Thursday, January 12, 2017

[PIE: public, intentional, explicit]

As I continue to think about uncertain spaces and declared spaces, I came across this important concept from the Affirm United website. It presents three key aspects of being a declared space in a crisp, clear way:

Most congregations do their best to be welcoming, but being affirming goes deeper and is public, intentional, and explicit, in their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Think “PIE”: Public, Intentional, and Explicit.

Public: An Affirming Ministry uses symbols and signs which are echoed outside and inside the church building, in worship, and in all other facets of church life. The broader community should also know what it stands for; a witness to the wider community that God’s love extends to everyone equally and without reserve. This is still a radical message!

Intentional: An Affirming Ministry is deliberate in their process of study, education and dialogue with members of their faith community (both during the Affirming process and as a piece of their ongoing work), to ensure that the history of oppression and discrimination by the Church is both understood and acknowledged, and that continued growth, education, and celebration are part of its ministry.

Explicit: Affirming Ministries should explicitly indicate in their Mission and Vision statement – and everywhere else! – that the LGBTQ+ community is a part of and embraced in all facets of church life. And as part of the Affirming process, their faith community will explore and explain how to live out that commitment.

Read more about this at

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

[can a church be biblical, evangelical and progressive?]

Here's an article about a Calgary church that believes in Jesus and loves and embraces people -- in reality, not just abstractly.
Can a church be both open and inclusive on social questions and at the same time evangelical in outreach and committed to scripture and doctrine? Wouldn’t you want to be part of a church like that?

It is not hard to find theologically open churches that aren’t engaged with scripture and doctrine. And it is easy to find churches committed to scripture and doctrine that make the lines of belonging impossibly narrow. Could a church offer the best of both worlds?

John Pentland, minister at Hillhurst United Church in Calgary, Alberta, thinks so, and his church seems poised to reach a generation of Canadians who are skeptical of religion in general and Christianity in particular. He admits that this is surprising—those looking for innovative congregations and dramatic church growth are not likely to look at the United Church of Canada.

"Biblical, evangelical—and progressive" by Jason Byassee
Oct 28, 2016
Hillhurst United Church (Calgary) logo. Snipped from their website.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

p.s. this post is tagged with "uncertain spaces" because Hillhurst is the opposite of an uncertain space — it is a great example of a declared space.

Friday, January 06, 2017

why I no longer believe in lgbtq+ friendly churches

I used to be in favour of lgbtq+ friendly churches.

My denomination, according to head office, has at least four lgbtq-friendly churches in this area1. Generally, these churches are welcoming of people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, allow involvement in ministry at all levels and have pastors who are theologically progressive.

Despite being lgbtq-friendly, these churches are uncertain spaces to many people, in that they have not declared if and how they value and embrace diverse peoples. To be specific in this context, these churches do not say anything about being lgbtq+ friendly, their website gives no indication of their welcome and there are no rainbows on the sign out front. The effect is that people in the neighbourhood and, in fact, even people inside the church itself, might have no idea.

And so initially I had thought that they needed encouragement to move toward becoming churches that openly declare that all people are welcome and valued. This is particularly important so that people who are at the edges and who belong to minority groups would know which churches will walk with them on their spiritual journey.

That's what I used to think. But now, I no longer believe in lgbtq+ friendly churches.

It’s not because they are hesitant to proclaim that the good news they believe truly includes everyone. It’s because just as lgbtq+ friendliness is absent from the signs and the website, so are all things lgbtq+ absent from the culture and structure of the church.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

[what the largest survey of transgender people says about our churches]

graphic of 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey from their website

Sojourners has posted an article about the findings from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey of 28,000 transgender people, in an article titled "7 Things the Largest-Ever Survey of Transgender People Tells Us About Our Churches."

The focus of their article, as the title suggests, is on the church and faith experiences. Interesting reading ...

Here's the first three things:
  1. Most trans people have experienced life in a community of faith.
  2. Trans people are afraid of religious rejection.
  3. Trans people have a pretty good reason to be afraid.

Read the article here:

If you are interested in the overall survey report, you can get it here:

Thursday, December 01, 2016

[saint giles' welcomes...]

photo of St. Giles' sign, with statement of welcome. Photo by Lauren VanderHout. Used with permission.

A sign outside of Saint Giles' Anglican Church in Cambridge. Photo by Lauren VanderHout.
Used by permission.

Monday, November 21, 2016


[we are all related]

I work downtown now, which means that there's lots to see when I go for a walk at lunch. Here's what I found in the atrium of Enterprise Square:

Sculpture of polar bear standing on base, with "We are all related" and indigenous writing. In atrium of Enterprise Square, Edmonton. Artist unknown to me. Photo by rob goetze

Saturday, November 12, 2016

don't say "the pope blesses trans"

Picture of jesus and several disciples walking along. One says to Jesus, "Hey Jesus, after you're dead, I'll be writing about you." Jesus replies, "Please, Mark, do not write 'Jesus hung out with prostitutes.' Please." Cartoon by rob goetze.

On a flight from Azerbaijan to Italy, Pope Francis was asked by journalists how he would minister to those feel that their bodies do not match their gender.

His comments were an interesting mix of pastoral care and highly conservative views. Here I've isolated two distinct sections from an article that Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, wrote on Oct. 3, 2016 with the title "Pope lashes out at ‘nasty’ transgender mentality and ‘world war against marriage’".

“I’ve never abandoned them,” he said. “When someone who has this condition comes before Jesus, Jesus would surely never say ‘go away because you’re gay.'”

Francis recounted the story of a Spanish transgender man who wrote him a letter recounting his transition from a woman to a man....

Francis praised the bishop who accompanied the man throughout his transition. But he criticized the man’s parish priest, who he said would yell “You’ll go to hell” when he saw him on the sidewalk.

Francis recounted that the man found a retired parish priest who had a different attitude: “He said, ‘How long has it been since you’ve gone to confession? Come on. Let’s confess so you can receive Communion.'”

While attention must be paid, he said, “in each case welcome, accompany, discern and integrate them” into the life of the church. “This is what Jesus would do today.”
And here's the second section:
He concluded by begging reporters flying with him on the papal plane: “Please don’t write ‘The pope blesses trans.’ Please.”

What does this mean?  Based on his conversation with the press, he doesn't want them to report that he blesses trans, because he doesn't. Or perhaps he does, but he doesn't want it to get out because people will be upset?? Possible but less likely, in my opinion.

Or maybe he knows what will happen if word gets to God that the pope blesses trans:

Three part cartoon. First part shows the pope's plane flying in the sky, and he says, "Please don't write 'The pope blesses trans.' Please." The second part shows an Italian newspaper with the headline "Pope Blesses Trans." Third part shows an asteroid headed right toward the earth. Cartoon by rob goetze.

That's pure sarcasm on my part; I'd of course be delighted if the Pope blessed trans people.

Delfin Bautista, a trans Latino Catholic who attended World Youth Day this year, says this about the pope:
I have been reflecting on the various messages we have received from the pope this week…live your truth, make a mess, and who am I to judge....

Looking at the three papal phrases that resonated with me, I realize that the pope has perhaps subversively blessed and invited us to live our truth by making a mess so that more and more people can live a life that is judgment free.

Gotta love the spin he puts on that, eh?