Tag Archives: Appearances

Gay Games Symposium

Originally known as the Gay Olympics and dating to 1982, the Gay Games are held every four years (just like the Olympiad), and the 9th quadrennial event will run from August 9th through the 16th in the Cleveland/Akron area. The Gay Games will become international when the 2018 games move to Paris.

The events are participatory rather than competitive, and this year’s event is expected to draw 35,000 visitors, including 10,000 participants. The Games are open to all adults – regardless of sexual orientation or athletic ability. With more than 35 sports (from darts to triathlon, bowling to softball) and 2 cultural events (band and chorus), there’s something for everybody.

The United Church of Christ, with headquarters in Cleveland, is one of the sponsors, the first time a religious denomination has taken such a supportive stance. Rev. J. Bennett Guess, an executive in the UCC home office, wrote a guest column in Cleveland.com, and he stated,

[W]hen Cleveland, our hometown, was selected to host this summer’s international Gay Games, leaders within the United Church of Christ knew instantly that we had a responsibility, not only as a good corporate citizen, but also as a prominent national religious organization, to do all we could in support, because the lives of LGBT people and their families are at stake. That’s the Christian message of faith, equality and justice that we want to emanate from our visible and vocal endorsement. That’s why we are especially proud that, this August, Cleveland’s own United Church of Christ, headquartered on Prospect Avenue, will become the first religious denomination to be a major corporate sponsor of the Gay Games. The UCC’s Amistad Chapel, built as a shrine to faith-inspired justice advocacy, will host events and extravagantly welcome visitors from across the country and around the globe.

Amistad ChapelI am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. Five local and national leaders of denominations that have made significant progress in becoming LGBT friendly will comprise the blue-ribbon symposium panel. The panelists include:

Rev. Don King is the pastor of Hope Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Cleveland Heights. Hope Lutheran is a Reconciling in Christ Congregation, and Pr. King has been active in the Lutheran LGBT advocacy organization called ReconcilingWorks.

Andy Lang is the executive director of the UCC Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Concerns. The Coalition administers the UCC Open and Affirming Program.

Rev. Tricia Dykers Koenig is the National Organizer for the Covenant Network of Presbyterians.

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind is the dean of Trinity Cathedral, the home of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

Dr. Kenneth W. Chalker is the pastor of University Circle United Methodist Church, a Reconciling Ministries congregation.

The symposium will be at the Amistad Chapel (700 Prospect Avenue) in downtown Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon, August 12th, commencing at 2:30 pm.



Twin Cities, Northfield, and Chicago appearances

Here are details for the initial author appearances to follow the release of Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism, which will finally occur in the next couple of days.

Tuesday evening, February 11, 7:00 pm, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Avenue S, St Paul, Minnesota

Gloria Dei is the largest church of the St. Paul Area Synod and a Reconciling in Christ congregation. Senior Pastor Bradley Schmeling is an out-gay man who was defrocked following a 2007 ecclesiastical trial in Georgia, where he served an Atlanta congregation. His trial was a significant factor in later ELCA policy revisions. Pastor Bradley and his partner, Pastor Darin Easler, were the first clergy to be reinstated to the ELCA roster following the 2009 revisions to ministry policies, and his call as senior pastor to Gloria Dei, a “high steeple” flagship congregation of the Synod, marked a first.

Saturday morning, February 15, 10:00 am, Bethel Lutheran Church, 1321 North Avenue, Northfield, MN

Bethel Lutheran was our congregation and Northfield was our home for three years. Northfield is a delightful college community, and I was privileged to participate in and speak at numerous community, congregational, and St. Olaf College events. This will be a homecoming.

Friday evening, February 21, 6:00 PM, Augustana Lutheran Hyde Park, 5500 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago

Augustana Hyde Park is a Reconciling in Christ congregation that serves the Hyde Park neighborhood on the near Southside of Chicago. Augustana also hosts Lutheran Campus Ministries for several colleges, including the University of Chicago, and is located just a block or two away from the Lutheran School of Theology and McCormick Theological Seminary.

Saturday evening, February 22, 5:00-7:00 PM, wine and cheese with the author (public welcome), hosted by Mark Bowman, Director LGBT Religious Archive Network, 5352 N. Kenmore Avenue, #3, Chicago

Mark Bowman is one of the iconic, prophetic figures featured in the book. He was a founder of the Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network and served as its director for many years. As part of his duties, he was editor of the award-winning Open Hands Magazine. More recently, he has been project coordinator for the LGBT Religious Archives Network. He will host a wine and cheese party on Chicago’s Northside, and the public is welcome.

Sunday morning, February 23, 9:00 AM, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 1234 N. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights

I was a member of this Reconciling in Christ congregation during my 2011-12 sojourn in greater Chicago. Our Saviour’s has been especially intentional in its LGBT welcome. Senior pastor Dan Hoeger was called in part because he was a willing straight ally, and the congregation voted overwhelmingly in 2011 that they would host same-gender weddings, two years before marriage equality came to Illinois. It will be good to see old friends.

Sunday afternoon, February 23, 3:00 PM, Congregational UCC (St. John UCC & First United Methodist co-sponsors), 1001 W Kirchhoff Rd, Arlington Heights

Two UCC Open and Affirming congregations, also members of the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Congregations, and a Methodist Reconciling Ministries congregation will co-sponsor my appearance. St. John UCC was within walking distance of my Arlington Heights home, and Pastor Jeffrey Phillips became a friend and helped with UCC research contacts. I met Congregational UCC pastor Rex Piercy at the 2012 gathering of the UCC Coalition at nearby Elmhurst College, and his church will host this Sunday afternoon event. First United Methodist of Arlington Heights was served by head pastor Bonnie Beckonchrist at that time, but Pastor Bonnie has since retired but continues as Chair of the RMN board of directors.

Was Paul the apostle gay?

A week ago, I spent the weekend in Milwaukee promoting my novel to the 2,000 participants of the Roman Catholic Call to Action Conference.  One of the keynote speakers was retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong.  The Bishop is an outspoken proponent of progressive Christian causes, and he has published a dozen or so books in the last several decades that have attracted a huge liberal readership.

I was greatly pleased to have the opportunity to visit with the Bishop for a short time.  For those unfamiliar with my novel, A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle, the characterization of the man from Tarsus suggests he struggled with homosexual urges, which he characterized as his “thorn in his flesh”.  Bishop Spong shares this view, and we briefly discussed our common impression.  Bishop Spong said he first read of this idea in a 1930’s treatise by the British theologian Arthur Darby Nock.  I offered the bishop a copy of my book as a gift, which he graciously accepted and asked me to sign it for him.

A video of the bishop explaining his rationale has appeared on You Tube.  Watch and enjoy:

A Wretched Man Website tweaks

Recently, the novel’s website, www.awretchedman.com, received a couple of adjustments.  The two obvious changes were the addition of a product purchase page which enables direct purchases of the novel in either paperback or eBook format, and the second was a revamping of the “reviews” page.  Actually, the reviews page has been broken down into four sub-pages: Scholarly Reviews, Blog Reviews, Reader Comments, and Online Comments (from either Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble).

Late last night, I received another comment from a reader via email that will soon be added to the website but which warrants special mention here.

Last Saturday, I was the guest of the Gustavus Adolphus College bookstore prior to the Gusties homecoming football game with St. Olaf.  A man named Jim stopped by and browsed a bit before moving on, but he took a book flyer with him.  Ten or fifteen minutes later, he returned and purchased a copy of the book.  Another ten or fifteen minutes passed, and he returned again to report that he had read the prologue and first chapter, and he was hooked.  Yesterday, three days after he bought the book, Jim sent me an email, and he said the following:

I just finished the book and congratulate you! Like all good books, it entertained. Like all really good books, it taught and expanded viewpoints. Like the few downright excellent books I have read in the past several years, it challenges me to think and motivates further study.

As you can imagine and have probably heard from others, your thoughts have created some discomfort that I now feel compelled to address. This, to me, is the mark of a truly significant work. This splash will produce ripples to keep me busy for a while and I thank you for what you put into it.

I suppose I’m like most authors—I thought my book was pretty good, or at least hoped, but I also wrestled with doubt.  So, when I receive comments like these, I am more than gratified, I am flattered and more than a little surprised.

More blog attention for A Wretched Man

Another review appeared recently on a book blog, and last week I was interviewed on blog talk radio.  Stephanie, at Curling up by the Fire, wrote the following:

Mr. Holmen was able to show Paul’s struggles with his own spiritual self as well as with the political world in this novel, to the point where I felt I was right there along with the people involved.  I felt a connection with the people (I can’t use the word characters as these people were actually alive and existed) and a great empathy for their belief and what they were trying to accomplish, putting themselves in great danger.

The world in Mr. Holmen’s book is also brought vividly to life and I enjoyed reading about the daily life of the people involved in the New Testament.  Even simple things like what they ate for breakfast and descriptions of the homes, boats, clothing, jobs, and traditions were very enjoyable.  I loved learning about things like where and how they slept, what they used to transport materials, what was used for currency in different parts of the Roman world; it was all so fascinating.  It added a rich element to Paul’s life that made it so much easier to understand and made the characters so much more real.

And here’s a link to the half hour radio interview conducted by Cyrus Webb on Conversations Live!

Event: Display booth at church convention

NE synod logo Last weekend, Lynn and I returned to our old stomping grounds, the NE Minnesota Synod of the ELCA.  We attended the annual assembly of Lutherans from northern Minnesota for the purpose of promoting the novel through a display booth.

The event was successful on multiple levels.  First, it was a lot of fun to return to Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd, which is the site for the assembly in even years (the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center in odd years).  We saw many friends from our past association with this synod, including the contingent from our former parish in Upsala.  Secondly, we sold a lot of books—over ten percent of the attendees purchased a copy (including the bishop).  Thirdly, we effectively networked and tentatively arranged up to three more events and a possible book review.

KYMN Radio Guest

kymn_banner1Yesterday, April 16th, I was privileged to be Paula Granquist’s guest on her Art Zany radio program broadcast in the Northfield-Cannon River Valley area on KYMN radio.  An audio feed is available for replay here.  The whole show takes about thrity-six minutes, and I appear three or four minutes after the preliminaries.