Let Africa Be Africa

Recently, there was a report on National Public Radio about how China is coming into Africa and making deals in various nations. The story focused on Chinese business ventures in Zambia and Tanzania, but widens it’s scope to the entire continent which will be come a market of 3 billion by the end of the century.  A question was asked where the United States was when it came to investing in Africa.  Here’s how the interviewee Howard French answered: One of the things I came across is the existence of American funding through the Millennium Challenge Account. These are projects … Continue reading Let Africa Be Africa

The Anger You Don’t Understand

One of the bloggers that I love to read is Rod Dreher.  While we share some similarities politically, we are on different sides of the same-sex marriage issue.  Rod has written a number of posts on what he sees as the coming troubles facing social conservatives as the opinion on gay marriage changes.  I decided to comment on a recent blog post.  One of the things he is bothered by is the meanness on the pro-SSM towards social conservatives.  While I agree that there has been a lot of spiking the ball on our side, I thought Rod needs to … Continue reading The Anger You Don’t Understand

By the Time I Get to Arizona

About a week ago, I wrote a post on same-sex marriage and how those of us who support it should act towards those that oppose it.  Can we be good winners to the losers? Some of the response to that post got me thinking (and agonizing) over this issue.  In two states, Kansas and Arizona, bills have made their way through the state legislature that would give people the right to refuse service to gays.  I think both bills are unconstitutional on their face and bring to mind the dreadful memories of Jim Crow. That said, these laws are the … Continue reading By the Time I Get to Arizona

Building a Bridge with Beer

A few weeks ago, I sat down for a beer with a fellow pastor.  Actually, I had hard cider- he had the beer.  The pastor is theologically conservative and sees me- a gay pastor with an orthodox theology as a bit of an enigma. We had a very good discussion talking about church and life and where we might agree.  I had the opportunity to share why I am this odd duck.  There is always a bit of uncomfortableness in breaking bread with someone who disagrees with you, but it was a good time and I hope to do it … Continue reading Building a Bridge with Beer

These Aren’t the Evangelicals You’re Looking For

A few years ago, I was invited by a Lutheran friend of mine to take part in a group of church planters.  I knew these folk came from an evangelical background and my “shields” went up.  Would these people accept me?  Did I have to go into the closet here? After a while, the woman who was leading the group noticed my hesitancy.  “Dennis, are you gay?” she asked.  She didn’t ask the question in a mean or menacing way, but more to get at what was making me so shy. Having grown up in an evangelical culture where being … Continue reading These Aren’t the Evangelicals You’re Looking For

Learning to Live in the Tension

I haven’t really blogged about what’s happening in the Presbyterian Church (USA) when it comes to changes in its ordination standards for a simple reason: I get paid by them.  I know people who are more conservative and opposed the change and liberals who supported it and I haven’t really wanted to offend folks or get people upset. But I also know that most people just have to look at my Facebook page to know where I stand.  And that doesn’t change how I would work.  My job is to serve the whole church with love and grace, not just … Continue reading Learning to Live in the Tension

Repost: I Miss the Old Mel White

The positive Mel White of old the “SpongeBob Squarepants of the gay community” is long gone. What’s left is a man that’s pretty pissed off at the church and when I say church, I mean the whole church. Continue reading Repost: I Miss the Old Mel White

How Do You Solve a Problem Like A Bigot?

It was about 15 years ago that I saw firsthand how love of enemy and justice for the oppressed clashed with each other.  I was in seminary at the time and one Sunday afternoon, I went to a discussion held at a local Lutheran church.  The then-Bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the ELCA, Mark Hanson (who is now the denomination’s Presiding Bishop) was in attendance.  The topic was on LGBT inclusion.  Bishop Hanson was trying hard to stress the unity of the church amidst diversity.  He tried to talk about how churches that were opposed to having … Continue reading How Do You Solve a Problem Like A Bigot?

Sunday Sermon: “No Do Overs”

This is a sermon I preached in 2007 for the Baptism of Our Lord which is next Sunday.  I happen to be preaching next Sunday.  No, I won’t be using this sermon.

“No Do Overs”
Isaiah 43:1-7, Luke 3:15-22
January 7, 2007 (Baptism of Our Lord)
Community of Grace Christian Church*
Minneapolis, MN

Did you ever have one of those experiences where you are playing a board game and you made some kind of mistake? Someone usually has pity on you and you get what is called a “do-over.”

I live for those moments.

Do overs can be great, I mean you get another chance. I really like them when I was playing some kind of athletic game as a kid. Since I was not blessed with physical prowess, this meant that I had another shot at getting it right.

Getting a do-over in say, kickball, is a good thing, but do-overs don’t work so well in the life of faith. In fact, they might do some damage.

Today is what is commonly called The Baptism of Our Lord. It is on this day, that we read about Jesus, the Son of God, the one who had no sin, coming forth to be baptized. Baptism has always been a touchy subject for me. As many of you know, I come from the Baptist tradition, so people tend to get baptized later in life than someone from a tradition that practices infant baptism. Baptists as well as Disciples believe in something called “believer’s baptism,” which means that the person usually makes a profession of faith before they are baptized. I got baptized in December 1976 at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in my hometown of Flint, Michigan. I was seven years old and didn’t understand everything that was going on. Anyway, I did get baptized and went on to grow up in the church and learn about God and about how God loved me.

As I got older, I started to have doubts. I would hear many preachers talking about making sure we were saved by God and I would fret about this. Did I really believe? It didn’t get any better when I was in college. Back then, I shared my concerns with my campus pastor. His belief was that in my case, I might want to get baptized again since I wasn’t sure. When I shared this with my mother, she looked at me as if I had just turned purple. I never went through with it and over time, I put my fears to rest. That was until about five years later when I was looking to join a Baptist church in Washington, DC. I was chatting with the pastor, and he asked if I had been baptized. I said yes “Was it a believer’s baptism?” he said. I tensed up. All the doubts came back. You see, he believed that the “believer’s baptism” was the only true way to be baptized and had “re-baptized” those who came from traditions where they were baptized as children. Despite my doubts, I told him I had been baptized. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: “No Do Overs””