I'm a part-time student at a denominational seminary, where I'm working (very slowly) on an academic-track masters. It's generally been a good experience, but the school's not a perfect fit. Again and again, professors and coursework assume a ministry context.
It's been rather quiet
on the Presbyterian battlefront since May 10, when the Twin Cities presbytery
in Minnesota became the 87th to vote to lift the ban on LGBT
ministers, elders and deacons. That was the decisive vote, and by July 10 the
historic change was official.
When the prayers of the people begin, the Stephens' pew in the back starts to thump. Ten-year-old Mallory is working her way toward the door. As I hand the offering baskets to the ushers, she returns with a large cooler.
I'm making my rounds at Safeway, shopping for my church's community meal. In the produce section—where I am forbidden to ask for donations—I see two heaping boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables headed to the trash.
The day began with a worship service that was filled with a bittersweet sense of endings and beginnings. There was a procession of joy as seminary graduates were honored and celebrated. There were tables and tables of food, and young people posing for photos with their arms linked. We heard expressions of gratitude and were introduced to families that we'd heard about but never met.
The United Church of Canada has decided to proceed with the review of Gretta Vosper, an ordained minister, that could lead to her being defrocked. Vosper openly says that she believes neither in God nor the Bible, going against the denomination’s ordination vows, which include belief in a triune God. Her lawyers have submitted 1,687 pages challenging the review, but the judicial committee responded with a terse, one-page response saying it saw no reason why the review, not yet scheduled, shouldn’t proceed. Vosper’s Toronto congregation is standing behind her. The review was initiated after Vosper sent an open letter to the church’s spiritual leader following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. In the letter Vosper argued that belief in God can motivate people to do bad things (Canadian Press, March 31).