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Follow-up to the Amy DeLong trial

After the Amy DeLong trial victory, some pastors have written to our Council of Bishops urging them to take a reactive, negative stance against gay/lesbian pastors. In response to these letters, on September 27, Rev. Scott Campbell, Defense Counsel for the Amy DeLong trial, wrote the following open letter to our Council of Bishops.

An Open Letter to the Council of Bishops

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to you as one who has recently participated in the trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong as Counsel for the Respondent and as one who has signed a pledge to offer the full ministry of the church to all persons without regard to their gender or sexual orientation. I am also writing in response to the recent letters from a group of United Methodist pastors and lay persons urging the Council of Bishops to adopt a proactive threatening and punitive stance in an attempt to intimidate those whose pastoral consciences have long been violated. I offer this letter with the deepest respect for the office of bishop and an inkling of the heart-rending conflicts experienced by human beings called to such ministry on behalf of the church. It is out of such an understanding that I humbly offer what follows.


Copacabana Cathedral altarBless the local vendors, who are patient with our rough Spanish. We teach them a little English. They love teaching us Aymara, the local indigenous language. We all laugh.

Two weeks ago, two of our favorite vendors, Roxana and Hugo, who live in a small apartment behind their tiny-but-packed-to-the-ceiling house wares shop, surprised us with a visit to our house. (Dang it: I had just stepped out of the shower, wrapped in a towel! I sorted myself out and joined them and Jeff.)

They surprised us again: Would we serve as godparents to their two teenagers?

In Latin America, this is a serious request -- and a hefty obligation for godparents. Roxana and Hugo said they want their kids to have “a second set of parents” to model the value of an education, hard work, and resourcefulness; to demonstrate a virtuous life; and to lead Katarina and Franzua toward a better life.


We said Yes.

Those Little Things

I won't be in worship with you this Sunday, the 16th -- instead, I'll be at the church I attended during my Junior and Senior High School days, in Dixon, Illinois. They are celebrating their 175th anniversary this year, as we are, and they've invited the people who've become pastors from their church to come back and share some reflections.

Getting Fleeced

I couldn’t help thinking of the nursery rhyme, “Bah, bah, black sheep,” as we shopped last week for sheep, alpaca and llama fleeces. Instead of three bags full, we bought nine whole alpaca fleeces and two complete sheep skins – for a total of about $40 USD.

It’s shearing time here. Once a year, farmers shear their wooly animals, and take the bales of fleece to a huge market at Kasani, a small border town that straddles Peru and Bolivia. We could have walked the 8 kilometers (about 4 miles) from our home, but because of the massive crowds and the bulky wool, we took a minibus both ways – for about 60 cents roundtrip!

'Even if I could afford nutritious food...'

'Even if I could afford nutritious food, I only know how to cook corn, rice and potatoes

From the High Andean Lake Titicaca region of western Bolivia and southern Peru: ¡Kamasaki! Aymara, the local indigenous language, for hello, how are you.

We survived the Andean winter (here, that’s June through August). We are fully settled into our home, and we’re ready for volunteers and mission teams. As site hosts and coordinators of the Lake Titicaca Border Mission, the people here need your help … This is the poorest region in Bolivia, which is the poorest nation in South America. Most indigenous people here survive on less than $2 a day, growing corn and potatoes. A few can afford to buy rice and pasta -- more carbs. But virtually no one can afford an adequate balance of fruit, vegetables and protein. In Manko Kapac, about a 30-minute walk from our home, a woman in her mid-20’s told us, “Even if I could afford (vegetables and protein), I only know how to cook corn, rice, and potatoes.”

Sermon: "What's going on and where do we fit in"

Remember sensitivity training. Every word and gesture had to be in the right now. Popular in the 70s

You couldn’t say, “What are you planning to do after supper?” or “Are you going home for Thanksgiving?” These were all forms of avoiding the moment in front of you. It was terrifying, because all the ways we’d each learned to manipulate interactions and take conversations onto our safe territory were stripped away, and we had to be honest and truthful not about our past but about what was going on right this minute, right now, not just in our own minds, but in the room.

The gift of friendship

UPAVIM delegationIt was on a Saturday morning in mid-July, and we gathered around tables to share in a delightful breakfast and to welcome back the nine people from our church who had just returned from Guatemala.

Their lives had been changed, they said, by getting to know their hosts there – women of the UPAVIM co-operative who have managed to create a place of economic opportunity, community service and education in La Esperanza, a place where the very poor end up on the outskirts of Guatemala City.

Notes from a Sunday afternoon

What a delight it was to walk home from church last Sunday and step into the parsonage’s backyard, filled with about 40 wonderful people – member of the Administrative Council who were sharing in a great meal (thank you, Chefs!) before engaging in a planning time for the 2011-12 year.

Chontolá and Chichicastenango

Weaving at Ruth & NaomiIt doesn't seem possible that our time in Guatemala is nearly over. We have just returned to the Sister Parish center in the heart of Guatemala City after a couple of days on the road. Marta Roja, one of the UPAVIMas, drove us through stunning scenery to Chichicastenango, a famous market town in the Quiché region, about 90 miles northwest of the capital. This is one of the centers of Mayan culture in Guatemala, so the visit gave us a chance to witness the resilience of the indigenous people in spite of the attempts to wipe it out during the civil war. Ellen, our Sister Parish coordinator, introduced us to Pastor Diego, who described how he established the Ruth and Naomi cooperative to help women devastated by the conflict to support themselves. We were taken to meet some of those women, who live on steep hillsides close to the small village of Chontolá, and whose houses could only be reached by narrow footpaths through fruit orchards and corn fields. After days amidst the diesel fumes of a crowded city, this simple walk with breathtaking views across cloud-capped mountains, was truly restorative. Once there, they showed us age-old hand-weaving skills used to produce a range of colorful crafts with designs typical of the region. Since they mostly only speak their native Quiché language, Ellen and Diego combined to provide two-stage translations of their inspiring story.

Guatemala Weekend

IMG_1638Friday morning we woke up early and prepared for our trip to UPAVIM. The ride through downtown Guatemala City and into the outskirts of town (Zone 12) was scenic, and our tightly packed bus enjoyed the trip. When we arrived at UPAVIM, we were warmly welcomed by the UPAVIM women. We were then given a tour of the facility where we saw the school, the bakery, the library, and the arts and crafts work area. We had a huge lunch (that was quite delicious!) and then we were introduced to our host families. We all slept well and early on Friday night, and each had our own stories to share of the experiences we had at the houses. Almost all of the host families have children and large families, which makes evenings enjoyable and fun.


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