Remember the Other Question

"How goes your walk with the Lord?"

Last night as I was sitting in my bedroom reading, I suddenly became aware of the date. Exactly four months have passed since that January morning when I woke up, sat down at my computer, logged into WordPress, and clicked “publish” for the first time. I put a link on my Facebook page and went upstairs to make breakfast: oatmeal and blueberries – just another day in the life of the recently unemployed. I sat in the kitchen and ate my fibrous morning meal, thinking to myself, “who’s really going to read this blog?” I had already come out to my entire family, to most of my friends, and to nearly everyone I encounter in my day-to-day life. I imagined those who would see my link on their Facebook news feed simply saying, “Oh, Andrew’s gay; knew that already,” then keep scrolling. But by the time I returned to my desk, my inbox had started filling up, my phone was ringing, and Facebook notifications were coming in by the minute. At the end of the day, we had received nearly 4,000 hits.

To this day, I still don’t quite get how it happened. Continue reading Remember the Other Question

Rev. Paul Corner: “A Way Forward”

Rev. Paul Corner

When I first arrived at North Park Seminary, it was always a bit of a surprise to me how much the question of women in ministry remained an ‘issue’ for many congregations, lay people, clergy, and students in the ECC.  Having grown up in the United Methodist Church, I would jokingly say to classmates, “We were well beyond that at my home church.  People were more worked up over the lesbian couple that sat in the pew behind my family every Sunday.”  However, the irony for me in making that statement was that, as a child, I had no idea about the nature of their relationship, and I had no concept of the divide that existed in my church over their presence, participation, and leadership in our congregation.  The reality is that for me, homosexuality did not exist.  It was not something I encountered openly and regularly, and so it was off of my radar screen save for the cruel jokes and words pre-adolescents will call one another.

My first real encounter with the tension that exists between the LGBT community and the church came when I was a freshman at Penn State.  Continue reading Rev. Paul Corner: “A Way Forward”

Charlotte Johnson: “Staying Home”

L-R: Joan Gauthey and Charlotte Johnson

It’s hard to believe that “Coming Out Covenant” is truly up and running. I’m in my 70th year, and it has taken a very long time to acknowledge a large group of human beings living in our midst. I am one of them.

My name is Charlotte Johnson, and I live with my spouse, Joan Gauthey, in Washington, CT. We belong to Salem Covenant Church in Washington Depot, where we have been active for 44 years. When I say active, I mean ACTIVE. I’ve been in the choir since age 14, both of us have spent years on church council, Joan has been church chair, together we’ve been on Diaconate, Fellowship committee, Christian Education, pastoral search committee, Joan helped with nursery and I’ve organized Lenten Lunches for 20 years. SHOCKINGLY, we even headed the young people’s group when we were young and agile. (Some of those “kids” are now grandparents!) Oh yes, delegates to annual and conference meetings several times. Where we totally fall by the wayside is that neither of us bakes, and I’m a mediocre cook.

Joan has been a wonderful high school teacher for 35 years in town, and was coach of the year in Field Hockey in 1991 for the United States of America. Her Covenant resume is pretty thin. She’s only been in the church 47 years, is Irish, Arab and French, and was brought up in a Congregational Church. However, she did work with Jerry Johnson and the Barnabas group for several years. I, on the other hand, am a saturated “Covie.” My grandparents from Sweden helped start our church in 1888. My father was on the Diaconate for 40 years, and mother rolled enough bandages to circle the Congo. They put their blood, sweat, tears and constant prayers into our church family, as did Aunt Ruth, who lived with us and was always part of the family. Aunt Ruth was born in Sweden, confirmed in our church, and died at age 100 and buried by said church. My sister, 13 years older, and aunt went to North Park College (NPC) and Swedish Covenant Hospital (SCH) starting in 1924 – 1951. Continue reading Charlotte Johnson: “Staying Home”

Katie Klug: “Confronting Convenient Boxes”

(L-R): Leah and Katie Klug

So, Katie,” my group of peers began ominously, “what do you think of Greg being gay?”

All eyes were on me.

I was in high school and was widely known for being an outgoing, kind, hyper-involved straight-A-student.  I was the poster-child for excellence.  However, I was also a poster-child for an outspoken, opinionated and legalistic brand of “Christianity” that had no room for people who were gay, Mormon or having sex outside of marriage.  I’m actually still not sure where I latched on to some of those ideas.  Let’s just blame TBN and move on with the story.

Well,” I paused, “I like Greg, but I don’t think it is right.”

The classic ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ routine.  How progressive I was!  I wasn’t from the backwoods; I knew that Jesus loved everyone.  I just (somewhat unconsciously) thought he loved me more for being a straight virgin who didn’t break rules and volunteered copious amounts of time to a plethora of organizations.

I was 13 when I first experienced the possibility and truth of a contextual interpretation of the scriptures.  My mother was about to become a pastor in the ECC and, though they did not seem consistent with the God I loved, I knew full well the scriptures that spoke against women in ministry and leadership.  How could my pre-teen brain reconcile this dichotomy? Continue reading Katie Klug: “Confronting Convenient Boxes”