Ordaining Trans*

For years, Phyllis Tickle has told of her small Anglican outpost in Memphis, a congregation populated by many queers, bi, gay, lesbian, and trans* folks. In that last category, when a congregant transitioned from primarily identifying as one gender to the other, the church would have a celebration liturgy at the bathroom — that’s because the person they were celebrating was switching from one bathroom to the other.

This week, Amy Butler, pastor-elect at Riverside Church in New York City, posted a “Liturgy for a New World,” which records an ordination service from her current church, Calvary Baptist in Washington, D.C. In fact, it was something of a re-ordination, since the pastor had been ordained some years ago and had served as a Baptist pastor around the world. But that was with a different name. Now, as Amy writes, the congregation was re-ordaining her, with her new name:

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Baptism Is Important, But It’s Not Magic [Questions That Haunt]

This week’s Questions That Haunt Christianity comes from a young pastor. Sam asks:

I am a young pastor in Chicago with the Evangelical Covenant. I just read your book A Better Atonement and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve struggled with the doctrine of Original Sin for a long while, but I’ve been thinking about how this, if at all, changes my view of baptism. I don’t believe that original sin is necessary for baptism but as I try to formulate my sacramentology I thought I’d ask if you had any thoughts.

Sam, it’s no surprise that this question comes from a working pastor. Unlike so many of the questions we’ve tackled in this series, this is not a theoretical question of systematic theology, but a practical question of pastoral theology. Like you, I watched many families who were negligibly connected to the congregation show up with their six-week old infant, sit through a baptism class, and proceed to the front of the sanctuary on Sunday. There they sat, awkward as can be in the front row. Meanwhile, the congregation dutifully smiled and laughed when the baby cried because the deacons forgot to warm up the water. I watched all this as a pastor, knowing full well that we’d never see that family again. They were getting their kid baptized because that’s what grandpa and grandma wanted.

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Leaving the SBC

The people of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

That’s what Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. did last month. Their pastor, Amy Butler, wrote in the Washington Post about why her congregation left the Southern Baptist Convention:

Calvary’s affiliation with the SBC was long-standing and historic, a source of much pride in years past. In our church archives, we have a photograph of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the time, Congressman Brooks Hays, and the president of the American Baptist Convention, Rev. Dr. Clarence Cranford, both Calvary members (Cranford was Calvary’s pastor then), clasping each others’ arms in friendship, partnership and cooperation.

I haven’t seen any such reenactment in the years since that picture was taken; it was very possibly a moment that was the last of its kind.

Despite our long-standing ties to the Southern Baptist Convention, Calvary has for some time been at odds with many of the policies and public positions of the SBC. There have been many specific issues, like a rejection of the ordination of women, for example, over which we disagreed. But increasingly these differences became more foundational.

Read the rest: Calvary Baptist pastor: Why we severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention – The Washington Post.

Are Baptists Softening on the Emerging Church?

This one is:

Some critics see the emerging church movement as a heretical compromise with a pluralistic, truth-denying culture. Baptist history might offer an alternative explanation—ecclesiology is more defined by the practices of a Spirit-led community than by assent to the statements of a modern theological meta-narrative. Conversely, the emerging church movement may provide hope for reformation to Baptists ignorant of the difference between modern truths and Truth incarnate.

via The Baptist Standard :: The Newsmagazine of Texas Baptists – 2nd Opinion: Emerging church: Threat or ally?.