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!
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!
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!
Rev. Gina Pond
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/
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
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
**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!
**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.
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
“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?
We, the Progressive Christian Alliance, are appalled by the systemic, amoral, and unethical treatment of immigrants by the current administration. What started with a ban on Muslim immigrants coming in from specific countries has now become full-out incarceration and abuse of People of Color from other countries who came to seek asylum. We are disgusted and appalled that children, babies, and toddlers are not only being abused, but are being ripped from their families and forced to face the grown-up legal system alone and entirely without representation.
We absolutely condemn these actions by this administration. These actions do not in any way fix the so-called problems that the administration claims to be caused by immigrants. They are inhumane and go against the teachings of Jesus and scripture.
In Matthew 25:37-40, Jesus tells us:
“‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
and Jesus also tells us that the greatest commandment is (Luke 10:27):
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
For those of us in the Progressive Christian Alliance, there are no exceptions to these rules. We love our Muslim neighbor, our LGBTQIA+ neighbor, our neighbors from Latin America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and any other place and religion on this planet. Radical inclusion dictates that there should be a place for EVERYONE at the table. This doesn’t mean that those who do harm aren’t accountable for their actions, but it does mean that even if someone has committed a crime, they are still treated as a human being.
The Progressive Christian Alliance, its clergy and laity, stand in opposition to these inhumane, racist, and exclusionary policies and will fight against them wherever and however we can.
We also call on all Christians, progressive and otherwise, to reflect on the history and role of Christianity in general, and extremist Christianity in particular, in bringing us to this point. We must work, in all our denominations, churches, and groups to root out racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and all other extremism. While we, individually, may not have had a hand in creating the policies created by those who have perverted Christianity’s ethos to their own ends, we each have a responsibility to own up to Christianity’s dark history and be a part of cleaning up our own house. Until we accept that Christianity has been used for evil throughout its history, own up to it, and atone collectively for it, we will never be able to change the future.
We ask, in Jesus’s name, and in the name of the One who is called Goddess, Godde, God, and many other names, that all of God’s people will return to compassion, to love, and to bringing justice and care to those who are in need. That we will do the reflection necessary as individuals, groups, and organizations in order to bring about the radical inclusion and hospitality that Jesus taught us to create and emulate.
Amen and May It Be So,
Rev. Gina Pond
As you all know, we’ve been looking for an Interim Secretary and Member-at-Large to round out the Leadership Council I’m very pleased to announce that we have filled our interim positions on the Leadership Council!
Rev. Jenny Howard is now our Interim Secretary and Rev. Nate Sprott is our Interim Member-at-Large.
Thank you Jenny and Nate for agreeing to take on these positions and I, and the rest of the Leadership Council, look forward to working with you!
Thank you for joining the team!
Rev. Gina Pond
One of the questions I’ve heard from many considering whether to serve on the Leadership Council (LC) of the Progressive Christian Alliance is, “What do you do?” I believe that each LC has its own “flavor” and so the duties of the Co-Chair look different depending on the goals that have been set by our members and the gifts we each bring to the table. Here is a quick look at what these (almost) three years have held for me.
It might be prudent to mention how I got on the LC in the first place. At the last election, when we were asking folks to nominate someone for Chair, I sat quietly and reflected. Lawton Higgs, Sr kept coming to mind. Lawton demonstrates a deep passion for justice and also has wonderful organizational skills. I contacted him, asking if he would be willing for me to submit his name. Somehow in the conversation I got nominated as his Co-Chair. And what a gift it has been to have him (and now Gina) as our Chair!
The goals we set for our LC’s time of service were: to create a structure so that future LC’s and members would have clear documents to support PCA as it continues to evolve with Spirit; to increase ways for folks with our vision to connect with us; to obtain 501c3 status so that we are recognized as a legitimate religious organization and to seek accreditation from BCCi (Board of Chaplaincy, Inc.) so that our chaplains could be certified as PCA clergy. We’ve accomplished all this and more!
The first year, Lawton attended the Wild Goose Festival outside of Asheville, NC. This is a wonderful opportunity for PCA to be more visible and to reach other progressive Christians. As his health became less certain, it was my joy to attend in 2017 and I will return in 2018. We have several persons affiliated with PCA who are offering workshops and I hope that if you attend you’ll look for this sign by my little RV and say “HI!” Perhaps we could share a meal together.
During that first year, Fred-Allen Self (secretary) and I worked diligently to update the Constitution and Cannons of PCA, making the wording clearer to understand. That document was brought to our members for a vote and it passed. Simultaneously, JT Ramelis (treasurer) was getting us incorporated and filling out endless documentation needed for the 501c3 application. Through his efforts we now are officially a not for profit entity.
We brought Lyle Devine and Marie Ba’tel on as Co-Chairs of our Ordination Committee and worked together to get a system in place for those seeking to become PCA clergy. We now have a quarterly discernment of those who submit applications. Some are ordained. Some are connected to mentors when they are not quite ready. Additionally, Marie is the first responder for folks who want more information about PCA and our ordination process while Lyle makes sure that those in process meet our standards. This has freed up our LC to focus on other duties.
In 2017 I submitted the paperwork necessary for PCA to be recognized as a Faith Community by BCCi, the major professional organization for chaplaincy certification. We’d been told this was a lengthy process and could take over a year. One day, I got an email from the reviewers asking why we had submitted the application since we didn’t have a PCA clergy person seeking certification at that time. My response was that many of our clergy have been members of mainline denominations but were not offered ordination because they were from the LGBTQi community or their theology was too broad. Chaplaincy has been a way for them to fulfill their calls and they do this well. These people, I told them, had suffered enough. It was our goal to make sure that those qualified to seek certification have a clear path. I worried how that might be received by the Board. Much to my delight, they not only affirmed us but applauded our foresight in applying ahead of the need. Today, our first PCA clergy person is seeking endorsement. I am so proud!
Our vision of that “mustard seed of grace” growing has been overwhelming during our tenure. Our founders surely were Spirit led when they birthed The Progressive Christian Alliance. It is now necessary for us to set up a tracking system to improve our connection with one another, and we need better ways of creating community. With that in mind, we are implementing Wild Apricot (hopefully in July) which will enable us to keep records of our members, affiliate congregations, and clergy. Too often, people approach us seeking a community where they can feel welcome but we don’t have a current list of members or congregations to offer them. And we want to be sure that our clergy are up to date on security checks and upholding our clergy promise. We hope to have PCA clergy write more blogs for the website, sharing how their ministries are impacting a world that needs our words of a loving Godde. We also hope to find a way to hold a convocation once we know where our members reside. The first one may have to be an online event, but it is still one of our priorities.
It amazes me, looking at this blog, that we’ve come so far in so short a time. Lawton, JT and Fred-Allen had to resign so we now have a system where elections are at intervals so that all of the LC doesn’t change over at the same time. This should smooth transitions in the future. What a joy it has been to serve the PCA family. We have our squabbles as all families do, but when I get to welcome a new person to our community it is truly a moment of Godde’s grace for me. Our Constitution & Cannons mandate that a term in any position on the LC is 3 years. (One can serve in another position for an additional 3 years.) Recently, I was with one of the founders and he said, “Every 7 years leaders should step back. That enables new ideas to rise up. For the organization to flourish it must be constantly asking, ‘Who are we? Why do we exist? What needs are we not meeting yet?’” Wisdom. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I have grown in my skills and in my ministry as a result of serving on the Leadership Council of the Progressive Christian Alliance. I am also humbled by this opportunity you’ve entrusted to our care.
Rev. Beth Abbott
Co-chair, Leadership Council
Do you remember hearing or knowing that The Progressive Christian Alliance was a part of your spiritual family? Those words still hold great meaning for me. Before PCA, I felt adrift. Like I was alone in a world of conservative Christians who were simply on a very different page when it comes to following Christ. And I had to be invisible or I was judged “not Christian.” Here I found like-minded rebels. Freedom!
PCA is a very different organization for a lot of reasons. We are not a top down organization, our members set our goals and then entrust the Leadership Council to fulfill them. And having served on the LC now for almost 3 years, it is an honor to be given that trust. And it has been a joy to work alongside others called to be on the LC and make those goals manifest. It is our passion to bring those ideals into existence. And we are growing so quickly, that it amazes us how short we’ve even been an organization. Our founders were truly Spirit led.
And now, we come to a crossroads once again. Due to health limitations, we’ve had three resignations from the LC over the past year. And the next election is on the horizon. We are trusting the Godde is calling those who are prepared to take the next step on the journey as leaders of PCA, but without your answering that call, PCA cannot survive. When an organization is run by people who are paid, it is easy to fill positions, but to maintain its integrity, our Constitution and Canons require all leadership positions be volunteer.
Right now, we need interim members (until January) for the Secretary and Member at Large. And at the next election, we will vote for those two positions and Co-Chair for a 3 year term. PCA NEEDS YOU if we are to continue to spread the good news and welcome others home. One doesn’t have to be ordained to serve, lay persons who wish to serve are also welcome to do so! Please listen for Godde’s leading. And if you know of someone you feel should be on the leadership council, talk to them. Encourage them. With Spirit leading, we will take the next step into the future. We are now placing our trust in you.
Rev. Beth Beyer Abbott, Co-Chair
PS: If you are interested in volunteering, please let one of the LC members know, or email us at email@example.com.