by Joe Scarry
As I sit down to write, my eye keeps turning to the banner headline in today’s New York Times: “JUSTICES EXTEND BENEFITS TO GAY COUPLES; ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGES IN CALIFORNIA.” It’s been an eventful several weeks!
On the first weekend in June, several of us from St. Luke’s attended the annual synod assembly of the Metro Chicago Synod. They were two days of highs and lows. Highs included the passage of a resolution entitled “Calling for Conversations about Ministering to Same-gender Couples and Families” and the news of the election of Guy Irwin as bishop of the ELCA’s Southwest California synod – making him the first openly gay bishop in the ELCA. The big low was waiting in vain for the Illinois House of Representatives to act on marriage equality.
Fast forward to the end of the month. A few days from today, people from St. Luke’s will join with friends from dozens of other congregations that are part of the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches to march in the Chicago Pride Parade. As prologue to Sunday’s march, the Welcoming Churches held an Ecumenical Pride Worship last Sunday. Its theme was “Draw the Circle Wide.” And as I heard the choir singing Mark Miller’s anthem of that name, I couldn’t help thinking that “drawing the circle wide” is exactly what we’ve been doing at St. Luke’s . . . .
That’s in part because, between the events I described that occurred at the beginning of June and those at month’s end, members of St. Luke’s had the wonderful experience of welcoming the Rev. Judith Kotzé, from Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) in South Africa. IAM advocates that the South African religious communities should become more welcoming and affirming towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people. In addition to its work in South Africa, IAM partners with others in Kenya, Leosotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, to advocate for justice throughout Africa. Judith’s visit this year built on a meeting conducted at St. Luke’s a year ago.
We spent an exciting two days with Judith. On Saturday, June 8th, Judith joined members of St. Luke’s to journey with us as we work for justice in our neighborhood and in our country. In the morning, she participated in the ALSO “Walk for Peace” with us, together with our friends from the Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance. In the afternoon, she participated with Pastor Erik and others in delivering remarks as part of a screening of “Love Free or Die” at the Chicago Cultural Center, about the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church.
On Sunday, June 9th, St. Luke’s welcomed Judith in worship with a range of music from South Africa, (such as “Come All You People/Uyaimose,” “Listen God is Calling/Neno lake Mungu,” “Bless, O Lord, Our Country/Prayer for Africa,” and of course “We are Marching in the Light/Siyahamba” — which has practically become the St. Luke’s anthem!), and Judith preached the sermon for the day. Following the service, Judith gave a presentation about the challenges and opportunities for justice for LGBTI people in South Africa and throughout southern Africa.
That evening, Dale Hoiberg and David Foster hosted an extravagantly hospitable dinner party catered by their brother-in-law, John Winslow, for Judith and a small group of Chicago-based development professionals. Attendees included Amalia Vagts, Executive Director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries; David Braden, Development Director of the Reconciling Ministries Network; and Kevin Mork, Director of Community Relations for the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago. This dinner was nourishing and sustaining on so many levels, from the food shared to the conversation engaged. Over the course of three hours, the group discussed IAM’s need for international support, and shared ideas and concrete plans for how to support IAM as they engage institutional and individual donors.
Throughout the weekend, St. Luke’s worked hand-in-hand with other members of the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches and Chicago Gay Liberation Network (GLN) to expand this important Chicago-South Africa connection.
Drawing the Circle Wide(r)
Judith is an important “connector” for St. Luke’s and the wider Chicago community, both to events happening in South Africa and throughout southern Afica, as well globally. Her upcoming activities include participation in the World Council of Churches gathering in Pusan in November, and the convening of a global Interfaith Network in Johannesburg in January.
The St. Luke’s relationship with Judith Kotzé and IAM only deepens. We are exploring ways to strengthen and expand the relationship, as IAM continues the work of building a global network of support for LGBTI justice in southern Africa and St. Luke’s connects to the wider world.
Want to be inspired? Take a minute to listen to “Draw the Circle Wide”. And then come to St. Luke’s and help us do just that.
On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, members of St. Luke’s, together with representatives of the Chicago Consultation, Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches, Gay Liberation Network (GLN) Chicago, and other friends met at St. Luke’s with Judith Kotzé and Ingrid Schoonraad from Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) in South Africa for a fascinating discussing about advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.