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Cast of characters countdown: Ellen Marie Barrett

A Wretched Man - The Author's Blog - Mon, 11/11/2013 - 9:09am

In 1970, the Episcopal General Convention authorized diaconal ordination for women, a non-sacerdotal role. Two years later, Bishop Paul Moore, Jr., of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, interviewed Ellen Marie Barrett, an early female candidate for ordination to the diaconate.

I asked her to sit down on the sofa across from the wing chair where I usually sit when someone comes to see me. Ellen is tall, with dark brown hair conservatively styled. She, like many tall people, stoops a little as she walks. Her most arresting feature is her eyes, which appear honest, deep, and welcoming … In conversation, she seems rather soft, until the discussion finds its way into an area of faith or conviction. Then you strike rock.

Though the progressive bishop was impressed with Barrett, he did not recommend her for ordination to the diaconate because she was an out lesbian. Barrett attended seminary. When she finished in 1975, she again asked Bishop Moore to approve her for ordination to the diaconate. He relented, and she was ordained a deacon in December, 1975 before a few church ladies, a few students, and her proud Southern mother. The ordination barely disturbed the church mice even though Barrett had been elected co-president of Integrity, an Episcopal LGBT advocacy group, at its inaugural national meeting earlier that year.

The following summer, the Episcopal General Convention went further; church canons were revised to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood, and many lined up for ordination when the policy would become effective in January, 1977. Deacon Barrett was among the hopeful women, but she and Bishop Moore weren’t prepared for the firestorm that awaited them. TV networks were there for her January ordination, which was a Time Magazine feature story.

The bishop and the lesbian priest were hounded mercilessly with calls, letters, and rejection. The last years of the decade of the seventies degenerated into the “height of homophobia” within the Episcopal Church. Barrett didn’t have a comfortable career and faced crushing depression. Eventually, she joined the Order of St. Benedict as Sister Bernadette.

In researching her story, I located her in the Diocese of Newark, and I asked her to comment. Months passed, and I heard nothing. Then, a long email arrived. With Sister Bernadette’s permission, the entire email appears as a poignant coda to the Episcopal section of my book.

Here’s a snippet:

 

Would I do it again? Knowing what I know now? That’s not a question that can possibly have an answer. Today is a very different time. I have no idea whether God would have moulded my combination of weakness, pig-headedness, and some talent into what another time would need. I was what I was, and I did what I did, in the context of a particular time and socio-political climate.

Am I still convinced it was the right thing to do? Yes. Done the right way by the right person? Who knows? It is what it is. And priesthood is as much a part of me as green eyes and once black hair turning white.

I am a priest forever. That’s all.

 

This is the fourth installment in the series Cast of characters countdown. I will continue to post biographical notes about the iconic pilgrims and prophets on the road to full inclusion who are featured prominently in Queer Clergy. Here’s the list of prior posts:

1968 Troy Perry (founder of the MCC)

1970 Robert Mary Clement (gay priest who marched in the first Gay Pride parade)

1970-72 William Johnson (first out gay man to be ordained by a traditional denomination)

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Categories: Citizens

Cast of characters countdown: William R. Johnson

A Wretched Man - The Author's Blog - Fri, 11/08/2013 - 8:38am

The Christopher Street Liberation Day parade from Greenwich Village to Central Park on June 28, 1970 was peaceful. Though police turned their backs on the marchers, they honored their parade permit.

Across the nation in San Francisco, police were less respectful at a much smaller event that same day, consisting of a couple of hundred queers at a ”Gay In” at Golden Gate park; police arrested several of the participants. San Francisco was years away from its later reputation as an LGBT friendly city.

Five years earlier, on New Year’s eve 1965, San Francisco police had broken promises made to the clergy organizers of a ball sponsored by the Council on Religion and Homosexuality. When police attempted to crash the ball, the word went out to the clergy organizers: “Get down here and wear your collar.” Lutheran pastor Chuck Lewis kept flash bulbs popping, and his assistant, Jo Chadwick, stuffed his film negatives in her bra to prevent the police from confiscating the photos. At a later press conference, clergy offered the “cloak of the cloth” moral authority, and the eyes of the nation witnessed the reality of police harassment of the gay community.

Five months after the arrests at the “Gay In” at Golden Gate Park, another historic event would quietly unfold across the Bay. Sitting atop “Holy Hill,” the neo-Gothic structures of the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) stand in stately vigil over San Francisco Bay across from the Golden Gate bridge. The stone and timber halls of PSR had long witnessed Christian activism. Founded by Yankee congregationalists from the east in 1866, the seminary prided itself on a “courage born of rashness.”

Four hundred students and others attended a homosexuality symposium in the seminary dining hall on November 11, 1970. When someone made an incendiary comment about gays, a young seminarian found himself rising to speak. His spontaneous comment changed his life and the course of church history.

I am not a faggot, I am not a queer, I am not a fairy–but I am a practicing homosexual. And I can say that with joy–it is an affirmation which I make with pride.

Despite his impromptu “coming out” and over the objections of the seminary president, William R. Johnson continued in seminary and the Golden Gate Association of the United Church of Christ (UCC) ordained him to the ministry in June 1972 around the third anniversary of Stonewall. The UCC had accomplished another historic “first”—the first ordination of an out gay man by any traditional Christian denomination.

Thus began a distinguished career as the pastor to countless gay Christians, including many closeted clergy, and as the pan-denominational prophetic leader of the movement toward full inclusion. Rev. Johnson served as inspiration and strategist for the fledgling LGBT advocacy organizations that appeared in Protestant denominations during the 1970s, including as founder and first leader of what came to be known as the UCC Coalition. Later, he served for many years in the UCC home office.

Pastor Johnson has only recently retired. Elmhurst College, his alma mater, has honored him with an annual lecture series in his name. Pastor Johnson has also been a fact-checking source and supporter during my compilation of Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism.

He offers this endorsement of the book:

“I have always known that this historical overview of the religious LGBT movement was needed not only to tell our movement stories to the masses but to make same-gender loving people aware of a significant but often overlooked part of their own history. This is a significant work by justice ally Obie Holmen — a singular contribution toward the full inclusion of LGBT people within Christian community and society. Many will be surprised by the breadth and depth of the movement in the Church.”

 

 

 

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Categories: Citizens

Cast of characters countdown: Robert Mary Clement

A Wretched Man - The Author's Blog - Thu, 11/07/2013 - 7:58am

On a June summer’s evening in 1969, a gay Catholic priest and his partner heard a disturbance a few blocks away from their Greenwich Village home. It seems a routine police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, had gone awry, and the queers didn’t go quietly. Riots continued for the next couple of days, and the gay liberation movement was born.

A year later, the priest and his partner prepared to participate in a parade to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. A light beamed from the Oscar Wilde bookstore, and as if drawn by a beacon, a few faceless strangers shuffled out of the shadows to gather in awkward silence. By the time the sun first peeked over Brooklyn across the East River, a crowd of hundreds milled about the bookstore that had become the de facto headquarters for the audacious planners of Christopher Street Liberation Day to celebrate the first anniversary of Stonewall. At the time, they didn’t realize they would make history in the first Gay Pride march.

Father Robert Mary Clement, a priest associated with Old Catholicism, a non-Roman spinoff, donned his priestly garb, like he did every Sunday, while his partner prepared a placard and orange flyers that they would distribute at the parade. Father Clement’s presence in the parade garnered much attention, especially by the press and the picture-takers, second only to the drag queens; after all, he marched as an openly-gay priest, in collar and cassock, carrying the banner, “Gay People This Is Your Church.” Meanwhile, his partner distributed their colored fliers inviting queers to attend The Church of the Beloved Disciple.

A few weeks later, the tiny congregation of the Church of the Beloved Disciple paid more than they could afford to rent the spacious sanctuary of Holy Apostles Episcopal church in lower Manhattan, but as the time drew near for the Sunday afternoon service, it appeared that their invitation to the Christopher Street marchers would go unheeded. Father Clement peeked out from the sacristy fifteen minutes before the start and there was no one there, but then:

Two o’clock, we opened the side sacristy door for our procession. We couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t just that every seat in the church was filled, the aisles were packed. That church, which would hold maybe six hundred plus in a squeeze, had over eight hundred people in it, and we don’t know how many people were turned away that day who couldn’t get in.

Because we had all the Protestants, the Orthodox, the Catholics. And on top of it all, you had, the most incredible thing, we had Jewish people, a lot of them. Because they wanted a home. Even though it was Christian, people were seeking God, they were seeking a relationship to the divine, and they would come to us because everyone else had rejected or turned them away. They had nowhere to go. [emphasis added]

In the early years of the decade of the ‘70s, the Church of the Beloved Disciple would be a safe haven for gays and lesbians of lower Manhattan. Father Clement and his partner would later relocate to California where Father Clement  became an archbishop for an independent Catholic group, and he has remained active in the interfaith LGBT movement on the west coast.

This brief biographical sketch is merely a snippet, and Father Clement’s story receives greater treatment in Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism.

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Categories: Citizens

Cast of characters countdown: Troy Perry

A Wretched Man - The Author's Blog - Wed, 11/06/2013 - 9:33am

Queer Clergy recounts the journey toward full LGBT inclusion in the church, and readers will encounter many pilgrims along the way. As we countdown to the release of the book (now looking like the end of November), I will provide brief biographical sketches of some of the wayfarers who criss-cross the pages of the book.

Troy Perry was born to a family of bootleggers in the Florida panhandle, and he exhibited a youthful bent toward preaching. Perry became a Baptist preacher at age 15, married a preacher’s daughter at age 19 with whom he fathered two children, and was assigned as pastor to a Pentecostal Church in Santa Ana, California at age 22. Six years later he attempted suicide after he had been defrocked and divorced, and then life got interesting.

In October 1968, 8 months before the Stonewall riots of Greenwich Village marked the birth of the gay liberation movement, Perry held a worship service in his Los Angeles home for members of his gay community. Twelve persons dared to show up. They sang. They read Scripture. They prayed. Perry preached. They shed tears as they shared bread and wine.

That was the first worship service of what became the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) movement with hundreds of predominantly gay congregations popping up around the country and around the world in what would become the first welcoming church for gays and lesbians at a time that the rest of Christendom, including the mainline, Protestant denominations, remained hostile.

In the early years, the MCC survived several arsonist fires, including a horrendous tragedy in New Orleans that claimed the lives of 32 persons. By the time of Perry’s retirement in 2005, the MCC had grown to over 250 congregations in 26 countries with 43,000 members.

Of course, the book goes into greater detail.

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Last minute edits

A Wretched Man - The Author's Blog - Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:54am

Last week, I read my Queer Clergy manuscript for the umpteenth time. As I tell my wife, sometimes I really like it and other times I think it is fluff. This latest re-reading of the manuscript marked up by Pilgrim Press copy editor, Kris Firth, was positive. Perhaps it was her editorial feedback:

 I applaud you on your scholarship, writing, and the scope of the material, but also on the excellent condition of the manuscript. It’s obvious that you have had editorial review prior to submission.

Actually, the MS hadn’t been edited previously, except by me, but I confess to nit-picking scrupulosity. In any case, her suggested edits are now in place, and the “page proofs” will be available for final review soon. Galley copies are in the hands of potential reviewers, and I wait, mindful of my days as a trial attorney, sucking in a long, deep breath as the jury shuffled out of the courtroom to begin deliberations.

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Categories: Citizens

Former Governor Al Quie Endorses Mike Dudley for State Senate

Mike Dudley for Senate (Republican) - Wed, 10/17/2012 - 7:07pm

(Northfield, October 17, 2012) The Dudley for State Senate campaign is pleased to announce that former Gov. Albert H. Quie has endorsed Mike Dudley for State Senate in District 20.  Both are Republicans. The announcement was made at a press conference in Northfield, MN on October 17, 2012. Gov. Quie and Dudley are both Northfield area natives.

Quie served as Governor of Minnesota from 1978-1982, following 11 terms in Congress.  Prior to his congressional career, he served in the Minnesota State Senate.  Gov. Quie currently resides in the Metro area and has a policy of not endorsing anyone for whom he cannot vote. Quie is making an exception in this case due to his long personal relationship with Dudley. Thirty-two years ago, Dudley and Quie made a 650 mile horseback trip along the Continental Divide in Montana and Wyoming. They have been friends ever since. Gov. Quie has advised Dudley in his campaign for State Senate.

Quie stated:  “I got to know Mike Dudley from our days on the trail and over campfire conversations. Our relationship has grown over the years.  I believe Mike Dudley will make an outstanding State Senator. As a person, I hold him I the highest regard. I respect his work ethic, integrity and common sense.  He is principled yet pragmatic enough to work with the other side when the public will benefit.  I know that Mike will never put partisanship or special interests in front of doing what is best for the district and state.  I agree with Mike’s common sense approach to government.  Don’t spend more than you take in; there are limits to what government can effectively do, so prioritize; government can’t work without a strong private sector, so pursue policies which grow the private sector.”

Dudley stated “Al Quie and I have been friends for a long time.  The chance to be publicly associated with him is an honor for me.  I have great admiration for Al, and if elected, I would aspire to be the kind of public servant that Al was.”

Categories: Candidates

Solar Workshop: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Solar Energy

RENew Northfield - Fri, 05/04/2012 - 9:26pm
But Were Afraid, Or Didn’t Know Who To, Ask A workshop on residential and commercial solar energy opportunities will be held at the Just Food Community Room (Just Food Co-op, 516 Water Street South, Northfield) from 1:00 to 4:00 pm Saturday, May 19th. The workshop, sponsored by RENew Northfield and the Southeast Clean Energy Resource Teams [...]

Hvistendahls three to be honorary chairs at NHS annual gala

Northfield Historical Society - Thu, 02/02/2012 - 2:33pm

Marion, Susan and David Hvistendahl, three long-time supporters of Northfield Historical Society, will be the honorary chairs at the society’s annual meeting Saturday evening, March 17, at Carleton College’s Great Hall.

Marion retired to Northfield in 1990 with her husband, Jake, following rich and varied college teaching careers. She volunteered in the Museum Store and brought local historical figure Ann North to life as part of her Women in History presentations. Marion has also teamed with Brad Ness to present Ole and Lena Night, an NHS benefit.

Susan, a St. Olaf College graduate, has done extensive historical research since moving to Northfield in 2004. She chaired NHS’s Oral History Committee, edited a publication written by Alvin Houston on Lewiston, a local ghost town, and, in 2010, published a book on the Lyceum Building, the second publication of the NHS History Series. Susan is a regular contributor on local history to the Northfield Entertainment Guide.

David Hvistendahl, also a St. Olaf College graduate, has provided legal counsel to NHS since the early 1980s. He has served on the board of directors and as president. His Dr.Visty medicine man show was a fixture for many years during Defeat of Jesse James Days. David also appeared as one of the bank tellers in in the early video re-creations of the infamous James-Younger Bank Raid.

The annual meeting is free to all members of NHS. will begin with a social hour from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., a short business meeting and then food and social time.

The event is sponsored by Community Resource Bank and Carleton College. For more information, contact Hayes Scriven at 507-645-9268.

Categories: Organizations

Why the Civil War was Fought

Northfield Historical Society - Tue, 01/31/2012 - 3:07pm

Civil War enthusiast and amateur historian Jim Stark will discuss the origins of the American Civil War in his presentation, “Why the Civil War was Fought: The Antebellum Period,” Thursday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. at the newly renovated Northfield Historical Society. The event, sponsored by KYMN Radio and the Northfield News, is the first of a series of discussions about the Civil War during the war’s ongoing sesquicentennial.

After reading extensively about Civil War battles and leaders, Stark, a former president of the Northfield and Rice County historical societies, says he wanted to learn more about the causes of the war. “How could a nation that fought for its freedom, and whose people spoke the same language and worshipped the same god find itself wanting to separate in the middle of the 19th century?” he asks.

Stark traces the roots of the Civil War to the 1787 Constitutional Convention where, as one delegate noted, “Slavery sat under the table like a giant snake coiled up ready to strike at any moment.” Stark will discuss how during the next 73 years “we would see one nation become two, with separate economies and dissimilar workforces. This created mistrust and suspicions that began to initiate a divide of political parties, religious institutions, and societies in general.”

Program starts at 6:00 p.m. on February 16.

Categories: Organizations

2012 Winter Scream, a big success!

Northfield Historical Society - Mon, 01/16/2012 - 9:02am

This past Saturday we hosted the second annual Winter Scream Ice Cream Social.  Many people came out and told Winter “We are not gonna take it anymore!”  Thank you our sponsors, Econo Foods, the Reub N Stein, Hogan Brothers, KYMN Radio and the Northfield News!

Check out the videos from the Northfield News and Northfield Patch . Photos from Northfield Patch.

NHS Photos by Jane McWilliams, Scott Richardson and Hayes Scriven

Northfield Patch Video

Categories: Organizations

5th ANNUAL GIRLS NITE OUT

Grand Event Center - Wed, 04/27/2011 - 9:50am

It’s Northfield’s Annual Girls Nite Out…Friday, May 6th.  After an evening of shopping and dining join us at The Grand for entertainment by The G.N.O. Dancers and live music by Sweet Stache.  Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at The Rare Pair, Sisters Ugly, Fine Threads, Anna’s Closet,  Rooms by Tagg 2 or the Eclectic Goat.  For more info  call 507-645-2376.

Categories: Businesses

Voices from the NAG: Jill Enestvedt

NAG 50th Blog - Wed, 12/16/2009 - 8:52pm

For the past two months we’ve been featuring the ten portraits created by photographer Craig Perman for the Voices from the Northfield Arts Guild project. Each of the subjects was photographed in a setting appropriate to their artistic discipline and asked to answer the question: “How has the Northfield Arts Guild enriched your artistic life?”

“The Northfield Arts Guild has been a source of enrichment for me my whole life. As a young child I did kids art projects in Central Park during the art fair, took tap and ballet classes in elementary school, studied Chinese brush painting in high school, began volunteering as a young adult, and now have had a chance to exhibit in the gallery. The impact of a quality arts organization in a small town cannot be overestimated. To grow up in a community where there is value in volunteering for the arts, value in hearing and seeing the arts, and value in creating art is extremely fortunate. I will continue to learn and grow as an artist because of this organization. The NAG is a gem that makes all of Northfield shine, and with it, the talents of its many creative residents. I’m grateful to be one of them.”
- Jill Enestvedt

{Voices from the Northfield Arts Guild}

Working with the Arts Guild as a volunteer exposed me to a variety of artists and craftsmen from the Northfield community as well as throughout the state. This experience enhanced my interest in the arts and influence my choice of studies at St. Olaf College.

Categories: Organizations

Beaux Arts Ball: 5 days away!

NAG 50th Blog - Mon, 12/14/2009 - 5:08pm

I know you’ve heard everything there is to be said about the Beaux Arts Ball by now, right? I mean, it’s been on your radar for months already, you’ve heard about it on the radio, and you’ve read about it in the newspaper, on Facebook, on Twitter, and all the cool blogs in town.

What you may not know is that there are still some tickets available!

Tell your friends they really should be joining you THIS SATURDAY at Carleton College’s Great Hall and Great Space for the best party of 2009!

Categories: Organizations

Voices from the NAG: Dorothy Palmquist

NAG 50th Blog - Fri, 12/11/2009 - 6:43pm

From now until next Saturday’s Beaux Arts Ball [Buy your tickets now!], we’re featuring the ten portraits created by photographer Craig Perman for the Voices from the Northfield Arts Guild project. Each of the subjects was photographed in a setting appropriate to their artistic discipline and asked to answer the question: “How has the Northfield Arts Guild enriched your artistic life?”

“Working with the Arts Guild as a volunteer exposed me to a variety of artists and craftsmen from the Northfield community as well as throughout the state. This experience enhanced my interest in the arts and influence my choice of studies at St. Olaf College.”
- Dorothy Palmquist

{Voices from the Northfield Arts Guild}

Working with the Arts Guild as a volunteer exposed me to a variety of artists and craftsmen from the Northfield community as well as throughout the state. This experience enhanced my interest in the arts and influence my choice of studies at St. Olaf College.

Categories: Organizations

Hopes and Dreams

Northfield Cohousing Community - Mon, 11/30/2009 - 9:05pm

On November 22nd, all of the members of Norcoh met for their second programming meeting.   These cards with simple but effective drawings helped express their hopes, dreams, and goals for the neighborhood.

Categories: Citizens

Success!!

Northfield Cohousing Community - Tue, 11/24/2009 - 4:34pm

The cohousing design discussion on November 5, 2009, was well-attended and lively conversation sprouted afterward. Attendees included ages from very young to retirement-age, which is a perfect match for our goals for our community.

In February, we will be offering a Community Ed course in four sessions for those who would like more information. Also, stay tuned to this blog for more opportunities to engage!

Categories: Citizens

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