July 24, 2009

Encouraging Words 7/24/09-On Eagles' Wings

This sermon comes from Rev. Deborah Bell of the Deo Gloria Family Church in Morningside, Durban, South Africa.

As we surrender and wait on the power of the Holy Spirit, we are renewed, we receive revelation, and we are etsablished. As we rise up higher, the things of the earth grow strangely dim.

Click here to listen to On Eagle's Wings

Encouraging Music 7/24/09-Tell The World

British Churches Performing "Exorcisms" On Gays

We recently linked to the horriffic YouTube video of a "gay exorcism" performed in the United States. Unfortunately, it appears this is also happening in the UK. From Pink News:

According to the Metro, a Pentecostal church in north-west London offers the controversial 'cure'. It is one of hundreds of fundamentalist churches in the UK.

Rev John Ogbe-Ogbeide, who runs the United Pentecostal Ministry in Harrow, said he carried out exorcisms on gays four or five times a year and that the procedure always worked.

He said: "The evil spirits are telling you what's wrong is right, the opposite sex is not attractive."

He cited a recent case where he exorcised a young man who was about to get married but was in love with a man.

Rev Ogbe-Ogbeide added that the procedure could be carried out at any age, as demons could take hold of a person at any time.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has called for protest against the practice and a thorough police investigation.

He said: "The exorcism rituals involve the casting out of alleged demons and witches that supposedly possess a gay person's soul and turn them away from heterosexuality.

"There are claims that gay teenagers and young adults are being subjected to exorcisms at the insistence of their parents and pastors, in an attempt to rid them of same-sex attraction.

"The exorcisms can include traumatic emotional scenes where the victims are surrounded by a group of church elders who scream at them to drive out the evil spirits and who sometimes shake their bodies.

"When this is done to youngsters under 18, it is a form of child abuse and the police should intervene to stop it.

"Some gay adults have been pressured into exorcisms by their family members or faith communities. Other victims are people with learning difficulties or mental health problems. They have been preyed upon when they are in a vulnerable state and are not capable of giving fully informed consent."

When a person's self-esteem has been kicked around like a soccer ball, intervention is needed--to protect them from these harmful "exorcists."

You can read the rest of the story at PinkNews.

July 23, 2009

Encouraging Words: God's Safety from Psalm 91

Brenda teaches about how God promises safety and rescue to those who love Him, referencing Psalm 91.

Encouraging Music 7/23/09-Let The River Flow

Another Straight Ally "Comes Out"

Betty Greene Salwak has been married to her husband for 30 years, is a Sunday School cirriculum director, and wrote a guest post for The Bilerico Project taking up the cause of GLBT equality. Here's an excerpt of her story:

Just a few short years ago. I came to realize that it was time for me to step up and stand against what I knew was a gross injustice. I was seeing people who claimed to be Christians spewing hateful invective in the name of God against people who were gay. Those malevolent tirades are far and away the loudest shouts being heard by the LGBT community. The only other voice nearly as loud says there is no God.

Those people have nothing to do with the loving God I know, the One whose grace and unconditional love is for all people, just as they are, just as he made them to be. Unfortunately, the voices with that message have been a mere whisper in the wind. It was time to stand and be heard. But how could I get anyone to heed me? I had a lot to learn.

I have learned of the anguish of rejection and the stinging betrayal experienced by those raised in churches which call them "objectively disordered," sinners, even abominations. I've read far too many times of self-destructiveness and even suicides by young people who could not reconcile their faith with the person God made them to be. This has to stop.

I am convinced that the vast majority of straight Christians are ignorant of the terrible impact of their silence, that they would speak up about their support if they knew it would literally save lives. I am doing everything in my power to tell them that this is the time. It is my fervent hope that the civil victory that is imminent will eventually be shared by most churches during my lifetime.

Ignorance is the most effective weapon of the Christian right-wing that seeks to block GLBT equality. Knowledge and understanding is like kryptonite to their ignorance. That's where straight allies come in. I'm glad to be working for the same cause as someone like Betty Greene Salwak.

You can read the rest of her Bilerico Project essay here.

July 22, 2009

Words of Encouragement 7/22/09-"Be Glad"

In his latest podcast, Jim goes to the Bible to find why we should always have a sense of joy and happiness, referring to the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 and the encouragement of Paul in Philippians 4.

Encouraging Music 7/22/09-I Will Run

US' "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Lags Far Behind Other Nations

I ran across this AP story comparing the much more favorable treatment of soldiers in other nations like Great Britian, Austraila, and Israel compared to the United States.

Wait a minute--Isreal?! That doesn't sound right.

Yep, Isreal. Read this excerpt:

A nation in a constant state of combat readiness, Israel has had no restrictions on military service by gays since 1993 — a policy now considered thoroughly uncontroversial.

Gays were permitted to serve even before then, but not in certain intelligence positions where, at the time, they were deemed possible security risks vulnerable to blackmail. Now, gays and lesbians — among them several senior officers — serve in all branches of the military, including combat duty.

"In this regard, Israel has one of the most liberal armies in the world," said Yagil Levy, a sociologist from the Open University of Israel.

The army recognizes the partners of gay officers as their bereaved next-of-kin after their deaths, eligible for benefits. Gay officers at promotions and other ceremonies often have their partners by their sides.

The military also provided the backdrop for Israel's precursor to "Brokeback Mountain" — the 2002 movie "Yossi & Jagger" about two Israeli combat soldiers who fall in love on the front lines. It was a hit with critics and the public, and was even screened on military bases.

Click here to read about how GLBT soldiers are treated in other nations to gain a greater appreciation of how ignorant the Uunted States' current policy is.

July 21, 2009

Encouraging Words: All things work together for good - Romans 8:

Brenda teaches how God will take whatever is bad in your life and turn it into something good. Based on Romans 8:28.

Encouraging Music 7/21/09-Glory

The AIDS Quilt Creator is Reengaged

Clive Jones, who mentored a politician named Harvey Milk and who initiated the AIDS memorial Quilt in the late 1980's, has reengaged in the gay rights movement. Here is an excerpt from the AP article:

There was a time when I thought I would never be happy again," Jones says, standing barefoot in the tiki-torched yard of the California desert bungalow where he has lived since 1999 but is rarely home long enough to enjoy. "I feel so connected to the movement again."

That he feels compelled to comment on his good fortune says a lot about the twists Jones' own life took after 1978, the year openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was assassinated.

Culture watchers will remember that Jones, the 23-year-old City Hall intern portrayed in "Milk," went on to create the 47,000-panel quilt that humanized the lives lost to AIDS. Less widely known is that during the decade he spent weaving one of the world's largest folk art projects into the nation's fabric, Jones was preparing to die himself.

Instead, he became one of the AIDS epidemic's earliest survivors.

"If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have saved money and joined a gym," laughs Jones, who shows the puckish sense of humor actor Emile Hirsch exhibited as his on-screen alter-ego.

When talk turns to the National Equality March scheduled for the second week of October in Washington, however, Jones turns serious.

His goal is to build an army of activists drawn from each of the nation's 435 congressional districts. Afterward, participants will be sent home to pressure their representatives and the White House into removing the remaining barriers to gay equality, such as the policy that prevents gays from serving openly in the military.

If successful, Jones' vision would represent a sea change in the gay rights movement's strategy of securing victories piecemeal on the local or state level.

"We got locked into this pattern of fighting for fractions of crumbs — 'Oh please, sir, in this county could we please not be fired for being gay if it's all right in this county for you to evict us for being gay?'" he says. "It's been this ping-pong with our basic civil rights....If you are a free and equal people, why would you settle for this?"

Jones agreed to organize the march at the urging of veteran activist David Mixner, who proposed it as a way to lobby President Barack Obama to follow through on his campaign promises.

"When he has a sense of righteousness about a mission, he has a tenacity I have rarely seen," said Mixner, who has known Jones since the 1970s. "He is not a person who has ever put himself before the mission."

The National Equality March has yet to be universally embraced by leading GLBT advocates, but then again neither was the AIDS Quile and look at the lasting impact that has had on our culture and the was that AIDS is viewed by society.

Click here to read the rest of the AP article.

July 20, 2009

Encouraging Words 7/20/09-"Baptism By the Bay"

Here's something a bit different-a baptism. While it's not a normal podcast or sermon, there is certainly a message in watching GLBT people being baptized. These were performed by Rev. Sandra Turnbull of the Glory Tabernacle Christian Center in Long Beach, CA. They have a rockin' praise and worship band and are one of the churches we link to in our weekly Sunday Worship. Enjoy.

Encouraging Music 7/20/09-Break the Chains

Driving the Demons Out of Homophobia

I recently shared the video here of the church that tried to perform a "gay exorcism." Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge, author or Bulletproof Faith, wrote this essay as a response to it. Candace also shares the inherent problem of being a GLBT Christian minister. Here's an excerpt:

As a Christian, who just happens to be a lesbian, I find myself a minority within a minority. A large number of gay and lesbian people have abandoned Christianity - and with these sorts of shenanigans going on in the name of God, it’s really no great leap of logic to figure out why. When you have someone, in the name of God, painting gays and lesbians as demon-possessed people with an abhorrent “lifestyle,” God gets a pretty bad rap in the deal.

I always begin my workshops by proclaiming the good news that God loves gays and lesbians just as they are and they should never believe anyone who says differently. As I say this, however, I’m showing images of homophobic people protesting at pride parades and other gatherings holding signs like “Sodomy is sin.” The point is to drive home the mixed messages gays and lesbians get from religion. On one hand lesbian pastors like me say, “God loves you,” while the religious right, with the aid of their large media microphone, screams, “God hates fags.” Who can blame our community for being confused?

The ramifications of this rejection of God in the gay and lesbian community are great. I recently wrote a book aimed at the gay and lesbian Christian community called “Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians.” I expected to have a warm reception by the gay and lesbian media. After all, this is a book written for our community, by someone in our community imparting the good news that God loves gays and lesbians, made us just as we are, and that we have nothing to fear from anyone - especially those like McKinney who believe God hates us or that a demon has infested us.

Except for an online excerpt in the Advocate, my book has been like Kryptonite to the gay press. A few smaller, local papers have done an article here and there, but by and large, I can’t get anyone to even mention it, let alone actually do a story on it. The comments on the Advocate article really tell why. I’m attacked for believing in some imaginary friend and questioned about why I would want to stay in a club that didn’t want me as a member.

That type of hostility Candace refers to is one of the primary reasons we have this ministry here and are working hard to put it in front of as many people as possible--not to promote Jim and Brenda in any way but to offer a voice different to the hateful one Candace refers to in her essay.

She has much more to say, click here to read the rest of her esssay.

July 19, 2009

Evening Prayers 7/19/09


There is so much hate in this world and in the United States. What sickens me is how much of it is in your name--some of the loudest and most hateful.

Lord, you told us in your word that you are love. If there is any one thing you made clear in the Bible, that's it, yet so many people choose to ignore or twist that into showing love for you by hating others they perceive are living outside your rules.

Lord, you tell us that what we do for the least we do for you. Doesn't that also mean that what we do TO the least of those we do TO you? Please help people open their eyes and hearts to understand that before more people get hurt and some of those die.

Lord, even those not directly hurt by this hatred are often emotionally scarred, pushed away from you by those who claim to be your followers. You know how many GLBT people I run across that are angry at you when they should actually be angry at those who so grossly misrepresent you. For many of them, the only God they see through people claiming to be Christian is an angry, judgmental God that I personally wouldn't want anything to do with either.

Lord, help those of us who understand and seek to bring your love to those who have only seen hate acted out in your name, help us gather larger, stronger, louder forces to counteract the anger and hatred attached to your name. Help us save lives of people who don't want to know you because of the false image they have seen of you.

You told us that love conquers all. Please help us make that happen here on Earth.


Sunday Worship 7/19/09

If you don't have a welcoming church near you, or you just can't make yourself step into one, we're bringing worship to you. Here are links to some worship music and services from open and affirming ministries (all times eastern). I hope you are blessed and take time out of your busy schedule to enter into the Lord's day.

Don't forget to click on the tab on the upper right of this blog and leave your prayer requests in the comment section so we can petition the Lord for your needs.

If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with us.

Live Sunday Services (all times Eastern)
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren, 10:00 AM
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM
VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AM
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 11:45 AM
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem, 12:00 PM
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, 1:00 PM
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach, 1:00 PM
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, 1:30 PM

Canada, Vancouver-Christ Alive Community Church, 10:15 PM
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program) 4:30 PM

Video Archive

AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach
FL-Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Ft. Lauderdale
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa
GA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta
MI-Christ Community Church, Spring Lake
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem

OK-Expressions Community Fellowship, Oklahoma City
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa
TX-The One Church, Garland
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore

Audio Archive
AZ-Community Church of Hope, Phoenix
AK-Open Door Community Church, Sherwood
CA-Christ Chapel of Long Beach
CA-Christ Chapel of the Valley, North Hollywood
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program)
FL-New Hope Christian Center, Pensecola
GA-New Covenant Church of Atlanta
MD-Kittamaqundi Community, Columbia
NC-Revolution Charlotte
OH-Emmanuel Fellowship Church, Akron
OH-All Saints Community Church, Cortland
TN-Covenant of the Cross-Madison
TX-New Hope Fellowship Church-Dallas
TX-White Rock Community Church-Dallas
TX-Community Gospel Church-Houston
TX-Through Him Fellowship-Houston
South Africa-Deo Gloria Family Church