27 November, 2007

We Pause to Give Thanks

Dear Friends,

As we pause to give thanks this year for our many blessings, I am keenly aware of the impact you have made on our journey this year. From Transforming Faith, making our presence to be known in Salem, PRIDE celebrations, to singing about Faith and Freedom, you have been there boldly sharing your faith! Your courage, deep conviction and passion for justice has inspired me and our Board of Directors. We are deeply grateful for your partnership.

Yesterday we remembered those across the gender spectrum and the loss that many have known. Our transgender brothers and sisters continue to lead us with their prophetic voice and faithful witness as they challenge us to get real regarding our own social constructs and the institutional bias that accompanies them. We give thanks for the gifts shared with us by our Trans friends.

Some of our lesbian sisters have been in the struggle for voice and equality for many years. Since our nation was founded, strong women have stood up for the voiceless, rooted in deep faith, claiming their power to effect change. Our feminist and womanist sisters have taught us to organize, to speak out, to question authority and to expand the circle until we are all included. For our lesbian sisters, we give thanks.

Our brothers who are gay men, we applaude your witness, your strength and your ability to get things done. You remind us that there are many ways to be a man, and that sensitivity and masquilinity are beautiful things. Your creative spirit helps us to remember that beauty and justice work aren't mutually exclusive. We give thanks for all that you bring to our community.

Our bisexual brothers and sisters are often undervalued. Caught in our own hypocracy, we often shun those who aren't at the extremes of the sexual orientation spectrum. You remind us that sensuality cannot always be confined to one expression and that in the end it's about who you love. For your voices and your openness, we give thanks.

For our allies, our Pflag parents, and our clergy leaders, we are appreciative of your presence, your support and your willingness to stand with us in the heat of the moment. You recognize that discrimination is wrong even if it's not happening to you. You demand that justice come. And you remind us, even when we didn't hear it from our own families, that we are all worthy of love. Thank you for nurturing us, for working so hard for all of us, for this we give thanks.

Working for the full inclusion and equality of those across spectrums of gender and sexual expression is demanding and challenging work. It's work though that brings us closer together. As we share our faith, our gratitude, and our bounty, we are mindful of the contributions you have made that help us to share the truth that we are each loved by our Creator.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Community of Welcoming Congregations, we offer prayers of Thanksgiving for you, your faith community and all those who have touched us. And as we break bread with our loved ones, we pray that all will be nurtured and find spiritual home.

Thank you for the Blessing that you are! Happy Thanksgiving!

In joy and gratitude,

Rev. Tara

11 October, 2007

National Coming Out Day


October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Today we celebrate the call to be our authentic selves. Today is a day to recognize all of the challenges and joys of coming out. The faith journey we each take is marked with milestones of courage, moments of recognition and experiences of transformation. For those who are transgender, lesbian, bisexual and gay and for the people who love us, coming out is a necessary step in our physical, emotional, and spiritual development.

Coming out requires the courage to be who we are created to be. Our journey towards wholeness, health and healing reminds us that we cannot live lives according to other people's expectations. We must be bold in our conviction to be all of who we are, bringing our whole selves to our relationships, our places of employment and our religious and spiritual communities.

We are each created in the image of the Divine, so let us not be afraid of the love and light that image reflects. Tonight CWC invites you to pause, to light a candle or offer a prayer. Consider who you have been created to be. Consider where you have closets that need to be opened. Remember that we each have a unique gift to share and that you are never completely alone in the struggle for equality.

We are a wonderfully diverse people. Tonight let us celebrate the fullness of who we are and the potential we each have to create a world full of justice, hope and peace.


Rev. Tara

27 September, 2007

CWC challenges House of Bishop's position

The Episcopal Church USA’s House of Bishops met in New Orleans and released a statement on Tuesday. They met with the hope of “mending the tear in the fabric” between various factions within the Anglican Communion.

I think it is important to lift this example up as so many denominations struggle with living out an inclusive Gospel. Their statement, and others like it, is religiously, indeed theologically offensive. It denies our humanity and wholeness as people of God.

They concur: As all parties agreed to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and as they pledged as a body to NOT authorize public rites for the blessing of “same sex unions”. They affirm their position from March, “We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace.” And then call for the “unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

It is a contradiction to on one hand state that we are one in Christ and we are full and equal participants in the life of the church, and then to state that the church cannot affirm our families. It is a contradiction to “proclaim the justice of Christ” and then to deny it. The theological position that we are all one in Christ but not in Christ’s church is offensive. The position that gay and lesbian people are included in every way in the life of the church as long as we deny who God created us to be is immoral, destructive and spiritually violating.

The House of Bishops call for the justice and dignity of gay and lesbian persons. They state, “It is of fundamental importance that, as we continue to seek consensus in matters of human sexuality, we also be clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence toward them, or violates their dignity as children of God.”

They oppose any action or policy that does violence to us, except for their own. Committing spiritual violence is more debilitating than physical violence. Do they not see the log in their own eyes? They violate our dignity as children of God and then condemn that position.

So my question is, “What is the pastoral message to the gay and lesbian community?”

I affirm and acknowledge that this is church politics and is not the demeanor of many local congregations. I know there is strong leadership in the Episcopal Church working on behalf of all of us. But I have a deep concern for those Episcopalians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender AND the people who love them. This sort of verbal and theological abuse is not okay.

The Episcopal Church is not alone. The Presbyterians recently presented a report entitled, “Peace, Unity, and Purity”, which took a similar view. The Lutherans (ELCA) recently voted to defrock a gifted beloved pastor for being who God created him to be. My intent is not to call out the Episcopal church per se. My intent is to challenge us with two questions. The first is always, What is the pastoral response to the LGBTQ community? And next, are we complicit in the abuse if we are not actively doing something to counter it?

For those of us in denominations who are actively working for the full inclusion and equality of all persons, CWC is with you. Our prayers are with you, our support is with you. This is not easy work. And for those congregations who are actively proclaiming inclusive faiths, you go! We stand in solidarity with you and will do whatever we can to lift up your message of love and hope and peace. And for those who are lone beacons modeling the peace of Christ, challenging exclusive policies, providing the prophetic word, know that you are not alone. We are all in this together!

Let us pray for the spiritual protection of all those who may hear the rhetoric of church politics within and outside the church. Let us pray for healing for those who have been wounded. And let us turn our faith into action by actively working for the full inclusion and equality for all. Blessed Be.

From Morningbear

Perusing the S-J in Salem, there was an article on how the city was prepared to deal with hate crimes, listing the usual groups against which such crimes are directed, although the subjects of the Civil Union legislation and Equal Rights legislation were noticably absent. We have worked hard to get this legislation on the books and now we are threatened by various fundementalist and evangelical groups that wish to strike down these liberating laws. How does the message of Jesus Christ and his life allow professing Christians to be hateful and deny others protections they would go ballistic about if they were denied them? I also noted in the paper that one town in Oregon has problems like Jenna, LA, focusing on its Latino population. Hate crimes are alive and well in Oregon and without legal protections for all Oregon citizens, some will feel obliged to express their hatred in some pretty pernicious ways. It is up to the spiritual community to encourage ethical thinking and inclusion in law and in politics.

Walk the Blessing Way
Swim the Blessing River
Soar in the Blessing Light

Morningbear Mercer

16 August, 2007

Welcome to the conversation!


We hope to expand our horizons and the discussion by exploring issues of faith and sexuality, life and spirituality in this new forum. We invite you to join us!

Rev. Tara

Executive Director