

As the ordained minister for Rainbow Community Cares (RCCares), my work is deeply rooted in ministry development and church revitalization. Rainbow Community Cares has emerged from the praxis of neighborhood ministry begun in Schenectady, New York, and now is informed by participation in LGBTQ community organizations in Raleigh, North Carolina. An integral part of RCCares’ vision is to help heal the rift in our communities and co-create a safe place for community to grow.  The scriptural imperative to love your neighbor leads the way to the gatherings in which RCCares participates. The 2011 Equality Conference was one such gathering. (more…)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender partners and their families are categorically denied full engagement in the communities in which they live, all in the name of religious “morality,” while the heart and essence of the source of life and love upon which religion is derived remains ever present ready to break through the oppressor’s blindness and let the captives go free.  In naming and claiming the spirituality that is inherent in our lives and written on our hearts, we are enthused to love ourselves and live in care of neighbor as self.  The Spirituality Training PowerPoint that follows was worked out during three workshops with LGBTQ participants.

The culture in which we live is undergirded by a socialized religion granting heterosexual couples’s status in the way of financial, legal, psychological and spiritual supports denied gay and lesbian relationships.  Those persons who vary from the “moral” norms of sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, established in the same discriminatory manner by the dominant minority, are denied the safeguards that protect their full rights, as well.

Leaders in our nation will sometimes define social practices as “moral,” and therefore “acceptable,” based on dominant religious biases irrespective of the reality of the diversity of relationships lived in community. Heterosexual coupling has been legally identified as meriting “moral” status with the entitlements that go along with it, while discrimination against other relationships is sanctioned. The burden of proof that relationships other than heterosexual coupling are “moral” is placed on the community in a system where the leaders refuse to recognize the “acceptable” existence of diverse relationships. There is no legitimate place allowed for justice in this system. Blindness to the diversity of relationships in community creates an unjust living environment resulting in the denial of civil rights, inequality, oppression, and strife in the name of “morality.”

Practicing Safe Spirituality  –  PowerPoint presentation

Two weeks ago I learned about a form of ministry that has captivated my attention. Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina has a brochure explaining a bit about Faith Ministries that I imagine has possibilities beyond my wildest dreams.  And I do have some wild dreams.

Faith Ministries organizing is a barely tapped resource from which so many communities could benefit. In order for a community to flourish, all participants have to be enabled to access basic services. When people are left out of the loop of community engagement, their needs do not disappear but are met in less efficient and more expensive manner, often to the detriment of the individual and of the community as a whole.

Grocery stores in most communities are not located in neighborhoods for easy access for those without their own transportation, while convenience stores with high prices for items are more readily accessible.  Food pantries only act somewhat as a backup support for people unable to afford to meet their needs because of limited access to a local grocery store.  Someone without the money and/or stamina to take a bus to their medical care provider, may find that the only safe means of transportation to get needed medical care is by ambulance to the hospital emergency room.  And for some of our neighbors, getting someone able to care enough to accompany them for support and assistance to an appointment is not possible. The injustice of the lack of access for some individuals to basic services hurts the life of the community.

Faith Ministries organizing can be used to establish relationships in communities where the wellbeing of every neighbor is considered significant to the community as a whole. No one deserves to be left out.  This ministry can promote an environment where caring for other is realized as in one’s own best interest. To always be on the asking side of a relationship prohibits mutuality and respectful encounters and distorts the meaning of giving.  In a healthy relationship it is easy to recognize how giving and getting are mutually inclusive, and how caring for neighbor as self, is caring for self.

Zeke (Ezekiel Zirbel Thiessen) is in some ways not much different than many other young twenty-somethings. In others, he is exceptional – although maybe I’m biased. Zeke was honored recently by the University YMCA (University of Minnesota) with the William Teeter Leadership Award. The award recognizes “a student leader who exemplifies the quiet, behind the scenes leadership qualities that focus on relationships and ensuring that the values and spirit of the UY are reflected in day-to-day activities.” Zeke participated in Y Buddies and was instrumental in organizing immersion experiences.

As a member of the Ministry Development Team, Zeke has brought much needed insight into what church is and what church does in the world. Zeke and many of his friends are Christian and, while they talk openly about their faith, they have little time for the church as it exists in this time and space. Rather than doctrine and orthodoxy, Zeke believes the measure of church is what it does in the world – specifically the relationships that are built and nurtured while actively being in the world. No fanfare – not needing to be constantly stroked – just being in God’s good creation with God’s children.

It strikes me that we all could stand deep discussion about what “BEing” church entails.

THOUGHTS FROM THE PARTICULAR ….

 We live and work in the reality of everyday struggle and celebration. Life on our street is in touch with people wondering how we will pay our bills, especially the utilities. We wonder if we can get employment before we fall too far behind in debt. Jobs are hard to find; even harder is keeping the car repaired. The on street parking is an altogether different challenge with every-other-day restrictions dedicated to the 9:00 o’clock hour. A lot of the time we spend our physical energy on transportation. Our homes belong to landlords many of whom are slow or even unresponsive to our requests, quite like the police when we call about an altercation. And the density of families and neighbors living close together brings relationship issues through the walls with easy flow to the street.

It might be easiest just to ignore the neighbors for pseudo privacy, a way to focus attention on my own issues. I may dress up and leave my street – get miles away – leaving the problems of the day behind for a moment, possibly to go worship. But more easily I can shut my door, turn up my noise and drown out the disappointments, fears of failure; my hopes exhausted just like my body by too much exercise in reaching for opportunities just beyond my grasp. (more…)

This year we celebrated Christmas at the Damien Center on December 19. The gathering reminded us of the Magnificat.

God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts …

We gathered as the Damien Center comfortable in our intent to share.

God has brought down the powerful from their thrones

For weeks and even until the very night before, people brought from what they had.

and lifted up the lowly

There were tables set with room enough for all to sit face to face.

filled the hungry with good things

The food served was creatively prepared to satisfy and nourish.

and sent the rich away empty

Every guest, even those unexpected, left with gifts.

in fulfillment of God’s promise.

We have already seen that table talk as both action and reflection is not disconnected from scripture and tradition. Rather, round table talk is designed to talk back to tradition … In a positive sense, talking back is a constant movement around the spiral, bringing scripture and tradition into connection with context, critical analysis, and action by those at the margins of church and society. This dialogue finds its conversation partners among communities of faith and struggle, who in turn become the prism for the feminist self-understanding of what it means to be church.

Opportunities continue to present themselves, more so now since my participation in E&J Day at the capital on 4/28. It is a practice that helped me remember my worth as a minister and my ability to nurture my passion in engaging with a community in servant leadership. Andy and I represented the church as a body living in the community of love, nurturing each other.

Last year, the 1st year, we walked around the block, Andy and I, in the freezing cold wondering what the year would bring; believing God has a hand in it all; hoping that we could come to know the neighborhood and learn to be community together.

This year, we have the experience of a year lived on this block. We have shared the street with ambulances, police cars, taxis, fire trucks and kids throwing the ball to each other. (more…)

Out of a starting point connected to those who are marginalized comes the theological spiral that Beverly Harrison has called a “liberation social ethics methodology” and Katie Cannon calls “emancipatory praxis”. This style 0f theologizing in a continuing spiral of engagement and reflection begins with commitment to the task of raising up signs of God’s new household with those who are struggling for justice and full humanity. It continues by sharing experiences of commitment and struggle in a concrete context of engagement. Third, the theological spiral leads to a critical analysis of the context of the experiences, seeking to understand the social and historical factors that affect the community of struggle. Out of this commitment to action in solidarity with the marginalized, and out of sharing of experiences and social analysis, arise questions about biblical and church tradition that help us gain new insight into the meaning of the gospel as good news for the oppressed and marginalized. This new understanding of tradition flows from and leads to action, celebration and further reflection in the continuing theological spiral.

from Church in the Round

“… I describe the church as a community of Christ, bought with a price, where everyone is welcome. This community is bought with a price because of the struggle of Jesus to overcome the structures of sin and death constitutes both the source of new life in the community and its own mandate to continue the same struggle for life on behalf of others.”

“Those of us who ‘fall in faith’ with [Jesus] and [the] story of God’s welcome experience cognitive dissonance, a contradiction between ideas and actual experience, when we turn from reading the Gospels to looking at the way this message has been interpreted in the church through the ages. Nevertheless, many of us, including myself, continue to find that this is a life-giving story that points us to God’s intention for New Creation, in our lives, in society, and in nature as well.  And we find ourselves seeking out communities of faith and struggle that speak of life in the midst of all forms of death-dealing oppression.”

– Letty Russell, Church in the Round

It is impossible for me and for many other alienated women and men to walk away from the church, however, for it has been the bearer of the story of Jesus Christ and the good news of God’s love. It seems rather that we have to sit back and askourselves about what is happening among us when two or three gather in Christ’s name and begin to think through possible ways of being church that will affirm the full humanity of all women and men.”

– from Church in the Round, pg 11.