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