Pride Sunday

Haven at Oakland Pride, September 8, 2019

Haven at Oakland Pride, September 8, 2019

QT Haven Member and Pride Sunday Panelist Melani Tiongson Sharing Announcements on Pride Sunday, September 15, 2019

QT Haven Member and Pride Sunday Panelist Melani Tiongson Sharing Announcements on Pride Sunday, September 15, 2019

A week after we marched through the streets of downtown Oakland for Oakland Pride, the Queer-Trans Haven Group (QT Haven) brought the spirit of Pride back to our worship space, kicking off our new fall series, “The Home We’re Building Together”. At this special service, QT Haven led a packed Haven house in our first Pride Service, vulnerably sharing stories from within our community of wounding and resilience, and inviting all of us into an open conversation around what finding and creating spiritual "home" really means.  For those of you who missed it, we include here recordings of two of the featured elements of the morning: both the thoughtful and authentic panel discussion, as well as the original poem that was shared (written by Phoebe Au-Yeung and inspired by the QT Haven group). The poem begins near minute 30. You can also read the text for the poem below.

To Haven
We bring our stories.
We were pushed away but we held on.

We know depth—
Because we were thrown down wells
And had to claw our way up
and out
Into the sun.

We are warriors—
Who fought for our faith and won it
Because we didn’t get to walk away from ourselves,
We didn’t get to take a break from our lives, from the

When are you bringing home a boyfriend?
Are you a boy or a girl?
How do you know you’re not straight if you haven’t tried it?
Isn’t it just a phase?
I want you to know I’m praying for you,
How is your walk with God?
We love you but we don’t agree with your lifestyle,
It’s not a sin to be gay—just to act on it.
Love the sinner, hate the sin,
You made a choice,
Just don’t tell your grandparents,
You can’t bring your boyfriend,
We prayed about it and decided not to come to your wedding,
You don’t have to flaunt it in our face,
What’s your real name?
These pronouns are just too confusing,
What are you doing in this bathroom?
Are you saying God made a mistake?
Adam and Eve,
The Bible is clear,
Have you asked Jesus to change you?
You just haven’t prayed hard enough.

In the span of a life, it doesn’t take long
For a house to go from home to an empty shell.
Once you board it up and put chains on the doors,
It becomes a condemned building.

We stayed as long as we could,
Some longer than was good.

When they wrote us out of the story,
We created new narratives.

We had to—
There was living water inside of us
And water needs to flow,
needs someplace to go,
thirst to quench,
gardens to revive.

When the foundations of the church crashed down on us,
We grew roots and bloomed from the rubble and ash.

The light shining through the stained glass turned us into a rainbow,
making the colors of the Kindom visible.

We couldn’t deny God in our queer lives.
Christ was not lost in our freedom.
We present ourselves to you as part of your body
and not as tokens, symbols, or burdens.

Here are our hands.
They are your hands.

Look at our faces.
They are your faces in the mirror, asking,
Are we safe with you?
Will you celebrate us?

We are children of God
And Haven is our home.
— by Phoebe Au-Yeung

A Time of Response

King Josiah responding to the idolatry in his nation.

King Josiah responding to the idolatry in his nation.

Over the last several weeks, we've been on a journey of exploring the way our culture idolizes certain points of view, or human constructs. In this final teaching in the series, Leah returns to the Hebrew Bible to consider how King Josiah responded when he recognized that his culture had grieved the heart of God through its idolatry. This teaching led into a time of creative response in which each participant was invited to creatively express one of the idols that they have participated in.

If you missed this Sunday and would still like to participate in this exercise, consider printing and artistically interacting with any of these images below that you find provocative, or draw your own, and write a sentence or two about how you have directly participated in that idol. Following that exercise, be thinking and praying about how you might embody something different to turn from the idol in the future. If you are coming to the Haven Retreat, bring your "idol" with you and we will symbolically destroy them together.

Review Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below.

Idol images: Androcentrism 1 and 2, Heteronormativity 1 and 2, Whiteness 1 and 2, Evangelicalism 1 and 2, Nationalism 1 and 2, and Capitalism 1 and 2.

The Idol of Nationalism

Image Credit:  AK Rockefeller

Image Credit: AK Rockefeller

How are followers of Jesus supposed to think about our relationship to the state? What is its connection to the life of faith? Particularly for us in the United States, a nation that has often drawn on Judeo-Christian imagery in its civic life, but also codified some separation between church and state, the question can feel murky. So what do we know about how Jesus thought about our commitment to our country? These are some of the questions Leah explores in this next teaching in the “Smashing Idols” series.

Listen to Leah’s teaching below or review her notes here.

The Idol of Evangelicalism

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Throughout this series, we've been considering the way that we create idols today: not through carvings and statues, but through human constructs, or ways of viewing the world. If this can be true for constructs such as androcentrism, heteronormativity, and whiteness, then it also can be true for our faith frameworks, as well. In this deeply personal teaching, Leah considers the framework her faith was formed in, evangelicalism, doing the hard work of looking at both the beautiful and ugly parts of her faith-family-of-origin's history. In doing so, she considers questions all of us, from any background, may find relevant: What happens when we find ourselves at odds with the folks we have known as family? How do we follow Jesus in that place?

Look at Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below.

The Idol of Whiteness

One of the images from Leah's youth that she shares at the beginning of the teaching (that’s Leah in the wedding dress). Picture from “Into the Woods”, San Diego Junior Theatre, circa 1993.

One of the images from Leah's youth that she shares at the beginning of the teaching (that’s Leah in the wedding dress). Picture from “Into the Woods”, San Diego Junior Theatre, circa 1993.

What does it mean to be white? What does it mean that white people have such a hard time engaging conversations about race? And how can we, as a faith community, create safe spaces for a diverse group of people, if we aren't willing to acknowledge the ways that our socialization into Whiteness distorts the way all of us see reality, see one another, and see God? These are the tough questions Leah engages personally and invites Haven into collectively as we consider the "Idol of Whiteness".

Listen to the teaching below or read Leah's notes here.

The Idol of Heteronormativity

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In this teaching, Leah examines human sexuality and the distinct categories that it includes: biological sex, gender, and sexual orientation. She begins by exploring the lens cultures, as well as faith communities, have often viewed these aspects of sexuality through: heteronormativity. Do these traditional ways of viewing sexuality in the church and the broader culture match the complexity of these topics? If not, how might our faith actually inform a change in perspective?

Listen to the teaching below or read Leah's notes here.

The Idol Behind Patriarchy

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While presumably most folks attending a church pastored by a woman are not interested in upholding patriarchy (the oppression of women as a group), are we aware of what lies behind this ancient system of oppression? In this teaching, Leah explores how the way our cultures have historically thought about masculine and feminine, feeds patriarchy and shapes our understanding of many facets of reality, including God.

Listen to the teaching below or download the notes here.

Smashing Idols: An Introduction

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Leah kicks off our new late spring and summer series by considering how the way we view the world, and privilege certain points of view over others, might keep us from experience authentic connection with God. In this introductory teaching, she explores how our frames and lenses for viewing the world may be understood as "idols", and what we might learn about the insidious power of idolatry by looking back at our ancient ancestors of faith.

You can listen to the the teaching below, or review her notes here. Want to take the learning further? Check out the post on our “Beyond Sunday” blog for additional reflection.

Vulnerability Redeemed

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In this final teaching from the Vulnerable Together series, Leah considers the resurrection story through the lens of vulnerability. What happens to Jesus’ human vulnerability after he is raised from the dead? How do we encounter the Easter story when we are still suffering?

Listen to Leah’s teaching below or read her notes here.

When Love Hurts

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How do we show and experience love in the midst of pain? How does God show love to us? In this passage Leah looks at a passage that shows Jesus communicating care to two women in a painful situation: the death of their brother, Lazarus. Also, beginning at minute 39, our own Ginny Prince shares her vulnerability story.

Review Leah’s notes here or listen to the teaching below.


Healing is Different than Cure

Public domain.

Public domain.

In this teaching, Leah explores questions about healing, sharing a framework that defines healing as broader then cure. She asks questions around how this understanding might help the church do better when ministering to persons with illness or disability, and looks at the story of Jesus healing a person with leprosy. Also, our own Connie Barker shares her vulnerability story about the intersection of being queer, female, and living with a disability. (If you just want to hear Connie's story, listen beginning at minute 35.)

Listen to the teaching below or review Leah’s notes here.

We're All Vulnerable...And That's OK

PC: Bill Dickinson.  Learn more here .

PC: Bill Dickinson. Learn more here.

On this Sunday before the official beginning of Lent, Leah introduces us to the theme. Haven will be inviting folks to consider throughout the Lenten season: the vulnerability of being human. What if the most true thing we can say about the human condition is that it’s vulnerable? What might that tell us about the significance of God’s choice to reveal God’s self by becoming a vulnerable human? How might reflecting on the vulnerability of Jesus shape our Lenten journey? Leah considers these questions and more as she looks at the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.

Listen to the teaching below or read Leah’s notes here.

Check Your Sources

Image Credit to  Alan O’Rourke  for this image.

Image Credit to Alan O’Rourke for this image.

In this third and final teaching from our series, “Hearing Through Noise”, Leah examines the role that outside influences play over how we think and what we might be able to hear from Jesus. In addition to insights from Jesus*, Leah looks again at how the work of 20th Century Philosopher/Anthropologist/Literary Scholar Rene Girard might help us think through these questions.

*Please note that Jesus’ critiques mentioned here of some specific 1st century Jewish leaders should not be understood as critiques of all Jewish leaders or Jewish people, either in ancient or contemporary contexts. Rather, these critiques apply to leaders in any group context, including Christian, who would use their influence in rivalrous ways.

Listen to the teaching below, or check out Leah’s notes here.

Know Your Own Voice

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When trying to sort through what we might actually be hearing from God, a classic quandary is the question “Is that God or is that me?”. As Leah points out in this second teaching on discernment, a first step in answering that question has to do with understanding ourselves better, so we are more aware of what our own voice actually sounds like. This teaching includes a look at Jesus’ journey growing in self-awareness. It also considers what tidying (via Maria Kondo) and the Enneagram typology (via Richard Rohr and Christopher Heuertz) might teach us about ourselves.

To learn more about the Enneagram, check out the following resources:

Books -

The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stable
The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz
The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert

Podcasts -

The Liturgists “Enneagram” Episode (Episode 37)
The Road Back to you Podcast

Listen to the teaching below or review Leah’s notes here.

Turn Down the Volume

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In this message, Leah starts our first teaching series of the year exploring the theme of discernment. “Hearing Through Noise” will explore how we make space to tune into the voice of the Divine, even when life has a lot of noisy things screaming for our attention. This first teaching in the series starts by exploring what Leah thinks has to be foundational - committing to carving out time for stillness. Includes insights from Henry Nouwen, Pico Iyer, Blaise Pascal, Mary Oliver, and Jesus.

Listen to the teaching below, or review Leah’s notes here.

In the Company of Others

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In this fifth and final teaching in our “Reconstructing Faith” series, Leah considers the benefits and challenges to navigating faith with others in spiritual community. Kim D. also shares some of her story regarding deconstructing and reconstructing faith alongside others, beginning at minute 5:30.

Listen to the teaching below or check out Leah’s notes here.

When We Sing

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In this “Reconstructing Faith” teaching, Leah tackles the topic of musical worship, considering what role it might play in a community like Haven that sees to be safe, diverse, and Jesus-centered. Alisa Winkie also shares her story of deconstructing and reconstructing musical worship and worship leading in her journey of faith (beginning around minute 6:30).

Review Leah’s notes here or listen to the teaching below.

Let's Talk About the Bible

Photo credit: Coen Peppelenbos found  here

Photo credit: Coen Peppelenbos found here

A critical piece for many of us in regards to Jesus-centered faith seems to do with how we think about the Bible. In this teaching, Matt Silas shares some of his journey of deconstruction around the Bible (beginning around 7 minutes in), and Leah opens up a conversation around some of the ways we might think about reconstructing a healthy relationship with this set of texts the Christian faith calls sacred.

Review Leah’s notes here or listen to the teaching below.

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