Word for Word

Call Me By My True Names

Text of a Speech Given by Rev Pressley Sutherland at the Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Gay Hate Crimes Awareness Demonstration and Commemorative Gathering Held On the Eve of the South African General Election, 21 April 2009, Green Market Square Methodist Church, Cape Town.

Today’s event is both political and sacred. In today’s politics, the human rights of women, lgbtqi people,and victims of hate crimes are too often portrayed as antithetical to our sacred traditions. This is a dangerous and false premise. All life is sacred, all people deserve just treatment. Today, I will be using inclusive images and pronouns for God, Creator, Mother Earth, Spirit, because that is the tradition in my faith community. I will also be using the collective pronouns, “We” and “us” and using a collective sense of the pronouns “I” and “me,” not to appropriate or erase the individuality of our experiences nor to imply that anyone of us listening needs to take anything onboard that does not resonate with our truth, rather I speak collectively in a sense of solidarity with each of you as a child of humanity, a queer, and one on the Way of Christ, but still learning.



Provision for Every Season

by Rev. Pressley Sutherland

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…
Ecclesiastes 3.1

Is there ever a neat and tidy way to sum up a year of life experiences? Each New Year I find myself feeling pressure to make succinct meaning of the year which has passed. And each time, I find myself at a loss for words. Experiences stand out; some large, more not so large in hindsight.  I have surely learned many things, and yet there are events and evaluations which give rise to more questions than answers.

I Cry Aloud to God

by Rev. Pressley Sutherland

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that I may be heard.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Sovereign;
In the night my hand is stretched out without wearying.
My soul refuses to be comforted.
I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints.   Selah
You keep my eyelids from closing; I am so troubled that I cannot speak…
Psalm 77. 1-4

“Pastor Pressley, things are bad here…”  Those were the words I had both expected and dreaded to hear from my friend Reverend Jide Macaulay. From the time he went home to Lagos, Nigeria to organise House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, I had felt like a family member was in a combat zone. I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving as I listened to Jide’s voice. He was shaken, but physically unharmed. It transpired that Jide was in hiding and in need of refuge. Members of House of Rainbow had fled two by two throughout the city after receiving a tip that kill men and officers were on the way to their meeting place. They left in haste, leaving the space prepared for Sunday worship--a full cup for communion; a paten of bread for sharing.

Experimenting with Christianities

by Rev. Pressley Sutherland

When I was in seminary, one of my professors said that when we think of early Christianity, it is more accurate to think of early Christianities. I wonder what would happen if we thought in these terms today----a world full of Christianities.

Jesus set in motion a great human/God experiment. In his body, life, teaching, deeds, death and resurrection, he set a course for us to find a life-giving relationship with our Creator. Extraordinary principles of grace and visions of an egalitarian realm were left for us to flesh out in our own times. Jesus did not write a new holiness code or purity code, detailed dos and don’ts of daily life and practice. Instead, he said (to paraphrase,) “There will be a Spirit which will know what is right for you and your times. Listen to Her, even though you can’t predict when She will come and where She will go.” Christ anointed us as friends, launching us into the flow of faith with trust in us to experiment with the Way, the Truth and the Life that He embodies. When we think of the great freedom and honour we have been given to undertake this human/God experiment, the concept of Christianities becomes a term of exciting possibilities.

Completed in One Another

by Rev Pressley Sutherland

There is a story in Matthew 14:13-21 where thousands of people are gathered and hungry because they have followed Jesus to a deserted place. He had launched himself out into a boat in order to have some solitude, but when he saw that the crowds followed, his heart went out to them and he came back ashore to be among them. Jesus brought healing, and he must have told many that their faith had made them whole (complete).

Dreaming Faith Communities

by Rev Pressley Sutherland

We are living in a time of great exile. Our churches and many faith communities feel like agents of exile and suffering to many, many people. I don’t know about you, but when I anticipate some of the conversations at the upcoming Anglican Lambeth Conference, the recent Bishop’s conference in Jerusalem, and many other authoritative religious gatherings, there is a tightening in my gut, an involuntary physical reflex against the lateral violence we are likely to experience against open and affirming faith communities. Some people may tell fairytales about God, characterising dividing from Christians who believe in an inclusive communion as a righteous thing to do. From Jerusalem, there are reports of fresh calls for churches to forbid the attendance of lgbt people at services (and by extension our friends, families and allies). The seed of suffering has been sown deeply into our religions. I love the Way of Christ. I love faith communities. But we must be honest. Our ways of viewing the world and ‘others’ around us are often fear-based and uninformed.

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Good Hope MCC is an inclusive Christian Community in Cape Town, South Africa. Whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender:
You are made in God's image and are welcome at our Church!