Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice leaves her church

"For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else."

In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen." - Famed novelist Anne Rice, from her Facebook page.  Anne Rice's Facebook fan page

Anne Rice published the above on her Facebook fan page this past Wednesday, July 28, 2010.  My first reaction was "good for her."  I'm all for people, especially public figures, coming out against hatred and ignorance.  I'm especially happy when they do it in the name of Christ.

My enjoyment faded pretty quickly to sadness, though.  Look at that list anti's in her church.  Among other things anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-secular humanism.  What does it say when a large, mainstream Christian church endorses -- even enforces -- that long list of anti's?  What's worse, I think, is that this perception extends to all Christian churches in the United States.  I submit that if you polled most people in the United States about Christianity, they'd describe our faith in this manner.  Either they'd reject the worship of Christ because of these perceptions or they'd actually welcome a church that countenances these attitudes!

How did we get here?  Certainly, there have always been churches that endorse these anti's, but how did the face of all Christianity come to be associated with narrow mindedness?  First, I think, we saw the rise of churches that grew huge and rich and decided to acquire political power.  Second, some politicians decided to exploit these churches and their members for their own political ends.  Third, our news media have become lazy enough not to look past the surface into the reality of Christianity in the United States -- the reality being that there is no one Christian church in this country and no one televangelist is the sole spokesperson for God.

At least, Ms. Rice notes farther down on her page that the Lutheran church has publicly stated that they welcome non-celibate gays as clergy.  I imagine she's aware of the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy in the Episcopal church, too.  In fact, I wanted to post that she should consider her local Episcopal church, where she'll find LGBT members, feminists, and even secular-humanists welcome.  I may still.  Unfortunately, that isn't true of all Episcopal parishes, and that makes me saddest of all.

We all have a lot more work to do.  With God's help, we'll do it.


Friday, July 9, 2010

A message from our rector

Please read the entire letter here...

In the conversation around human sexuality, we have been talking in the Episcopal Church for over forty years. Innumerable numbers of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons have died waiting for us to make up our minds about what we (the "normal people") think of them. Enough is enough, and it has been enough for a very long time now. As Moses was commanded by God to tell Pharaoh: "Let my people go." Anglican Communion, let's stop talking about being pastoral and true to God‘s word, and let us start acting like pastors and allow God‘s word to live in and through us.

All I can say to my dear brothers and sisters who hear themselves being talked about is: I am sorry. I am truly sorry that so many people who call themselves Christians do not love you the way God does. I am sorry that despite its cries for justice for all people, the Anglican Communion is so blind to its own repressive attitudes and actions.

Finally I say to each of you: GOD LOVES YOU, JUST AS YOU ARE.

Here is my Bible thumping moment:

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Rom 8:31–39)

Though others will always try to find a label to put on my currently clean-shaven head, I am not a liberal, nor am I a conservative. The one label I will whole-heartedly put on myself is Christian. As such I will continue, and I invite each of you to join me, to strive to be more like Jesus, a champion for those who society, not God, have labeled outcasts.
Pray for peace, God‘s peace; work for justice, true justice.

Faithfully yours in the service of Christ, Mauricio J. Wilson

Thursday, June 24, 2010

March in the SF Pride Parade -- This Sunday!

Join members of St. Paul's and other parishes in the San Francisco Pride Parade. Bishop Marc will celebrate Eucharist before the march.

Meet at St. Paul's at 8:45 (after the 8:00 am service) to take BART together.

Join Oasis for a statement of God's love for all of us.

See you at church!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What are the Episcopalians up to now?

June 1, 2010

They're out there again. On the corner of Montecito and Bay, in front of the huge, brick church. On Palm Sunday, they marched into the church behind a trumpet and the choir. They lit a fire on the night before Easter. Now, they're on the sidewalk again -- a bunch of them milling around as if a Tuesday morning at 8:00 was some kind of special time.

They're all looking up now. Oh, one of them is up on top of the tower. It looks as if they're going to run a new flag up the flagpole. They got together to celebrate that? Wait, there's a second flag. Hey, it's a rainbow flag. The flag that signifies unity and that everyone is welcome inside the church. Neat.

Now, they're holding hands and praying. Awwww. And they're singing. Not very well, but it is early in the morning. (One of the women has a nice voice, though.) Somewhere over the rainbow. Cute.

They're smiling. Those Episcopalians are always smiling. Makes you want to go to their church. Hey, that's not a bad idea.

See you in church!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First Harvey Milk Day Chapel, St. Paul's Oakland on Vimeo

First Harvey Milk Day Chapel, St. Paul's Oakland on Vimeo

What do you believe?

This Sunday, May 30, 2010, St. Paul's kicked off Pride Month with a sermon by Tom Jackson, the President of Oasis, California -- the LGBT ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California.

"Am I going to hell for this?" Tom heard that question from a woman in labor and delivery in the hospital where he serves as chaplain. She was preparing to induce labor to end a pregnancy that would have produced a child who wouldn't survive. She was doing it to save her own health. And, she thought she was going to hell. She kept pressing Tom to tell her what he believed. Normally, a chaplain doesn't express his own beliefs, but she wouldn't let the question drop. "What do you believe?"

At St. Paul's -- and at most other Christian churches -- we believe in a loving God, not a judgmental God. If God gave his only begotten son to save us -- and to die in a particularly violent and painful way -- why would He not continue to love us through trials like the one that woman was going through?

If God loves us, and He does, why would He not love us all equally?

So often the voice of Christianity in the popular press and popular culture is the judgmental one. When a local city put together an educational program to teach children and their parents how to cope with bullying based on LGBT orientation, the only Christians who showed up to comment were ones who wanted the program canceled. So often, that viewpoint is represented in the media as the Christian view of what's the correct and incorrect way of loving.

The opposing point of view -- that we're all God's children and worthy of His love -- gets drowned out. For one thing, most of us practice what Jesus taught us and pray in private. And then, too, it's rude to tell people that their religious views are wrong. The accepting view of God isn't particularly newsworthy, anyway. "God loves us all. Pictures at 11:00" doesn't make for great drama.

What's the solution? For the short run, who knows?

In the long run, we may well have already won. All the polls show that younger people don't make the old judgments against our LGBT brothers and sisters. In fact, practitioners of the old, narrow-minded views have become particularly strident and incoherent precisely because they know they can't hold back justice.

In the meantime, what's important is that we continue to strive to be heard. We also need to let people know that everyone...everyone! welcome in our churches.

See you in church!

P.S. The gentlemen in the picture are Bishop Marc Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California, and Lutheran Bishop Mark Holmerud in preparation to participate in the SF Pride Parade.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Want to help with creating the ceremony?

On June 1 at 8:00 am, we'll be raising the unity flag over the church. Here's your chance to participate in creating a ceremony.

Trish Grima wants suggestions for hymns. Pllease post your ideas here or contact Trish. She's at

This may not sound like a very big deal, but it's actually an exciting opportunity. In recent years, the church has re-iterated its support for justice and love for our LGBT members. Now, we find ourselves exploring what form our expression of that support will take in practice. Ritual and liturgy in the Episcopal church -- and certainly at St. Paul's! -- are beautiful and both solemn and joyful at the same time.

Here's your chance to direct one of the steps we mentioned in the first post on this blog. Think of your favorite hymns and nominate one or more for the raising of the unity flag.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pride Events at St. Paul's

You have to love a bishop with a kazoo

Sunday, May 30
Sermon by Tom Jackson, head of the Bay Area Oasis group (
Also, Blessing of the Unity Flag

Tuesday, June 1 – in front of the church
8:00 am flying the Unity Flag

Wednesday, June 2 – parish hall
7:00 pm Movie night
Popcorn provided!

Sunday, June 13 – church courtyard
After 10:00 service
Pride Barbecue

Sunday, June 27 – San Francisco
San Francisco Pride Parade
March with the Dioceses of California

See you in church!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A journey of a thousand miles...

We are Oasis at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Oakland, California. We are lesbian, gay, bisesual, transgender, and others in support of full equality and love for all of our members and brothers and sisters in the community around our church and around the world.

Pretty ambitious, huh? What is it the say about the journey of a thousand miles? It starts with a single step.

In this blog, we hope to accomplish at least two things: chronicle the steps we take for social justice and to show that a Christian church is a place of inclusion, not judgement. Much more later...

In the meantime...see you in Church!