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Standing in solidarity with LGBTQI Methodist clergy

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The General Conference of the United Methodist Church is currently deliberating over the role of LGBTQI clergy in the future of the church. Currently, the church does not ordain openly LGBTQI clergy, and forbids its clergy to preside over same-gender marriages.

On Monday, May 9, over 100 United Methodist clergy released “A Love Letter to Our Church from Your LGBTQI Religious Leaders.”

Of the 111 signatories to the letter, 18 are PSR alumni/ae or current students. They include Rev. Janelle Ablola, Rev. Brian Adkins, Rev. Dr. Israel Alvaran, Rev. Ann Berney, Rev. Anna Blaedel, Rev. John Cahall, Rev. Karen Damman, Rev. Lindsey Kerr, Rev. Cathlynn Law, Rev. Kelly Love, Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, Rev. Matthew Pearson, Kendall Protzmann, Rev. Patricia Simpson, Rev. Kim Smith, Marvin K. White, Rev. Wendy Woodworth, and Rev. Nancy Yount.

On May 7, at its 15th Anniversary Gala, Pacific School of Religion’s Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion honored one of the letter’s signatories, Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto.

Rev. Dr. David Vásquez-Levy, Pacific School of Religion’s President, and Rev. Dr. Justin Tanis, the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion’s Managing Director, signed on to a solidarity letter from the Religious Institute urging the United Methodist Church towards full inclusion and affirmation of its LGBTQI clergy.

PSR Alumnus Kent Brintnall writes on “North Carolina’s HB2 and the Shifting Battle over LGBT Rights”

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In a recent article, PSR alum Kent L. Brintnall explored LGBT Rights in light of North Carolina’s recent House Bill 2. This piece of legislation, often called the “bathroom bill,” puts serious restrictions on the civil rights of LGBT individuals.

Here is Dr. Brintnall’s piece:

From Religionandpolitics.org:

In March, in a special session that cost taxpayers $42,000, the North Carolina legislature met and passed, after just nine hours of deliberations that included less than an hour of public comment, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, a piece of legislation now known more widely as House Bill 2 or HB2. The legal and political situation concerning HB2 is rapidly changing. Just last week, the Department of Justice sent letters to Pat McCrory, North Carolina’s governor, and Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina system, informing them that HB2 violates the Civil Rights Act, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act. Two days later, the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development announced they were investigating whether HB2 violates the programs and laws they oversee. North Carolina had until today, May 9th, to respond to the DOJ letter. Failing to state that they will not enforce HB2 puts billions of dollars in federal funds in jeopardy. This morning, Gov. McCrory countered by filing a federal lawsuit against the DOJ in order to uphold HB2. The lawsuit denied the legislation was discriminatory, and it denounced the federal government’s actions as “a baseless and blatant overreach.”

HB2 supporters have defended the law as a vitally necessary response to an ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte that would have allowed citizens to use public accommodations—including bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms—that match their gender identity. (Charlotte’s ordinance was consistent with federal law and with similar statutes in more than 200 cities across the country.) And yet, HB2 goes much further than protecting the sanctity of public restrooms. The law clarifies that anti-discrimination and wage laws can be passed only by the state legislature and not by local governments; it voids anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, familial and marital status, and veteran status adopted by some North Carolina municipalities; it prohibits local governments from setting minimum wages above the state-mandated level; it eliminates the ability of those injured by discrimination from pursuing their claims in state court. Even if North Carolina complies with the DOJ’s directive, these portions of HB2 will remain in place.

Read the full post at Religion and Politics!


2016 Commencement: No Stone Unturned, a New Day Rising

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Commencement 2016

Pacific School of Religion’s 149th Commencement was held Sunday, May 22nd, at 4pm at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Alicia Garza, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter and Special Projects Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, gave remarks. Rev. Dr. Mary Donovan Turner, PSR’s Carl Patton Professor of Preaching and Accreditation Liaison Officer, delivered the message.


Watch the 2016 Earl Lecture here!

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The 2016 Earl Lecture, The New Story of Work, is now available to watch here:

The New Story of Work on Friday, April 15, 2016, brought together organizers, business and faith leaders, activists, and scholars to explore and strategize around the meaning of work and the significance of labor today.

The keynote speaker, Annie Leonard is a lifelong environmentalist currently serving as the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. She has over 25 years experience investigating, organizing and communicating about the environmental and social impacts of all our stuff: where it comes from, what it is made out of, and where it goes after we get rid of it. Her 2007 online film, The Story of Stuff, has been viewed over 40 million times making it the most watched online environmental film to date. In 2010, she authored a book of the same title which takes a deeper dive into the issues in the film.

God Writes The First Line of Poetry, Genesis 1:1-6: Poem by Marvin K. White

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Marvin K. White Black Lives Matter Immersion

Marvin K. White (far right) with his fellow #BlackLivesMatter immersion participants

In honor of National Poetry Month, we invite you to read “God Writes the First Line of Poetry Genesis 1:1-6,” by MDiv student Marvin K. White.  Marvin is serving as a pastoral intern at Glide Memorial Church.


1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

“And” is a conjunction.
So then God is “The” conjunctive.
God is the “AND”.
God serves to join us.
God requires connectivity.
God takes us jointly or God does not take us at all.
I know you so well I can finish your sentences.

2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

God is about fluidity.

3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

God is the first light bulb going off and the first inspiration.
God is the first line of poetry.

4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

God is the first line break. God breaks God’s lines so God can take a breath.

5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

God is the first stanza.
Creation then is about God making sense of it all.
The only response to formlessness can be poetry.
God hovered until God needed a break.
And then God began editing.
So much of creation was God journaling.
So much of creation was God freewriting.
So much of creation was God spitting bars.
So much of creation was God’s stream of consciousness.
God the open mic.
God the spoken word artist.
God the itinerant artist.
God the vernacular artist.
God the visionary artist.
God the folk artist.
God just willy-nilly filling all of space
Like that blank piece of paper we so often face.
Poetry is our God response to hopelessness.
Poetry is our God response to state violence.
Poetry is our God response to inequalities and inequities.
Poetry is our God response to poverty, homelessness,
The inadequacies of healthcare and glass ceilings for women
And people of color.

So when we say poetry is revolutionary at Glide, we mean it.
When we say poetry saves lives at Glide, we mean it.
Because our poetry,
And our stories
And our “re-mything”
Is the appropriate response to “Why are they still killing us?”
Because our poems and our writing is the only way to answer our children, “Will they mistake my skittles for a weapon?”
Because our participation in creation, is the only way to break down metaphorically,
And to transform their hate of us into energy,
“Why are they kicking us out of our home?”
“Why is there no medicine for my condition?
“Why is there no food on my table?”
“Why can’t I work if I want to work?”

6. And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

God, The Water Cycle,
God, The Continuous Movement
On, Above and Below
The Surface Of The Earth.
God, in the major dips of our lives,
God The Thin Ice, The Tall Glass, and The Epson Salted Soak,
God, who when think, we are drowning, preserving us.
When I go through my phases, God the liquid, the solid and the gas.
Reshaping the geologies of the Earth, God.
Poetry, then like The Water Cycle, and the firmament, is essential for life.
We are made from evocation and to be evocative…
The Poetry in us
Is the God in us
Because we are the making sense and the meaning of it all.
We are the revision.
And the new word count.
We are the spell checked.
And beloved, today we are the freed verse
Because we know that Poetry in the hands of God’s people,
is always about flow.


Welcome to new staff members Wanda Scott and Arnaldo Rodriguez

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PWanda Scottacific School of Religion is pleased to welcome Wanda Scott as our new Chief Advancement Officer. Wanda comes to Pacific School of Religion from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she served as Director of Development for the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. There she successfully raised significant campaign and major gifts, collaborating with faculty, dean and volunteers, and partnering closely with Alumni Relations and Institutional Giving.

Wanda has over 16 years’ experience in nonprofit administration in key development and marketing roles. Prior to joining Case Western Reserve University, Wanda served as the Assistant Director for Community Relationships for John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio; Corporate Development Director for the Northern Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council; and Manager of Corporate Sponsorships for the Cleveland Orchestra. Earlier in her career, she served as an account executive with United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, and was Marketing and Development Director of the International Society of Hypertension in Blacks.

President David Vásquez-Levy said, “Wanda brings a wealth of experience and skill in advancement coupled with a deep understanding and commitment to the work of theological education. As we prepare to celebrate PSR’s Sesquicentennial, Wanda’s leadership of the Advancement office as well as her leadership role on the Administrative Team will help both resource and cast PSR’s renewed vision of preparing theologically and spiritually rooted leaders for social transformation.”

Wanda holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Cleveland State University, Ohio, and a Master of Theological Studies from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, where she focused on Biblical Studies and Feminist Interpretations of the New Testament, as well as Hebrew and Biblical Greek. Wanda has been an Adjunct Religion Instructor at John Carroll University, and also at Cuyahoga Community College. She has moderated and served on panels on interreligious dialogue and religious education, and presented workshops on the topic. She contributed the chapter “The Religion Classroom as a Site for Justice” to the 2016 book, Comparative Theology in the Millennial Classroom: Hybrid Identities, Negotiated Boundaries (Routledge, 2016).

Wanda has served on professional and community boards in the Cleveland area, and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Academy of Religion.

Arnaldo RodriguezWe are also delighted to welcome Dr. Arnaldo Rodriguez as PSR’s Interim Director of Admissions. Dr. Rodriguez brings over forty years of experience in admissions and enrollment management, with a particular commitment to facilitating educational access for under-represented communities. His strategic approach to admissions and enrollment and his ability to capture and communicate a school’s particular mission have made him an effective and recognized leader in the field.

Since his retirement as Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA—where he served for 14 years—he has focused on interim work to help schools during leadership transitions. His interim work has included St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga and St. Mark’s Episcopal School in Upland, CA. He earned a Doctorate of Education from Seattle University and Masters and undergraduate degrees in Psychology from the University of Oregon and the University of Portland, respectively.