Monday, October 31, 2005

Bisexuals Do Exist! We need proof for Dr. Ruth meeting.

From the Bi Resource Center in Boston.


PLEASE POST ! PLEASE DISTRIBUTE!
We are preparing for a meeting with Dr. Ruth the famous sex “expert.” Her recent statement in her syndicated column that “Everyone is either straight or gay…there really is no such thing as being bisexual” needs to be refuted. We need your help. We want to bring a large stack of letters from bisexual people to the meeting. We need you to write a brief letter. It will only take 1-2 minutes! (We especially need letters from people who have been bisexual for 2 years or longer to counter her just-a-phase theory.)

The letter should say:
1) How long you have been bisexual.
2) If you can identify bisexual feelings you had in childhood, (or anytime before you chose a bi identity) but couldnt put a name to at the time: describe those feelings and say at what age they started.
3) Sign and date the letter. If you don’t feel comfortable signing your whole name feel free to sign your first name only.
4) Feel free to add more information or statements if you wish. Such as your occupation,your education, your city and state, your relationships past or present, parenthood etc.
Please email the letter to fuscialadybug@netzero.net

SAMPLE LETTER
Dear Dr. Ruth:
I am a 30 year old male and have identified as bisexual for the last ten years. I have been in love with and attracted to men, women and also a few transgendered people during that time.
However, I remember that back in kindergarten I had a crush on a little girl in my class. I used to chase her around the playground and try to kiss her. In first grade I had a crush on a little boy I met in Little League. I told my mom that I would like to marry him. She told me “No you dont! You cant marry boys, you can only marry girls!”
Sincerely,
Joe JonesJersey City NJ
[you can also use a nickname if you want]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

10 reasons why gay marriage should be illegal

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Re-post this if you believe love makes a marriage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

BUYAN!


Hopefully one of the signs of emergence in our faith is a commitment to minister to young adults. Becoming relevant to our society is more than young adult ministry, but young adult ministry has to be a big part of it. So we've now launched BUYAN - the British Unitarian Young Adult Network. Here's an article I wrote that should be in the Inquirer very soon.


The journey of nine British Unitarian young adults to the Opus conference in Iowa this summer was only the beginning of the process of forming a viable young adult presence in British Unitarianism. Those of us who went on the trip have returned with a lot of ideas, and a renewed sense of confidence in our faith and our ability to work for young people in Unitarianism.

During the conference, and subsequent meetings, we have launched BUYAN – the British Unitarian Young Adult Network. It is hoped that BUYAN will act as an overseeing body for national young adult (aged 18 – 35) activities. The exact institutional organisation of BUYAN will be settled in the coming months and years. But for now we want to increase the visibility of Unitarian young adults in this country. The goal of BUYAN is to make sure that the Unitarian community is welcoming to young adults and to help young adults bring all they can into the Unitarian community. It is hoped BUYAN will be a support for:

· Senior Plus Weekends (for 18-25 year olds) – currently supported by Foy.

· A young adult pre-Annual Meetings conference every year.

· An annual national young adult conference and retreat.

· Young adult leadership training (in a range of areas including peer leadership and working with other groups as regards youth leadership and ministry).

· Promoting the young adult voice within the Unitarian community and promoting the Unitarian voice within young adult communities.

· Encouraging local congregations to increase young adult attendance, membership and participation.

· Campus Ministry bringing support and outreach to students in universities.

· Working with all other Unitarian groups to ensure young adult inclusivity and involvement in all aspects of Unitarian life.

· Building up young adult international links (with such groups as the Church of the Younger Fellowship, the International Association for Religious Freedom, the International Religious Fellowship, the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, the Continental Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network, the Francis David Unitarian Youth Association and any other appropriate groups)

· Ensuring strong links with all youth activities within the Unitarian movement, in particular, to assist in ‘bridging’ from youth to young adulthood.

We know that many young adults are interested in religion and spirituality. We know that young adults bring unique and important gifts to churches. We bring energy, ideas, enthusiasm and our life experiences. We bring our own sense of spirituality and a strong commitment to social justice. Many young adults do want to belong to a church. Many people who grew up Unitarian miss the intimacy and sense of fun and community they found as children and teenagers. Many other people discover Unitarianism in their young adult years, but are saddened to find there are no people their own age in local congregations. We want to do something about this.

There are many challenges in attracting young adults to churches. Young adulthood is a very transitional period in people’s lives. Young adults leave home, go to university, start new jobs and careers, travel a great deal nationally and internationally, start families of their own and discover who they are as people. All these things present unique challenges for young adult faith. Practically, young adults may only spend a few years in one place making it difficult to settle into the life of a church community. Also Sunday mornings aren’t always the most practical times for young adults to come to church. This is why it is essential to have a national network that can let isolated young adults in congregations know that they are not alone. BUYAN should also keep in contact with young adults that aren’t in congregations to keep them in touch with the Unitarian community during this time in their lives, so we don’t lose them completely.

We now have a good number of young adults who are passionate about our faith and committed to do some hard work. We need to unite to support one another, reach out to isolated young adults scattered around the British Isles and build a national commitment to halt the decline of young adult membership in this community. I believe this is possible. The time is now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Meanwhile, in real life

I have an interview for a job tomorrow. Gulp. My first interview. At least I know my applications haven't been terrible if one place invites me to interview. It's a Teaching Assistant job - maternity cover - which is good because I only want it for this year. Hopefully next year I'll be training for ministry. I've put in my application form and I've visited Unitarian College Manchester where I think I'll train. Fingers crossed all around.

I'm now in Birmingham, living with another Unitarian young adult, which is very cool. I'm back at Unitarian New Meeting, which is cool cos they now have a young minister. I'm going to preach there soon. Hey ho.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Political involvement

James Luther Adams said that every Unitarian should be involved in controversial social justice work. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. In America I was impressed by the commitment a lot of people had to working on campaigns. I was also frustrated that in many ways I could not get more involved, because I was not a citizen, a tax-payer or a voter, but only a visitor.

So now I'm back in my own country I'm looking for groups to put my time, energy and money into. This has been a bit of a depressing process. I find British society a lot more apathetic politically. Of course there are not so many right-wing nutters in power here, but still there is work to do.

I think I should join a political party. I voted Labour in 2001. This year I didn't get to vote because I was out of the country (I did try but never got a postal vote). I think I would really like to vote Green but I think I have to be more compromising and responsible and not vote for a small party. I think I am going to join the Liberal Democrat party. I don't think Lib Dem is a wasted vote, and I could work within the party to make it more committed to the things I care about, for example marriage equality.

Marriage equality is something I really want to get behind in this country. I was at Cambridge City Hall in Massachusetts in May 2004 until 2a.m. in the morning watching people getting the first same-sex marriage licenses in America. I was there a week later when my two friends Carlos and Anthony got married at my Unitarian church. We are getting civil partnerships in the UK but after my experiences in Boston I have decided this is not enough. I want to work for complete marriage equality for all couples. I found something called the Coalition for Marriage Equality but the website's dead. Is there really no active political group for marriage equality in the UK?

Speaking of dead websites what ever happened to Progressive Christian Unitarian Universalists? There was a group that I thought I could really get behind. It made a website, posted a few things, stagnated, and now it ain't there. What a shame.

I'd also like to work for the separation of church and state. Funny isn't it, in America there is an official separation of church and state, and there are lots of groups working to preserve that. Yet in the UK, where there is no separation of church and state there doesn't seem to be a campaign to bring about that separation. The only thing I can find on the net is the British Humanist Association. They also work for things like the abolition of the blasphemy law, which I want to too. Do I need to join a Humanist group, despite not (in any conventional sense) being a humanist? Maybe I do. I'll pray to God about whether I should join the British Humanist Association.

I also want to work against Christian Voice. There's a nice little anti-Christian Voice website but I think it's just a website. What is needed is a proper counter-campaign. Something like People of Faith for Freedom of Speech. If Christian Voice do a protest against Jerry Springer the musical when it's in Birmingham then I want to do a counter-protest. We'll see.

Of course the Make Poverty History is very important, and I want to get more involved with that. But I think its important to be involved in less well known and more controversial things too. Mind you, I need to get a job first before I can give a financial commitment to anything.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Microchurch

The Unitarian faith is, of course, in a period of transition. It's almost a cliché to say so. The most visible change is the change in the way we govern ourselves nationally. The old big Council is going and it's going to replaced by a slim line Executive. This Executive is going to be elected directly by every member of every congregation (at least in theory if everything works out with paperwork). This is quite remarkable. It makes us in the Britain much more democratic than the American UUA which as far as I understand it elects the President at a General Assembly. Not that for us, but a direct postal election for every registered member of a congregation. Hopefully people who are Associate Members of the General Assembly will also be able to vote, but that has yet to be decided. I'm an Associate Member, but I only just joined my church so I will only be able to vote if Associate Members can.

I think the change is to be welcomed, although I wish a more spiritual, and less management/business type word than 'Executive' could be used. This will indeed be an interesting period as we go through the first election.

An interesting change this will bring about will be the shift from a congregational-based to a membership-based religious culture. This might be quite a revolution. I'm not sure if this will happen, but I've heard a lot of people in-the-know talking about it. The absolute individualism of Unitarians is something that has been holding us back for a long time. Every congregation has the right to run its own affairs, but this also means each congregation has the freedom to ignore its connections nationally and regionally, and to ignore its mission as a church.

In short, there has been much freedom and little responsibility, little sense of belonging to a greater community covenanted to be together. This has meant that a small group of people could run their church as a social club for their kind of people, with no mechanism to challenge them. Perhaps I am being a little unfair, and a little simplistic, but there is some truth to what I'm saying.

How revolutionary it will be, then, for us to see ourselves as being a member of a national body, defined by our right to vote for the Executive, who join together in various ways locally. What will this mean? What will this look like?

Sure, congregational polity ain't all bad. Something like it will always exist in this community, but it is in need of renewal. The UUA Commission on Appraisal Report is a good start. Nevertheless I think the way we view 'church' is changing, and must change.

What we need is interconnected webs of communities. What is needed is small group ministry, engagement groups that meet and pray together interconnected locally and nationally. It depresses me a little bit that I hear a lot of American Unitarian Universalists talking about 'megachurch' as the future. Sure megachurches can teach us some stuff, but I think what is needed is ‘microchurch.’

Thankfully, I’m not the only person thinking about this. Epiphany Church in Oklahoma is the kind of church that makes me optimistic about Unitarianism (at least from the website). It is a Universalist Christian microchurch. The website says,


‘Micro-church means that we intend to be the opposite of the modern "mega-church." Following the model of the early church movement, we seek to focus on spiritual depth in small communities that will then multiply themselves in other places and other ways, all with the aim of developing the leadership of all, becoming permission-giving and mission-focused instead of being clergy-focused and controlled by committees. Instead of putting all our money and resources into bigger buildings, budgets, and lengthy bylaws, we want to put them into our passions and ministries in the world. Eventually we hope to have a network of "Epiphanies" or "micro-churches" in and around the Tulsa area. One overall congregation meeting in multiple sites at different times and places and different ways, cultivating lay leadership and hands-on service to our immediate neighborhoods as well the wider world, staying connected through leadership gatherings and some regular celebrations of worship.’


I would hope this could be something we could begin to cultivate in British Unitarianism. I wonder whether this could only work as a church-start, or whether it could develop out of an existing church. I don’t know. Perhaps what is needed is small group ministry in many different contexts. Our churches in the UK are already small, how difficult would it be to convert them to intentional micro-church groups?