Gender-inclusive Bathroom Signs

Last month, PCU leadership discussed our need to respond to anti-transgender rhetoric and discrimination in our society. It’s easy to condemn bigotry but harder to think of creative ways to respond. We determined that we would find a way to promote gender-inclusive bathroom signs in progressive churches.

We found an organization making such signs, and they have agreed to sell them to any church who wants one at a discount of 40% from their regular price. Just go to their website, pick out the sign you want to purchase (can choose color, shape, and image) and put in the following code: PCU40. You can read more about the campaign here.

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Journey of Faith Sermon – Rev. Fred Plumer – IUCC on the 25th Anniversary of Open and Affirming

  View Video of Fred’s Sermon at IUCC on June 12th, 2016 My story starts 35 years ago when I entered seminary. Pacific School of Religion is the oldest seminary on the west coast and has always …

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Wolf Blitzer Learned that there are Indeed Atheists in Fox-holes! – A Sermon for Trinity Sunday

This Trinity Sunday sermon owes much to John Shelby Spong’s book a “New Christianity for a New World” You can listen to the sermon here then watch the tail end of the Wolf Blitzer interview mentioned in the sermon.

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‘Open and Affirming’: Irvine Church is a Haven for LGBT

On a hot day in June 1991, about 130 church members packed the Irvine United Congregational Church sanctuary. The air conditioner wasn’t working. At least, that’s how it felt. “It was tense,” said the Rev. Fred Plumer, the church’s founder and pastor at the time. “There was a lot of excitement and anticipation.” They’d all come to cast their votes. The issue? Should they become an “open and affirming church?” In other words, should the church welcome LGBT members?

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Demons or Baggage: Stop and Listen – A Sermon for Pentecost 5C: Luke 8:26-39

Bobby wasn’t like any other 10-year-old boy. Bobby had the face of an angel but the temperament of a devil. Bobby was a beautiful child. His blond hair and blue eyes together with his alabaster skin, pointed toward his Scandinavian heritage. At first sight, Bobby appeared to be the kind of child that any congregation would be proud to count as a member. But, Bobby’s physical appearance was deceiving and Bobby’s presence in church was not welcome. Bobby didn’t go down to Sunday school classes with the other children. The Sunday school teachers had tried to include Bobby, but after several parents threatened to withdraw their children, they asked Bobby’s parents not to send Bobby anymore. So Bobby stayed in the sanctuary with the adults. Most of the adult members tried to tolerate Bobby’s presence but for some, Bobby’s presence was simply unnerving. Bobby is autistic. Sitting and behaving in church was impossible for him. As long as we were singing hymns, Bobby was happy. He would catch the rhythms of the music and rock back and forth and sing. He never sang the same words as the rest of the congregation. But it was clear from his movements and the sounds that emanated from his lips that Bobby was singing. The trouble was that Bobby never stopped singing when we did. When his parents would attempt to put an end to Bobby’s song, he would flail about and sometime throw himself on the floor.

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What Is It To Be A Christian?

“I believe we have been called to show compassion and to fight injustice. And regardless of whether or not you believe in God, your acceptance of that call is what validates your identity as a Christian.”

Watch below sermon by High School Student at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA on June 6th, 2016.

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Issue Isn’t “Graying,” It’s Not Enough New Folks

  Beware the “graying” of the church – says the common wisdom. And I confess that I have contributed to that concern. My reasoning has been: as the average age of mainline congregants surges past 60, attracting …

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Mary and Elizabeth: Visitation or Escape?

May 31st is the day the Church commemorates “The Visitation” the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth as it is recorded in the Gospel According to Luke 1:39-56. Since reading Jane Schalberg’s “The Illegitimacy of Jesus”, I can’t help but wonder if Mary’s visited her cousin Elizabeth or escaped to her cousin Elizabeth seeking protection for the crime of being raped in a culture that all too often blamed the victim. Historians estimate that Mary may have been all of twelve years old when she became pregnant. There is ample evidence in the New Testament accounts of Mary’s story that suggest that she may indeed have been raped. So rather than sweep the possibility under the rug, on this the Feast of the Visitation, I’m reposting a sermon I preached a few years ago during Advent. I do so because women young and old continue to be raped and to this day, are forced to flee from the accusations and persecutions of cultures that continue to blame the victim. What follows is a written approximation of the sermon which in addition to Jane Schalberg is also indebted to John Shelby Spong’s “Born of a Woman” and “Jesus for the Non Religious” along with John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg’s “The First Christmas”.

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Communications: It’s About the Audience

In my consulting with churches on communications strategy, we talk about tools: from emailed newsletters to social media to messaging to web sites.

We talk about message: the church’s narrative, its marketing thrust, the visuals it uses to tell its story. We talk about who should be doing the communicating: the pastor, a professional communicator conversant in technology, a staff member with many duties, or a volunteer.

But I have come to realize that the most critical topic of all is audience. Who is the designated audience? Whom is the congregation trying to reach? With whom is the church trying to build a relationship?

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Blessing the Hands That Vote

This ceremony makes voting a matter of the heart. Anyone can do it! Ask a friend to hold out the hand with which he or she commits to vote in the next election. Hold that hand, or anoint it with light oil, and say: “May God, who is Love (or just Love) guide your hand to vote for the common good!” This video shows the ceremony being conducted at Mt Hollywood Congregational United Church of Christ in Sunday 10:30 worship in Los Angeles on 5-22-16.

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Beyond Romance to Spiritual Love

Progressives often seem to feel a kind of compassion fatigue from being asked to be concerned about so many different issues of injustice. Perhaps the issue is that we give ourselves permission to give up because we get tired, or bored, or we allow indifference to get the best of us. Perhaps the spiritual prescription for the church is that they should choose to love more.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Usable Technology

A reader asked for tech guidance.

“I know you make tech choices thoughtfully and from experience,” he said. “So, I’m always happy when you share your knowledge of particular software/apps, including the pros and cons of each.”

I am happy to oblige, for technology is a critical tool in our respective work. For me, the key is usability.

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United Methodist Church’s Inhospitality Toward Its LGBTQs

The United Methodist Church is in the need of prayer. And, one that emphasizes full inclusion of all its parishioners.

At General Conference this month in Portland the struggle to move the church’s moral compass against its anti-LGBTQ policies was courageously demonstrated when over 100 United Methodist Church(UMC) ministers and faith leaders came out to their churches – with Rev. Jay Williams of Union United Methodist Church in Boston’s South End as one of them.

While these ministers and faith leaders undoubtedly moved the hearts of many the church’s policies remain unmoved.

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Faith in the Face of Terrorism

  The word “faith” in early Christianity was more synonymous with “courage” than it was with “belief.” Perhaps the most faithful response to terrorism is to refuse to be terrified. In Brussels on Easter they held a …

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How to Nurture a Welcoming Eethos

The measure of a society isn’t how it treats the young, healthy, beautiful and easy-to-like, but how it handles the vulnerable, the needy, the outcast, the hard-to-like.

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Fanning the Flames: Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Birthday celebrations lend themselves to the telling of stories. So, we begin with a parable by the radical theologian Peter Rollins. So, sit back and try to imagine that you live not at the beginning of the 21st century but at the middle of the 21st century; say about 2050. The world has changed quite a bit.

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Needed: Leaders Whose Charge is the Future

Churches, like other enterprises, need several kinds of leadership: maintenance (tending the store), financial (keeping the doors open), staff support (serving constituents), marketing (selling the product), quality control (freshening and problem-solving), and training (transmitting skills and values.)

There is one more leadership skill needed, and this is the critical one. Its absence is keenly felt. That skill is looking into the future. Every leadership team needs some person or group whose charge is to look down the road, to see emerging needs, to see opportunities, to read trends and to imagine the new into being.

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Practicing Resurrection: Sophia/Wisdom – A Sermon for Mothers’ Day

El Shaddai, Eloheim, Rauach, Chokma, Rechem, YAHWEH, these are the ancient biblical Hebrew names for the reality that we call God. El Shaddai which translates as “she – breasted one, ”Eloheim which is the feminine plural for “majesty,” Rauach a feminine word for “wind” “breath” “spirit,” Chokma, a feminine word for “wisdom.” Rechem also a feminine word which translates as “ womb love” mother love, compassion. YAHWEH – I AM, WHO AM or I shall be who I shall be Ancient biblical Hebrew names for the reality that we call God.

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