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Yes, I will stand up and speak up. I have been contributing to the message boards on www.tcpc.org. Right now we are discussing several interesting topics and doing an online discussion of "The Shack".

In my own church, I have helped a group create church cards with a modified version of the 8 points on them. I am on an alternative worship team, and I have been a proponent of missional worship and tried to increase discussion and support between people. Sometimes my ideas are beaten down, but they usually rise up from the ashes, like a phoenix.

My kids will tell you I'm always telling people about my faith, although I don't really do that enough, in my opinion.

The problem with telling our stories is that they take time. People hear "___ Christian" and often that is all they want to hear. When people say, "You go to church?" in a judging tone, I reply, "It's not what you think... and let them know how I think my church is different." Often I say, "I am not a traditional Christian." and that gets people a little interested.

For me, I try to stand up and speak up about progressive values, but I'm somewhat reluctant to loudly proclaim the “Progressive Christian” moniker. Please don’t misunderstand, I come from a strong Christian heritage and I value the teachings and way of Jesus immensely. But whereas the word “progressive” makes people curious, makes them wonder what I mean, the word “Christian” often shuts people down or brings to their minds assumptions about me that are probably not true.

Right or wrong, in the English language “progressive” is a forward-looking word and the word “Christian” tends to point to the past. I suspect that when many people hear the words “progressive Christian”, the name sounds like a contradiction in terms, kind of like “military intelligence”. So I sometimes wonder if I really want to continue to use the word “Christian” because Christianity has been both a blessing and a bane to humanity.

I wish I could find a short, easy way to let people know that Christianity has provided me roots, but that being a progressive person is giving me branches. I cherish my roots in Christianity, but I also discovered that I needed to grow beyond the limits that the Christian religion sometimes sets upon our personal and social lives. And I wonder if the word “Christian” has been to over-used and ill-defined to describe what we are. Can we redeem the word, the label? Or is it a case that no matter what we might say, people are going to hear what they want to hear and think us just “more of the same”? Would we do better to proclaim our values rather than our labels? Or do we need both? These are questions I ask myself, questions that I haven’t even been able to answer to my own satisfaction, let alone to the satisfaction of others.

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Hey! I'm seventy and a progressive Christian. I'm sure you didn't mean to be agist BUT it sounded that way. Many over seventies are interested in change, but cautious about it. We know life is fragile so we tend to hang on to what we know. Where an 18-yr-old may say anything different! We say, same! Do we play violent games? Not as a rule because we have learned the truth about violence, that it begets violence, cruelty, injustice - so we steer away from conflict as well, especially women, who want things to be nice, peaceful, happy. This is not bad, anymore than my granddaughter's body piercings and tattoos are bad. It is the natural order of things. But oldies can be sh*t disturbers too. Oldies can be pretty much anything. Me, I've left the institutional church because I see no hope of real changed because of the 30- & 40-somethings. They're the ones hanging on to the manger. They're the ones who want to stay rooted in history because they want their children to learn what they learned. Oldies have heard the story enough and sometimes are looking for more.

Hi Betty,
Thank you so much for your comments. I, of course, did not mean to sound ageist at all. I am friends with a number of older people and find that you are right- it is often them whom have the courage to stand up for what they believe, to demand change when needed. Many of the leaders of the progressive Christian movement are in their 60's and 70's. But, you yourself said you left the church because you see no real hope of change and that is exactly the issue I am speaking of here- it seems the churches, in general are afraid of change. And church leaders are often afraid to say what they truly believe because it may sound too radical. Maybe they make the same assumptions that I did- that the older people in their church- often their financial supporters- don't want change and will leave. Maybe, if they asked, they would find that that is exactly what the "elders" want. Or maybe they will find that those who do want change have already left- like you...?
Thanks again!
Peace
Deshna

Of course we will speak out! How quickly we will do so! But, respect the journey those of us who are coming from the traditional to the progressive must change.

I recently was rejected by TCPC as being "too traditional" in that I used some pronoun conjuction problems in my works.

I thought on it for a time to see where my heart is and it is, indeed, progressive. I believe in the love, light and peace for all. It is taking some time to learn not to say Father, espcially when the Creator is much more like a daddy.

www.spiritthinking.net


So happy to read this article, Desh! You couldn't have expressed my thoughts better--as well as the others here who have commented...I, too, have always been reluctant of labeling myself a Progressive Christian for the same reasons as yours and as described by billmc. Perhaps a new label is necessary, at least until the stigma that is associated with the label Christian has died down. But then again, it seems the only way for that to occur is to face the fear. I think I can do that, one soul at a time ; )

Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I too have felt the pressure to speak softly when discussing my progressive faith in public. Example, on a flight I sat next to a lovely young man with whom I stuck up a conversation. Over the course of our couple of hours as seat neighbors we came around to talking about what we do. When I shared that I am the Circuit Rider for a progressive Christian organization (The Beatitudes Society) it seems we began to speak in hushed tones. The same hushed tones were carried through the rest of the conversation as we talked about being gay and lesbian Christians.

My new friend had no idea that Christians like this existed and he started to cry. We've since (back in our southern home town of Atlanta) stayed in touch and even met for drinks. He is planning on visiting our little UCC church and we are both grateful for the friendship we have made.

I look back at that flight occasionally and remember with sadness and guilt that as we sat confined in the air with strangers all around us the words we hardly could breathe were gay, lesbian, Jesus or Christian. None the less, in our halting expressions of our truths we came to know one another, our selves and even God a little better.

Seekingsophia- thank you for sharing your story. Just think how you have changed that one person's life just by not being afraid to share your perspective. keep it going, my friend!

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