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Posts tagged ‘D.C. Washington’

More Methodists Pushing Rebellious Gay and Lesbian Envelope.


Frank Schaefer
Frank Schaefer serves communion to his supporters at the end of his two-day church trial. Photo by Kathy L. (Kathy L. Gilbert/United Methodist News Service)

Almost daily, evidence mounts of defiant United Methodist clergy breaking church law on behalf of gays and lesbians as the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination struggles with what may be its most vexing rebellion in decades.


  • A retired seminary president, the Rev. William McElvaney, said Sunday (Jan. 19) that he is willing to officiate at same-sex weddings. The 85-year-old former president of St. Paul School of Theology made the announcement at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas. He called church trials “the Methodist version of inquisition in the 20th and 21st centuries.”
  • After the Jan. 14 federal ruling striking down a gay marriage ban in Oklahoma, a group of Methodists favoring same-sex marriage took out ads in the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman praising the ruling and inviting people to Methodist churches.
  • Every week, another Methodist minister “comes out” and acknowledges performing a same-sex wedding on the website of the New York-based Methodists in New Directions. So far, 14 clergy have made such disclosures; none has faced a church complaint, said Dorothee Benz, MIND spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Frank Schaefer, the former Pennsylvania pastor stripped of his clergy credentials after presiding at a same-sex ceremony, continues to receive emotional and financial support. A collection organized by Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., raised more than $30,000 for Schaefer.

The ongoing crisis over gays is embarrassing to the denomination, says a Southern California bishop who offered Schaefer a job working in her conference.

“The defrocking of Frank Schaefer brought great shame to our denomination and much pain to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” said Bishop Minerva G. Carcano of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“It saddens me and many others that we continue to use trials as a way of addressing this. It does not look good at all,” she said.

She sees the growing movement challenging church policy as a turning point.

“People are stepping up and expressing what they feel in ways I have not seen before,” she said. “It is a moment of real possibility for change in the church.”

Carcano’s comments follow the Jan. 17 news that a second United Methodist pastor faces a church trial for officiating at the wedding of his son to another man. The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, 80, retired pastor and former Yale Divinity School dean, faces a March 19 trial in Stamford, Conn.

United Methodist law since 1972 has defined marriage as between a man and a woman. It bans clergy from performing and churches from hosting same-sex ceremonies.

Carcano said Schaefer met with her and her Cabinet on Jan. 12 to discuss his potential hire in California, but no decision has been made.

The Rev. Bill Bouknight, associate director of the Confessing Movement, an evangelical group, said church trials are necessary to hold clergy accountable.

“The developments sadden us because they are clearly contrary to Scripture and to doctrines of the United Methodist Church,” said Bouknight, a retired pastor who lives in Columbia, S.C.

Bishop Melvin Talbert, the only bishop known to have presided at a same-sex marriage, said the number of people challenging what he considers unjust church law encourages him.

“Biblical obedience means we decide to do the right thing no matter what,” he said.

Several other clergy are likely to face church trials soon.


Joel Osteen Taking His Gospel to Yankee Stadium for Second Time.

Joel Osteen
Joel Osteen

Joel and Victoria Osteen will hold their sixth annual America’s Night of Hope at Yankee Stadium on June 7, 2014, an evening of hope and inspiration expected to draw more than 55,000 people from across the country.

This is the second America’s Night of Hope to be hosted at Yankee Stadium. The first was on April 25, 2009—nine days after the new ballpark opened—and was the first non-baseball event held at the venue. These annual stadium-sized events have also been held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (2010), U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (2011), Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (2012), and Marlins Park in Miami (2013).

“Victoria and I love the people of New York,” Osteen says. “We’re excited to be at Yankee Stadium again, and we believe people will be uplifted and filled with an expectation that their best days are still to come.”

As a part of the activities surrounding America’s Night of Hope, Joel Osteen Ministries will reach into New York City’s local communities with hundreds of volunteers—many from Houston—in order to bring hope through acts of kindness and compassion.

Known as the Generation Hope Project, this effort is a major part of the America’s Night of Hope event and, since 2012, has already provided thousands of volunteer hours of service through work projects at schools, parks and community centers in Washington, D.C., and Miami, Fla.

This year’s Generation Hope Project will focus on mentoring, developing one-to-one relationships in which one person fosters the personal and professional growth of someone else. Volunteers will have an opportunity to work with young people who need strong adult role models.


‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal: Are There Potential Cuts That Aren’t On the Table?.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 16, 2012, as he hosted a meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to disc

President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 16, 2012, as he hosted a meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to discuss the deficit and economy. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

How does one come up with $4 trillion in revenue and spending cuts?

That’s the question members of Congress, the Obama administration and fiscal experts around the country are grappling with as “fiscal cliff” talkscontinue to stall.

The fiscal cliff is a combination of the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts coupled with a series of deep budgetary cuts to defense and domestic programs- the ultimate goal of which is to help stabilize the deficit going forward. While there is no exact amount of savings and revenue that would stabilize the country’s debt- the number varies somewhat depending on who you ask- the generally agreed upon range is around $4 trillion.

Republicans and Democrats are drawing lines in the ideological sand. Democrats want to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the highest income earners, effectively raising tax rates on the top 2 percent of earners, which Republicans oppose. Republicans want to look at entitlement reforms- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, which Democrats oppose. The seemingly staunch stands beg the question–is there any way to reach a deal that would start to generate close to $4 trillion that does not involve raising taxes or reforming entitlement programs?

It’s fiscally possible, but it’s inconvenient and unlikely.

There are a series of trims that the government could make to the budget that would save a few billion here and there. Ideas that have been suggested include doubling the airline fee for a non-stop flight from $2.50 to $5, reforming our immigration detention programs, and prison reform.

But those ideas don’t generate a great deal of savings in and of themselves. The airline fee increasing for example, it’s estimated that raising the non-stop flight fee to $5 would only generate an additional $1 billion a year–$10 billion over the course of 10 years.

Prison reform is another avenue of savings. A study from the Vera Institute of Justice released in January, 2012 showed that in the fiscal year of 2010 the total cost for taxpayers of the nation’s federal prisons was $39 billion–which was a little more than $5 billion more than the states’ combined corrections budgets that year. The cost of an inmate per taxpayer on average was $31,286.

Reforming the system could trim that cost, but it’s a complicated endeavor that lacks a single, or even simple handful of solutions, and at the end of the day wouldn’t generate the hundreds of billions of dollars in savings needed to begin approaching the trillions in savings and revenue the government is looking for.

Those big savings, experts point out, are found in entitlements and taxes.

“The high-end Bush tax cuts generate a trillion dollars over 10 years. That’s a quarter of the task of stabilizing the debt…That’s achievable,” said Chuck Marre, director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “If they just pass the tax cuts for 98 percent of the people only, by default that (revenue) happens and that’s significant. Then you need to figure out where does the rest of the money come from?”

And a significant area where that money comes from, experts suggest, is entitlement spending.

“I’m sure there are some small programs that could be eliminated or curtailed but it would be a drop in the ocean of spending represented by entitlements,” said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, are categorized as mandatory spending in the government’s fiscal budget. In the 2010 fiscal year 55 percent of the budget went to mandatory spending. Within that 55 percent, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid made up a total of 71 percent combined, according to figures from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

It’s these avenues that will likely be the quickest and least complicated means of generating the savings necessary to stabilize the debt. Of course, the irony is, these avenues are also the most politically sacred, making a simple and painless fix to the problem effectively impossible.



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