We were going to get up early, drive nine hours across the Midwest, through countless tollbooths, to stay at a Benedictine monastery, and to get a glimpse of the daily work of the prophetic Joan Chittister. I jumped at the chance.
From community service projects to book clubs; from outreach to the poor to potlucks; from meditation groups to support groups, he described the many other places that provide much of what the Church used to (and occasionally still does) provide.
The entire conversation about "In Christ Alone" may not have occurred had the Celebrating Grace Baptist hymnal (2010) not published the piece with a verse reading, in part: Till on that cross as Jesus died the love of God was magnified.
After making it through three liturgies, three sermons and three small group sessions where we clumsily danced around the fact that LGBTQ people exist and are in the room, the silence moved beyond awkwardness into marginalization.
Perhaps showing compassion for those who disagree with us can help take us closer to that day when all of us will rejoice at these SCOTUS rulings and the confirmation of every American's inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.
The act of standing with same-sex couples seeking God's and their communities' blessings, coupled with the greatly changing nature of what it means to be disciples of Christ in the 21st century, has helped me think long and hard about the future of our church.
Somehow in telling my own story, and for me in being as out and proud of my Christian story as I am of my gay story, it allows others to find their stories too. In that finding, in that telling, I believe we find God, and Jesus at work.
Many queer people walk away from the only kind of church they ever know, and they never look back. But Joey, with his boldness to integrate the faith of his childhood and the sexuality with which God has blessed him, has forever reframed Lent for me.
As service became a defining aspect of growing up in America, the infrastructure moved from the church to the schools and became so secularized that conversations around faith were discouraged -- even taboo.
The days were long, but the dedication of these volunteers was inspiring. When I would look around the room, I knew I wasn't surrounded by my regular church family, but I was surprised that it still felt like church for me.
We must stop seeing demographic changes as problems that must be leveraged in order to avoid death and instead see these changes as transformational realities that must be embraced in order to experience new life.
The preservation of the dignity of Haitian farmers wasn't merely a relief and recovery effort. It was a chance for Presbyterians to meet the responsibility God has given all of us to care for God's people in a way that is life affirming and empowering.
I see only one possibility for our society to move past and heal from our increasingly dangerous impasse: to have real conversations with one another. And I don't mean scripted, talking-point-filled debates that turn into a wrestling match.
At the General Assembly we watched Christian clergy and laypeople engaging in dialogue on a very difficult topic -- the Israeli occupation of the West Bank -- with respect, grace and open hearts. It is a true blessing to walk the path of peace with you in solidarity.
We talk a lot about the power of the religious right to negatively influence the fate of LGBT civil rights, but we are talking about the wrong religious right there. What LGBT people need now is not more of the religious right.
The mainstream U.S. press wrote quite extensively about last week's Presbyterian campaign for corporate social responsibility. Virtually all the headlines focused on the decision not to divest from corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation.
At the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, the commissioners emphasized the importance of alleviating suffering through the establishment of a just, peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- a profoundly pro-Israeli position.