Rev. Amy Delong, tried by Methodists for being a lesbian, to preach at Bering Memorial Methodist Church

Rev. Amy DeLong

Paperwork can be the bane of any job. For Rev. Amy Delong a simple annual report catapulted her into the maelstrom of the United Methodist Church’s debate on accepting LGBT people. DeLong visits Houston’s Bering Memorial United Methodist Church (1440 Harold) on Sunday, Feb. 12 to preach at both the 8:30 and 10:50 service.

In 2009 DeLong was approached by two women who wanted to get married. After conducting premarital counseling with the couple Delong agreed to perform the ceremony. As a clergy person, DeLong was required to report on her activities at the end of the year, including any weddings she had performed. She knew that the Methodist Church did not allow same-sex marriage but thought “I don’t know if anybody even reads these.” Boy, was she wrong!

With-in three days she was hauled into the her boss’s (the bishop) office. DeLong’s relationship with her partner Val was well known to her colleagues. “I’ve never had a bishop or a leader in the church or a pastor who didn’t know that I was gay,” says DeLong. “Everyone knows Val.” But the church was determined now to make an example of her, and DeLon’s relationship would now be an issue.

In 2011 DeLong was tried in the church’s court with violating the Methodist “Book of Discipline” by being in a same-sex relationship and by performing a same-sex wedding. During the trial she refused to answer pointed questions about her and her partner’s sex life. “No heterosexual couples are ever asked if they
still engage in genital contact in their marriages,” says DeLong. That refusal left the court with no evidence against her on the first charge.

She was convicted of performing the wedding and suspended from ministry for 20 days. The court also required DeLong to work with a group of ministers to prepare a statement on how to “help resolve issues that harm the clergy covenant, create an advesarial spirit or lead to future trails.” “This sentence is complicated,” says DeLong. “It doesn’t lend itself well to media soundbites. So a lot of folks have been saying to me ‘I can’t tell, is this penalty good?’” DeLong responds with a resounding “Yes!” Saying that she welcomes the opportunity to write, teach and study on a topic dear to her heart.

DeLong recalls that during that initial meeting in the bishop’s office one of the bishop’s assistants referred to her as a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” To which she responded “Val and I aren’t practicing any more… we are pretty good at it by now.” The assistant laughed. More than anything that is the impression one gets of DeLong: someone with a lot of humor and aplomb who is unwilling to back down from a fight for justice.

After the jump watch a clip of DeLong talking about her experience.

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BACH for the holidays …. and beyond

Volunteer Wanda Brown helps get ready for the Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope on Chirstmas Eve

I have been out of the office, on vacation, since Dec. 22, and when I got back to work today and started wading through the thousands of emails in my inbox, I found one from Hank Henley, asking if we could include some information in Dallas Voice about BACH, the weekly Breakfast At Cathedral of Hope program in which church volunteers prepare and serve breakfast to the homeless.

So I am including Hank’s write-up about BACH’s Christmas Eve event here on Instant Tea, just as he sent it to me:

Use the words “Bach” and “cathedral” in a sentence this time of year, and most people will picture the “Christmas Cantata” or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” But at a certain church in Dallas, BACH stands for “Breakfast at the Cathedral of Hope,” a program that just celebrated its four-year anniversary in November. On Christmas Eve morning, while most of Dallas was nestled all snug in their beds, a small army of volunteers was in the kitchen at the Cathedral of Hope whipping up a hot and hearty breakfast for the homeless and needy that would be coming through their doors by 7:30 a.m. Under the direction of Rev. William Baldridge, Associate Pastor for Community Outreach, this weekly breakfast has grown from serving just 11 guests at the first meal to an average of 200 guests each Saturday morning.

And guests they are: receiving a hot meal served on china plates and with silverware and glasses. The guests may also receive a haircut after they eat, if they so chose.

This week, in addition to the usual food and drink, each guest received a bag with a blanket, hat, gloves, toiletries, water and food coupons. The gift bags were the result of the generous work of Jan Okerlund and Leslie Frye.

Leslie Frye, one of the volunteer coordinators, when asked how the volunteers feel about the work they do, said, “The real blessing is in the cooking for and serving those less fortunate, not only during this Season, but all year long.”

This Saturday’s volunteers included members of the church community of the Cathedral of Hope, members of the Turtle Creek Chorale and a group of 14 students from “I-CERV,” the “Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering.” They are here once a month, all year long. Kenneth Campbell, the Interfaith Services Director Volunteer Coordinator of the Memnosyne Foundation, brought these energetic and focused youth.

The Memnosyne Foundation is a wonderful organization whose mission is “to help a diverse people of the world consciously encourage an evolution of themselves and for future generations by providing the means to encourage positive, peaceful global collaboration.” The diverse crowd of leaders, volunteers and guests were certainly doing that on this morning.

And one guest, who guest shared his story quietly and privately with tears streaming down his face, personifies the spirit of sharing and giving. This time last year, he was on the street, living under a bridge and depending on the generosity of others to survive. He told me he could always count on a hot meal and being treated with respect when he came to BACH. This year, he is able to draw social security and is donating $25 a month to BACH. “They always fed me and helped me get through. Now I want to give back whatever I can. God blessed me and it’s what I want to do.”

Across the room, his hands deep in a bucket of soapy water, volunteer Jamie Rawson, spent the morning scraping plates and glasses, getting them ready for the dishwashers.

“There a few things a person can do which so clearly put Christmastime in perspective as doing something to help others. It is has been said so often as to become a cliché — but it is no less true for being a cliché. It is heart-warming to see so many people gathered to help provide for those in need. It is especially affirming to see so many young people from such a diversity of backgrounds. This has been the most fitting and rewarding way to truly start my Christmas.”

When the guests were finished with breakfast, finished visiting with friends and volunteers, finished with their haircut, and picked up their bag of supplies for warmth and comfort, they left the cathedral and headed back into the rain and the street.

As they left, Richard Boule greeted each of them and wished them a Merry Christmas.

“As I watched those people leaving the Cathedral after breakfast this morning, I could not help wondering where they were going and what each one of them had to look forward to this Christmas time. But I had the feeling that they were grateful for the humanity they were shown, so many left with a smile. May they be blessed.”

If you would like to help with BACH, please call Rev. Baldridge at the Cathedral of Hope at 214-351-1901.

You can see more photos from the Christmas Eve Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope after the jump.

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Early voting in runoff election off to slow start

For those who missed it, there is an election happening in Houston right now. Four City Council races wound up in run-offs after the November 8 municipal elections and Houstonians have until December 10 to decide the fate of these crucial races.  So far fewer than 2,000 people have voted. Without a “big ticket” item like the mayor’s race at the top of the ballot turnout in the runoff is expected to be very low. The upshot of which is that every ballot cast carries more weight than ever.

Two of the races are at-large seats, so every citizen of Houston gets to vote on this races:

  • In At-large position 2 former State Representative Kristi Thibaut faces Andrew C. Burks Jr. Pastor of Bailey Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • In At-large position 5 incumbent council member Jolanda Jones faces Jack Christie, former State Board of Education member .

Two of the races are for district seats, so only people who live in those districts get to vote on these races:

  • In District A incumbent council member Brenda Stardig faces republican activist Helena Brown.
  • In District B local restauranteur and education advocate Jerry Davis faces Alvin Byrd, current staffer for council member Jarvis Johnson.

Early voting continues through December 6th, election day is November 8. Voters may cast their ballot at any early voting location. Visit harrisvotes.org to find your election day polling location (it may be different than your November polling place) and to view a sample ballot.

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WATCH: Houston megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen equates being gay to having an addiction

Houston mega-church pastor Joel Osteen spoke to Sally Quinn of the Washington Post  as part of the media tour hyping his new book Everyday a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week. Quinn steered the conversation towards Osteen’s recent appearance on Piers Morgan, and his statement that he would attend a same-sex wedding, but not perform one.  Osteen has gotten a lot of flack from the religious right for his willingness to attend attend a “homosexual wedding,” and it must be said that, in the world of mega-church leaders, his position is remarkably tolerant.  Unfortunately, Olsteen’s attempt at a middle-of-the-road response to Quinn’s question quickly steered toward the absurd:

“Somebody that maybe had this certain difficulty now, maybe in five years they’re not if we will love them. You know, I think one of the messages I speak on sometimes is, you know, we can love people back into wholeness. But sometimes we want to beat them down — you got this addiction and you shouldn’t have that, or you did this — I just don’t think that’s the best way.”

Yes, because being LGBT is just like having an addiction. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t hear much of a difference between “love away the gay” and “pray away the gay.”

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Pastor Scott Lively is Retiring His Anti-Gay Ways…Not

 

Lively

Pastor Scott Lively, who has warned of a 'gay Nazi' takeover of the U.S. Military, and whose visits to Uganda (he claimed he delivered a "nuclear bomb against the gay agenda") to stoke homophobia were instrumental in planting the seed that eventually grew into the "kill the gays" bill, has moved to Massachusetts and says he is re-focusing, away from the anti-gay rhetoric.

Though that doesn't really appear to be the case. The Boston Globe reports:

He says he has not changed his view that gays are “agents of America’s moral decline’’ but has refocused his approach to fit his flock in Springfield, which he said includes many homeless people, drug addicts, and alcoholics.

“We’re not fighting the culture wars here in Springfield,’’ he said. “The issues here are more fundamental than that. You can’t deal with the culture wars with people who are struggling to survive. Those issues are not relevant. These are people who are trying to live.’’

“This whole mission in Springfield is to show by example the positive side of all this — that when you follow the Biblical approach and try to be as true to him [God] as you can, you get the maximum positive benefit for yourself and society,’’ he said. “It’s completely different from all the things that I’ve done in the past, which is going against the wrongs. We’re working toward what is right.’’

Lively continues to denounce homosexuality. Paul said that when he invited Lively to preach at his church earlier this year, Lively delivered an “old-time, hellfire message’’ condemning gays.

“It was a sermon that I didn’t really agree with,’’ Paul said. “It was a sermon that God has turned his back on America.’’

Watch a brief excerpt of an interview with Lively, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

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Prop 8-supporting pastor bagged on multiple child molestation charges

Isn’t it always the sanctimonious Godly Perverts — who make the most noise about “protecting” marriage from loving same-sex couples — the ones who spend time engaging in horrific acts with those unable to grant consent to any of his urges. (Sac Bee via Queerty):


The pastor of the Rio Linda Baptist Church is being held in Sacramento County Main Jail on million bail, charged with multiple counts of sexual child molestation.

Citrus Heights Police announced late Thursday that Tom Gene Daniels, 48, was arrested Dec. 9. Lt. Ray Bechler said police had postponed publicizing the arrest while they continued their investigation into the case.

If that isn’t enough, Daniels, in addition to his role as pastor, is also a foster parent and day care provider — giving him 24/7 access to children. The crimes allegedly occurred from 2004 to 2007, and multiple victims came forward to name their assailant as Daniels.

Lavender Newswire reported on Daniels’ contributions of 0 and to ProtectMarriage.com. It’s no surprise (as these things go the storyline hardly wavers) that the 110-member congregation at Rio Linda Baptist Church supports Daniels, officially charged with “lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 and engaging in three or more acts of sexual conduct with a child.”


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Prop 8-Loving Pastor Tom Daniels Arrested On Child Molestation Charges

Finally someone has volunteered to take Pastor Eddie Long's place in the Disgusting Men Of God headlines contest. Meet Pastor Tom Daniels. He's the head pastor at First Baptist Church in Rio Linda, California, outside Sacramento. He's a proud Prop 8 supporter. Oh, and he's being held on million bond for multiple child molestation charges.

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CALIFORNIA: Pastor Who Backed Prop 8 Held On Multiple Child Molestation Charges

Pastor Tom Daniels of Rio Linda, California is being held on M bail after being charged with multiple felony counts of sexual assault on a child. Lavender Newswire reports that Daniels twice made donations to Protect Marriage, the backers of Proposition 8.

Joe. My. God.

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“Poo-Poo” Pastor Charged With Blackmail

SsempaNightlinex390 (Screngrab) | Advocate.comMartin Ssempa, the Ugandan pastor who incites LGBT hatred by telling
congregants that gay people eat feces, has been charged with
blackmailing another pastor.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Uganda’s Martin Ssempa Accused Of Faking A Sodomy Scandal Against Another Pastor

Uganda's Pastor Martin Ssempa, the "eat da poo poo" lead proponent of the country's Kill The Gays bill, is among eight individuals detained on allegations of conspiring to defame Pastor Robert Kayanja. Something about false allegations of forced sodomy?

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