Transgendered and Ministry

Being Transgendered is living into the reality and wholeness of yourself.

Mary McKibbean Dana attempts to write about Pastoring to a trangendered person (I say attempts because she admits she still learning)

So here our my unsorted thoughts about being Trans….

I, in my secret-most parts, wish the church was the FIRST place people feel safe to turn to when they have been rejected by family, job, friends, politics, life….

after all, isn’t God the person who sees Nicodemus and CALLS HIM BY NAME! and makes him whole.

Its Jesus who talks to the risque Samaritan Woman (who is defined as risque just because of who she is, its considered dangerous) and when she says “You shouldn’t be talking to me” man does that sound familiar.

I think of all the things we say in church

We honor names, but claim that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, for that reason we don’t even say the person’s last name (I like to say because their official last name becomes Christ). We say that Christ calls each and every one of us by name, and if that name needs to change to fit who a person is now that’s ……VERY Christian. Saul–>Paul

We say that in Christ there is no male or female. (ponder)

When we think about trans* people the orphans of most movements, the ones who are feared and so violence is repeatedly done to them, the ones who are so often homeless, who have difficulty getting jobs, who for some reason are a considered esp. dangerous to children.

…..Church should be the first to institute family/asexual bathrooms for safety. Churches should have resources for depression and homelessness. Churches should be a safe place to talk about how and why you feel different and that God blesses our search, imagining a world for us where all are included and loved.

We are all loved.

No exceptions

God created us, loves us, calls us by name and makes us who we are supposed to be….

#oberlin #MichelleObama #PCUSA intersecting #spiritual and #college

I attended Michelle Obama’s Convocation Speech at Oberlin College. A speech that was won by the Nine Scholars program to help Local High School Students achieve (awesome!)

Only problems were 1. Oberlin already had an awesome speaker lined up the Founder of SAVE the CHIDLREN on the 50yr anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Grad speech 2. Security was a bear in what is normally a very informal, formal ceremony (people float in and out, wear whatever they want…I like it).

It was the 10 yr anniversary of my graduation from Oberlin and my sister, the amazing Noelle was graduating so I had dual reasons for attending.

Plus I got to stay over with my peer and fellow graduate Charlie who owns the local gaming store (back in the day I founded the now mainstream Sci-Fi and Fantasy Hall which was really just a safe place for the gamer-geeks who had yet to find popularity in the real world). Infinite Monkey, if you want to support a great small business I recommend ordering from him here or Facebook them 🙂

While there I regaled the locales with tales of my pastorhood, my supposed youth (I look really young and DEFINITE not like a pastor) my parenthood (yes, I do have 3 children) and mourned…just a little bit that I had very few Oberlin-like people in my life. Instead I spend most of my time explaining to my mostly older congregation how the modern world is and explaining to my friends (most of whom don’t go or have never gone to church) why religion is a really awesome and exciting place for me to be…at least most of the time 🙂 (I try to be really honest in these conversations).

Michelle Obama gave some nice props to Oberlin and their open-mindedness, remarking how different the world would be today if all colleges awarded degrees to African-Americans and women from way back….noting it was one of the few places that she prob. could have graduated from 100 yrs ago. I nodded to myself, finding it sad that Oberlin, college, was one of the few places where I experienced the openness and hospitality that so many organizations attempted to live into, including at times the church. (I did mope a little bit)

Then Michelle urged Oberlin graduates to not just to enter the world, but to engage with it. To be in the hard places, to find the people who don’t necessarily think and act like you, but to instead be in the real world. To know that that small incremental work that is being done is important.

She then noted that 10 years ago (God? did she really say that), 10 years ago 1 state allowed for same sex marriage, and now any minute the United States was ready to pass it for all states (and I noted to myself that the PCUSA is already there, thanks in a large part to the small incremental changes that we had done over that last 10 years). And I remembered thinking, at my graduation that the world WOULD change for the better, that our speaker at that time had noted the start of that change towards equality and being EXCITED to be a part of that.

It has been work for me to live in-between. I am a full time professional woman and a mother, both the same. I am a religious pastor and a Fantasy geek–one of which is getting less popular (the religion) and one of which has become startingly mainstream (the Sci-Fi Fantasy). But I am still both the same. (Even moreso I have a traditional worship but am very groundbreaking in my ministry to the community) I work with people who are like me and I am friends with people who are like me, very few people get all the pieces that make up who I am. And yet, here I am. Not immersing myself in one thing or one way, I am doing the hard work of the real world.

And when my session, had a progressive discussion about Gay marriage, and I shared that with those people I met at the Oberlin graduation. I talked about meeting people where they are, and sharing my experience, to love them, they said they couldn’t imagine engaging with people who believed things so differently than them.

That’s right, the people at Oberlin, who sometimes I viewed as very accepting, couldn’t accept my religious people. NOT vice versa.

But there it was…the hard work of sharing…of being in the real world. The hard work that I consider being ministry whether it is at Oberlin College with stereotypical liberal students or sitting at a meeting of the church with the elders who talk through their traditions and their desire to serve others.

I may have cried a little (hmm…a lot…) during this speech where Michelle Obama brought the word to me. When Marian Wright Edelman then, daresay I preached, sharing some of the Word of God and Liberation in the way African-American Women are able to do without offending the nontheists of crowd while reaching into the tradition of Justice bespoke by MLK. Hers were not the words I needed that day because, that’s the world I live in every day. But I am so glad she was there, giving a piece of my world to Oberlin, because Oberlin shared a piece of its world back to me in Michelle Obama that day…and I don’t live in one world or the other. But in between, testifying back and forth between the two, like these two ASTOUNDING African-American Women.

#holy time

Yes,

Easter tends to be more crazy than Christmas

1st of all pastors tend to run double whatever number of services they run Christmastime during Holy Week: I’m at the bare minimum of 3 (4 if you count Palm Sunday)

Plus, usually, my kids are off that same week, so I get to gesticulate around that and the fact its a superbusy time of year.

Plus, people volunteer to do things less–Christmas is just more of a pitch in holiday. How many people really want to help out with the Good Friday Service (altho we do a service of the nails that is poignant and beautiful)

Its a crazy week for me I have two parishoners in the hospital/recovery, plus the other 4 homebound who I would like to see during this Holy Time, plus a session meeting to make certain things are in place, plus an all day Persbytery meeting (which they always schedule the week before Holy Week, which always leaves me scratching my head), plus whatever other office-y stuff I need to do.

Then there is real life. The things that happen that make you a pastor, the things that aren’t on the calendar.

My colleague Sarah Ross said “In minstry, I don’t really plan a schedule so much as I just plan to be interrupted.”

Nadia Bolz-Weber once had an intern who shadowed her. At the end he said ” it was “oh my gosh..you’re A PERSON for a living!””

So, interruptions and being a person are my goals for the next two weeks…God sanctifies them and makes them holy

#churches and #family the Socio-economics of #churchattendance

Warning: this will be rant-ish.

Know how churches don’t like that families and church no longer come first? How it is hard to get the typical family to church more than once a month?

The socio-economics of the situation are tricky, with little national health care and extremely expensive daycare it is difficult to have the time/money to invest in church. Either you are a stay at home mother/father with no extra funds or time or your one of two full time working parents who don’t have enough time to see your children and take them to all the extra-curriculars they “should” be doing.

The socio-economics are crazy, because most people can’t work a regular 9-5 job and are in and out of the house at crazy times working crazy hours.

Plus who knows if you’ll have that job or even be able to live in that city in 1 or 2 or 3 years from now.

Not to mention that most young families can barely afford to have a house or to not put in crazy extra hours or to work multiple jobs including babysitting or whatever other odd jobs they can find.

This is the reality.

So…understand, when churches do not support their staff taking care of their family. Whether it be to go to a family funeral, take care of a personal illness or to take maternity/paternity leave, that we are contributing to the very socio-economic problem we complain about day in and day out. Families who cannot take the time to take care of one another, who have to work instead of putting their family first, will have trouble making it to church.

Pastors are one of such staff…pastors are always on call, do not work 9-5, oft have to make meetings that cause delays of or missing of putting their children to bed. The hours are haphazardly put together depending on the congregation’s needs. Its a flexible job in some ways and very stringent in others.

Some typical (although not absolute) examples: if someone is ill, dying or in extremis you must be there…you may take sick days…as long as they are never when you are scheduled to preach

I know churches can ill-afford pastors, maybe its time to borrow other pastors, pay the choir director a little more or use a lay leader. Maybe its time to do a daily prayer service instead of a formal “traditional” service.

But if we can ill-afford pastors we absolutely CANNOT afford to not take care of those in need in our church…Think about that for a minute…the church claiming they can’t afford to take care of children and ill-ones…..

Thus: We can’t say we want more families to come to church–and then not support our families.  We can’t claim to be choosing God’s path and then not take care of our sick and our little ones.

(feel free to read paragraph above a couple of times)

Do we need an act of Congress to do the right thing?

I think we can do better.

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Open to relationships

My colleague Rachel Young wrote an interesting piece about being missional http://pres-outlook.org/2015/02/can-introverts-missional/

which reminds me of an ongoing conversation that I have with people.

I try, try, try to practice trust, and yet still be safe. Its a particular balance. It means that sometimes your credit and debit cards get stolen right out of the church office, because you tend not to lock. I am still uncertain whether I was being too trusting or not….I now only lock when that particular group is in the church.

However, I think that the only way to build trust is to give it. You treat people with suspicion and the likelihood is they will return the favor. Plus if you don’t take chances its hard to have a relationship. You have to say hi, you have to share about yourself. Eventually you have to share your address if you want people to come over.

Basically, I feel like that trust and grace go hand in hand. In order to trust someone you have to be gracious with them, trusting that they are doing the best that they can and being gracious when people can’t live up to your standards or do things differently

Henri Nouwen calls this forgiving people for not being God i.e. all knowing and perfect.

It doesn’t mean being stomped on either, it means calling people into account, whether its because they are disrespectful to you during a meeting or they leave a mess in the church or they siphon money off the church’s accounts.

So much of my job is being open to be in relationship with people, whoever, however and whatever state they may be in. That takes trust, and graciousness and hope. It means worrying a little less, setting safe boundaries and then building a community of people who can help you if the relationship does not work out.

But I think that is a good way to describe being a minister.

Open to being in relationship with the church, the community and the world…..That is true ministry..and one in which everyone can get in on.

No Strings Attached

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@amandapalmer #nextchurch #nonprofit #ministry…who wants to discuss #theartofasking #media

Pretty sure I’m going to devour this book in 5 secs. flat….so….

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Who in nonprofits/ministry wants to discuss Amanda Palmer’s book and what it means in terms of fundraising, media ..you know tiny issues like that which effect our daily existence? Plus this is a great window into the “sharing” culture that I so love today…

I’m planning on leading a twitter discussion on Sun Feb 8th at 7pm Eastern time. My handle is bookkats

If you need the book or want to give it to someone else check out https://massmosaic.com/groups/162/info

Let’s get the word out!

http://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking?language=en

For those contemplating suicide because of their “Christian Families” we pray.

For those contemplating suicide because of their “Christian Families” we pray.

Quotation-Madeleine-L-Engle-heart-Meetville-Quotes-132142 Quotation-Madeleine-L-Engle-people-Meetville-Quotes-185385

L’engle’s thoughts on those who are figuring out their identity and also her wisdom I use to pray for someone I don’t know (excuse the contextually-gendered language)….#LeelahAlcorn @UnvirtuousAbbey Name us Lord, we pray, Call us by name! Help us to name one another, Mother-Father God!

Bigger on the Inside: The #Tardis #Church

My church works hard to be community oriented and to be out in the neighborhood.

1 that runs a Neighborhood Farmer’s Market in our parking lot from May-Oct, completely thru volunteers

1 that arranges for free exercise classes (with babysitting) during the farmer’s market

A Market that book-ended by 2 Chicken BBQ fundraisers (the company cooks, we serve)

p.s. we put up great signs for these events. GREAT signs!

1 that puts on a health fair, plays, concerts, art shows.

1 that has done a clothing exchange, electronic recycling,

1 that has a weekly free playgroup and runs a 2, 3, and 4yr old Nursery School

1 that hosts over a dozen AA’s, 3 other congregations, 2 community choirs, an immigrant ministry  & the neighborhood association

When I talk to people about my church, the reach is far.

Our location is good, most people have stepped into our building at some point for various things

Our Farmer’s Market is well known, we are possibly the best small farmer’s market in the city

And everyone is shocked, I mean shocked by how small we are….they think we have 150 people at least

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Why is that?

Because we are bigger on the inside

That’s what happens when a church holds God and the Community in their hearts..

bigger

we end up growing in ways that we can’t even comprehend….

And God increases our efforts twofold/fourfold/tenfold

yoda

Its time to STOP thinking of ourselves as a small church, and to start thinking of ourselves as bigger on the inside

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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