Sunday, March 11, 2012

Twin Cities area seminary walks the talk on behalf of social justice for all

Image courtesy of Center for Public Ministry, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, my alma mater, has a history of emphasizing social justice in its core curriculum; the school is also known for its activism on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed. United walks the talk.

                  The other day, I received the first newsletter (excerpts below) of United’s recently established Center for Public Ministry (for more information on United’s Center for Public Ministry, go here):

neXus Project Update - Aaron Laurer

For the past 8 months a group of faith leaders from the Twin Cities have been gathering at a Faith Table to advance the role of religious communities in defeating the anti-marriage amendment on the 2012 Minnesota ballot. The group is ecumenical and interfaith, with representatives from 8 different Christian denominations as well as Jews, Unitarian-Universalists, and the Pagan-Wiccan communities.

Aaron Lauer, UTS grad and research associate with the Center is serving as liaison to the faith "table" sees it this way, "The work of defeating the anti-marriage amendment provides United with two great opportunities for fulfilling its calling in the world. It engages students and the wider campus community in action around a social justice issue that is part of the progressive Christian mission of honoring the loving, committed relationships of same-sex couples. It also engages United in significant ecumenical and interfaith conversations that are the centerpiece of the faith work related to this campaign."

The Center is leveraging the unique resources of United's faculty, students and theological expertise through a variety of avenues:

On November 1, 2011 the Center co-hosted an inter-faith panel with the Schochet Center for LGBT Studies at the U of M

    This spring we are tapping the biblical and theological expertise of Carolyn Pressler, Harry C. Piper Jr. Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Susan K. Ebbers, Dean of the Seminary for a workshop for religious leaders

    5 students are serving amendment related internships, which integrate a unique learning and action experience with United Justice and Peace Concentration requirements.

So far, the group has hosted organizing events, storytelling trainings, and panel discussions. It has also coordinated the work of individual faith traditions and denominations in energizing their own communities to "Vote No" on the amendment. The Center for Public Ministry is working with the representatives from the table to organize interns, assist in resource development, and provide leadership and volunteers for special events. When fall comes, the table will begin working to "get out the vote" in congregations across the state.

Lobby Day - March 29

OutFront Minnesota and Minnesotans United for All Families invite you to unite for a day of training and action to defeat the amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples and equip ourselves with new skills to take back to our communities to move Minnesota forward for LGBT equality.
Make a commitment for Minnesota families

Take the day and come to Saint Paul to organize, plan, and win with OutFront Minnesota and Minnesotans United for All Families. Bring your friends, family, or coworkers. Thank your legislators or hold them accountable for the votes they took. Build your skills to take the campaign to your neighborhood and galvanize our state into action to defeat the amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples. Register

 Worship Of Light and Hope: A Multi-Faith Worship Service - March 29

Join an Interfaith gathering to connect faith communities through reflection, song and spirit. People of every faith, religion, and spiritual tradition are invited to take time for healing, honoring, and moving forward together. Everyone is welcome as we work and worship together for marriage equality in Minnesota! 

Time: 4:30 Light refreshments; 5:30-6:30 Interfaith worship service
Location: Mount Zion Temple, 1300 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

Faith Leaders Training - March 30
The Center for Public Ministry at United Theological Seminary will host a Faith Leaders Training for denominational team leaders about mobilizing their congregations to work against the anti-marriage amendment. The day of trainings will focus on building core organizing teams, storytelling training, and outreach strategies. 

Staff Profile

Cecilia is a third-year M.Div. student at UTS with concentrations in Pastoral Care & Counseling and Justice & Peace Studies. Cecilia is an active member of campus life and serves as student body moderator. She chose to attend UTS because of the seminary's commitments to justice and peace. "The Center for Public Ministry is one of the most cutting- edge things happening at UTS," she says. Cecilia is grateful to work as a Program Associate for the Center, where she studies what makes public ministry successful and how to equip seminaries and local churches to be powerful forces for social justice. Cecilia is active in the campaign against the Anti-Marraige Amendment in MN. She serves as the Minister for Children and Youth at Linden Hills United Church of Christ and is a member in discernment of the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ.

neXus Project 

You are invited to a conversation. Over the last months as the Occupy Movement has taken shape and altered our thinking and acting, many of us in the faith community have wondered how best to respond. Participate in the actions?  Add our prophetic voices in preaching?  In small groups and structured organizations we've pondered, prayed, and acted.  A group going by the name, OccupyFaith, has been pondering all of this, too. We invite you to include your voice and perspective in the conversation. 

 What:  Join us for small group conversation about how we act faithfully in this moment. How does the Occupy Movement bring visibility to economic justice and injustice?  How have you or your congregation responded?  How do our traditions and theology speak with and to the Occupy Movement? How do we engage our members who are part of the 1%?  Or those who are part of the 99?  What is our calling to each of these groups?

 When:  Thursday, March 15, 9am-10:30am. 

 Where:  SpringHouse Ministry Center (home of Salem Lutheran, Lyndale UCC, and First Christian) at 610 W. 28th Street in south Minneapolis (parking available in the lot) near 28th Street and Lyndale Ave. S.

Who:  Clergy and Professional Faith Leaders--please spread this invitation to your circle (and beyond) of colleagues who may be interested and in need of conversation partners.  

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