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Saturday, January 3, 2009

An interesting story about two young pastors in Brooklyn

From the New York Times:
"Ann Kansfield — Pastor Ann, as she is known to some parishioners — has come up with a game to keep the children's attention during services at Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn. Calling the youngsters to the front of the church, where they sit on steps facing the congregation, she asks if any of them has an object that she can use in the sermon she will deliver to them.

One Sunday in March, a young parishioner produced a stuffed Winnie the Pooh, which Ms. Kansfield worked into the story of Noah's ark. Mission accomplished, she turned around and gave a big thumbs-up to the adults in the audience.

But Ms. Kansfield, 30, who has cropped hair, round glasses and a soothing manner, is no ordinary leader of a parish. She found herself at the center of a controversy after marrying her partner, Jennifer Aull, 32, in June 2004 in a ceremony in Northampton, Mass., in which her father, Norman Kansfield, officiated.

At the time, Dr. Kansfield was the president of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and a minister of the Reformed Church of America. He was suspended as a minister and lost his post at the seminary after a jury of ministers from North America ruled that he violated his ordination vows and went against Reformed Church doctrine when he married the couple.

Ms. Kansfield, herself a graduate of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, is not ordained, but she said she would have been had she not made a public issue of being a lesbian. "If nobody found out and I had kept quiet," she said, "they were going to ordain me in a matter of months."

After a divinity student receives an invitation from a parish to act as pastor, which is how Ms. Kansfield ended up at Greenpoint, the ordination process is administered by the classis, or local governing body of the church. "It could happen in a few months if there aren't any complications," said Jon Norton, executive minister of the Synod of New York, a governing body.

Asked whether Ms. Kansfield's openness about her relationship with her partner was keeping her from ordination, Mr. Norton said, "I think that's at the heart of why she hasn't been ordained yet." He emphasized that he was speaking as an individual, not as a representative of the church as a whole.

Ed note: Ms. Kanfield's father lost his job at Union for marrying his daughter and her spouse.

Ms. Kansfield and Ms. Aull, who is studying at Union Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights, live in a parsonage above the parish church. Since Ms. Kansfield took over in August 2003, membership has grown from around a dozen regular churchgoers to 50, a third of them children. "There is new blood in the community, and she is attracting this new blood, which is adding a new vibrancy," said Ann Akers, a psychoanalyst who was the church's part-time minister before Ms. Kansfield's arrival.

Ms. Kansfield tries not to dwell on what she calls the "brouhaha" surrounding her father's suspension. Her time is split between her pastoral work and her job as a writer for United Church Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial services to churches.

But she contends that being a member of a minority group is an advantage in her work. "It's a rare person who is in the majority nowadays," she said. "When people see me, they know they are welcome."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Five Remembering 2008 Looking forward to 2009

Sally posted this Friday Five:
Actually, It turns out it's a Friday Ten, thanks Sally!
First list five things that you remember/ treasure from 2008
1. Starting in January, surviving Pancreatitis and Surgery.
2.Returning to my new job in February-after 3 months-to find I was still welcome and had passed probation.
3. Traveling to Toronto in May to marry my Beloved-tired of waiting for New York to allow marriage for the gays.
4.. Celebrated my aunt's 90th birthday with a grand party!
5. Started looking for a house/condo for weekends and sometimes during the week-on Long Island.

Then list five things that you are looking forward to in 2009
1. Not sure if I'm exactly looking forward to this, exactly, but turning 60 on July 25th.
2. Planning a cruise to the Caribbean in early March.
3. Continuing my church search while still attending my Catholic Lesbian Group at Saint Francis Xavier Church and sometimes attending services.
4. Planning some swell vacation for my birthday this summer
4. Looking forward to the unknown pleasures of the coming year.
I think a big birthday like this should be celebrated all year, don't you?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

(picture of snowy Brooklyn rooftops taken yesterday from the state government office building where I work- with my iphone.)
Thank you for all of your wise advice, your comments and commentary's, your posts in your blogs, pictures, photographs and Friday Fives, which I really enjoy reading and responding to. I wish all you a happy, healthy and blessed new year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ocean Grove NJ Update ...update

I hadn't heard anything about this for awhile. Let me remind you. Ocean Grove is a beautiful town on the New Jersey shore. Unfortunately, all the land and the beach is owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a fundamentalist Methodist organization that will rent you the land if you want to build a home or open an business. The population is strangely quite gay?? We have vacationed there several times. Members of Beloved's shul have a home there and they wanted to marry in the beach pavilion. the OGCM said no. They sued. Here's the follow up. You can find links to previous articles under Ocean Grove:

"NJ finds group discriminated by barring ceremony
Lesbian couple can hold civil union ceremony at public pavilion
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) | Dec 29, 1:38 PM

A lesbian couple that was barred from holding a civil union ceremony at a beachfront pavilion owned by a church group has won a legal victory.

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said in a ruling Monday that there is probable cause that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns a square-mile of beachfront property near Asbury Park, discriminated against Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster by not renting the oceanfront spot to the couple for a civil union ceremony in March 2007.

While the ruling is decisively in favor of the couple, it does not end the case, which has become a major symbol in the gay rights battle in New Jersey and beyond.

An administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties.

AdSys ad not found for news:instory "What this case has always been about from my clients' perspective has been equality," said Larry Lustberg, the lawyer for the couple. He said they will seek an order that requires the pavilion to be "open to all on an equal basis."
Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based group that represents the Camp Meeting Association, said his clients would keep pushing back against being forced to allow civil unions on the property.

"Our position is the same," he said. "A Christian organization has a Constitutional right to use their facilities in a way that is consistent with their beliefs."

In a second ruling Monday, the Civil Rights Division said that the Camp Meeting Association did not discriminate against another lesbian couple that applied to use the pavilion for their civil union ceremony in April 2007. That's because by then, the group had stopped renting out the pavilion entirely.

Meanwhile, the parties in the dispute are awaiting a ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether the issue should be decided in the division on civil rights or in federal courts. A lower federal court has ruled that the state could consider the case.

The dispute has become a rallying point for both sides in the political battle over gay marriage.

Supporters of gay rights say the discrimination shows that New Jersey's two-year-old civil unions law falls short of its intent to give gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.

Earlier this month, a state commission headed by J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the director of the Division on Civil Rights and the author of Monday's ruling, recommended that the state allow gay couples full marriage rights.

Opponents of gay marriage cite the case as a prime example of their contention that by recognizing same-sex couples, states are interfering with religious freedoms.

"It's something we have to be careful about," said the Alliance Defense Fund's Raum. "As the rights of same-sex couples increase, the tendency is to have it conflict with the First Amendment rights of religious organizations."