Respond and Engage!
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Michigan Reformation Conference
Paul will be speaking at the 16th Annual Michigan Reformation Conference in Flint, Michigan on Saturday, October 26th (10am – 4pm). More information and free registration.
Mainstreaming Evangelical Apostasy
In most of these sessions, the work of deconstructing one’s faith was balanced by figuring out what — if anything — to replace it with. “I think our faith is evolving now, because we are waking up to the reality that that faith — that twisted, malformed faith that spoke human hierarchy into the world and reinforced it — we’re finally waking up to it and saying ‘no,’” said activist Lisa Sharon Harper during the final session. “But now we have to figure out what it’s supposed to be. What is the vision for what it’s supposed to be?”
During the opening session, Christian author and journalist Jeff Chu, who joined Sarah Bessey and Held Evans on the Evolving Faith team after the 2018 conference, welcomed a long list of groups ranging from introverts to the disabled, from the “frozen chosen” to the pansexual, from “you who do sex work to pay the bills,” Chu said, “and (to you) who are clutching your pearls because I just said ‘sex work.’”
“You who doubt, you who struggle, you who feel lost, you are loved.” Chu continued. “Atheists, agnostics, seekers, you are loved.”
The conference also offered a POC lounge for people of color as a place to “sit and rest, have a drink and something to eat, or find some company,” according to the event’s program booklet. “While gatherings like this one can challenge all of us, they are often especially exhausting for people of color.” A care team and several Evolving Faith speakers had “office hours” in the lounge.
The doubters were well supported with pastoral elements. In addition to the POC lounge, Evolving Faith also offered an Art Area with craft supplies — “for those who would like something to do with their hands as they listen to the speakers” — prayer request boxes where attendees could submit written prayer requests, and a “Spiritual Friend,” Dr. Grace Y. Kao, who was available for conversations to help “process all that you’re feeling.”
Rachel Held Evans on LGBTQ+
Dan Evans, husband of the late Rachel Held Evans posted a article written by Rachel just before she died in which she said this (and THIS is NOT the gospel):
“If you’re a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer reader, I hope you already know you don’t need my affirmation to live whole and joyful lives, just as God made you. You are beloved children of God, and there is nothing I or any other Christian writer or church leader can say to alter that. I hope you know, deep in your bones, that there is no height or depth, no angel or demon, no denomination or church or pastor or parent who can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ. My heart grieves over the ways this truth has been obscured and denied by the Church, often in destructive and deadly ways, and I apologize for years of complicity in that.”https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/lgbtq
“Today’s noise pollution, which includes both sonic noise and visual noise, is a hazard to our entire health, according to the World Health Organization. As such, we find ourselves in desperate need of quiet spaces both in our personal lives and also in our corporate life together as the church. The inclusion of silence in worship, then, is not just a matter of our physical well-being, it is also a matter of well-being before God.”
“[One] case involves fired transgender funeral home director Aimee Stephens. She lost her job when she told Thomas Rost, owner of the Detroit-area R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, that she had struggled with gender identity issues almost her whole life. She was planning to exchange the dark suit and tie she had worn to work for nearly six years as an embalmer and funeral director for a conservative dress or skirt that was required for women who worked for Rost.
“Rost told Stephens her plan wouldn’t work and let her go. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on her behalf and, after losing in a district court, won a ruling in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.”