Really? Comments That Make You Think

The below article is one that I saw while surfing news sites. The article does not bother me, but a comment posted below it did. The comment was:

“It seems that Obama is letting people who lost their right to vote, a chance to vote without giving Republicans the chance to challenge the voter?”

Now, I do not know the election laws of each individual state, but this angers me to no end. Just because a person does not own a piece of property, or does not rent a place, this means they have no right to vote? If any group of people in this country is affected by this election, it is people who are homeless. I don’t think that just because they may not be voting your way means that they have lost the right to vote. Also, does the Republican Party really embrace the needs of the homeless community? I really have nothing insightful to say about this right now, just wanted to pass the article along, but more importantly the comment.

-z


From New York Post:

Homeless “Driven” to Vote Obama

By JEANE MacINTOSH

Last updated: 10:27 am

October 7, 2008

Posted: 9:34 pm

October 6, 2008

CLEVELAND – Volunteers supporting Barack Obama picked up hundreds of people at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and drug-rehab centers and drove them to a polling place yesterday on the last day that Ohioans could register and vote on the same day, almost no questions asked.

The huge effort by a pro-Obama group, Vote Today Ohio, takes advantage of a quirk in the state’s elections laws that allows people to register and cast ballots at the same time without having to prove residency.

Republicans have argued that the window could lead to widespread voter fraud because officials wouldn’t have an opportunity to verify registration information before ballots were cast.

Among the volunteers were Yori Stadlin and Vivian Lehrer of the Upper West Side, who got married last week and decided to spend their honeymoon shepherding voters to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Early today, Stadlin’s van picked up William Woods, 59, at the soup kitchen of the Bishop Cosgrove Center.

“I never voted before,” Woods said, because of a felony conviction that previously barred him from the polls. “Without this service, I would have had no way to get here.”

My First Interesting Experience

I had an interesting experience a week ago after the first of two services I was leading that week. It was only my second Sunday at this particular church, and I was still getting to know people and couldn’t entirely tell who were guests and who were members. After the service, as I was greeting everyone that attended the service, a man came up to me and started a conversation.

First off, he stood much closer to me than I was comfortable, and he began to tell me a bit about himself. He informed me that he was not United Methodist, but had taken part in the Walk to Emmaus program and found that to be very good. Here is where things got interesting. He then began to tell me that the United Methodist Church has been out of touch with “true biblical teaching.” He stated that as a denomination we have tried to wiggle and justify our positions, but continued to teach people the wrong way. He informed me that I needed to forget and throw-out everything I had been taught, and reread the Bible with a much more literal mindset. This “conversation” only lasted a few moments, but it seemed to happen in slow motion. The entire thing appeared to be rehearsed and went quickly as to not give me a chance to say anything. Afterwards I simply thanked him for sharing his feelings with me and he bolted out the door.

It was very apparent that he only attended the service that morning to tell the new pastor this message. I blew it off at that moment simply because I had others waiting to see me at this church, and I had to then go to another church afterwards for a second worship service. After looking back, I began wondering if this kind of thing would happen more often to me. I asked the senior pastor if he had ever experienced this, and he hadn’t. In 8 years at these congregations, he had never had someone come up to him like that.

I began to think a bit on whether this man was going to say this to me anyway, or was it something in my sermon that made him feel that he had to say it. I thought my sermon was pretty sound. I preached on why Jesus taught in parables and the importance to us as a community. I made no radical social or political statements other than we should be gentler in how we reach out to people and not condemn or judge right away. If that was a radical statement, then I’m in for a long 40-plus years of ministry.

I’m sure this may only be a one time thing to happen, but thought that it was interesting it happened to me in the first couple weeks of my first appointment. I’m sure there will be more stories of interesting interactions in the years to come.

A Few Different Things

A lot has happened since my last blog update, and I should be in a position now to update on a regular basis. I’ve had much to say, but had to let some of it simmer in my head for a bit so that I didn’t write out of anger.

The first big event is that I attended the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in Dallas. I was a lay delegate from Nebraska, and it was my last thing I’ll ever do as a lay person in the United Methodist Church. I entered this conference with some high hopes for the leadership of our denomination. We were there to elect 3 new Bishops to serve the church. I was very hopeful that this would be the conference where our jurisdiction would finally elect an African-American female to be a Bishop. However, this did not happen. This conference was a struggle for me to be a part of. It was draining physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don’t want to write every detail here, but the obvious part that sexism and racism played in this conference was very disheartening to me. I had a couple conversations with people from different conferences about how an African-American woman wouldn’t fit the culture of their conference. This one conversation put me over the edge and created a anger inside of me. How is this even a valid reason to prevent an election of a gifted leader to be Bishop, and how is something like that even have a place in the church? I became more and more disillusioned at this process as it went on. Just to set the record straight, I have attended this conference before and I was aware of it being overly political, but I still hoped that this time might be a little different. I left this conference more committed to social justice ministry within the church, and with a deeper understanding of my call to ministry. I also came away with new friends in the progressive movement in the church, so I suppose some helpful things did come about.

On to another event in my life recently, I began my first appointment on July 1. I am now serving 3 rural congregations near Lincoln, Nebraska, as an Associate Pastor. So far everything has gone smoothly, and I’m still feeling things out. It’s hard to get to know people when I am not preaching in the same church every week, but I’m starting to remember people now. I’m excited for the ministry that has gone on in this parish, and am hopeful for the future. I don’t plan on moving to a new appointment for 3 years, which is when I graduate, but I’ve learned that you can never be too sure of anything in this system.

I’ve also settled into my new apartment in Lincoln, and really enjoy living on my own know. I’ve established my residence here, and even got my new driver’s license this week. For the first time since I was 2 years old, I am not a resident of Wahoo, Nebraska.

I’m looking forward to getting back to Kansas City and seeing everyone at school. I’m sure we all have tons to talk about, and I’m ready to get back into the swing of classes.

Grace and Peace,
Z

Just Read It, That’s all I’m Going To Say

Pope Benedict: I’m praying for Anglican church

  • Story Highlights
  • Pope Benedict XVI says that he is praying for the Anglican community
  • Pope prays after Church of England’s ruling body voted to support women bishops
  • Benedict says he doesn’t want to see more ‘schisms and fractures’

(AP) — Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that he is praying there will not be any more rifts in the Anglican community following the recent Church of England decision on women bishops.

Answering questions from journalists aboard his flight to Australia, Benedict touched briefly on the turmoil in the Anglican church.

“I am praying so that there are no more schisms and fractures” within the Anglican community, Benedict said.

On Monday, the Church of England’s ruling body voted its support for women to become bishops. That stance risks causing further division among Anglicans, since traditionalists are opposed to that idea.

The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., is led by a woman, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member family of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England, is also wrestling with other contentious issues — gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex marriages.

Benedict said he did not want to “interfere” in the debate.

Still, the Vatican on Tuesday said the decision by the Church of England to allow women to become bishops will be an obstacle to its reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican does not permit the ordination of women.

Anglicans split from Rome more than four centuries ago, when English King Henry VIII bolted in 1534 after papal refusal to grant him a marriage annulment.

Catholics and Anglicans have been engaged in talks to overcome theological divisions.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/07/12/pope.anglican.ap/index.html

A Look Back…

It has been a month since I’ve updated my blog, so here it goes.

I am now living in my own apartment in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s a nice place with an extra bedroom for an office. Maybe for once in my life I will keep things organized. I’m still getting settled in. I have a couple things to move here still and need to get my desk so that I can complete my office setup.

Annual Conference came and went. It seemed to be fairly calm and boring this year. I did enjoy the social side of the time spent there. It was good to see old friends, and get to know a few new ones. Our conference is in the midst of a huge shift in our structure and the way we do ministry, so it is a bit frightening to not know where we will be in a year or two. I’m glad that we are trying something new though, things have been stagnant for awhile now, and we need some change. Hopefully the conference will get around to hiring a new youth person that will be full-time.

I also attended the Nebraska Democratic Convention in June. It was fun to be a part of that and meet different people from across the state. I had to struggle real hard to not volunteer and sign up for campaign things. I really second guess my decision to become a pastor during election season. Maybe once I graduate from seminary and settle in a community, I will run for school board. I guess I can always run for state legislature in retirement.

This Sunday is my first in the pulpit at my new appointment, which also happens to be my first appointment. This week I only preach at one of the three, which is a nice way to ease into things. I’m really excited and ready to get started. It will take some time to figure out my schedule and how to do things, but that’s why summer is great…flexibility.

I leave in a couple weeks for Jurisdictional Conference. I don’t get as prepared for this as General Conference. We now have 3 bishops instead of 4 to elect. One bishop decided not to retire after the retirement age was raised at General Conference. I have a slate of candidates who I’d like to see elected, but I’m realistic and would be surprised to see any of them end up bishops.

Well, I better get back to working on my sermon and setting up my apartment.

Peace,
Z

One Reflection of General Conference

//www.youtube.com/get_player

This is the video of the Witness that took place on the floor of General Conference. It was very moving experience. I found myself experiencing the Spirit of God during this time in ways I have not felt in a long time. The most powerful part to me was the bishops who were willing to stand to show their acknowledgment of the divide in our church, and the need for change. I found myself unable to control my emotions during this time, and began to cry during a couple occasions during the witness. The first was when the singing began and I saw all of the people standing in unity with those offering the witness, and the other when Bishop Melvin Talbert went to the microphone to offer the following words:

“My name is Melvin Talbert. I am one of your bishops. In this General Conference we have been reminded that in 1939 this church took an action that separated my sisters and brothers into a separate jurisdiction. That action was wrong. That action was a sin against God. Thank God we have moved through and discontinued that segregated structure. But my sisters and brothers, here we are again. In the name of Jesus Christ, we have taken an action that is wrong. At least for the Central Jurisdiction we remained within a structure and we worked out the relationships. But for these sisters and brothers we have chosen to leave them out rather than invite them into work out our relationships in the name of Christ. I can do no other than to say what’s on my heart. General Conference, General Conference, This is wrong. I invite you to reconsider.”

When the vote first occurred on the issues around sexuality, I felt an urge to be angry and finally leave the denomination. I knew that I had a place in the UCC, and would be more than comfortable there. As this witness occurred, and I spoke to people who were also struggling with these stances, I realized the need to stay and work for justice. I am able to be ordained because my sexual orientation is accepted by the church, and I can work for change within the system. I pray that we may be able to be an open church for all people, and realize that above all things, Love is the call of God.

I’ll have other reflections over the next few weeks, but I started with this one.

Grace and Peace,
Z