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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!

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

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?

Progressive Christian Alliance Statement on the Immigration Crisis and Plea to All Christians

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

Leadership Chair

New Interim Secretary and Member-At-Large!

Hello Friends!

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

Leadership Chair