the Web Editors 05-12-2016

Christian leaders across denominations are lifting their voices in affirmation of their LGBTQI colleagues.

Scott Sommerdorf / The Salt Lake Tribune / RNS

Kate Kelly, foreground. Photo via Scott Sommerdorf / The Salt Lake Tribune / RNS

When Stephanie Engle was a teenager, she struggled with what she termed as the racism and sexism within the LDS Church.

Engle said she researched Mormon history after moving away from home for college, learning about polygamy, and other “really questionable practices” of church founder Joseph Smith.

“I just thought this is so obviously not true,” she said.

“I can’t keep claiming that I believe it.”

On July 25, six years after ending her participation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Engle took a final step to sever her ties with the Salt Lake City-based faith.

With a signed letter in hand, Engle joined roughly 100 current and former Mormons — including Ordain Women co-founder Kate Kelly — at a mass-resignation event a block from the church’s downtown headquarters.

Lily Burana 01-09-2015
Photo via Lena May / Shutterstock.com

Tiny feet of newborn baby. Photo via Lena May / Shutterstock.com

My Darling Daughter:

I’ve been meaning to write you this letter in case you need it when you’re older, but after hearing about the Dec. 28 suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, I feel an urgency to get this down.

Right now, you’re not even a year old, far too young to understand the tragedy of how Leelah, feeling socially isolated and rejected by her Christian parents, stepped in front of a passing semitrailer on an interstate in Ohio. She was just 17. As a mother, her death breaks my heart. As a Christian, it moves me to speak out.

When I was a few months pregnant with you and the perinatologist told me that the prenatal blood test “showed no signs of Y chromosomes,” I knew that you were a girl. I was thrilled.

On the sunny spring afternoon that you were born, the nurses wrapped you in a blanket and put a tiny, gender-neutral pink-and-blue-striped cap on your little head. As soon as I started speaking to you, my voice a steady coo, you settled, and I knew that you were my daughter.

But what if it turns out you aren’t?

What if you are actually my son?

Paul Tripp was on the Board of Advisors and Accountability before he resigned in June. Photo courtesy of www.paultripp.com

A letter from nine Mars Hill Church pastors to their fellow elders offers the most trenchant criticism yet of controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, who recently stepped down for at least six weeks amid a series of accusations.

The pastors did not mince words in their lengthy Aug. 22 letter [full text] concerning Driscoll, who has been caught up in allegations that include plagiarism, inappropriate use of church funds, and abuse of power:

  • [W]e direct that he steps down from ministry, submitting himself under the authority of the elders of the church, who will oversee the details of his restoration plan.
  • He must step down not only from the pulpit, but from all aspects of ministry and leadership.
  • He will continue to receive his salary so long as he continues to cooperate with the restoration plan set before him by the elders of Mars Hill Church.

The letter was posted within a Mars Hill online network and provided to Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor who has been blogging updates about Mars Hill.

The 4,000-word letter suggests there were insufficient layers of accountability at Mars Hill, a congregation of an estimated 14,000 people at 15 locations in five states, and that power was consolidated at the top with Driscoll given free rein to do what he wanted.

Jordan Davis 05-16-2014

Offer us the hope you once did. GlebStock/Shutterstock.com

My Dear Friend,

It breaks my heart to be the one to tell you this, but I figured you might be more receptive hearing this from me. I think you already know what I'm about to tell you — it's nearly impossible you couldn't know with how loud everyone's whispers have become.

Something is terribly wrong! You are sick.

I know this isn't the news you were hoping for, but it's the truth. With this in mind, I feel now, it is more important than ever that I lay things out for you — no matter how much it pains me.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and associates call a temporary halt to mass demonstrations in 1963. Religion News Service filephoto

The nation will mark the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday with speeches, prayers, and volunteer service.

But for decades, retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie W. White has marked the holiday in a more personal way: He writes a “birthday letter” to the civil rights leader who was killed in 1968.

“It was a way to get kind of a year’s assessment on what the nation was accomplishing and not accomplishing in the area of race,” said White, a bishop-in-residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology for the last decade.

“I did it because, frankly, I needed to have perspective. I needed to not get discouraged, and I needed it to be affirming of progress in race which had taken place over the course of a year.”

Lisa Sharon Harper 06-05-2013

From left, Lisa Sharon Harper, Bernice King, Virgil Wood, and Sharon Watkins discuss faith, race, and the future of the church.

If Bernice King had been born on time, her daddy's letter might never have been written.

Photo courtesy Bloomsbury Press

Jonathan Rieder, author of 'Gospel of Freedom,' said reporters initially ignored the letter. Photo courtesy Bloomsbury Press

Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged white church leaders to confront racism, an ecumenical network has responded to his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

“We proclaim that, while our context today is different, the call is the same as in 1963 — for followers of Christ to stand together, to work together, and to struggle together for justice,” declared Christian Churches Together in the USA in a 20-page document.

The statement, which is linked to an April 14-15 ecumenical gathering in Birmingham, Ala., includes confessions from church bodies about their silence and slow pace in addressing racial injustice.

“The church must lead rather than follow in the march toward justice,” it says.

The Editors 03-18-2013

A half a century after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. penned “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King’s prophetic words continue to reverberate. In “To Redeem the Soul of America” (April 2013), author and historian Vincent G. Harding recounts his time with King and explains how King’s “living letter” impacts each of us today.

Watch this video to learn more about King’s historic letter.

The Editors 03-18-2013

On Good Friday 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. led a nonviolent march through the streets of Birmingham, Ala., to draw attention to the injustices of segregation. Arrested for marching without a permit, King composed “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in response to eight white ministers who criticized the timing of the civil rights demonstrations. Rebuking the clergymen for not taking a bolder stance against segregation, King declared that “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Church leaders respond, 50 years later, to King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Vincent Harding 03-14-2013

King's "living letter" from Birmingham jail still speaks to us all.

Sabrina Falls 09-01-2010

I very much appreciated “The Art of Dying” by Lisa Sowle Cahill (June 2010).

Vanessa Carter 09-01-2010

I live in Los Angeles and work among progressively minded folks (Jesus-following and not). During and since the Proposition 8 vote, I have found a great deal of secular commentary on gay marriage.

Ted Voelker 09-01-2010

In her generally fine article, Lisa Sowle Cahill states, “euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is not an acceptable answer to the stress of human death.”

John MacMurray 08-01-2010

Thank you for the recent John Fea essay ("Those Who Will Not Learn from History," May 2010) on the educational lunacy going on in Texas.

I was quoted by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and Jason Mach in “Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?” (May 2010).

Lucy Fuchs 08-01-2010

Your article "Destroying West Virginia" (Onleilove Alston, June 2010) tore at me.

Ray Higgs 08-01-2010

Thank you for the revealing “A Visit to Birkenau” (by Sami Awad, May 2010).

Bob Rundle 08-01-2010

David Cortright calls for realism in his excellent “How to Rid the World of Nuclear Weapons” (May 2010), but he hardly mentions the role our war industry/military/congressional alliance