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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!

What Does It Mean to Be a Progressive Christian? – by Dr. Lou Kavar.

What Does It Mean to Be a Progressive Christian?

I sat with a small group of colleagues one Saturday to engage in the discussion.  We describe ourselves as “Progressive Christians,” but we wondered:  what does that really mean?  As expected, there were a wide range of opinions and insights.

It helps to know that all the members of the group have been engaged in ministry for a couple of decades each.  The group is diverse:  African-American, Korean, Japanese descent, and Caucasian women and men.  We each have very different theological education but we all agree that the traditional theological categories make little sense today.  The traditional categories we learned represent social contexts and understandings about life that are no longer held today.

For example, the foundation of much of Christian theology was articulated when people believed that Earth was the center of the universe and that humanity was the height of God’s creation.  Today we know that Earth is a minor planet in the far reaches of the universe and circles an ordinary star.  In addition, we understand that the ages of humans as the dominant creature characterizes this geological era, but there have been other era and other dominant creatures. Also, homo sapiens are only one species of humans in the genus of human beings.  In other words, the understanding of the human context in the universe has changed.  As Progressive Christians, we recognize that our understanding of God must also change.

As a group, it was easy for us to affirm that Christianity is but one wisdom and faith tradition that holds truth for human living.  It’s the tradition of which we are part, but that doesn’t make it better or worse that other paths, like Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or Islam.

We also agreed that the essential importance of Christianity is found in the teachings of Jesus as a moral and ethical guide to living.  Throughout the teachings of Jesus, major themes are quite clear:  carrying for others, giving of self, and treating those marginalized in society with deep respect are hallmarks for what it means to be Christian.

As I thought more about this, it struck me how essentially different Progressive Christian is from the very popular American Evangelical Christian understanding of Christianity.  Among American Evangelicals, salvation in the after-life is more important than anything else.  Salvation is achieved by asking Jesus to come into one’s life and heart.  The funny thing about this Evangelical concept of salvation is that it’s not something that can be found in the teachings of Jesus.  Instead, the teachings of Jesus were real life and practical.  It’s pretty clear in the Gospel attributed to John, where Jesus is recorded as saying, “By this will others know that you are my followers:  by your love for one another.”  Even in the Gospel attributed to Matthew, the final judgment at the end of time is based on what people did for others.

I think that the faulty foundation of American Evangelical Christianity has resulted in Evangelical Christians holding positions that appear to be askew from the Biblical tradition and life in the twenty-first century.  American Evangelicals believe that Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world and so that individuals can go to heaven. If that’s true, then essentially everything that happened between his birth in Bethlehem and the cross of Calvary has not merit.    Instead, as is the practice of Evangelicals, a person can simply ask Jesus to save you and it’s all good.  There’s no need to do the difficult work of putting oneself in second place and put those in need ahead of my interests.  If a person isn’t bound to follow the mandate of Jesus to care for our neighbors as exemplified in the story of the Good Samaritan, then there’s no need to root our prejudice from one’s own life.

For me, as a Progressive Christian, what’s fundamental for being a Christian is striving to embody the way of life Jesus taught.  It’s not about pie-in-the-sky-when-we-die.  Instead, it’s the realization that God’s realm is here and now. As a Christian, it’s critical for me to live in a way that’s rooted in the care of others, our planet, and those who will come after me.  After all, that’s the way of living taught by Jesus.  In the end, my colleagues came to the same conclusion.  It’s that which makes us Progressive Christians.

What’s most important in Christianity?  Going to heaven or treating people well on Earth.

(Photo credit: the Italian voice via Foter.com / CC BY)

© 2017, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

Reminder: 501(c)3 Fundraiser and Constitution Change

Hi Friends!

We are so close to our goal of raising $400 to file for our official 501(c)3 status. If you would like to donate and haven’t yet, please click here.

We also have an amendment proposal for our constitution that is required to be in our constitution by the IRS for 501(c)3 status. If you haven’t read about it or voted, please click here.

Thank you so much for your support! The Leadership Council is very excited about this very important stage in our organization’s development, and once we’ve filed, we hope we can serve our community even better!

Many Blessings,
Rev. Gina
Councillor-at-Large

Progressive Christian Alliance LC Meeting Minutes 5.20.16

 

In attendance: Lawton Higgs Sr. (Chair), Gina Pond (Member at Large), J.T. Ramelis (Treasurer), Beth Beyer Abbott (Co-Chair and Recording Secretary for this meeting).

Excused: Fred-Allen Self (Secretary)

Reflection by Lawton speaking to the awesome privilege of being called by God in a variety ways, yet connected to one another through PCA.  He continued with a reading from Exodus, the story of Moses and the burning bush.  “The place where you are standing is Holy ground.”  He also reflected on how God meets humankind in so many ways, including nature.

Minutes approved

Agenda approved

Introduction  Lawton spoke of his study of the Constitution and Canons of PCA and our commitment as a LC to upholding those.  Copies have been sent by email to all LC members for our review as we consider PCA business.

501c3  JT reported previously submitted incorporation papers are unable to be accessed.  Incorporation is necessary to apply for 501c3 status. As a result, we are incorporating in Michigan as Progressive Christian Alliance.

We are incorporating as a directorship with the LC as the Directors, but this does not change our polity.  Our members will continue to vote for any changes to the Constitution and Canons.  The LC will be the legal representatives of PCA as a corporation.  When the LC changes, they will, in turn, become the directors.  JT plans to send the incorporation papers in next week and will send the final copy to the LC members by email for review prior to submitting to Michigan.  He has graciously offered to cover the cost of the application.  There was a question about whether this needs to be voted on by the members.  Lawton confirmed that this is not a change in polity, it is simply providing structure for the future of PCA under the current Constitution and Canons.  JT is wording answers on this form so it is congruent to the requirements of the 501c3 application to facilitate the next step in this process.

There was much discussion about what applying for 501c3 status means for our members.   This incorporation and eventual filing for 501c3 status will make us legally recognizable and credible as a denomination as we move forward, which is a key in getting approval for our chaplains to be recognized as clergy by accrediting bodies.  It will not make PCA responsible for financial or other actions taken by local ministries.  It will not change polity or require an amendment to the Constitution and Canons.

We thanked JT for his hard work in moving this forward.  It is our understanding  that once this is approved, we can begin functioning as a 501c3, even before the 501c3 paperwork is submitted.  JT will have a final word on this shortly after the paperwork is filed.

Financial Infrastructure and Financial Planning Policies will need to be created.  Lawton asked JT to begin putting these together before we gather a finance committee. Those policies will need to be voted on by our members as they will be an addition to the Constitution and Canons.

Monies will need to be raised for the 501c3 submission which will cost approximately $850.  We can begin raising funds, even before becoming a tax exempt institution.  Gina suggested we consider a Go Fund Me and invite folks on the open page to help us in this process.  With small donations, we can likely make this goal.

Wild Goose Festival  The response to our letter to the organizers of Wild Goose about LGBTQ inclusion and policies for the event was swift and more than we had hoped for.  The Festival organizers shared that Gina’s suggestions from other similar events helped to facilitate their revisions.  They have offered us space for a tent and Lawton and Kevin Higgs plan to attend with brochures and to be a face for PCA.  Lawton also hopes to have some kind of meet-up with others who are on our Facebook pages.  Gina is unable to attend.  Beth is going to contact friends to see if anyone is available to travel with her to the event.  JT is planning to attend.

RSL  Business  Gina spoke with Debra Newcomb and she is unable be John Contabile’s replacement for West Coast RSL.  Lee Whitaker was suggested.  At one time, John asked about having an assistant and it was suggested we contact him to see if that was ever initiated and if so whether that person would be willing to be the West Coast RSL.  Beth reviewed and will email the names of those on the West Coast who have been ordained so that Lawton can look into whether any would be a good fit.  Gina had other names from previous contact with John Contabile.

We have a person who contacted us from Africa about ordination.  We’ve been considering who might be the mentor for him.  Beth suggested we ask the RSL’s if there is anyone who wants to be in that relationship with him.  Lawton will contact the RSL’s about this.  In the meantime, Gina has replied and apologized for our delay as we seek the right person for his needs.

 

A church in FL recently contacted us about connecting with PCA and there was no follow up from the RSL for the region causing them to withdraw.  We are cognizant of the challenges of volunteers and some discussion took place about the demands of the position and how to prevent things like this from happening in the future.  The RSL did say that contact would be made, but if that has happened, we are not aware.  This does not represent who we want to be as an organization.

Statement of Inclusion  Gina would like body size added to our statement of inclusion.  Lawton asked her to put together a copy and we will take it to the membership for a vote.

Next Meeting:  Friday, June 24 at 6:00 CST

Respectfully submitted, Beth Beyer Abbott

Approved by LC 6.24.16

Dear Friends,

Our Progressive Christian Faith was born of the Spirit in the face of the tyranny of hate and violence in our culture. This continued tyranny expressed at Mother Emmanuel in Charlestown and Pulse 1 in Orlando and in many other venues is our ongoing call to strive for the grace of the Mind of Christ and to exercise our gifts accordingly.

Let us preach love and restorative justice to the limit of the faith that has given to us; let us give loving serving attendance to the oppressed among us, the LBGTQ community, the immigrant, people of color, those in prison, the poor and religious minorities.
Let us cheer one another on, inspire each other, pep one another up in the work of social justice and radical inclusion.
May we be conscientious in paying attention to the task given to us as The Progressive Christian Alliance; giving the degree of care required in the current situation with a preserving determination to the performance of compassion for all God’s creation.
Grace & Peace,
R. Lawton  Higgs
Leadership Council Chair

Minutes for Leadership Council Meetings

Hello!

The current Leadership Council has met a few times since being elected. We apologize for not updating on minutes, due to transfer of the website to a new server, changes in administration, and technical issues we have been unable to post them.

From this point forward we will be posting meeting minutes shortly after the meetings so everyone will know about the great things that are happening in the Progressive Christian Alliance!

Peace,

Rev. Fred-Allen Self

A Call to Action

In Memoriam: Rev. Katharine Royal

It is with great sadness that we have learned that Rev. Katharine Royal, PCA pastor and member of the Leadership Council, has passed away suddenly. Our prayers and sympathies are with Rev. Micah Royal and their family during this time.

May God bless you and hold you. What is remembered lives.

candlesingle

Update from the Leadership Council:

The Leadership Council is saddened by the report of the unexpected death our Co-Chair Katharine Royal. Her spouse reports that Kat spent the day before participating in the ministry she loved so well. She was immersed in joy and died peacefully in her sleep. Please, keep Micah Royal and her Progressive Christian Alliance family in your thoughts and prayers.

Rev. Ann Joyce

Leadership Council Chair