January 31, 2009

The Advocate Interviews Bishop Gene Robinson

Bishop Robinson answered questions about his participation in the inauguration activities and his thoughts on President Obama:

Q: Did you ever get clear on how it happened that your comments weren’t included in HBO’s production of the opening ceremony?

A; No, so here’s what I decided about that. First, there was probably no way to determine where and with whom that decision got made. Second of all, it was over, and I think the last thing the gay community needs to be doing right now is picking a fight with the new president or his inaugural committee. My feeling was, it was done, it was over, let’s move on. I received formal apologies from both the inaugural committee and HBO. And I was just willing to let that go.

And as much I would have liked the viewing audience to have heard it, the attention that was drawn to the words I had spoken because of the controversy about why it had been eliminated, probably gave it more attention than it would have gotten if it had been included in the broadcast. The video of my prayer on YouTube, has had a quarter of a million hits and I’m getting feedback from all over the country about people who printed out my prayer and used it at a meeting, or used it at a church service, or whatever.

Not surprisingly, the Bishop shows a very commendable, balanced perspective here, continuing to set a good example that leadership of LGBT advocacy activism would be very wise to follow.

Click here to read the rest of the Advocate interview, including his thoughts on Rick Warren's inaugural prayer and his time with the president.

January 29, 2009

Changing/Growing Your Faith

Newsweek had an interesting story about people changing their declared religions:

A surprising number of Americans are switching from one religion to another. A 2007 survey done by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 44 percent of Americans profess a different religious affiliation from the one they were raised in. Excluding shifts between Protestant denominations, the number—28 percent—is still remarkably high.

If they had asked me, I would have been included in that 44 percent, as would my wife Brenda. I grew up Southern Baptist, converted to Catholicism, and until very recently belonged to an independent charismatic affirming church. Brenda grew up a Seventh-Day Adventist, moved to a MCC church, and helped found the charismatic church we recently left.

Each move for us was a difficult choice, none more so than the most recent one. Brenda and I wrestled with it for about a year before deciding that leaving Believers Covenant Fellowship was the Lord's will for us at this time. I first met Jesus in a Baptist church, married my late wife Bette in the Catholic Church, and grew to have a very personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit at BCF.

It was at BCF that Brenda became an ordained minister long before I met her, and I had started on that track myself. Over time, however, we felt the Lord leading us in a different direction than our church was heading, a situation which invariably causes tension, especially when those involved are part of leadership. Just last week, we reached what we believe is a spirit-led decision to move on to a new season in ministry apart from our former home church.

When people work closely together to lead a ministry, even a relatively small one like BCF, there is a level of trust and emotional and spiritual intimacy that develops among leaders over time. When paths diverge, however, that relationship is inevitably damaged, sometimes permanently. We pray that ours with Apostle Dale Jarrett, a man we both deeply love, and others at BCF can be put back together after the pain of our separation begins to heal.

We left the church body not because we weren’t interested in ministry anymore, but instead so we might freely pursue the more evangelistic direction Brenda and I have both strongly felt God moving us into. Ultimately, it was more important for us to take direction from our Heavenly Father than our Pastor.

The safe thing would have been for us to stay tucked in under the umbrella of BCF and focus our energy within the walls of that building. The funny thing is, though, that God is not really into us being safe. Rather, he wants us to work without a net in the natural so HE can protect us, so we can acknowledge we can’t succeed with our own strength.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul wrote “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Brenda and I will continue to have a strong focus on ministering to the GLBT community, trying in our small way to introduce Christ to those who have never known of Him or only know Him as a judgmental, hateful God. That is not the true Jesus, my friends.

In 1 John 4:16, we learn “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

January 28, 2009

Worth the Wait

If you had to wait 33 years to leaglly marry your spouse, would you stay with them? Janet Peck and Carol Conklin, a couple in Connecticut, did just that and were finally legally wed last Saturday. From the Norwich Bulletin (hat tip to Freedom to Marry):

Janet Peck and Carol Conklin of Colchester waited 33 years for Saturday afternoon’s ceremony.

After Justice of the Peace Judy Martone Peluso pronounced the couple legally married and the cheers from family and friends subsided, Peck and Conklin said it was even more than they had expected and hoped for all these years.

“When we first got together, we didn’t think it would even happen,” Peck said. “We’ve dreamed of this for so many years — this is just beyond.”

“We’re just thrilled,” Conklin said.

Peck and Conklin were one of eight Connecticut same-sex couples who sued the state in 2004 after they were denied a marriage license, claiming their rights to due process and equal protection were violated. The state had passed a civil union law that year.Supreme Court ruling.

Peck, Conklin and the seven other couples won their case in 2008, when the state Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 10 that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Marriage licenses for same-sex couples became available Nov. 12.

So was it worth the wait?

Both said the lawsuit was long and tiring, but was worth all the effort.

“I’d do it again in a second,” Peck said. “She’s the love of my life, and now she’s my wife.”

It sounds pretty natural to me for people to have the legal right to marry the love of their life. I did, and I want everyone to have the opportunity to be as blessed as I have been. God didn't put us on earth to settle for second best, He wants to abundantly bless our lives!

Click here to read the rest of the Norwich Bulletin story.