MLP Masthead Michael Adee, the executive director of More Light Presbyterians (MLP), offers his report on the recent “God’s Whole Family” gathering in Nashville on the MLP website.

Presbyterians from 24 states and the District of Columbia came together for worship, inspiration, spiritual growth and Christian community.  From California and Oregon, Arizona to Connecticut, New York to Florida, Presbyterians came together to celebrate God’s love for all of God’s children and creation, no exceptions.  Guided by the conference Biblical text of 1 John 3:1, “How great is the love God has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are,” conference participants reflected upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ that embraces, not excludes.

It seems the conference kindled enthusiasm for the Presbyterians (U.S.A.) General Assembly scheduled for the summer of 2010 in Minneapolis.  LGBT issues will be front and center on the agenda.  The MLP website also speaks of specific plans for GA 2010 that came out of the MLP board meeting that immediately followed the “God’s Whole Family” conference.

The key matters for discernment, discussion and decision included preparations and overture development for the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) July 3 – 10, 2010 in Minneapolis, MN.  Being inspired by the extraordinary collaboration during the Amendment 08-B Campaign, we are grateful to continue working with Covenant Network, Presbyterian Promise, Presbyterian Welcome, TAMFS and Witherspoon Society-Voices of Sophia.

MLP continues its absolute and passionate commitment to the achievement of spiritual equality, ordination equality and marriage equality for LGBT people and their families in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA). 

Presbyterian Pastor Janet Edwards offers her perspective on the recent MLP events in her blog, A Time to Embrace.  She speaks of the “radical hospitality” of the Biblical message:

Radical hospitality is a consistent theme in Scripture from Abraham and Sarah feeding the three strangers, to the destruction of Sodom for not receiving those same strangers with hospitality, to Jesus’ repeated use of the wedding feast as an image for the Kingdom of God.

And as practiced by the congregation that hosted the MLP conference, 2nd Presbyterian of Nashville:

Second Presbyterian not only showed that hospitality to us, but clearly lives the Gospel message of radical hospitality every day. That they are well practiced at such radical hospitality was obvious in how effortlessly they served as our host, with questions quickly answered, spaces for good conversation and for quiet prayer, and volunteers always at hand to help us get what we needed. The building, too, reflected the spirit of the people, as it should in the Church; it was user-friendly, handicapped-accessible, bright and open.

Most of all, the Sunday worship service at Second was truly inspiring in its combination of stateliness and warmth. The congregation and the participants in the conference passed the peace with palpable joy to one another. By opening its doors to the GLBT faithful as a More Light church, Second Presbyterian has clearly learned to embody the welcoming spirit of the Gospel, serving as an example to us all of how to be the Church, the people of God in Christ.

May we all follow the example of Second Pres in meeting the stirring challenge to incarnate the Gospel message whenever we greet another, wherever – and whomever – that may be.

Yet another perspective of the MLP conference comes from the Witherspoon Society, an allied association of progressive Presbyterians:

Several times it was noted how constructive the diversity of organizations has been, reaching people through different networks and highlighting the many reasons people have for supporting the removal of obstacles to ordination.  The conference was designed to be participatory, and there were various workshops around the theme of “God’s Whole Family.” It is difficult, then, to convey the richness of what the participants brought, experienced, and took away with them.

Will Minneapolis be the scene of the next breakthrough for gay marriage and gay clergy in 2010 as it was in 2009 with the ELCA convention?  Will the Presbyterians be the next mainline Protestant denomination to recognize and support same-gender relationships, joining the United Church of Christ (UCC), Episcopal Church, and the ELCA?  Stay tuned.

Hat tip to Pastor John Shuck for collecting these links.