On Wednesday, December 1st, as a part of the observance of World AIDS Day 2010, our longtime friend, Ivy Hooper, was a part of a panel discussion held at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham on AIDS & African-American Identity. WUNC radio broadcast the discussion on The State of Things. Novelist Zelda Lockhart and Frank Stasio moderated the discussion.
St. John’s MCC Commemorates Transgender Day of Remembrance This Weekend
Like millions around the world, St. John’s MCC will also be participating in the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. On Saturday, November 20th, in honor of TDOR, we will be showing the documentary, Still Black: a Portrait of Black Transmen. Still Black is, according to its producers, “a feature-length documentary that explores the lives of six (6) Black transgender men living in the United States. The film offers viewers a complex and multi-faceted image of race, sexuality, and trans identity.” The trailer is below. Following the viewing of the documentary, there will be a time of discussion and dialogue.
On Sunday, November 21st during our 11 am service, we are honored to have Angel Collie, Co-Lead for MCC’s Transgender Ministries and Program Assistant for MCC’s Archive and Oral History Project, as our Guest Speaker for the morning.
Angel describes himself as “a simple guy with a passion for Jesus and Justice. I am currently a Religious Studies major and Sexuality Studies minor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I also work with the LGBTQ center on campus and am very passionate about activism. I have taken part in the Soulforce Equality Ride twice and have recently expanded my activism internationally. During my free time I enjoy going to church, getting inked, and doing social justice … all in the same day if possible.” You DON’T want to miss this opportunity to hear and meet Angel this coming Sunday. Angel recorded a video remembrance for YouTube last year.
Following the 11 am service, we will be offering a time of sharing, listening, learning and dialogue with Pastor B, as he shares with us his own lifelong journey as a trans-identified male and how his faith, his life in the church and his ever-evolving understanding of God’s Divine creative nature has both shaped and strengthened his journey through the years. The conversation will be facilitated by Pastor Wanda. This will be an excellent opportunity to broaden our understanding of the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters and how their spiritual lives are integral to their living wholesome and whole lives.
St. John’s MCC is collecting non-perishable food items to be placed in baskets that will be delivered to the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina to be distributed to clients. In the next few weeks, when you shop for your Thanksgiving meal, please pick up a few items that AAS-C clients can use during the upcoming holidays.
Some of the items needed include:
Gift Certificates for Frozen Turkeys
Bisquick, Corn Meal
Flour, Sugar, Brown Sugar
Canned Pie Filling, Pie Crust Mix
Jello, Pudding Mix
Canned Vegetables, Yams, Marshmallows
Stuffing Mix, Instant Mashed Potatoes
Rice, Dried Beans
Fruit Cocktail, Canned Fruit
Canned Gravy, Broth, Canned Milk
Salt, Pepper, Spices
Items may be placed in the designated boxes located near both entrances to the St. John’s MCC Sanctuary. The last day to drop off items is Sunday, November 21st.
Have some extra time on Monday, November 22nd? Join us at 6:30 p.m. to help put the baskets together. We will meet in the Sanctuary.
If you would like to make a monetary donation, please designate your gift to “Thanksgiving Baskets.”
St. John’s MCC invites you to join us as we celebrate Pastor Boone’s Ninth Anniversary as Senior Pastor. Our Special Guest for the weekend will be The Rev. Marilyn O. Bowens, Senior Pastor of MCC – New Haven, Connecticut. After graduating from Duke Divinity School in 2006, Rev. Bowens entered the Clergy Candidacy program through MCC at St. John’s. In 2007, Rev. Bowens was ordained as a Minister in the MCC denomination and was installed as the Senior Pastor of MCC – New Haven in 2008. St. John’s is deeply proud and honored to have a true daughter of the church returning for this celebration. Rev. Bowens will be our guest preacher at both services on Sunday. On Saturday, she will facilitate a workshop on prayer and preach that evening at a Healing Service.
Friday, November 12th
Service of Praise and Worship • 7:00 pm
Saturday, November 13th
Prayer Workshop facilitated by Rev. Marilyn Bowens • 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Healing Service with Rev. Marilyn Bowens • 7:00 pm
Sunday, November 14th
Jubilation Service with Rev. Marilyn Bowens • 8:45 am
Celebration Service with Rev. Marilyn Bowens • 11:00 am
Pastor Anniversary Luncheon • after 11:00 am Service
Pastor Anniversary Luncheon
Please join us immediately after the 11:00 Service on November 14 for a Special Luncheon to honor Rev. Boone. If you are interested in assisting in set up or bringing a dish, please see Tara Marten or Scott Driver.
If you would like to make a donation to help cover any of the expenses of Pastor’s Anniversary, please feel free to mark your check, credit card slip or offering envelope accordingly.
St. John’s MCC is in the process of creating an area for Children’s Church to occur on Sundays and we need your help. We need an array of creativity and talents: teachers, carpenters, janitors, cleaners, as well as items for the little ones such as portable cribs, changing tables, toys, etc. We are very excited about this new journey in the life of our church and look forward to everyone’s participation. For anyone interested (and you do not need to have children to assist) the next meeting is November 7th at 2:00 pm in the Friendship Hall. If you have any questions, please contact Pastor Wanda.
Are you gifted with a great sense of decoration and aesthetically placed Christmas decoration? St. John’s is looking for volunteers to help with decoration in every way including the ability to lift boxes and hang decorations. We also need people who can unpack and set up Mangers and other decorations. Come join us for the Hanging of the Greens on Saturday, November 27 at 10:00am to 2:00pm which will include lunch and a lot of fun. Please contact Tara Marten or Scott Driver. We look forward to seeing you there.
The next Fellowship Ministry planning session is scheduled for Sunday, November 7th at 2:00pm in the Friendship Hall at St. John’s MCC. We would like to offer an invitation to you to come, share your ideas and thoughts for the following events, and begin drafting ideas for 2011! Together, we can bring success to the remaining scheduled events for 2010.
Saturday, November 20, 2010 7:00 am – 1:00 pm Fall Yard Sale and Bake Sale
The Fellowship Ministry will be having a Fall Yard Sale on Saturday, November 20th from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. All items donated will go to support the Ministries of St. John’s MCC. Anyone who wishes to donate to or volunteer to help with the sale, please contact Scott Driver or Tara Marten or you can call the church.
In addition, the Children / Youth Ministry will be having a bake sale during the Yard Sale. All proceeds from the Bake Sale will benefit the Children / Youth Ministry.
Not long ago, accusations against Bishop Eddie Long alleging the misuse of spiritual authority to coerce and justify sexual exploitation of teenage boys surfaced in a suburb of Atlanta known as Lithonia. Like the sermons of this mega-church pastor, the stories of extravagant gifts, expensive trips and scholarships for further education spread far and wide and many, from private congregants to public newscasters, have offered comment.
Some speak of undying devotion to a charismatic leader and the good work he has done. Others profess disillusionment with "the church" and cite examples of clergy misconduct that spread across continents and cultures and include many denominations. --- Still others focus on the young men whose lives, regardless of the determinations of courts of law, have been forever changed. They face a lifetime of challenge to re-anchor their faith and hope and trust in a God who is often served by those who themselves have been the victims of structures and systems of abuse.
We speak today first and foremost as pastors and spiritual leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches. As such, our hearts go out to all those who have been or are currently the victims of abuse at the hands of leaders entrusted with their spiritual and physical safety and development. We offer not only our prayers, but our houses of worship and offices as safe space for those who are seeking refuge, counsel, support and healing.
For many of us the recent allegations and revelations bring up a host of emotional responses. For some of us they bring up long buried memories. --- For all of us they should bring up the need to engage in serious prayer and public conversation about things like the safety of our children and other vulnerable populations in our congregations, the diversity of God's creation and the gift of various sexual orientations, the afflictions of sexism, heterosexism and homophobia, gender and marital diversity, the ethics of shared ministry, and the use and misuse of power and authority especially from the pulpit. Sensationalism around guilt and innocence should not be allowed to mask the grave and serious issues before us as communities of faith.
For those of us in Metropolitan Community Churches, we believe the recent revelations should also challenge us to bring to light all the experiences of our past religious and spiritual upbringings, and how those experiences now shape our beliefs and leadership.
Healing and recovery for individuals and institutions alike begins with telling the truth. The truth for us is that the recent revelations out of Georgia are nothing new. The truth for us is that homophobia and abuse of spiritual authority in the traditional church, and internalized homophobia and racism in Metropolitan Community Churches have prevented the kinds of discussions that hold the potential to shape a whole and healthy church universal.
All of us have secrets, whether they are about things we have done or things that have happened to us. All of our churches must become safe space for the telling of all our truths. That, we believe, is the only path to healing.
Risk management systems and insurance policies are not enough. Courts of law will never be able to offer the kind of healing that the Body of Christ is crying out for.
We cannot be silent anymore. The sordid appeals to sexism, heterosexism and homophobia by clergy who themselves are often engaging in the very things they are condemning must stop. Seminaries and supervisors of clergy in formation must be challenged to confront their biases around sexual, gender and marital diversity. And people of faith like you and like us must take up the mantle of pursuing justice and equality in the church, and do that vocally.
The young man recently escorted out of a service at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church for standing up and demanding that truth be spoken must become the example for all of us whether in private conversation or public forum.
We cannot be silent anymore. There is an ongoing need to re-read the black church traditions inside and outside of the black church. MCC, as a body seeking to become a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic movement of faith, must engage and nurture all of us in the pursuit of the best of what those traditions have to offer and challenging all of us to look again at elements that only repeat "the sins of the fathers."
We need --- in MCC and in the black church and everywhere --- leaders who will continue to explore how God is speaking to the church now and who will use their ministries to build communities that rely neither on the optics of success nor appeals to prosperity and political power, but on the call of the prophets to be a house of prayer for all God's people. --- We need leaders across the board who will no longer hide behind pretended norms of social or sexual conformity, and who are willing to no longer be silent about the truth of their sexual and human identities.
We cannot be silent anymore. Violence is not a single community issue. Lying about who we are to get what we want when we want it, violation of others in the bedroom and in our homes, bullying in our schools, speaking from the pulpit in ways that are damaging to kids and adults alike are not black or white issues, but human issues that must be addressed by all of us who profess to be the followers of a God of Healing and Hope and Restoration. The revelations out of Georgia challenge us to step up to the plate and speak openly and honestly about the intersections of power and resources and sexuality and theology.
We are clergy and religious leaders who have promised to use our leadership and ministries to affirm the diversity of God's creation and the goodness of all life. We have promised to be present in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health for all the People of God. Today, we honor those promises by calling the church universal to accountability not only for its young and vulnerable, but for all those who look to its proclamations for a word that will heal and restore ... a word of truth.
In just a few short days, many in this country will celebrate National Coming Out Day. Coming out is not just something that LGBTQI people do. It's something that we do as human beings when we believe that, as Jesus taught, the truth will set us free.
We pray now and pledge to act for the day when all children and all adults are safe in all communities of faith, when all clergy and religious leaders feel safe enough to be honest about who they really are, and when all our theologies, though divergent in content and approach, may agree on this one thing: that everyone should be safe in the presence of God. And we invite you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, to join us in promising to never be silent again.
In faith, in hope and in love,
The Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin The Rev. Onetta Brooks Mr. Barry Hundley Mr. DeWayne Davis The Rev. B. Y. Boone The Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
You are invited to a panel presentation exploring the issues raised in WE CANNOT BE SILENT ANYMORE.
Join facilitator The Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin and panelists Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop, The Fellowship Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Council of Elders, MCC The Rev. Dr. Joan Martin, Ethicist, Episcopal Divinity School Mr. DeWayne Davis, MCC Public Policy Team and The Rev. Dr. Irene Monroe, Public Theologian, Writer and Activist for a serious conversation from the perspective of faith and ethics.
COMING OUT DAY, October 11th, 5:00 - 6:00 pm ET.
To join the conversation, please call 218-931-4141. Id 778024. Presenters only will be heard.