Inspiration: Easter Writing Project 2012

Musings on how sexuality is understood among members and leaders in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

On Moving Forward

At the General Assembly in Nashville, I called us into courageous, loving engagement: Disciples, there are some things we need to work on together. We need to work on engaging each other openly and tenaciously on matters that we usually leave to polite silence or hot debate. In particular, we need to continue to talk … Continue reading On Moving Forward

(read more...)

Resources From Children

Even though Jesus was very clear about children being the ones who understand how to live in God’s Realm, as in “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you whoever does not accept the kingdom … Continue reading Resources From Children

(read more...)

Overcoming Our Expectations

I walked into the two-year-old room to find the new substitute monitoring a Mothers’ Day card-making project. As I took my seat to watch what was going on, Elsie finished up a card, and reached for another. “Elsie,” said the substitute, “we’re only making cards for our moms today. You can get some of the … Continue reading Overcoming Our Expectations

(read more...)

Joining in the Spirit

Fear kept them immobilized behind closed doors, afraid to come out. Too uncertain, too scarred by their recent experiences to share with others the message that people desperately needed to hear. So they huddled together, their story and their gifts hidden from the world. Until, finally, the Spirit moved them to action: When the day … Continue reading Joining in the Spirit

(read more...)

Sexuality As a Gift From God

I certainly cannot speak for everyone, nor for the denomination, and I’m not sure we’ll ever be “one mind” about anything. But I can share one pastor’s perspective — mine. People are people. We are all the same in many ways. We are children of God. We are made in the image of God. We … Continue reading Sexuality As a Gift From God

(read more...)

Beloved Child of God

She sat across the table from me with tears in her eyes. I could tell that she wanted to trust me, but she wasn’t sure that she could. And it made sense. She had been so hurt by people like me before. People who were ministers, people who were supposed to care for her and … Continue reading Beloved Child of God

(read more...)

Walking Wounded

My first draft in writing this was a beautiful seven page, academic analysis, of the relationship between the church and LGBT people. I’ll save it for class. I am a 32 year old, white, gay man, who was diagnosed HIV positive six years ago. From this you can probably guess that I’ve some very difficult … Continue reading Walking Wounded

(read more...)

A Regional Minister’s Perspective on Search and Call

Hi. My name is Lee and I’m a Regional Minister.  I’ve been at this for almost sixteen years and three years in another region as an associate.  There is a lot whirling through my office and head as the complex and sometimes lonely tasks the region has to face pop up.  One of the ongoing … Continue reading A Regional Minister’s Perspective on Search and Call

(read more...)

On Authority, Cruelty, and Not Listening to my Neighbor

I write this on the heels of teaching an intense weekend course at Phillips Theological Seminary on Christology. By “intense” I refer to the format: two weekends, each spanning Thursday night through Saturday early evening… enough to make everyone involved want to come home and eat a microwave pot pie under a blankie while watching … Continue reading On Authority, Cruelty, and Not Listening to my Neighbor

(read more...)

Going Back to the Familiar Place

It seemed to me like time froze when I was signing the college honor code. A torrent of questions flooded my mind, “What if somehow someone knew? Would they kick me out of school? Would I have to return to Singapore? What would I tell my family, friends and Pastors?” Followed by, “Oh goodness why … Continue reading Going Back to the Familiar Place

(read more...)

Better Isn’t Good Enough

I have a confession to make: while I have long seen myself as a good, progressive activist, I’ve not been very much of one within my own community lately; well, since moving to Canada. I can give a litany of excuses – “my vote is in the US, and it’s hard to get involved in … Continue reading Better Isn’t Good Enough

(read more...)

The Power of Language

Since the time of written language, what one wrote and said has mattered. What one writes and says still matters. Today with written and spoken word traveling worldwide in a matter of seconds there is great power in the words we say and write. The power of what we say and write can be increased … Continue reading The Power of Language

(read more...)

Christian History and Sexuality

I have been asked to provide a brief historical perspective on the issue of human sexuality in the context of Christian life and culture. When does one start? Do we try to find a beginning and move forward? Do we start today and trace our way back step-by-step? And where does one start? Do we … Continue reading Christian History and Sexuality

(read more...)

The Distance to the Table

When I was growing up on the high plains of Texas, my family attended a large Disciples congregation. The sanctuary seated more than 500 people on the ground floor. There was a huge chancel, massive stained glass windows and cavernous space. In the rear of the sanctuary, up above was a large choir loft with … Continue reading The Distance to the Table

(read more...)

The Gift

I have had a long engagement with LGBTQ issues in the church, most recently as an Elder at Douglass Boulevard Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. But being an LGBTQ Christian in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a more directly personal matter for me than a discussion of “issues” or stances or congregational or … Continue reading The Gift

(read more...)

No Fear of Judgment

1 John 4:15-18 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17Love has been perfected among … Continue reading No Fear of Judgment

(read more...)

A Posthumous Letter

I don’t know about you, but I procrastinate and leave those important conversations to “mañana”.  Because of this, I never came out personally to my mentor and friend, Ferdinand García. So this is an attempt to tell him how I feel about him and La Convención in the North East. Querido Ferdinand, You were like a … Continue reading A Posthumous Letter

(read more...)

On Learning

I was a freshman in college when I first saw my beloved Disciples denomination through the eyes of an outsider: my new friend, O. He told me he had been to a “Christian Church” in high school. He said, “It was a Christian Church like yours, but it split. People argued whether the Bible was … Continue reading On Learning

(read more...)

Love the Impro(b/v)able Effort

I have often cringed when in a chapel service at school or a church service on a Sunday. I cringe because I have heard the question asked, “How do I love a homosexual?” The question has wounded me in the past both deeply and superficially. Deeply: when I was finding it difficult to love myself … Continue reading Love the Impro(b/v)able Effort

(read more...)

Following Jesus as a Lesbian in the DOC

I was in seminary and had just come out 1990 when the Central Rocky Mountain Region(DOC), at its regional assembly, passed Resolution 9004; a resolution denying Gays and Lesbians standing in the region and region sponsored ordination. I had already told my regional minister and teacher of Disciples History and Polity at Iliff Theological School, … Continue reading Following Jesus as a Lesbian in the DOC

(read more...)

There is no Longer a Need for the Law

“Before the coming of faith we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So … Continue reading There is no Longer a Need for the Law

(read more...)

Bold Enough

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.-Acts 4:29 I am a recent arrival in the Disciples family.  After attending my local Disciples church for about a year, I finally became an official member on Christmas day 2011.  I was raised in a small, extremely conservative church … Continue reading Bold Enough

(read more...)

The New Normal

While teaching a group of cadets for the Nashville Sheriff’s Office regarding cross-gender supervision of inmates, I realized that there had been a major culture shift regarding the acceptance of GLBT individuals. Though the cadets came from a politically conservative perspective, they educated me about GBLTQ and that as the generation raised on “Will and … Continue reading The New Normal

(read more...)

‘For There Is No Distinction:’ Homosexuality, Disciples, and the Bible

We Disciples give a lot of authority to the Bible. Our tradition has looked to the Bible for guidance on personal behavior, how to run our churches, and how to structure our corporate worship. Growing up a Disciple, I heard a lot of variations on “we speak where the Bible speaks, we are silent where … Continue reading ‘For There Is No Distinction:’ Homosexuality, Disciples, and the Bible

(read more...)

The Good News

I typically use the lectionary to preach from.  Presently, I am preparing to preach on Philip baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts.  It is a great text and what captivated me when I reread this story was that Philip left the Eunuch rejoicing. Isn’t that great.  The man was left rejoicing! I suppose we can’t … Continue reading The Good News

(read more...)

The Chair

There he sits, in the chair that seems to be reserved for this purpose, the one in my office where time and time again they offer up their secrets. Sometimes they do it as though I’m a priest hearing confession – solemnly without the least bit of drama.  Sometimes, the secret comes bursting forth, loud and … Continue reading The Chair

(read more...)

Voice

I think a lot about the concept of “voice.” Even though I’ve been among the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for seven years now, I still feel as a bit of an outsider. I did not come up through the traditional Disciples ranks. I do not have the relationships that many of my clergy colleagues … Continue reading Voice

(read more...)

Safe From the Silence

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Jew. Then they … Continue reading Safe From the Silence

(read more...)

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Less than a day after North Carolina voted to legally discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and before President Obama declared his support for marriage equality, one of my Facebook friends posted the prescient words Martin Luther King Jr. penned from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama: So often [the church] is an archdefender of the … Continue reading Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

(read more...)

The Conversation

I was on the mission trip when I had a conversation with a man named…well lets say Bert.  Bert ended up in my car by miscommunication.  He had joined the Disciples under the delusion that our bumper stickers (not doctrine!) meant we were a good conservative church and since the congregation we were in was … Continue reading The Conversation

(read more...)

A Place in the Church for Adam and for Me

In the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as in many other denominations I am sure, church camp is a formative experience for many young people. Church camp was a formative experience for me. I loved spending my summers at Tall Oaks camp in the Kansas City region. At camp I heard the beginnings of what … Continue reading A Place in the Church for Adam and for Me

(read more...)

Pushing the Gospel

As a straight woman, I get mistaken for gay a lot.  When I was in the museum field, I was a member of the Alliance for Gays and Lesbians in the American Association of Museums.  One year I went to their breakfast meeting and “my pals” at my table made me stand to give our collective … Continue reading Pushing the Gospel

(read more...)

The Sound of Silence

I went to seminary but I am not really sure why. I would like to offer that I felt a call to ministry as a child and spent my life pursuing that dream. I have never felt a call like so many of my colleagues and friends had as they have shared their call stories. … Continue reading The Sound of Silence

(read more...)

Living the Questions

My divinity school days were filled with the motto “Live the questions”.   Daily, as I worked my way through classes like Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and History of Christianity, I was inundated with tough questions; questions that challenged my context, my privilege and my assumptions.  My worldview was torn down until there was nothing left … Continue reading Living the Questions

(read more...)

Open & Affirming Teaches us to Open Our Hearts to All

I grew up in one of our denominations earliest Open & Affirming congregations, Southside Christian Church in South Bend, Indiana. My mother took me to this “other” Disciples congregation in South Bend after my parents divorced while my father stayed at First Christian. As a high schooler in the ‘80s, I hadn’t figured out what … Continue reading Open & Affirming Teaches us to Open Our Hearts to All

(read more...)

Discernment and Its Discontents

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” For a couple of decades the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has said we are in a “process of discernment” about the status of LGBT people in the church. And for longer than we might have expected, we have … Continue reading Discernment and Its Discontents

(read more...)

Breaking Silence

I was eleven years old the first time I had a conversation about homosexuality. It was at the family dinner table, and for whatever reason, my parents said the word “gay” in front of me for the first time. I piped up, “What’s that mean?” and my dad proffered an explanation. ”I don’t know anyone … Continue reading Breaking Silence

(read more...)

Loving As God Loves

I grew up in a small, rural Presbyterian church.  The sort of place that reinforces all the stereotypes of small, rural churches – conservative both theologically and socially.  During my teen years, my growing passion for a deeper understanding of my faith was fostered by our minister.  Under his guidance, I obtained a lifetime ordination … Continue reading Loving As God Loves

(read more...)

Straight Privilege/Gay Penalty?

The Ohio Region of the DOC requires all clergy to attend an Antiracism/Pro Reconciliation training event in order to keep their standing. One aspect of the training is the naming of “White Privilege,”  the benefits in terms of job opportunities, higher salaries, lower loan rates, and so on that a white person (more specifically a … Continue reading Straight Privilege/Gay Penalty?

(read more...)

Left Out

After graduating from Brite Divinity School and becoming an ordained minister in 2008, I was excited about entering the search and call process to see where God would lead. In hindsight, I was a little too naïve about the reality and complexity of life in the church. I had a somewhat sheltered experience at Brite, … Continue reading Left Out

(read more...)

Our Common Humanity

One of the most formative classes in my educational career was “Post-Holocaust Theology,” taught by Clark Williamson at Christian Theological Seminary. Clark, who has been a prominent figure in the Jewish-Christian dialogue for quite some time, designed this class so that the students were dealing with the question, “How do the events of the Holocaust … Continue reading Our Common Humanity

(read more...)

The Journey to O&A

It was a Methodist church; a United Methodist Church to be more specific. The Sunday school question was “what part of society has held you back in being a Christian?” or something to that effect. I fought the Spirit all week when I read the lessons surrounding the question. My counselor suggested I tell this … Continue reading The Journey to O&A

(read more...)

Grateful for the Gifts

The single most liberating moment of my ministry was saying yes to the call from First Christian Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. I’d gotten in trouble before, offering an honest welcome to people who weren’t quite like the rest of “us.” But here, I’d be in trouble if I didn’t. This is what representing Christ as … Continue reading Grateful for the Gifts

(read more...)

There is Only Yes

According to the gospel of Tina Fey, “the fun is always on the other side of a ‘yes.’ In her memoir, “Bossypants,” she expounds on the rules of improvisation. Call me a church nerd, but her rules of improv sound pretty dang theological to me: The first rule of improvisation is… SAY YES. When you’re … Continue reading There is Only Yes

(read more...)

Welcoming Gay People: Why it’s a Conversation you Need to Have

Pastor of Christ’s Church, Anywhere, USA: “Hey, Derek! How’s it going? I’ve seen what you guys are doing at your church. I want you to know how much I appreciate the work y’all are doing with the LGBT community. The church needs to wake up on this issue.” Me: “Thanks. I really appreciate that.” Pastor: … Continue reading Welcoming Gay People: Why it’s a Conversation you Need to Have

(read more...)

Oppression Olympics

He fumed about gay (white) men being the most oppressed group in the Disciples because our version of middle management (regional ministers—the equivalent of bishops or conference ministers) was afraid to trust that a congregation might like a pastor for who he was and then not really care that he was gay. The more he … Continue reading Oppression Olympics

(read more...)

Our Journey in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and HIV/AIDS Ministry

For several years I have volunteered as director of a ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and I have rubbed elbows with leaders at the high levels. I have had private conversations with our GMP, I have broken bread with no less than six Presidents of General Ministries of our beloved movement. I … Continue reading Our Journey in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and HIV/AIDS Ministry

(read more...)

Saying Yes to God

Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the biennial Disciples Seminarians Conference at the Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville. Since I am not a Disciple by birth, I embraced the opportunity to learn more about the general expression of the DOC, and for the most part it was an enriching experience. There was one … Continue reading Saying Yes to God

(read more...)

The Presence of Christ

In just a couple of weeks, I will perform a wedding.  It’s going to be a grand celebration.  Plans have been in the works for months.  The decorations will be perfect, the party to follow full of laughs, great food, and hilarious stories, and if I can keep all tradition, of my notes together, the … Continue reading The Presence of Christ

(read more...)

Why I am an Ally

I am a person of privilege.  Not so much based on my finances—although, there too if I allow myself any perspective—but I am a white, male, cisgendered, middle-aged, straight, married, Christian father of two kids with a house in the suburbs.  The question: Why would someone like me be an active ally of those in the LGBTIQ community?  The … Continue reading Why I am an Ally

(read more...)

Not One of Them

As I considered contributing to this important project, I was taken back to the same type of reflection that led the way to my Doctor of Ministry project.  My theological and ecclesiastical formation, though unknown at the time, began very early in my life.  My earliest memories of church were those of being “not one … Continue reading Not One of Them

(read more...)

Losing Sleep over Losing Sheep

As I sat in church last Sunday, watching as the families file in and take their places in the pews, I began to cry.  I missed my son. As children, both of my sons attended church with me regularly.  Even then, it was difficult for me to watch the “families” enter the sanctuary, as my family was … Continue reading Losing Sleep over Losing Sheep

(read more...)

A Mother’s Journey

Seven years ago my daughter Audrey came out to me via email.  She was about to be go before the commission on ministry in preparation for ordination and wondered if she needed to share her sexual orientation during this process.   My response – again via email – was that she did not have to answer … Continue reading A Mother’s Journey

(read more...)

Being Bread for One Another

As a person in her early 50s I have made my way as a woman within the Disciples church surrounded by a deep circle of care and support and also within an institution that is often deeply ambivalent about the leadership of women. Strong women friends and some encouraging men have walked this path with … Continue reading Being Bread for One Another

(read more...)

To Come With Bread

As a person in her mid 50s I have made my way as a lesbian with the Disciples church largely alone. I came of age in a time and place in which there were virtually no resources for negotiating the reality of being a lesbian in a hetero-normative church. My allies were lesbian and feminist … Continue reading To Come With Bread

(read more...)

Vulnerability and Transformation

There is no greater place of human vulnerability than our sexuality. So much of our self identity is wrapped up in it. From the day we are born (and now even before we are born), we begin being socialized toward particular sexual identities. “Blue is for boys, pink is for girls”, the rule says, as … Continue reading Vulnerability and Transformation

(read more...)

Bittersweet

We are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)—a people of the table; a people who believe that when we gather to break bread together and share a common cup, God’s love is made known to us and we encounter the sacred. Each time I have the incredible privilege of presiding over communion, to break the … Continue reading Bittersweet

(read more...)

Part of the Family

Is a church a family? Or is it a community? Sometimes I hesitate to call the church a family because I have seen families do and say extremely hurtful and damaging things to its family members. I would like to see the church function more in the Way of Christ than like some troubled families. … Continue reading Part of the Family

(read more...)

How to be inclusive among those who are not so inclusive

Even as I typed the title of this article, I sense a good bit of arrogance in the tone.  And I’m the one who penned the title!  It reminds me of a Republican friend of mine, who loves to say to me that, “Liberals, who speak of tolerance so eloquently, are very often some of … Continue reading How to be inclusive among those who are not so inclusive

(read more...)

Christians Should Be More Than “Gay Okay”

I was talking to a guy recently who has been coming to our church after a small group discussion we had about faith and sexual orientation. His perspective really bothered me at the time, but I wasn’t sure why. The guy is a lot like me in many ways – white, in his thirties, middle … Continue reading Christians Should Be More Than “Gay Okay”

(read more...)

A New Experience

Soon after I retired I received a visit from the Moderator of the Disciples General Assembly, who also happened to be my pastor, Dr. Michael Mooty.  He asked me to become the staff person of the Discernment Committee on Gays and Lesbians in the church. Although I had prayed that in retirement I might still … Continue reading A New Experience

(read more...)

How Do We Dialogue As Church?

I like our identity statement.  I like it a lot.  It speaks to our history.  The theology rings true.  It can guide us for a lifetime and then we will still be able to find new ways to live into it.  It packs a lot into two lines. Identity Statement of the Christian Church (Disciples … Continue reading How Do We Dialogue As Church?

(read more...)