Chi Rho Connection, Vol. IV, No. 15
CHI RHO CONNECTION
The eNewsletter of Chi Rho Press,
Your LGBT Christian Publishing House
Vol. IV, No. 15
22 August 2003
1. WOW! A Report from WOW 2003
2. Bishop Gene Robinson!
3. Did You Know?
4. Sanctoral Cycle
5. Adam's Last Word
This Issue's Quote:
If homosexuality is a disease, let's all call
in queer to work: "Hello. Can't work today,
still queer." Robin Tyler
Welcome once again to the Chi Rho Connection, the
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1. WOW! A Report from WOW 2003
by Adam DeBaugh
As if I wasn't giddy enough from all the emotional
events of this year, last weekend I journeyed to
Philadelphia for the WOW 2003 conference! WOW!
Witness Our Welcome. Over 1,000 LGBTQ people and
our straight allies were there, including some of
the most amazing queer religious leaders in our
history, all gathered in one place.
Witness Our Welcome is an ecumenical gathering of
LGBTQ Christians and their straight supporters,
friends, and family who are part of the Reconciling
Church movement, those brave congregations in the
mainline denominations which have courageously made
a public welcome to the LGBTQ community. Sometimes
those affirmations endanger the standing of the
congregation with their denominations. The
Reconciling movement includes the United Church of
Canada, United Methodists, Baptists, Brethren,
Mennonites, MCC, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ,
United Church of Christ, and Lutherans. Other
denominational LGBTQ caucuses and organizations are
joining as well.
Some highlights for me:
Virginia Mollenkott preached Thursday night. I spent
an evening with Jean Audrey Powers a now-retired
Methodist powerhouse who used to be on the staff of
the National Council of Churches when MCC first applied
for membership. Presbyterian Jane Adams Spahr was
there, who organized our book "Called OUT!"
Troy Perry preached at the closing worship Sunday
morning. Marsha Stevens, Delores Berry, Jeannie
Broderick, and David North all performed. Elder Marco
Grimaldo an openly Gay Presbyterian and the Rev. Wanda
Floyd of Imani MCC in Durham, North Carolina, were the
cochairs of WOW.
Mark Bowman, the prime mover of the Reconciling Church
movement was there. Father Bill Countryman, openly Gay
Episcopal priest and brilliant author told me he admired
the ministry of Chi Rho Press!
Chris Glaser led breakfast Bible studies all three
mornings, an old friend and one of our authors, he even
plugged his Chi Rho Press book, "Come Home!" one morning,
the only book of his he mentioned! Bishop Yvette Flunder
of City of Refuge Community Church in San Francisco
preached Friday night. Steve Sato Rohr spoke Saturday
morning at the Episcopal Cathedral of Philadelphia.
Seeing Roberta and Harold Krieder and the new edition
of "From Wounded Hearts," which Chi Rho Press originally
published. Peterson Toscano presented his one-man show,
"Doin' Time at the Homo No Mo Halfway House."
Dr. Mari Castellanos, a Latina United Church of Christ
justice activist, preached Friday morning. And there
were workshops! Steve Baines of People for the American
Way on holy unions, and Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell,
the MCC couple whose lawsuit forced the Province of
Ontario to grant full marriage rights for same-sex
couples, spoke about their experience. Candace Chellew
of the on-line LGBTQ Christian magazine whosoever.org.
Rev. Ken South on Lesbian and Gay seniors.
It was brilliant.
And throughout my entire experience at WOW last weekend,
I couldn't help but think that all these people, Gay,
Lesbian, Straight, Transgendered, Bisexual, Queer,
Intersexed, and Undecided; from a couple dozen different
church traditions and liturgical habits; from all over
the US and Canada; from different ethnic and racial
backgrounds; from the very young to the very old, and
from all kinds of economic and educational strata. All
these people were here saying, "As for me and my house,
we will serve God."
Because you see, this was my house, broader even than
MCC, here was my Tribe, gloriously and radiantly arrayed,
and we were affirming in the face of extreme prejudice
and hate, that "As for me and my house, we will serve God."
Hate did appear. The very first worship service was
across town in the magnificent Episcopal Church of the
Holy Trinity on Rittenhouse Square. Big white buses
lined up at the University of Pennsylvania where most
of the conference was, to drive us over to Rittenhouse
Square. The service was glorious with Virginia Ramey
Mollenkott, the pioneering lesbian author of "Is the
Homosexual My Neighbor" preaching and Presbyterian
Lesbian activist Jane Adams Spahr leading community
prayers. The conference choir was already organized
and in full voice under the inspired leadership of
Patrick Evans and Mark Andrew Miller. And unbeknownst
to us, hate-filled protesters had gathered outside the
church during our opening worship, carrying the usual
huge signs, "Homosexuality is a Sin," "Sodomy is a
Sin," "God Hates Homosexuals."
As our worship ended Janie Spahr told us that the choir
would leave the church first and make a cordon for us
to pass safely through the protestors to our buses. So
we left the church, with joyless, sad, hateful people
lugging these big huge signs all behind our wonderful
choir, signing at the top of their voices!
One tiny little woman with a sign about half as big as
she was declaring "Sodomy is a Sin," somehow wandered
in amongst our people as we were heading towards our
busses. People were very kind to her, and she looked
rather confused. She stopped right in front of me as
Jean Audrey Powers and I were heading toward our shining
white bus. I looked at her and her sign and I said, "I
couldn't agree with you more! Sodomy is a sin. A
grievous sin." She looked up at me. I continued, "And
of course I know from reading the Sodom story in Genesis
that the true sin of Sodom was inhospitality. Not being
hospitable to strangers in our midst is a very bad thing."
"By the way, do you live here in Philadelphia? Thanks
ever so much for your kind welcome to your beautiful city!"
I couldn't resist. The contrast between the joyous,
loving crowd at WOW and the pitiful, sad, angry,
mean-spirited, and hateful protesters was profound.
Whose God would YOU serve, I kept thinking. WOW showed
how wonderful and glorious God's diverse and rainbow-
colored creation can be.
There is so much more to tell, but I promised to be
brief. I can't wait until WOW 2006!
2. Bishop Gene Robinson!
As you have no doubt heard by now, on Aug. 5, the
Episcopal Church elected it's first openly gay Bishop.
The Episcopal Church is the American province of the
worldwide Anglican Communion. Bishop V. Gene Robinson
was confirmed by 60 percent of the House of Bishops.
He has gone through a process familiar to many LGBT
people of faith, having to prove himself ten times
as good as an avowed heterosexual in order to receive
His diocese of New Hampshire voted overwhelmingly to
call this gifted, gentle, pastoral man as their bishop.
But the American church's General Convention had to
confirm the new Bishop. There were threats from the
right-wing to leave the church (threats that were very
familiar to Anglican watchers, many of the same people
threatened to leave over women's ordination some years
ago). The rabidly conservative Bishop of Nigeria called
the Episcopal Church "unchristian." Conservative
parishes and bishops met together to plan strategy,
including leaving the Episcopal Church and aligning
themselves with more right-wing Anglican Provinces.
But God's grace is sufficient and as frequently happens
with Episcopalians in the US, politeness and sweet
reason prevailed. The 800 member House of Deputies
(clergy and lay delegates) approved Bishop Robinson
by a 2 to 1 margin. Then spurious and very suspect
charges came from two quarters, which were quickly
and efficiently investigated and found to be without
merit. And finally the members of the House of Bishops
voted 62 to 43 to confirm the call.
Of course Gene Robinson is not the first Gay Bishop in
the Episcopal Church or even in the worldwide Anglican
Communion. We daresay there are gay bishops even in
the Anglican Church of Nigeria. What is different
about Gene Robinson is that he is honest about his
sexual orientation. Hmmmmm. It kind of makes you
think about hypocrisy in the church, doesn't it?
Had Gene Robinson NOT been honest and had lied about
his sexuality, there would have been no controversy,
no media coverage, and no desperate last minute search
for ways to smear his name. Had he been a liar and a
hypocrite, his consecration as Bishop would have been
a no-brainer. What ever happened to "the truth shall
set you free"?
Our friend Lawrence Reh's wonderful list serve, First
Light, has often been quoted in the Chi Rho Connection
(FirstLight@yahoogroups.com). Lawrence from time to
time has quoted the Connection as well. His wonderful,
brief analysis of the exciting news on Aug. 5 of the
election of the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal
Church is quoted here, with Lawrence's gracious
"Is the American decision to consecrate an Episcopal
bishop who is openly and unapologetically gay a
prophetic advance in the church's embrace of equality
and justice for all people? Or is it a perverse self-
indulgence that violates thousands of years of religious
teaching? Will it serve as a pivotal landmark in the
history of the church, or will it mark the end of the
voluntary togetherness of the Anglican Communion?
"Will it energize churches that many see as increasingly
irrelevant to their lives, not just Episcopal, but
across a plethora of other denominations? Or will it
produce destructive conflict and conflagration, and
ultimately a weaker place for the church in society?
"Advance threats aside, now the church is in the Garden
with Christ. Will the disciples flee, deny, betray ...
or simply fall asleep? Or will they find new life in
the modeling of Jesus himself? No doubt many were
already thinking, 'God, if it is your will, let this
cup pass from us.' But the cup has not passed, and
the church must now decide whether it will continue
to drink together at a table where Jesus invited,
'All of you, drink of it, and remember me.'"
3. Did You Know?
Did You Know there was Holy Communion on the Moon?
According to Beliefnet.com, the following tidbit:
In all the hubbub surrounding the confirmation of an
openly gay bishop, another item on the Episcopal
Church convention's agenda has been overlooked.
The church's bishops called for a special liturgy
to commemorate the first Holy Communion on the moon,
celebrated on July 20, 1969, by U.S. astronaut Edwin
The lunar communion was kept under wraps by NASA for
two decades until Aldrin wrote about it in a memoir.
Aldrin, an Episcopalian, brought blessed bread and
wine in his "personal kit" and consumed them after
Apollo XI landed near the Sea of Tranquility.
The Episcopal Convention resolution notes that the
lunar communion "was significant in other ways: The
first liquid ever poured in the Moon's 1/6th gravity
was the Blood of Christ; the first food and drink
consumed by humans on another celestial body was
the Lord's Supper; the most remote act of worship
(235,000 miles from Earth) ever undertaken was this
lay-led Episcopal office."
4. Sanctoral Cycle
As a regular feature in the Chi Rho Connection, we
are offering up traditional and modern saints and various
holy days and holidays listed in the 2003 Liturgical
Calendar and Lectionary from today until our next
scheduled electronic newsletter.
Thursday, Aug. 21, Georgia Harkness (1891-1974).
Theologian and social critic. Harkness was the
first woman to teach in a mainline Protestant
seminary in the U.S.A. She came out of the Social
Gospel movement of the 20's and 30's as an influential
theologian, pacifist, and Christian socialist. She
demanded economic justice for all people, opposed
racism, and supported ordination for women.
Sunday, Aug. 24, Simone Weil (1909-1943) Philosopher
and mystic. Born in France to a well-educated,
nonreligious Jewish family, Weil had a brilliant mind
and was drawn to philosophy. She dabbled in the labor
movement and extremist politics, always identifying
with the suffering masses of humanity. As her
personal spiritual journey evolved she was drawn
to Jesus' death on the cross, and to Christianity
as "the religion of slaves." Even so, she chose not
to be baptized, not wanting to be separated from the
"immense and unfortunate multitude of unbelievers."
She forged in intensely personal mysticism, like Joan
of Arc, following her own internal voices.
Thursday, Aug. 28, St. Augustine (354-430). Bishop
of Hippo and Doctor of the Church. Born in North
Africa to a Christian mother and pagan father, Augustine
was deeply interested in philosophy. Under the
influence of his mother, Monica, and the preaching of
Ambrose of Milan he was converted. He became an
influential preacher and teacher, addressing many of
the great heresies of his time, against which he
affirmed God as the sole creator, the holiness of the
church, and that "original sin" was hereditary. His
legacy has not been entirely positive. Due to his
own inner struggles as a young man, he developed a
very negative perspective on the body and sexuality,
yet ultimately affirmed that creation was good. One
of the greatest minds of Western thought, his most
influential works were "The City of God" and his
very personal "Confessions," in which he prays,
"You have made us for yourself, and our heart is
restless until they rest in you."
Sunday, Aug. 31, John Bunyan (1628-1688) Puritan
preacher and writer. Born to an Anglican family,
Bunyan experienced a powerful conversion as a Puritan
when he married. His work as a lay preacher after
the English Civil War led to his imprisonment, where
he did most of his writing. As a Calvinist he saw
the world as a grand conflict between good and evil.
He is best known for "The Pilgrim's Progress," an
allegory about the Christian life as a journey and
adventure of faith.
Monday, Sept. 1, Labor Day (USA, Canada). Federal
Order the full 2003 Liturgical Calendar and Lectionary,
complete with the entire year's Sanctoral Cycle, at,
5. Adam's Last Word:
This edition of the Chi Rho Connection is going out
quite a bit late because I was attending the WOW
Conference in Philadelphia in August 14 17, 2003.
Chi Rho Press had a significant presence there in the
Resource Center (and we sold a lot of books!). I
hope you read the first article in this issue of the
Connection, about the WOW 2003 conference. I am
already planning on attending the next WOW in 2006!
I will be preaching at MCC of Northern Virginia at
10383 Democracy Lane, Fairfax, Virginia on this Sunday,
August 24. Their pastor is the Rev. Kharma Amos, an
incredibly gifted and talented woman. We will be
setting up our Chi Rho Press Traveling Bookstore at
MCC NoVa as well. Please join us if you are in the
area. Directions to the church are on their excellent
Web site at www.mccnova.com.
I have never had so many viruses invading my computer
space! Luckily my ISP has an excellent virus and spam
catcher called Postini, which had caught all the viruses
(and which routinely catches about 95% of the spam. I
hope all your computer systems are safe and protected!
In the midst of all this however, my printer seems to
have dropped out of useful society. <sigh> I need to
head out to see if it can be fixed or if it needs to be
God bless you all!
R. Adam DeBaugh, Director, Adam@....
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