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.

Advertisement

On Sunday, Sept 20, Rev Jenna Zirbel tabled for The Trevor Project and participated in the annual walk to benefit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Almost a thousand people gathered and walked in memory of friends/family who were victims of suicide. Over $76,000 was raised for research and education.

RITA Walk 2

RITA Walk 1

As part of Pride Week in the Capital District of NY, Family Diversity Day was celebrated on Saturday, June 13, with activities and information tables at the State Museum of NY. Families of all shapes, sizes, colors and couplings demonstrated what true diversity of love and family values looks like. Jenna represented the Trevor Project, a non-profit engaged in many efforts to save young people’s lives, especially LGBT youth at risk of suicide. Along with Jenna were Jenn, a co-worker with Jenna, and her husband, Andy.

Jenna also got to speak with some folks about CWAC and possible alternatives for worship. We are confident that the time is approaching for making a new start of some kind.

Many contacts were made with teachers, youth group leaders and other interested parties about holding Lifesaving workshops – an educational function of the Trevor Project that seeks to educate young people about suicide prevention, peer support and triggers that can lead to suicidal thoughts. Every time a training occurs, more people become educated enough to help prevent suicide in our greatest asset – our young people.

Marriage 1At some point in this coming week, there will be notification to let us know when you can call your NMarriage 2Y State Senator as part of Statewide Marriage Call-In Day. Watch this blog for further information as it becomes available.

“The community of faith and struggle, then, is the community that makes use of its critically reflected experience of struggle in the process of traditioning by which it selects from the still living and evolving past of scriptural and church tradition as a means of shaping an alternate future. Its appeal to Tradition in no way is a denial of its own process and experience but rather a faith affirmation that God is present in and through their struggle for justice and discernment of the meaning of the gospel message. Nor is it a denial of the need for careful critical thought as the community uses the theological  spiral to make connections between its  ongoing life and its continuing work of advocacy and welcome for those on the margins of church and society.”

Then, the “measure of faithfulness” is demonstrated in how the most vulnerable participate in church community over and against a non-reflective tradition.

Trevor banner

Recently, I underwent facilitator training for the Lifeguard Workshop Program of the Trevor Project, in which I was trained to give presentations and lead programs in schools. This school workshop program was developed to help young people become more aware of the myriad issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity, and to promote acceptance of LGBTQ youth nationwide.

StaticLatinGirl300x250The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth. Staffed by trained volunteer counselors, the helpline provides support and crisis intervention services for young people.

In addition to operating the crisis and suicide prevention helpline, The Trevor Project also provides online support to young people through the organization’s website and provides lifesaving guidance and vital statistics to educators and parents.

The Trveor Project also conducts outreach programs accross the country to educate young people about suicide prevention and to help build acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in classrooms and communities around the country.

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.

As the Body of Christ in community, church has a role. Since CWAC is a movement in response to oppression, we covenant to filter conversation through the following (you can hold us accountable in loving support):

1. The starting point of theological thought and action is the experience of social oppression.

2. The goal of theology is human worth, the possibility of being a person within a just order of society.

3. Theology is praxis. Theology takes place in just action and the struggle for a new society.

These tenets were taken from Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel’s A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey (1989).

The Open National Coordinating Team meeting in White Plains, NY, will be meeting March 13-15. Follow this link to learn more: CWAC Meeting

The Church Start/Redevelopment Team (Ministry Development) will meet on Friday, March 13th at 3:00pm. We will be gathering to discover what BEing church looks like in ministry as new church starts and revitalizations. We are stepping out into communities as church – the Body of Christ. What exactly does that look like?

It looks like a communion table that always has room for one more.

It looks like a place where every pew is a sacred space of sharing

It looks like a time/place in which no voice is valued above another.

It looks like a place where everyone is a participant, not a visitor.

It looks like …

We would love to be able to come together to talk about how this is lived in reality – here, now, today – in our ministry.

I need mentors to guide and inspire. I need mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers of the church, the body of Christ, for me to grow in the call to the servant leadership. Our Church Within A Church Movement is about BEing the church today, with justice, mercy and equality overcoming the push to conform to the will or the way of a socialized hierarchy of worth. At times I lose focus as I lose heart.

I have discovered that I especially need the companionship of a woman of wisdom born of experience in visionary work. (more…)