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    • 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

Spiritual Care for the Liberated

We, Too, Need a Verse to Chant

The first sermon in which I included gay people by name among “the least of these” for whom Jesus cared, my text was the story from Acts of Paul and Silas in prison. An earthquake frees them, and the jail keeper prepares to take his own life, thinking they have escaped. But Paul shouts out, “Do not be afraid, for we are all here.” That was my sermon title, and I explained that despite their liberation, they take time to convert the jail keeper, recognizing he too is imprisoned. I’d like to think that, almost to the day that I gave that sermon 40 years ago, I still have some of that youthful idealism.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Progressive Christian Reflections

Despite four central theological affirmations to the contrary—Creation, Incarnation, Resurrection, and the church as the Body of Christ—Christians got it in their heads that the body was not a locus for divinity.

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The Boy with Green Hair

As a boy, I was sometimes left to entertain myself on Saturday afternoons. Watching TV, I happened onto a film that touched my experience even before I could name it. I knew I was different and was pained by my difference because, like most children, I wanted to be like everyone else.

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“For God’s Sake, Chill!”

William Countryman points out in his book Dirt, Greed, and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today that people in biblical times lived with an understanding of limited resources—there was only so much to go around. Thus greed was the greatest sin, because to desire something for oneself was to take it away from somebody else.

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My Dog Ate My Scripture

On the eve of our flight to San Francisco so that I might serve as interim pastor in 2006, my late dog Calvin (himself an author) devoured most of a huge hardbound thousand-page concordance of the Bible. He ingested so many biblical references that he was still exegeting them on the grassy lawns of Park Merced for days after our arrival!

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Seeing Things as if for the First Time

In his novel Zorba the Greek, the Greek author and lifelong spiritual seeker Nikos Kazantzakis observed that poets, artists, and visionaries see things “as if for the first time.” The narrator’s friend Zorba, based on an acquaintance of …

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Hang-Gliding and Mudwrestling: The Spiritual Life

I believe it’s in the Bible that we find people and a God willing to wrestle with one another. The spirituality of the Bible is more mudwrestling than hang-gliding, from the depiction of a God who wrestles mud into human shapes in Jewish scriptures to the depiction of creation itself groaning in childbirth in Christian scriptures.

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Peace in Jerusalem

I thought for sure I would live long enough to see peace come to Israel.

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Wounded Healers

Henri once wrote that the “J. M.” in the middle of his name could stand for “Just Me.” He believed that the minister (again, every Christian) was called to live a life offered to others. The autobiography or memoir is said to have first appeared in The Confessions of Saint Augustine, and spiritual autobiography has long had a place as a means of doing theology. I lead workshops and retreats on spiritual autobiographical writing, encouraging participants to tell their stories.

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“Our Mother…”

Before it became common to avoid its gender specificity, I long ago changed the “Our Father” to “God, Mother and Father of us all…” in my daily recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. “Father” as a metaphor did not contain all of God’s attributes, in my experience. And, I must confess, the metaphor of “Mother” contained the divine attributes I found most positive.

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The Temple of God’s Wounds

Every Holy Week for many years I have travelled to The Temple of God’s Wounds, a small book written in 1951 by the Anglican Bishop of Bombay, ‘Will Quinlan’ nee William Quinlan Lash, a mystic.

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Richard Dawkins Has More Faith Than I Do

Famed evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins is one of those atheists who inspire faith in me even while dissin’ it. I found a recent New York Times interview of him by Michael Powell more uplifting than that week’s religious articles. Of course that’s because most media coverage of religion highlights faults more than insights. 

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