NuWine Press comes to Harlem to talk RAW!

We are pleased to announce that NuWine Press (www.nuwinepress.com) – the all-inclusive and LGBT-affirming voice of independent Christian publishing and LGBT Fatih Leaders of African Descent will be sponsoring a book reading for RAW: A Poetic Journey – finding a Way from Conflict to Revelation at Hue-Man Bookstore 2319 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, NYC on October 19.  More information here!

LGBT Clergy, Ordained Ministry, Gay Marriage and Me

It’s an interesting time for me, a Christian lesbian,and a married New Yorker, to be preparing for my ordination. I have been serving in ministry at The Potter’s House Church of the Living God in Brooklyn for many years now – singing, leading praise and worship, playing the organ, directing the choir, maintaining the website and more recently, teaching bible study and preaching. It may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re doing what you love. What I have yet to do is conduct a wedding ceremony. But it looks like that may be a prominent part of my job description since gay marriage has been legalized in New York at just about the time when my ordination is about to become official.

Third marriage for “charm”

I grew up in a church where women were rarely allowed to set foot on the pulpit, let alone preach. We wore long skirts, long hair, no makeup, no pants and no open-toed shoes. I had no idea I was a lesbian then. I had no idea I had any kind of sexual identity then because pre-marital sex was a one-way ticket to hell. So as a young girl and a virgin, sex was an ever-lurking evil monster wielding a weapon of unbridled passion capable of corrupting and killing all hope of divine favor with one momentary thrill. So I avoided it like the plague. And I found it quite easy to do so since my latent lesbianism made it fairly easy for me to find men’s advances displeasing. Older men wanted to marry me (they thought I was 30 when I was 15 – that’s what long skirts and no makeup will do for you). But I was determined to play by the rules. So I waited for that “special man” to arrive for whom I would cook, clean and bear a basketball team worth of kids.


Well, eventually I did marry. To a woman. I was 18 when I met her sixteen years ago. We were the last two women in a lesbian club that I’d snuck into in order to explore my potential for “unnatural affections.” I’d already left the church at that point but I hadn’t left my God. For some reason, despite all of my supposed “unholy efforts,” the same God that spoke through me in tongues of angels, eased all my teenage angst and held me “pre coming out,” continued to do all those things “post coming out.” So I followed my God and my heart and married the woman who is now my partner in ministry and life. We married first in my church, then again in 2010 in DC so we could take pictures outside the White House brandishing our certificate and making the case for federally legalized same sex marriage. Will we marry a third time in New York now that it’s legal in our home state? Don’t know yet. But if I can get another ring (or other shiny charm) out of the deal, chances are I’ll be making sure it happens.

The Mantle

In the meanwhile there are other’s marriages to be performed and other duties to be carried out. Into a culture that is alternately jaded with the concept of God, frustrated with the Christian faith’s inability to live up to its own ideals or disgusted with the judgmental attitudes of the faith’s adherents, step I to do the work of a servant. Claiming to be called by God and to possess gifts that will undoubtedly help one make sense of one’s life and the role of God in it, I take up a mantle passed down for over 2,000 years. As a minister “coming of age” in the time of state-legalized gay marriage, I am grateful for the work of open-and-affirming clergy who’ve gone before me and made this victory possible. Still I hope that one day I won’t be looked upon as a “lesbian minister” who can perform “gay marriages.” I pray I’ll just be a child of God qualified to help solemnize that special moment when two become one and life, as a result, becomes all the more rich.


But until then, one of the most important things I can do to help make our marriages all the more valid is to help make sure our marriages last. My biggest fear is that the rush to church and city hall will be all too quickly followed by the rush to the divorce courts. So many conservatives expressed fear that our marriages would somehow destroy the sanctity of the ceremony. My hope is that every vow entered into by LGBT couples in New York will put another nail in the coffin of that myth. I want our marriages to be examples of love and commitment – thoughtful covenants between mortals and the divine. Because God knows, “it is not good for man to be alone.”

Playing “Dr. Phil”

So, suffer this newly minted minister who married the same person twice and has remained married to her for nearly a decade to offer a few quick tips to those about to take the marital plunge:

  • Marriage should not be entered into until you are certain you can live with all the characteristics about your partner that you know you cannot change. If you can’t learn to love those things – you aren’t loving the whole person.

  • Make sure you and your partner aren’t tripping over baggage from your past. Consult your faith leaders and get counseling.

  • Don’t look for someone to love you if you have not yet learned to love yourself – you just may attract an abuser.

  • Make sure you both understand what you want out of the relationship and where you want it to go. If you want five kids and your partner wants none – that’s gonna be a big deal!

  • Finally, you deserve the best, and the best is out there. Don’t settle for less.

Commitment is something our God takes very seriously. He never left me, even when I switched from long skirts to pants and from the pews to pulpit ministry. When you give your life to Christ, you become engaged to Him in a relationship that lasts for eternity. God doesn’t expect His children to marry themselves off to someone on a whim and then leave them. The twain become “one flesh.” “What God has joined together let no man put asunder. “ The world is watching – so let’s do it right!

Review: RAW: A Poetic Journey – Finding a Way from Conflict to Revelation

RAW: A Poetic Journey - Finding a Way from Conflict to RevelationRAW: A Poetic Journey – Finding a Way from Conflict to Revelation by Aimee Maude Sims
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book published by NuWine Press: The All-Inclusive and LGBT-Affirming Voice of Independent Christian Publishing. It is a collection of poetry from LGBT Christians and friends. The poems are vulnerable and honest. Each poet is on the path to self acceptance – there are housewives who have just separated from their husbands and acknowledged their sexual orientation all the way to long-time lesbian pastor Barbara Caesar-Stephenson, declaring that her place in heaven is so assured that "You can’t crown Him (Jesus) ’til I get there." The poems are encouraging to anyone who’s ever faced internal conflict – and needed some revelation. It’s a journey worth taking.

View all my reviews

How to be a Christian Without Annoying Everyone

How to be a Christian Without Annoying People to Death

By Aimée Maude Sims

Strife between Christians and gays has come to the forefront.

Gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson asserted that religion, and its rejection of homosexuality, played a crucial role in suicides among LGBT youth. A Wal-Mart employee’s firing made national news because she claimed the harassment she dealt a fellow gay co-worker fulfilled the requirements of her Christian faith. At this year’s “The Awakening” conference, a gathering of conservative Christians held at Liberty University, panel moderator and school dean Matt Barber was quoted as saying homosexuality was “hedonism repackaged.” At conservative Christian college campuses around the country LGBT students are speaking up and being silenced.

The fact of the matter is, God continues to save LGBT people.

The mere existence of significant numbers of individuals who are boldly gay and Christian should be proof enough that God is still extending His love toward “Whosoever believes in Him.”

Strife between Christians and homosexuals is an outgrowth of an even deeper dilemma. It started when the first Christian took it upon his/herself to usurp St. Peter’s position at the gates of heaven and broadcast their own very human assessment of who was Heaven-worthy and who was not. It has turned the foot of the cross from a safe space into an exclusive club and turned many unsuspecting children of God into Christians who are truly doing a disservice to the name.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

It is a Christian’s duty to share “good news” to those who are in need (Mark 16:15). How you do that makes all the difference. Many individuals form their first impressions about Christianity after an “evangelical experience,” in or outside of a church, where someone has tried to convert them. Sharing your beliefs with someone can deliver fresh revelation or a fresh wound.

Here are a five salient suggestions on how to represent a faith built on the concept of unconditional love. Because the truth is, if you can’t figure out how to reach a soul without being judgmental and offensive, then you don’t want to reach them badly enough .

  • Judge not lest ye be judged: Talk about Jesus – not other people. There is enough material within the gospels of Jesus Christ to address all the concerns that people face. Tell people about Jesus, not about themselves. They are likely not interested in your opinion (John 21:25).
  • Share your beliefs without devaluing other’s: Most people don’t hold their beliefs lightly. Some of the most ardent Christians started out in a different faith. It’s dangerous to create converts to Christianity by undermining other religions. Christianity shouldn’t just be someone’s last resort. Meet a person where they are. Only take them as far down the road to discovery as Christ allows (I Corinthians 3:6-9).
  • Allow people the right to disagree with you: Not everyone is going to believe that Christianity is the way. Not everyone is going to accept Christ the instant you speak with them. You may just be planting a seed. The point of your interaction may simply be for you to become the first non-annoying Christian someone encounters (Proverbs 15:1).
  • Don’t be so easily offended: Christ died to save us. You did not. God doesn’t need us to defend His supremacy. A seeker’s process of discovery is fertile ground for growing faith and relationship. Being defensive only pushes people away (I Corinthians 8:9-12).
  • Leave LGBT people alone: Making the assumption that gay people are lust-driven hedonists condemned by God only reveals deep-seeded ignorance. The fact is, whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Help someone believe. Leave the rest to God. (John 3:16)


If YOU Were Turning 400 …

It’s time to have a healthy discussion about the Good Book.

It’s poetry month.

The Bible is poetry.

It’s 2011.

The KJV has turned 400 years old.

If you were turning 400 wouldn’t you want someone to talk about you?

Welcome to NuWine Press.com’s new Readers Writers and Friends forum – a place to discuss all things Christian and literary – good books and The Good Book all in one place.

Join the conversation here!

TTYL

Poetry Contest becomes Book Project

NuWine Press’ poetry contest, “This is My Story” is now closed. We are currently sorting through the entries and preparing the book. Our hearts are overwhelmed by the stories we have received from believers at various points in their walk with Christ. We believe this will be a powerful book and are putting our team of editors and graphic design people together to create a work that is respectful of the stories we have received, and effective as a witness to the world.

To get all the latest info about what’s next with the “This is My Story Book Project” sign up to our e-mail list by following this link.

RIP Peter Gomes – Re-read Your Bible

Please school yourselves. This was a great man.

Featured Article: Top 10 Ways We know God Loves Gays

NuWine Press has just released a new articles section on its website – to give all of you literary minds some brain food. You’ll find light-hearted, timely and scholarly articles written by our staff and friends to keep you reading and conversing while you’re waiting for the next NuWine Press book to be released. Check in to the website, read an article, leave a comment and enjoy!

Our current featured article is: “Top 10 Ways We Know God Loves Gay People.” Check it out!

A Call to Action for Uganda (via MCC)

My Sisters and Brothers

A Call to Prayer and Action
As the people of Uganda prepare to go to the polls to vote on Friday, I urge you to offer up a prayer for justice. I also ask that you contact the White House, Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama and ask them to remind the Authorities in Uganda that we as a nation are watching!

The bill put forth by David Bahati  on the advice and funding of The Family is still on the ballot. The bill calls for death to those who are LGBT.

The White House Switchboard is 202-456-1414 or you can send an email.

The State Department can be reached via   email or by calling 202-647-4000.

Peace,
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
MCC

For David Kato Part 2 – Redeemed Silence

“I opened my mouth to the Lord/And I won’t turn back/I will go/I shall go/To see what the end is going to be” – Negro Spiritual

Frank Mugisha, Executive Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), worked alongside David Kato, fighting for the rights of LGBT individuals, until Kato was bludgeoned to death with a hammer.

He told the audience at Harlem’s legendary Abyssinian Baptist Church that Kato was the one that welcomed him home from the airports and bailed him out of jail when just being became a crime. He didn’t know who he would call now, Mugisha said, to welcome him when he got home to Uganda. He told of Kato’s bravery in eloquent words and then stopped. He wanted to cut his comments short he said, because it had been so long since he’d had an opportunity to be in a church, and to be reflective and meditate. A gay man like him wouldn’t be welcome in a church in Uganda.

 

Rev. Dr. Michael Walrond Jr. challenged the insanity of being requested to make comments at Kato’s memorial under the heading “A call to a new understanding.” Fully aware that Kato’s murder was spawned in part by some Christian’s hatred of LGBT people, he suggested that all Christians need to be called back to the “old understanding” that Jesus is love and love does not incite people to kill. Reverend Walrus referred us back to the Prophet Mica’s Old Testament iteration of the Christian requirement to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”

 

Elder Joseph Tolton’s call to social action caused us to consider the theory of evolution as the blueprint for a “survivor of the fittest” mentality that prompts constant power-hungry grabs for dominance over those considered to be “lesser” evolved. The phenomena seeded the evils of racism, especially as expressed by the southern white Christian evangelical church, which has never been apologized for, Elder Tolton said. The phenomena was also the seed used to pit black conservatives against gay people to the benefit of the Defense of Marriage crowd during recent political elections. Last but not least, the phenomena was a seed to the hatred that took the life of David Kato.

 

It was a powerful night. And seeing clergy from so many open and affirming churches gathered in one of Harlem’s oldest and most respected churches memorializing the life of an African LGBT activist helped put another brick in the bridge between transnational issues of oppression for the benefit of all. But still to me, one of the most poignant moments was Mr. Mugisha’s time of redeemed silence. That silence represented the value Mugisha placed on being within the four walls of a house of worship, in a church, in a pew, in Harlem and in his gay skin. He priced it as being worth one – dare I presume even two – fewer precious words at the memorial of a dear friend. And although many in the U.S. would still argue that Mugisha was somehow unworthy of that time in the divine, and although many of us in the U.S. struggle to find gay-friendly churches, Mr. Mugisha’s golden opportunity for reflection will make me and perhaps all of us LGBT believers who have made their peace with their God and their chosen house of worship sit a little humbler in our congregations this Sunday morning.

%d bloggers like this: