About the Author: Chris Glaser

CHRIS GLASER BIOGRAPHY WRITER Chris Glaser has published 12 books, most recently, The Final Deadline: What Death Has Taught Me about Life (Morehouse, 2010) and As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage (Seabury Press, 2009). He authored Uncommon Calling (Harper & Row,1988; Westminster John Knox Press,1996), Come Home! (Harper & Row, 1990, Chi Rho Press,1998), and Coming Out as Sacrament (Westminster John Knox Press,1998), and a series of devotional books: Coming Out to God (Westminster John Knox Press, 1991), The Word Is Out (HarperSanFrancisco,1994, Westminster John Knox Press, 1998; Spanish language version online from Other Sheep, 2008), Communion of Life—Meditations for the New Millennium (Westminster John Knox Press, 1999), and Reformation of the Heart  (Westminster John Knox Press, 2001). Collaborating with his late golden Labrador retriever, Calvin, he “translated from the canine” Unleashed—The Wit and Wisdom of Calvin the Dog (Westminster John Knox Press, 1998). His book, Henri’s Mantle—100 Meditations on Nouwen’s Life and Writings (Pilgrim Press, 2002), Spanish language version Meditando con Henri Nouwen, (Editorial Epifania, Argentina, 2004) reflects on the words and friendship of his spiritual mentor, prolific Roman Catholic author and priest Henri J. M. Nouwen. In 2005, Glaser edited Troy Perry: Pastor and Prophet, a book published by the Metropolitan Community Churches, honoring its retiring founder. In 2008, Glaser created two online curricula for the Human Rights Campaign, one on the film, For the Bible Tells Me So, and one entitled, Gender Identity and Our Faith Communities. He has written or edited other church curricula described later in this section. He has also contributed to a score of other books, most recently, Prayers for the New Social Awakening (2008), Den Svenska Psalmboken [Hymnbook for the Church of Sweden] (2007),Remembering Henri: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen (2006), Befriending Life—Encounters with Henri Nouwen (2001) and Body and Soul: Womanist, Feminist, Queer Theologians Rethink Sexuality, Spirituality, and Social Justice (Fall, 2002). His writings have appeared in many publications, including Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Advocate, Frontiers, Christianity and Crisis (for which he was a columnist), The Christian Century, and a range of church periodicals, including Church and Society and Presbyterians Today. For five years (1998-2002), Glaser was editor of Open Hands, a U.S./Canadian ecumenical quarterly magazine for one thousand congregations that are welcoming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, sponsored by welcoming programs in seven denominations in the U.S. and Canada. Earlier he was news reporter and then news editor of Frontiers, a gay newsmagazine out of Los Angeles. He has also written two youth curricula for a consortium of denominations, including the PC(USA), on worship and on racism, and edited two others on evangelism and 1 and 2 Samuel. SPEAKER Traveling widely as a speaker and retreat leader, he has spoken on hundreds of college and seminary campuses, churches, retreat centers, and meeting halls to a wide variety of religious and secular groups, straight and LGBT and blended. He has addressed PFLAG groups and city councils and has appeared often on television and radio, in magazines and newspapers. His subject matter has included the church/the Bible and homosexuality, the spiritual gifts of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, same-gender marriage, and more generally, the spiritual life, men’s spirituality, the Bible, Henri Nouwen (with whom he studied), and more. STUDENT Glaser received his M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School in 1977 and earlier, his B.A. in English Honors and Religious Studies from California State University, Northridge, in 1973. He had graduated from John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in 1968 and from Village Christian School in 1964, both in Sun Valley, California near his childhood home in North Hollywood. Glaser has traveled extensively in Great Britain, Europe, and North America. Through New York’s Fordham University, he has taken two Religious Studies tours/courses of two regions of the world: Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel; and India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, visiting sites important to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and the ancient religions that preceded them. On a trip organized by Church World Service, he traveled to Nicaragua to witness its first democratic elections since the dictator Somoza was deposed. At the time of those elections, the U.S. was threatening the country and funding the contras. MINISTER Reared and baptized in Vanowen Baptist Church, an American Baptist congregation in North Hollywood, California, Chris Glaser created programs for his congregation’s Baptist Youth Fellowship while in junior and senior high and preached on Youth Sunday one year. He joined the Presbyterian Church in 1970 while in college, drawn by its social activism and its Confession of 1967, which spoke of reconciliation among races and nations. Presently, Glaser is a member of Ormewood Park Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, a More Light congregation welcoming of LGBT members. While in college he served as Director of Youth Ministry of the Congregational Church of Northridge (UCC) and was ordained an elder of his home congregation, First Presbyterian Church of Van Nuys. In 1974 Glaser, as part of a ministry within the Yale LGBT community, founded a predecessor group of the 1979-founded Gay/Lesbian/Straight Coalition at Yale Divinity School, and, in 1976, he founded the Gay/Lesbian Peer Counseling Service at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia while a campus ministry intern for the Christian Association (1975-1976). From 1977 to 1987, he served as founding Director of the Lazarus Project, a ministry of reconciliation between the church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Los Angeles, funded by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) nationally and regionally and located at the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church. During his tenure, Sunday attendance increased from 12 to 150, revitalizing a dying congregation. The Lazarus educational programs drew hundreds over the years and featured such noteworthy speakers as John Boswell, Malcolm Boyd, Bernadette Brooten, Brian McNaught, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Henri Nouwen, and Janie Spahr. Shortly thereafter he served a year as an interim campus chaplain at the United Campus Ministry of the University of Southern California. For four years, Glaser was Spiritual Leader of Midtown Spiritual Community in Atlanta, an interfaith and eclectic contemplative community. He became the interim pastor of Christ Covenant Metropolitan Community Church in Decatur, Georgia in June 2005 and served in that capacity until October, 2006. After 30 years of struggling with the Presbyterian Church for the right to ordination as an openly gay person, he was ordained to the ministry in MCC on October 2, 2005. The Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, gave the sermon. Participating as liturgists were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight Presbyterian activists from around the country with whom he worked over the years, including Margaret Aymer, Dale Kraii, George Lynch, Dan Smith, Janie Spahr, and Erin Swenson. From November, 2006 through December 2007, Rev. Glaser served as Interim Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church San Francisco. From January, 2009 through June, 2010, he served as interim/transitional pastor of Virginia Highland Church, a UCC and progressive Baptist congregation in the Virginia Highland neighborhood of Atlanta. ACTIVIST Glaser came out as a gay man during his senior year of college in 1972 and, in 1974, after his first year of seminary, came out to the presbytery committee charged with the care and oversight of candidates for ordained ministry. As a volunteer with the predecessor organization of More Light Presbyterians he was among a group of openly gay activists who helped shape the Presbyterian 1976 General Assembly’s decision to study homosexuality, particularly as it related to ordination. Glaser was the openly gay member of the Presbyterian Task Force to Study Homosexuality which met from 1976-1978. When the denomination rejected the favorable recommendations of that committee and established a policy forbidding the ordination of gays and lesbians in 1978, he was refused ordination while remaining employed by the church as Lazarus Director. He ghostwrote or edited much of the denomination’s 1985 book, Breaking the Silence, Overcoming the Fear - Resources in Homophobia Education. He served as the second national coordinator and treasurer of Presbyterians for Lesbian & Gay Concerns, overseeing its acquiring not-for-profit status with the IRS and writing the first annual report accepted by a Presbyterian General Assembly in 1979. As editor of its newsletter for three years, he gave the publication its name, More Light, now known as the More Light Update, from which More Light churches that are welcoming of LGBT people get their name. He continued to serve the More Light Update as columnist and guest editor and writer of semi-annual prayerbooks and collections of resource materials. In 2004, he resumed editing the More Light Update until 2006. Glaser has been an active member of a wide variety of church committees and boards, including the national board of the Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association. For two years he chaired the Spiritual Advisory Committee of AIDS Project Los Angeles. Presently he serves on the board of the Southern Association for Gender Education, Inc. as an ally of transgender people. In 2006, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, requested Chris Glaser’s papers for their archives. Thirty boxes of files have already been transferred to the campus from Glaser’s home, and there are more to come. Glaser believes that the heart of his collection are the hundreds of letters he has received over the years that tell LGBT stories of faith. Protections are in place to preserve their confidentiality. The files also include documents, letters, sermons, manuscripts, and articles written by Chris that he hopes, along with the letters he’s received, may inspire future researchers and leaders. An official ceremony was not held till 2009 at the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church, with speakers from the Center as well as people with whom Glaser has worked: Rev. Linda Culbertson, Rev. Jim Mitulski, Rev. Janie Spahr, and Rev. Dan Smith. The Center also archives the papers of the Lazarus Project, Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, Dr. John J. McNeill, and others. HONOREE Glaser was honored by the 1988 Lazarus Award from the Lazarus Project and the 1998 Inclusive Church Award from More Light Presbyterians. He received the 2004 Yale Divinity School Alumni Award for Distinction in Lay Ministry. Advocate magazine named him one of the Advocate 500, leaders who have helped shape the LGBT movement. In celebration of Hotlanta 2001 he was named one of 100 “hot” persons, places, and things in Atlanta (one of five “hot” writers), as chosen by readers and the editorial staff of Southern Voice, the gay and lesbian newspaper of the South. He has received a dozen other awards for a spectrum of accomplishments ranging from writing to running, the latter as a participant in an AIDS fundraiser. In 2009 Glaser was chosen as the male grand marshal of the Atlanta Pride parade, November 1. FAMILY MEMBER Chris Glaser is the youngest child of the late Wayne and Mildred Glaser, high school sweethearts from Pittsburg, Kansas, who enjoyed more than fifty years together. He was born and reared in North Hollywood, California, and has a sister and brother and three nephews who have families of their own. His family and relatives proved loving and supportive when he came out as gay. He lived three years in New Haven, Connecticut, while in seminary; and one year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while doing a campus ministry internship. He then lived in West Hollywood, California for 15 years. With the exception of 14 months in San Francisco while serving MCCSF, Glaser has lived in Atlanta since 1993 and makes his home in the Ormewood Park neighborhood of Atlanta with his partner Wade and their golden retriever/Labrador-mix Hobbes. Together they enjoy wining and dining with friends and family. Glaser’s recreation includes praying, reading, writing, movies, running, swimming, weightlifting, dancing, and walking Hobbes. http://www.chrisglaser.com/info/biography.htm
  • By Published On: June 30, 2021

    I assure you I am well, content, and thankful to God for this extension of my ministry. Thank you for your interest, comments, correspondence, and contributions. I am grateful to Metropolitan Community Churches for recognizing this blog as an “Emerging Ministry” and ProgressiveChristianity.org for reposting many of my reflections, as well as the dozens of Facebook pages that allowed me to provide links to particular posts.

  • By Published On: March 5, 2021

    If Jesus read The New York Times, he would not see a world so different from his own, except in externals. He would still see the poor, the hungry, and the marginalized. He would recognize military occupations, tribal warfare (even in Washington), and rulers who acted like gods.

  • By Published On: February 18, 2021

    As long as everyday Christians avoid the marketplace of ideas, extremist Christians will seem the prevailing voice of Christianity and/or the church. As Bishop Spong has said, religion is like a public pool: all the noise comes from the shallow end.

  • By Published On: December 16, 2020

    The awesome insight I wanted to share with you was “that the human brain has many times more connections than stars in our galaxy” [p126]. That’s an “aha” from the inside out, or rather, way, way beyond!

  • By Published On: November 8, 2020

    I recite the Lord’s Prayer daily, and often the most challenging phrase for me is the second part of “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Though I’ve received everything I have from a generous and gracious God, it’s hard to let go of grudges and wrongs and the feeling that others owe me something or that somehow I have unfairly missed out.

  • By Published On: September 17, 2020

    For the past four years, I have prayed daily for compassion within our nation’s leadership. So it’s high time I read the only Henri Nouwen book I don’t recall reading, Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, co-authored in 1982 with Donald P. McNeill and Douglas A. Morrison.

  • By Published On: August 6, 2020

    Jesus did not come to save you, nor to make you prosper. Jesus came to save the world and help it prosper. Of course that includes you, but not exclusively.

  • By Published On: June 26, 2020

    While expressing appropriate gratitude for the work of professional first responders, it is helpful to remember we are—each and every one of us—a “first responder.” If we learn nothing else from Jesus, his life and ministry and spirituality, we are “the nearest neighbor” to our families, friends, colleagues, fellow responders, neighbors, clients, customers, service providers, as well as the numerous strangers, even “opponents” we encounter, including all those we meet through our social networks and the internet.

  • By Published On: May 7, 2020

    When I first heard of social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19, I thought we could bring back hoop skirts to keep others at a six-foot distance!  

  • By Published On: March 25, 2020

    To several readers, already isolated because of health or age or retirement, I’ve written this could be our “monastic” opportunity to experience the value of being “all-one” (where the word “alone” comes from) as well as resting in God, taking a break and a breath and a breather, especially important resisting a respiratory infection.

  • By Published On: February 12, 2020

    “Black lives matter” is not just wisdom for protesting “issues” of law enforcement. It should be a mantra for all of life.

  • By Published On: January 11, 2020

    Early Sunday morning before Christmas I learned that my first long term partner had died. It took me by surprise and grabbed me in the gut. I wanted to talk to somebody about it, but I didn’t think anyone could understand. So I’m talking about it with you, the reader of this blog.

  • By Published On: October 30, 2019

    A neighbor who looks every bit the part of a Hindu sage suggested humbly that expecting life to be eternal is “a bit greedy, don’t you think?”

  • By Published On: September 13, 2019

    Benedictine monk John Main has reminded me of something I first learned reading one of Gore Vidal’s historical novels. Reading to oneself became a thing only in recent centuries. “The spoken word is the essential medium for the communication of the gospel.”

  • By Published On: June 19, 2019

    In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising

  • By Published On: June 16, 2019

    Dorian Gray was above it all, privileged and pampered and proud, without good promise or purpose. Wilde’s implication is that conscience is necessary for the soul to survive.“What does it profit a person if, in gaining the whole world, loses the soul?”

  • By Published On: May 5, 2019

    The 19th century English poet and mystic William Blake summed it up well when he said, “We are put on earth for a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love.” The spiritual teacher Henri Nouwen added that our time on earth is a brief span to say to God, “I love you too.”

  • By Published On: May 2, 2019

    Lonely Mystic: A New Portrait of Henri J. M. Nouwen is the most intimate glimpse of Henri yet, if that’s even possible, given his intimate self-portrayals in almost every one of his own books. It may make those who want to see Henri canonized squirm a little, though not because of any illicit affairs or theological heresies or tasteless behavior. He was the consummate “best little boy in the world” that every gay boy and man wants to be, but his calling to a celibate vocation kept him lonely and needy and sometimes, broken.

  • By Published On: March 26, 2019

    As a follow-up to last week’s post, “Thank You for the Body that Loves Me,” I present another meditation on our earthiness, another in a series of reflections from my earlier books that I hope may lift our spirits in this new year. The series opened with “Peace of Mind” and will continue throughout the season of Epiphany and, who knows, maybe beyond.

  • By Published On: March 16, 2019

    Both my sexuality and my spirituality conspired to persuade me that embodiment is good, a sacred trust, a holy way of being. My sexuality impelled me to love another intimately, physically, even worshipfully at its better moments. My spirituality, being incarnational, inspired me to love others personally and politically, wishing them shalom: health, well-being, justice, equality, peace.

  • By Published On: December 14, 2018

    Christmas has become about more than Jesus. It’s about the lifting of the human spirit. It’s about kindness and compassion and the glory of being alive!

  • By Published On: December 10, 2018

    verything is interrelated, and dynamic, in ceaseless change, and anything that seems unchanging is illusory. Those of us who are “good, civil and kind” must lean in to change history’s trajectory. God’s kingdom come!

  • By Published On: November 14, 2018

    I’ve written before that I am at “that age” when you look for connections, a time late in life indicated by recent studies. Regular readers will know that, during my morning prayers these days, I’ve been slowly absorbing Fritjof Capra’s 1975 book, The Tao of Physics. I find physicist Capra’s writing more accessible than that of Stephen Hawking, though I wonder how dated his science may be today, even as he demonstrates a pretty thorough understanding of Eastern spirituality.

  • By Published On: October 31, 2018

    How differently Aunt Helen, Nelson Mandela, and Donald Trump have applied the powers of positive thinking! Maybe we need a corrective text entitled, The Power of Magnanimous Thinking.