Author Archives: Admin

Leadership Chair Updates: Changes are Coming!

Hello Friends!

I hope that this season of Lent has been good for everyone! The Leadership Council has been working very hard this Lenten season on making our organization more streamlined and to document and solidify our processes.

Our Council Co-chair Alaina and the Ordination Committee have been working hard on documenting and streamlining our ordination and affiliation processes. This project, as most of you know, is a huge undertaking because it includes not only doing our own internal documentation, but also revising all of our application forms in order to be able to move them from paper to online.

Speaking of moving things online, our website will be moving to a new server in the next few months, and with that we will be re-launching our website with a new template, and, what I hope, will be many improvements!

Marie, our Ordination Chair, is also asking for all previously ordained ProgCA Clergy to please email her (rev.mbatel@gmail.com) with their current information and copies of ordination credentials so we can rebuild our database. We are asking for this so a) we can be able to provide you duplicates in the future if you happen to lose them, and b) so we can be able to make ProgCA clergy referrals when people ask us about clergy in their area.

We hope to have these projects completed by the end of the Summer (if not sooner), and when they are complete, we will start implementing membership, clergy, and church dues. Membership and dues will not only support the organization financially, but include the right to vote in officer and policy elections and the right to run for organizational positions. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY FOR DUES NOW!! We will let you know when when we are ready to accept everyone’s payments, with all relevant instructions. (Although, if you feel like donating, you can certainly do so! And it’s tax deductible!)

If you’ve been wanting to volunteer with the ProgCA, we could certainly use help with these projects! If you have experience with Google forms and WordPress and have the time to help us, please let me or one of the other board members know. We could also use someone who knows WordPress really well to volunteer to not only help with the site transfer, but also with an eye to being an additional webmaster in the future. If that is something you would like to volunteer for, please contact me.

In addition to our website, we will also be reorganising our main Facebook page and groups a bit. Our Member At Large, Rob, will be implementing the following updates:

First, the ProgCA Facebook page will be set up so that all news and announcements from the website will be available on that page, and will be one of the ways you can connect directly with the Leadership Council.

Second, the private ProgCA group will be converted to a closed group for ProgCA Clergy and those in the process of ordination or affiliation. Clergy will be able to connect, share information, and find mutual support. We feel that having this specific space for clergy is incredibly important, since it can help clergy not to feel alone in their callings, mitigate burn out, and help each other find resources that can sometimes be hard to find on one’s own.

We thank you all for your patience and grace as we roll these changes out through the next few months. While we understand that change is hard, we will strive to make things as easy for everyone all as possible!

May your Easter be full of life and light, and the hope that change can bring will be present for you in this season!

Many Blessings,

Rev. Gina

Leadership Chair

The Progressive Christian Alliance and its place in the Independent Sacramental Movement

For me the PCA is very much a part of the Independent Sacramental Movement or at least a part of it is. But before I go into that some reading this may be going the Independent what?

So lets start with that from Wikipedia which in this instance is actually not that bad of a place to start as it gives a brief overview:

The Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM) is a collection of sacramental Christian individuals and groups (and, depending on how one draws boundaries, some Christo-Pagans and Thelemites) who are not part of historic sacramental Christian denominations such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox churches. Many in the ISM originated in schisms from sacramental Christian denominations, and claim to preserve the historical episcopate or apostolic succession, though this claim by some of these churches would be seriously questioned,[why?] if not rejected,[why?] by the ecclesiastical authorities of Rome,[1] Constantinople, Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic), and Canterbury. The Union of Utrecht and some jurisdictions[which?] within the Anglican Communion have engaged in ecumenical conversation with some groups[which?] which could be included in the ISM.[according to whom?]

Most of the churches listed by ISM adherents as being part of the movement have no historic connection to the movement and share almost nothing with this movement other than apostolic succession. In addition, some churches or other groups which are structurally similar to each other but which do not claim apostolic succession have been claimed by ISMsources as part of their movement.[clarification needed (see talk)]

Groups within the ISM (often known as Independent CatholicOld CatholicLiberal Catholic, Autocephalous Orthodox, Free Sacramental,[further explanation needed] etc.) have a number of common characteristics:[according to whom?]

  • solitary clergy and small groups
  • centrality of the sacramental life (especially the Eucharist)
  • a mediatory priesthood mostly composed of volunteers
  • ordination potentially available to a significant percentage of the membership
  • experimentation in theology, liturgy, and/or church structure.[further explanation needed]

The term was popularized in 2005 by John Plummer, in The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement,[2] although it was used earlier, in 2002 by Richard Smoley, in Inner Christianity,[3] and perhaps first used in the mid-1970s by a short-lived cooperative organization called the Synod of Independent Sacramental Churches.[speculation?] ISMgroups range from the broadly inclusive[example needed] (including marriage of same-sex couples and the ordination of women) to the socially conservative;[example needed] also from the traditionally orthodox to the esoteric, although the term is most commonly employed to refer to the liberal end of the spectrum. While the term “Independent Sacramental” originated as an etic description,[by whom?] it has been used increasingly as an emic self-description by members of some of these churches and groups.

Currently, just as within the new monasticism movement, interspiritual expressions are arising.

So our brothers and sisters in Churches like the Old Catholic Apostolic Church or Liberal Catholic Church are generally and example of the Independent Sacramental Movement(ISM) but as hinted at in the Wiki entry above that isn’t necessarily it.

Indeed the ISM comprises of Independent Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, Franciscans, and more really if you can think of a Christian denomination you will likely find a branch within the ISM.

My reason for stating the PCA or at least a part of the PCA is indeed a part of this movement is varied but let’s looks at the shared characteristics that the Wiki entry gave and go from there.

  • solitary clergy and small groups

We of course in general really do fit the mold for this or we at least tend to start out this way, we tend to start off as a small group of like minded people indeed one could the formation of the PCA was based on this.

  • a mediatory priesthood mostly composed of volunteers

We are all volunteers here, those of us lucky to make a living doing ministry do so in what would be called a self supporting manner, or also have secular work that enable us to live and we run our ministry in conjunction with secular work. There is something very Apostle like in this manner or at least in my opinion there is.

  • ordination potentially available to a significant percentage of the membership

Yes indeed we fit this perfectly, and there isn’t much point in elaborating on this further, not in the context of this blog anyway.

  • Experimentation in theology, liturgy, and/or church structure.

It has been mentioned by myself on the Facebook page before and I will do so again you will not likely find such a diverse group of theological and liturgical diversity as you find in the PCA and each of who do Ministry will likely have varying degrees of structure and Liturgy used.

Of course you may have noticed I missed one of the common characteristics out from that Wiki entry and my reason for doing so goes back to the start of this blog, the PCA or at least a part of the PCA is a part of the ISM and it is because of this characteristic:

  •  centrality of the sacramental life (especially the Eucharist)

This is where my interest in History also comes into play, I have been told repeatedly from different members of the PCA who have been around a lot longer than my few years, who have said that one or two of the original founders had very much in mind a very sacramental orientated life and form of ministry.

Now obviously the PCA in its modern incarnation has a much broader range of ministers and layity and congregants, ranging from this very traditional sort of view point to those who are at the polar opposite end of the spectrum who would not have a high view of Christ for example or who have a faith completely outside of the Christian tradition.

For me one of the most educational and rewarding aspects of the PCA is this diversity of thought and belief, but also that we all have a strength of faith that allows us to express our views on faith, on theological matters without descending into labeling each other heretics and the like. However in my own ministry and in the ministry of those who do have a more traditional view of Ministry I look to a number of fellow countrymen and women who like me are Independent Anglicans, or my Brothers and Sisters who given recent events are now independent Methodists, and across the globe those of us in the PCA who as I said have a more traditional view of ministry but are considered too Liberal from the traditions we have come from.

For me and for those that I have just mentioned and those I have not mentioned, where the Sacraments especially the Eucharist is very much central to our lives, it is this part of the PCA that is without question as part of ISM, sharing all the common characteristics of Churches that are part of ISM.

You may say Rob, ahh but that Wiki entry mentions Apostolic Succession, Indeed for many Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists and a few others this is a important thing, the reason of course relates to the validity of ordinations within these said churches, Rome itself has stated publicly that for churches like the Old Catholic Apostolic Church (Churches that typically trace succession back to the Union of Utrecht which rejected doctrines of the first Vatican Council)

Bishops that have performed ordinations without the consent of Rome or the Papacy are Valid but Illicit, of course as already mentioned some of the ISM don’t place any emphasis on the Apostolic succession as they believe as backed up by scripture that God and their faith in Christ have called them to a royal priest hood (1Peter 2:9).

Some of us within the PCA of course may have come from being Priest in other denominations certainly if any of us are former Catholic, Anglican priests etc then they would have a line of Apostolic succession which in most church structures is performed by a Bishop, however the PCA doesn’t use these titles preferring and I think rather appropriately titles like Servant Leader. My point being is that for those where Apostolic Succession is of the up most importance the PCA in some situations can follow this.

That isn’t to take away from those within the PCA who don’t put any importance in such things or for those that feel no connection with the ISM as I said for the PCA only a part of us is in the ISM and that is because of the mass breadth and diversity present in the PCA.

The reason that I have wanted to write this blog is to really reach those within the PCA who may have an interest or feel a call and connection to this part of the PCA and how this part of the PCA is connected to a wider movement that itself is centuries old.

In fact speaking as both the Member at Large of the PCA, currently seeking Ordination and currently in Ministry that falls within the ISM a lot of our thinking and theology can be traced back to the early Church Fathers, such as Origin, Gregory of Nyssa, all the way to more recent theologians such as Karl Barth, Rob Bell, Steve Chalke, Robin Parry and many more. The point is of course that this makes us both new and old at the same time something that I find deeply ironic but also with something that I feel Gods guiding hand in.

The PCA is a broad church of diversity and theological discussion and persuasion as mentioned already (perhaps as an Anglican its why I feel drawn to it the way I do) but this blog intention has not been to separate or divide the PCA with those who hold a similar view to me and those who don’t, but rather make aware those who share my views or similar views of the deep history that we have as a part of the ISM.

As time goes on I intend to write more on the Independent Sacramental Movement and within my own Ministry and in my capacity as the PCA member at Large is to build some more connections with other churches within the ISM such as the Old Catholic Apostolic Church, The Open Episcopal Church etc.

But it goes to show just how Universal Christ’s Church truly is and I hope those who have read this have found it informative and have at the very least been able to detect the deep passion involved with writing this, even those who don’t consider themselves within the ISM but now understand how the PCA or a part of the PCA is clearly a part of the ISM.

God bless.

Rob Ponsford          

Member at Large

Progressive Christian Alliance

Updates and Changes for the Progressive Christian Alliance

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”


— C. JoyBell c

Hello, Friends!

There is a lot of change happening in the background for the Progressive Christian Alliance. I know that we have been promising change for awhile now, and while we had some roadblocks last year getting these changes off the ground, we are now moving full steam ahead!

The biggest project we are working on, is implementing our membership program for laity, clergy, and churches, and streamlining our ordination process. Our Ordination Committee Chair, Rev. Marie Bat’el and our Leadership Co-char, Rev. Alaina Cobb will be working on improving our document systems and making the process more clear for both those seeking ordination and for our Ordination Committee Mentors. I’m hoping that we’ll have this process fully fleshed out and in place by the end of this Summer.

Another major project will be updating our website. Along with the new membership process, we are also planning to add a progressive Christian resource page for clergy and laity, bringing back the ProgCA Clergy Directory,  and many other enhancements. If you have any ideas for resources that should go on the resource page, please feel free to send it to us.

Some other future projects that we have in the pipeline are:

  • Launch of our YouTube channel where we can showcase videos of our clergy and churches in action.
  • Livestream Q&A sessions with the Leadership Council on YouTube
  • Launch of mailing lists for members to receive news directly about ProgCA happenings.
  • A possible online Convocation for 2020.

We hope that you will continue to have patience with us as these projects come into fruition. The Progressive Christian Alliance is completely run by volunteers and it may seem that these changes are slow, but I assure you, we are doing our best to make sure we can serve all of you as well as we possibly can.

If you have suggestions, or would like to volunteer to help with any of these projects, please contact us!

Again, thank you all for your patience and grace during this time of change. Change is never easy, but I hope, in the end, we will become a stronger and more efficient organization.

Blessings,

Rev. Gina

To our fellow United Methodist Church LGBTQA and LGBTQA-allied Siblings

Psalm 44:23-26 Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we sink down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.

Isaiah 61:1-3 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

It is with hearts made heavy by the weight of shared hope and justice denied that we the Progressive Christian Alliance join with our faithful siblings in the United Methodist Church in lamenting the harm done to the LGBTQ+ members of the body of Christ, and the body of Christ as a whole. 
Though we know the wounds of the special conference will be long to heal and the road ahead filled with much uncertainty, we wish to encourage those who struggle for justice. The Lord is with you dear friends, the Church incomplete without you. 

We grieve with you and pray for the presence of the comforter within these trying times. We pray that you will hear clearly the voice of the spirit as she calls to you as a church and as individuals. 

So beautiful are those who proclaim the gospel, who share with love the Imago Dei that our creator has gifted, who spread wide the table of our Lord. We celebrate each of you who has gifted your church with that amazing and bountiful presence, and we pray for your continued ministry. Queerness is a gift that God has given, and we affirm and extol the virtue of those who share their whole self in vulnerability and delight. We see you, we honor you, and we wish to serve you as you prepare for walking in faith on whatever path our God is calling you into.

And so, on this Ash Wednesday as we enter into the Lenten Season of discernment and divine mystery we open wide our doors to you who are traveling and ask that you come and rest with us a while.

The Progressive Christian Alliance is now offering a period of open dual-ordination and open ordination to any Queer Clergy or Clergy facing discipline for supporting their brothers, sisters, and siblings within the United Methodist Church. As you discern the path of your continued ministry, whether that is remaining with the UMC, seeking ordination in another denomination, entering another line of work or any other path during this time, we would like to remove any worry over loss of credentials and the uncertainty that brings. We know there are queer clergy who are chaplains, directors of ministries, and in other positions where credentials are a necessity and we want to remove any difficulty this situation may cause so that you are free to follow the lead of the spirit wherever she takes you.

We want to be clear that this is a unique ordination path to be used as tool while discerning next steps or while seeking ordination elsewhere, if you seek sole ordination within the Progressive Christian Alliance you may do so while serving on this ordination track. We would be honored for you to be a part of our PCA family, but want that to be a choice made out of shared love and values and not fear or desperation.

This is also a free program, there will be no fees assessed during the tenure of your ordination, nor for the application process of this ordination track.

If you wish to apply please Email the Progressive Christian Alliance Leadership Council Co-Chair Rev. Alaina Cobb to begin the process. 
CoChair@ProgressiveChristianAlliance.org

We mourn with you on this day set aside to remember our own mortality. As we remember that we are ash, we remember that our institutions are ash, that our hurts are ash, that our fears are ash, and that our Lord makes beautiful things from Ash.

Thank you for your beautiful witness, and may Godde bless and keep your ministry as they lead you into a new season. Amen.

-The Leadership Council of the Progressive Christian Alliance

The Leadership Council wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a joyous Holiday Season!

May the hope and love of Jesus give us renewed strength and guidance in 2019!

Many blessings to you all!

PCA Leadership Council Voting Results

Hello Friends!

I’m pleased to announce that the following members have been elected to serve in the following positions for the 2019-2021 term to start on January 1, 2019:

Co-chair: Alaina Cobb

Secretary: Jenny Howard

Member-at-Large: Rob Ponsford

The numerical totals are below:

Thank you to all of the candidates for stepping up, and I look forward to working with Alaina, Jenny, and Rob for the remainder of my term!

Blessings,

Rev. Gina Pond

Leadership Chair

Reminder: Voting Open for Co-chair, Secretary, and Member-at-Large Leadership Council Positions!

Hi Friends!

This a reminder that voting will be open until Midnight Pacific time November 15, 2018! Click here to read the information on the nominees and to vote: http://progressivechristianalliance.org/please-vote-voting-now-open-for-co-chair-secretary-and-member-at-large/

Please Vote! Voting now open for Co-chair, Secretary, and Member-at-Large!

Update: Voting is now closed!

 

Hello Friends!

From now and until midnight US Pacific Time on November 15, 2018, the ballot for electing the new Co-chair, Secretary, and Member-at-Large for the 2019-2021 term will be open.

The following are statements from each of the nominees about their qualifications. Please read through them, then use the form at the end of this blog post to cast your vote. This form requires a valid email address in order to vote. We only ask for your email address in order to ensure that only one vote per person is cast. Your email addresses will not be used for any other purpose, and will be discarded after the election.

The winners will be announced on November 16, 2018, and the new board members will be required to attend the December 2, 2018 Leadership Council meeting. (Winners will receive an email from me prior to the public announcement of the winners.) Their term of office will officially begin on January 1, 2019. 

We thank all the nominees for volunteering, and we are grateful for everyone’s participation in this process!

Good luck to all of our nominees!

Rev. Gina Pond

Leadership Council Chair

 

Nominees for Co-Chair:

 

Alaina Cobb

“I am running for this office because I believe in the work of the Progressive Christian Alliance and the need for its continued success, growth, and visibility. I was ordained in the PCA for two reasons: the first reason is that as a transgender woman called to ministry I decided to only work toward ordination in a tradition that fully celebrates the image of God that I bear, and the second reason of equal importance was that I found the freedom to explore the diversity of belief intrinsic to our identity as the PCA utterly beautiful and nourishing. I wish to see that freedom explored by more of our brothers, sisters, and siblings in Christ.

As for my qualifications, I am currently the pastor of Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center in Chattanooga TN an active and expanding ministry, a Tri-Chair for the TN Poor People’s Campaign,  the founder of the Trans Crisis Ministry Network and a Mom.”

 

Helen Drivick

“A few years ago, I was looking for a tribe. My tribe. A group of Christians who were inclusive, questioning, full of doubt and secure in the knowledge that none of this was “bad.” On the contrary, that doubt, questioning and inclusivity are the hallmarks of a holy journey.

As I searched the internet, I found PCA and joined with the intent of becoming a chaplain. During this time, I met Beth Abbott (who encouraged me to apply for co-chair) and began to explore what the PCA had to offer. It was also during this time that I began to pursue a long delayed undergraduate degree, as a first step in working toward an M. Div. and eventual hospice chaplaincy. I didn’t want to apply for ordination until I had at least completed my undergrad degree (Dec. ’17) and was unsure how I could be involved with PCA until that goal was achieved. It was also during this time that my family and I moved from northern New Jersey to Virginia for financial reasons. Having somewhat established myself and my family in our new surroundings, and having completed my undergraduate degree, I feel that I am in a position to direct some of my energy to the PCA administration to help support the group which has supported my journey through these last few years. I also have a selfish agenda. I would like to know more about the organization and its leadership before I fully commit to the ordination process. What better way than to become part of the administration.

I respectfully submit my application for co-chair. I freely offer my time, talents and treasures. I hope to engage in meaningful dialogue to support the PCA as it is, and vision with others to establish ways that it can be.”

 

Nominee for Secretary:

Jenny Howard

“First, I’m qualified because I’ve been doing the job for several months as Acting Secretary. I’m running because I believe in the Progressive Christian Alliance. We are doing good work, and good works, in the world. In my time as Secretary, I’ve learned that there’s more to keeping this work going than is always publicly visible, and for that we need a committed volunteer Leadership Council. As a 7-year member of the PCA, I’ve seen the challenges of maintaining continuity of leadership with turnover on the Council. As Secretary, I’ll be making a positive contribution by maintaining accurate, well-organized records that can be referred to not just in the present, but through the coming years, as leadership passes to other members.”

 

Nominees for Member-at-Large:

Rob Ponsford

“I am running due to my commitment to the work of the PCA, including in my own church and in my own pursuit of calling to ordained ministry (also within the PCA). I am also a current an active member on the PCA Facebook group, as well as being familiar with the online world, being a fromer IT tutor. In regards to practical faith experience I am also a member of my own Church’s PCC (Church Council) A regional Ambassador for the organisation Inclusive Church, and currently privately study through many free programs for Christian education including the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Christian Leaders Institute, Church of England’s online Safeguarding courses.”

 

William V. Johnson

“I’m sure it seems a bit forward to nominate myself for a position, but my motives are in the spirit of volunteerism.  We all have to help with the work of the PCA if we want it to thrive. I believe in the goals of the PCA. I want to help in our progress as best I can, using whatever I might bring to our collective table of faith and ministry. Growing membership and being instrumental in increasing communication to and from leadership and membership.  In my daily work life, I am a police trainer (primarily in firearms and the use of force) and communication is vital to what I do. I hope to bring that skill to this particular role in PCA leadership.”

 

Nominations for Co-Chair, Secretary, and Member-at-Large are now open!

NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED!

Hello Friends!

It’s board election time again! This year we are holding elections for Co-chair, Secretary, and Member-at-Large to serve a 3 year term (2019-2021).

For all positions: It is important that all nominees are able to work within the Google ecosystem, particularly Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Drive. The majority of our work is done through these systems since we are an international organization with members all over the world (e.g.: the Leadership Chair lives in Switzerland!). Familiarity with WordPress is also helpful for all positions, and is really desired for the Secretary position (or a strong commitment to learn these systems) so that the Secretary can post minutes and other documents to the website. All nominees will be required to fill out a Membership Form if they haven’t done so in the last year, which will be sent to them by the current Co-chair, Beth Abbott when they send in their nomination.

All potential nominees are reminded that this is a 3 year commitment. Communication is critical in the work that we do! Only 3 unexcused absences from Board meetings are allowed according to our Constitution and Canons. Planned absences can be arranged with the Leadership Chair, but must be communicated in advance. Please consider carefully your ability to maintain your commitment if you do get elected to the Leadership Council. There is a lot of work to be done, and we need committed volunteers! 

Please review the positions below, and if you are interested in running for office, fill out the nomination form below or email your responses to cochair@progressivechristianalliance.org.

Co-Chair Responsibilities:
  1. Performs the Chair’s responsibilities when the Chair cannot be available
  2. Reports to and works closely with the Chair and other LC members.
  3. Performs other responsibilities assigned by the Council.
  4. Responsible for the oversight of the financial aspects of the Progressive Christian Alliance along with the Chair.
  5. Oversees endorsement for specialized ministry.
  6. Serves a three (3) year term and may not self-succeed into the same position.
Secretary Responsibilities:
  1. Maintains records of the council and ensures effective management of the organization’s records.
  2. Creates and manages minutes of council meetings.
  3. Ensures minutes are distributed to members of the Progressive Christian Alliance and the Leadership Council within five (5) business days of the Leadership Council Meeting or Convocation Meeting.
  4. Is able to research and obtain legal documents (articles, by-laws, IRS letters, etc.) to note applicability during meetings.
  5. Serves a three (3) year term and may not self-succeed into same position. Cannot concurrently chair another committee. In the event the Secretary is unable to fulfill their duties for a period of time, they will notify the Chair as soon as possible so a replacement can be identified.

**In addition to the above, the Secretary should have a strong familiarity with Google Docs, Google Drive, and WordPress, or a strong commitment to learning these systems. Extra special bonus if the nominee has experience with Google Forms!

Member-at-Large Responsibilities:
  1. Acts as a liaison between the council and the membership of PCA as a whole.
  2. Stays in regular connection and communication with the membership of PCA.
  3. Fills in for other leadership council roles in the case of vacancies.
  4. Serves a three year term and may not self-succeed into same position. Cannot concurrently chair another committee.

**In addition to the above, the Member-at-Large will also be the main contact for the Facebook Admins for our online groups, and so should be familiar with how Facebook groups work, preferably know how to be an Admin, or have a strong commitment to learn.

Nominations are open from now until Midnight US Pacific Time on October 31. Voting will begin on November 1 for two weeks.

Any nominations sent on any other platform other than this form, or in an email to the Co-Chair, WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Comments will be closed for this post. If you have any questions about the process, please use our contact form.

Winners of the election will be announced on November 16th, and the newly elected officers will be required to attend the December Leadership Council meeting on December 2, 2018 at 5 PM Eastern/ 4 PM Central/ 2 PM Pacific/ 11 PM Central European Time.

Thank you in advance for volunteering your time to the Progressive Christian Alliance, and I look forward to working with you!

Rev. Gina Pond

Leadership Chair

Following the Wild Goose

“How do you like being on the Leadership Council of an international faith community?” This question, posed by a fellow PCA ordinand, now UCC pastor, made me chuckle. “It feels like some kind of huge cosmic joke,” I replied. Here I am, a 64-year-old Nana, highly introverted, pretty much invisible woman and yet somehow that pesky Wild Goose (Celtic image for the Holy Spirit) has led me to this place. And now I was with over 4,000 people at a campground in the mountains outside of Asheville, NC celebrating how rich life can be when we let go of our plans and allow oneself to live into possibility.

For much of my life, I was a good evangelical. Daughter of a UMC Elder, I always felt most at home when in a church. I followed all of the rules. I believed the creeds. I trusted the denomination to teach me all I needed to know about God. And then, at age 50, a brochure for a Masters in Holistic Spirituality crossed the desk where I was Health Ministries Coordinator for a major local hospital. Shortly after, I had a dream. In it, God asked, “Do you want to go along for the Wild Ride?” And with some fear but also excitement, I said “YES!”

The next 5 years were eye opening for me. I was the student who declared, “If calling God
“Father” was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me. (God bless Sister Cathy, she didn’t argue which I now know took a huge amount of restraint on her part.) Over time I read about so many ways that people understand the Jesus message, that I felt real anger at the UMC. When I tried to discuss this with my father he said, “That isn’t anything new.” That upset me even more. I am an intelligent person. Why should the denomination choose for me what I should or shouldn’t believe? And so, I listened to the Still, Small Voice, urging me to let go and fly.

There were times when I felt totally adrift. Whenever I tried to talk to other Christians about my questions, I was quickly shut down. No one ever said it out loud, but I’m pretty sure they branded me a heretic. One person even corrected me about what the “minimal standard” is for calling oneself a Christian. And his definition wasn’t “love one another.” It was a set of beliefs that no longer held validity in my own understanding. Thankfully, I had a spiritual director who was there to listen to me and support me. In her office I didn’t feel like I was crazy. She made me understand that this was a moment of transformation for me. I wasn’t a failure as a Christian, I was growing! The Wild Goose had taken flight and I was truly along for the Wild Ride.

Jump ahead to this summer and the Wild Goose Festival. Here I was, surrounded by other “misfits.” We were messy in our spirituality and not afraid to say it because we knew that the others sitting with us were living a similar path. We don’t pretend to have answers any more. Instead, we are learning to be comfortable living with our questions. Always seeking. Always expanding. What a place of freedom!

My favorite T-shirt last year was worn by a ginger haired, teenage boy with a captivating smile. It read, “This is the gay the LORD has made.” This year’s shirt winner was “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” But a new question was on the horizon. What exactly does it mean to be a Progressive Christian? For some, it means being LGBTQ+ affirming. And that’s a good start. But being progressive, for many of us, means much more than that. It means being open and supportive of how the Greater is at work in each of us. No exceptions. And that is hard. At Wild Goose Festival, I’ve been with Shamanic Christians, Wiccan Christians, Presbyterians, Quakers, United Methodists, UCC folk, ELCA folk, Episcopalians, Humanists, Atheists, and even Baptists. And none of us tried to convince the other that they were wrong. We gathered around tables and in workshops and were authentic. And it was like a glimpse of heaven on earth. The Psalmist said it best, “How good it is when people can live in harmony.”

It has been my privilege to serve on the Leadership Council of the Progressive Christian Alliance. Our open FaceBook page has well over 6,000 members. We offer a place where folks on the margin, folks expanding the margins, and folks who feel invisible can be authentic. Can ask questions and know they will be heard. A place like Wild Goose Festival where we can define for ourselves what it means to be a Progressive Christian and no one will shame us. For we’re all on a journey of Spirit. And who knows where that Wild Goose will take us next?