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Updates from the Chair July 2020

Hello friends! 

This month Leadership Council is happy to announce that the following candidates have been approved for ordination: 

  • Jamin Hubner
  • Alanna Ireland
  • Mary Putera
  • Ann Snowberger
  • Elisha VerGowe

Congratulations and welcome to the Progressive Christian Alliance family!

Our Ordination Committee Chair, Rev. Marie Bat’el, is resigning from that position and is moving on to other projects. In her time as Chair, she has done incredible work in improving the ordination process, organizing clergy information, and updating our clergy documentation. Thank you so much for your service Marie, and we wish you all the best!

That being said, this also means that we are looking for a  new Ordination Committee Chair. The chair MUST be able to work with Google Suite (Docs, Drive, Forms, etc) or be motivated to learn it well. Marie has graciously offered to stay on to train the next Chair in our current system. 

We also have need of at least 2 WordPress Webmasters to work with me in implementing member services on our website. I’ve been personally maintaining the website for several years now, but the work that needs to be done is out of my experience. The webmasters MUST have extensive experience with WordPress. Experience in ecommerce and/or creating membership areas would be especially helpful. 

If you feel called to serve, and are interested in donating your time in these positions, please contact the Leadership Council

As a reminder, elections for Leadership Chair and Treasurer are coming up in November. Now is a good time to discern if you feel called to serve in either of these positions. If you do feel so called, we will be taking nominations in October for these two positions. You DO NOT have to be ordained to hold any position on the Leadership Council. (We also highly recommend that if you are interested in these positions that you are comfortable with Google Suite, as all of our communications and documentation are conducted through this platform.)

In order to facilitate updating of our clergy records, we are now offering an address to send photocopies of your records if you’re unable to scan them or transmit them electronically. Please send it to:

Rev. Jenny Howard – Secretary
Progressive Christian Alliance
786 Twin Oaks Dr Apt 2
Decatur, GA 30030

I hope that all of you are staying safe and well during this time. I know it’s hard for everyone right now to maintain faith and hope. May we find hope and joy where we can, and stand up for justice in all the ways that we are able!

In the name of Jesus and God’s many names, 

Rev. Gina Pond

Progressive Christian Alliance Statement: #blacklivesmatter and #translivesmatter

Since the Trump administration came into power in January 2017, the United States has become more hostile to those who are othered in our society. They have consistently spouted racist and transphobic propaganda, and have encouraged their supporters to openly harass anyone that doesn’t fit their standards. 

The murder of George Floyd has been a tipping point. The United States government has failed black people since before it even became a country. The Civil Rights era brought some change, but black and brown people are still treated as slaves with discrimination, low wage jobs, and being sent to prison for crimes that most white people get a slap on the wrist for. The great melting pot experiment that was the United States has, over and over again, failed to address the needs of black people, indiginous people, and other people of color. 

The government has also failed transgender people. This administration, and the Republican party, have continuously passed legislation and executive orders that egregiously erode the rights for transgender persons. It is especially heinous to us that religion is used as an excuse to deny medical care, housing, or any number of essential needs. 

The United States government has failed its people, using hate, fear, and religion as weapons. 

In the Progressive Christian Alliance, we take the teachings of Jesus seriously. It is our mission to try to follow, to the utmost of our abilities, the two commandments that, in scripture, Jesus deemed most important:

“This is the foremost: […] You must love the Most High God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31, The Inclusive Bible)

While individual’s beliefs in our organization may differ in fulfilling the first of these important commandments, fulfilling the second commandment is the foundation of the Progressive Christian alliance. As we say in our welcome statement:

We are a diverse fellowship inviting others to share in our common spiritual journey while walking our unique and sacred pathways. We believe that following Christ’s example means working for social justice and hospitality to all people, especially those who have not found hospitality elsewhere, and a heartfelt, thoughtful approach to being in relationship with God. We are intentionally radically inclusive and welcome all persons of any race, color, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, familial or relational configuration ( e.g. polyamory, non-monogamy, etc.), body size, gender, religion, or any other difference to become a part of this movement.

To put it simply, we understand that when Jesus stated that loving one’s neighbor as oneself is one of the greatest commandments, there were no conditions on that statement. 

So we say, in solidarity and in faith: Black Lives Matter. Transgender lives matter

The Leadership Council, Clergy, and Laity of the Progressive Christian Alliance have, do, and will continue to stand with our black and transgender siblings not only because we should, or that it is the right thing to do, but because our living faith demands we emulate the love of Jesus in all our actions. 

Emulating the love of Jesus demands that we do the work of educating ourselves to the realities of oppression. It is especially important for  those of us who are white do the work of dismantling the white supremacy that we’ve been taught from the cradle. 

Emulating the love of Jesus demands that we do the work of dismantling the systems that seek to oppress black and transgender lives. 

Emulating the love of Jesus means that, however and wherever we can, we speak Truth to power. If it means flipping the tables in the temple, then those who can, will. If it means convincing one person at a time that the Gospel calls us to stand against white supremacy, bigotry, and hate, then those who can, will. If it means feeding protestors, or hiding them from the police, then those who can will. If it means overthrowing empires of oppression, then those who can will.

Whatever you can do to ease the suffering of black and transgender lives is doing the work of Jesus. It is what is demanded of us as Christians. 

The Progressive Christian Alliance will always stand for justice, stand for the oppressed, and stand for the calling of radical inclusivity that is the bedrock of our faith. 

So we say again: Black Lives Matter. Transgender lives matter.

In the name of Jesus and God, in their many names,

Rev. Gina Pond – Leadership Chair

Rev. Alaina Cobb – Leadership Co-chair

Rev. Jenny Howard – Secretary

Helen Drivick – Treasurer

Rev. Rob Ponsford – Member at Large 

Updates from the Chair: May 2020

Hello Friends! 

I hope you are all doing well, staying safe, and practicing your physical distancing and hygiene rules! Here in Switzerland, our house is just starting it’s fourth month of quarantine. It’s not easy, but we’re doing relatively ok. 

The ProgCA is also doing fine and we’re still working on projects that will make things easier for laity and clergy alike in regards to membership and ordination. 

If you are ProgCA Clergy, please don’t forget to sign up for our Clergy Support Email list. Not only will there be ProgCA updates on the list, but it’s also a discussion list for our clergy to support each other and ask for resources and help. Click here if you are already ordained and haven’t joined yet. Those who are seeking ordination will automatically be added to the list after they are approved going forward. This is particularly important at this time, since I know all of us clergy are doing a lot more work, being it online or on the front lines.

Speaking of Ordination, Rev. Marie is looking for clergy who would be interested in joining the Ordination Committee to be mentors to new ordinands. Rev. Marie is also still asking for folks to update their credentials with her. If you are interested in being a mentor, or haven’t updated your credentials yet, please contact Rev. Marie (rev.mbatel@gmail.com) for more information. 

Also, the Clergy Directory is coming back! All clergy will be added to this list once we are able to upload it to the site. The listings will only include the clergy person’s name, state/region, country, and an email address contact link. If any clergy DOES NOT want their name or email listed, please let Rev. Marie or myself know. 

And finally, this is another reminder that elections are coming up in November for Leadership Chair and Treasurer. Now is a good time to start discernment about whether or not you’d like to run for these positions. It is especially useful if candidates have experience with the Google ecosystem, as we use Google for Non-profits. If you have any questions about what is required, please feel free to email me. 

May God and Jesus bless you all and keep you safe during this pandemic. Hopefully wisdom will prevail, and love abound! 

In Spirit’s Name, 

Rev. Gina

Updates from the Chair: Easter Week

Hello friends! 

I hope this Easter Week finds you all well and safe! 

This past Sunday’s Leadership Council meeting was our quarterly review of ordination applications. We are pleased to welcome to the ProgCA family the following:

  • Dr. Philip Ladd 
  • Robin Hannon
  • Ryan Sibray
  • Bryan Demeritte
  • Tiffanie Wilson

Congratulations to our new Pastors! 

Rev. Rob and I did our first Facebook livestream a couple of weeks ago in the ProgCA Discussion Group. We talked about our own paths to the Progressive Christian Alliance and why the ProgCA is such a diverse organization. (I also must admit that we also did what all theologians do when we get together: talk for a long time. 🙂 ) We plan on doing more of these live streams in the coming year. Please feel free to contact us and suggest topics for us to cover in these sessions. If you’d like to watch, click here to view the recording (you must be a member of the group to view). 

As posted previously, we now have a Clergy Support email list. This email list isn’t just for news, it’s also a way for clergy to interact with each other, support each other, and share resources. Especially in times like these, even a priest/pastor/minister needs other priests/pastors/ministers. All newly ordained pastors will be automatically added to the list from now own. All those who wish to, and have been previously ordained by the ProgCA, should click here to be added. If you know other ProgCA clergy who don’t know about it yet, please forward them the link. 

Finally, I hope you are all hanging in there and staying safe right now. I know for me, it’s been rough at times, but I have some hope. I’ve been seeing acts of kindness and compassion amid all the sadness and grief, and it shows that our humanity, and divine selves, are still remembering how to take care of each other. 

On this weekend, where we remember the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, let His lessons of compassion and community be at the forefront of many of our minds. I pray we can remember what He taught now more than ever. 

In the name of His Love and Compassion, may you all stay safe and healthy.

Blessings, 

Rev. Gina

Clergy Support Email List is now live!

This list has been a bit of time coming, but in light of COVID-19 and the demands that will be placed on our clergy for support during this time, it seemed the right time to get this email list up and going.

This list is for ProgCA clergy ONLY, and from now on, those who are newly ordained will be added automatically. For previously ordained clergy, please fill out the form below and you will be added within 24 hours.

This will serve two functions: first, to get news to clergy on a timely basis and second as a way for ProgCA clergy to connect, share resources, and get support from their colleagues, now and in the future. Clergy can feel alone and isolated in their work because they feel they have to be strong for everyone else. Clergy burnout is a real problem and hopefully this mailing list can help mitigate that. There are times where even a minister needs a minister!

Remember, Jesus had community to get through rough times. We don’t have to be alone.

May you and yours be safe and blessed.

Updates from the Chair — March 2020: Ministry During a Pandemic

Hello Friends, 

As I write this, Switzerland has put into place many restrictions of movement to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It means that many people, myself included, are staying and working at home, only going out if it’s absolutely necessary, and doing a lot more communication online. We expect Switzerland to close its borders any day now, especially since Germany already has. 

I am in one of the most highly affected countries in the world, and it has been very difficult to adjust to the way life is right now. A lot of people have needed ministerial support just to process the scale and scope of what’s happening, including myself. We will need our communities most desperately in the days to come and our work will become much harder. 

The restriction of movement will make it difficult for us clergy to do church and ministry in the ways we usually do. It is time we get creative in our work, to think of ways to serve our community that will reduce harm. From a lot of my own observations of how groups all over the world are handling church in this time, I have a few suggestions for ProgCA clergy:

  • Find alternate ways to have services. Many pastors are holding services via online platforms. Most of you don’t have large congregations, but if you do, consider cancelling services for the time being.  If you have a small group that still wishes to meet in person, make sure everyone follows the World Health Organization guidelines of handwashing and space. If you are sick, stay home!
  • Help your elderly community members in either getting them access to your online services, or making sure they can be reached by phone. They will also need help in getting food and medicine if they don’t have other family or friends to help them. Isolation for elders is going to be more of a problem, but even just a call can help elders feel a little more connected. 
  • Find ways to support your hospital chaplains, even if it’s just being someone they can talk to. If you are a hospital chaplain and are still allowed to work, make sure the hospital is providing you with appropriate PPE. 
  • Help folks to process their fear, anger, and grief. Also remember that you will need that help as well, and reach out to friends, family, or fellow clergy. Remember, everyone will process this in their own way and a pandemic is a hard thing to wrap one’s brain around. 
  • Remember our social justice aims during this time and help to combat racism, hatred, and misinformation.

This isn’t, by any means, all of what you can do to help yourself and others during this time. If there are other ways you have thought of to do ministry during this time, please feel free to share your stories in the comments of this blog post or in our Facebook groups. 

Remember, we are all in community, koinonia, through Jesus, through each other, and through the fact that we are all human. We can get through this, but it will be hard. It will take time and a great deal of compassion from all of us. Let us follow the compassionate example of Jesus and take care of our communities.  Let us lead by example, and let us connect with and support one another.

May Jesus, God in His many names, and all the Spirits of the Universe watch over us and help us through this pandemic. 

Blessings to you all, 

Rev. Gina

Updates from the Chair February 2020

Hello Friends!

Meeting with folks in Florida! L to R: Dave Abbot, Rev. Gina Pond, Rev. Beth Abbott, Rev. Terry Lapierre-McGuire

I hope you all had a very good New Year! I was on vacation in January in Largo, Florida, and while I was there I got to have lunch with Rev. Beth Abbott and Rev. Terry Lapierre-McGuire and their partners. It is always nice to meet ProgCA folks in the wild! Thank you for having lunch with me, it was great to see you!

At our January meeting we approved the ordinations of Eva Sullivan-Knoff and Constance Smith. Congratulations and welcome to the ProgCA family! 

I’ve had a lot of good responses to the website redesign. I’m glad you all like it, and again a massive thank you to Rev. John Propper for all the hard work he did on it! More website additions are forthcoming, and we’ll post on the blog when they are ready for use. 

And the usual reminder that Rev. Marie, our Ordination Chair, is still asking for all previously ordained ProgCA Clergy to please email her (rev.mbatel@gmail.com) with their credentials so we can update our files. This will be ongoing as we bring the membership platforms online.  If you have lost your certificate or letter, please do contact Marie, and she will help you with getting replacement paperwork.

I’d also like to remind everyone, that, like the USA, this is also an election year for the ProgCA. If you would like to have a direct hand in the running of our organization, or are feeling called to do more in the ProgCA, then you may want to consider running for office. This year we are holding elections for Leadership Chair and Treasurer. While the elections won’t be until November, now is a good time to go into discernment about if you would like to run! If you have any questions about these positions, feel free to ask me either via email or Facebook. 

Lastly, the Leadership Council is doing a review of our Constitution and Canons, as we believe that it needs to be updated to reflect the current state of the ProgCA. This is going to likely be a nearly year long process, and the final version will go out to the membership for comment and review. If you have any questions about this process, or have any thoughts or ideas about what should be updated, please feel free to contact any Council member.

It is strange for me to realize that this will be my last year serving you all as Leadership Chair, but I know that we’ve been creating a stronger foundation for the organization in the last couple of years. There is still plenty for me to work on before I leave, but I know the organization will be in good hands at the end of the year!

May you be blessed as we start moving from Winter to Spring (or Summer to Fall in the southern hemisphere), and may the season of Lent bring you much wisdom!

In His Name, 

Rev. Gina

Update from the Chair: Christmas Eve Edition with Presents!

Hello Friends!

As 2019 wraps up, so too does this year for the Progressive Christian Alliance. This Christmas, we have a present for you, in the form of an (mostly) updated website! The website has been moved to a new, and much better, server. My wife and I have been donating server space to the Progressive Christian Alliance for many years now, and we are pleased and proud to continue doing so on our own server here in Switzerland. You should see much better performance from the website, in addition to the website’s new look and feel. A massive thank you to Rev. John Propper for the new site’s design, which is quite awesome!

There will be other upgrades coming in the beginning of the year. The two main ones will be the church and clergy directory and implementation of the membership system, with a member’s area. We also have some other ideas in the pipeline, which we will roll out as they are finished. 

Speaking of the church and clergy directory, I would like to ask all clergy who have sent their information to Rev. Marie (Ordination Committee) to let me know if they DO NOT want their name added to the public clergy directory. Also, any PCA clergy who would like their church listed, please send me your church’s information, including the name of your church, where it’s located, contact information, and when you have services (and if there are any other services you provide). I am planning to have the directory up and running at the beginning of February, so please send me your information at leadershipchair@progressivechristianalliance.org by January 31. 

And Rev. Marie, our Ordination Chair, is still asking for all previously ordained ProgCA Clergy to please email her (rev.mbatel@gmail.com) with their credentials so we can update our files. This will be ongoing as we bring the directory and membership platforms online. 

In other news, the Leadership Council would like to congratulate Misty Merrill, our newest ordained pastor! Welcome to the ProgCA clergy family!

In closing, I’d like to thank you all for your continued patience and support of the Leadership Council and the Progressive Christian Alliance as a whole. This organization wouldn’t exist without the many people who step up and volunteer. I give thanks and praise to my leadership team: Rev. Alaina, Rev. Jenny, Helen, and Rev. Rob, Rev. Marie, Rev. David, and the members of the Ordination Committee. I thank you all for using your gifts, talents, and time to make sure that the Progressive Christian Alliance fulfills its mission!

And to all of you, the members of the Progressive Christian Alliance, I also wish a very happy and healthy Christmas and a joyous New Year! May Jesus’ light of hope shine on all of us in the next year!

Many blessings to you and yours, 

Rev. Gina

Updates from the Chair: Welcome to our Newly Ordained Clergy and Other Updates

Hi Friends!

Hope you all are having a great summer and staying cool! 

Updates to the website are still moving forward, and it’s really looking great. I think folks will be really happy with the new design once it’s out. We’re also working on making a member’s area, and putting all of our forms online. I’d like to thank Rev. Alain, Rev. Marie, and Rev. John Propper for doing a lot of hard work to make this possible! I’m hoping we can do some of the roll out by the end of August, beginning of September, with full roll out to happen in November. 

Marie, our Ordination Chair, is still asking for all previously ordained ProgCA Clergy to please email her (rev.mbatel@gmail.com) with their credentials so we can update our files. 

In other ordination news, I’d like to congratulate our newest group of ordinands who were approved by the Leadership Council at our July meeting:

  • Ahmondra McClendon 
  • Mark Slater
  • Jonny Diane Thompson 
  • Anna Golladay

Welcome the ProgCA family! 

Rob, our Member-at-Large, has been working on a revision of our online Covenant (which governs conduct on our Facebook groups). We hope to have that out to you soon.

As we move into the waning part of the year, I’d like to thank all of you who make the Progressive Christian Alliance possible. I see a lot of the work for love, inclusion, and justice that you all do, and I am so proud of you all! You are fulfilling your calls in the best ways possible, and it is amazing to see the gifts you bring to the table! 

We have many tough battles to fight right now, but I believe that we are doing what Jesus commanded us to do, and that is radical all by itself!

May your work be blessed, and may we always strive for more love, compassion, justice, and inclusion!

In the many names of Spirit, 

Rev. Gina

Updates from the Leadership Chair: Short Summer Update

Hello Friends!

A blessed Pentecost and Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere) to you! 

Things are still moving apace with behind the scenes updates. 

Marie, our Ordination Chair, is still asking for all previously ordained ProgCA Clergy to please email her (rev.mbatel@gmail.com) with their credentials so we can update our files.

Rev. Jon Popper will be helping us with parts of our new website. Thank you Jon for volunteering! 

We will be doing a live Q&A session on YouTube where you can ask questions about the ProgCA, get information about when we’ll be collecting dues, and exchange ideas. We’re shooting for the end of August or the beginning of September for this. Keep an eye out, or subscribe to this blog, to know when the exact dates will be. 

And finally, as a reminder, if you’d like to propose anything to the Leadership Council, please let any of the Council members know up to a week before our next scheduled meeting, and we will put it on the agenda. Our meetings are the 1st Sunday of the month at 5 PM Eastern Time US/11 pm Central European Time.

May your summer be full of blessings!

Rev. Gina