Soul Journeys in Central Pennsylvania

Developing inclusive faith communities in the spiritual tradition of the United Church of Christ, where we believe that "God is still speaking." Whoever you are and wherever you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

God is still speaking!

Check out the UCC's new ad: The Language of God.

Spread the good news....God is still speaking!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

General Synod ONA Gathering

Growing Bold
UCC Coalition National Gathering
June 22-25, 2009
(Monday 3:30pm- Thursday 12:30pm)
Celebration of Open and Affirming,
exploration of what ONA can be in its fullest expression,
worship, fellowship, celebration and engagement.
Who should come
Members of ONA churches,
members of churches that want to become ONA,
LGBT people, LGBT parents, parents of LGBT people, allies,
young adults, youth, YOU!
Keynote Speaker

Hector Lopez, retired Conference Minister for the Central Pacific Conference and the first Latino ordained in the UCC. He helped design the Council of Racial and Ethnic Ministries. His extensive history of justice in the church spanned to many settings, both academic and in local churches in California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. He has long been an advocate for LGBT people and the Open and Affirming movement.
General Sessions
General Sessions will include panels on HIV/AIDS,
How ONA can develop in your church,
Gender identity and gender expression.
Workshop topics include:
• Working with Media in advocating for LGBT people
• Agape Conversation: tools for talking with people who disagree with us
• Sexuality Education
• ONA and disability
• How to be an ally
Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
Rooms are available for $82 plus tax, if you mention The Coalition.
Please contact The Coalition office at, if you need help finding a roommate.
13 and over must register
Early = $99 per person through April 30, 2009
Regular = $125 per person from May 1, 2009, until May 31, 2009
Late = $150 per person from June 1, 2009
Optional: Meals for length of conference = $126 (includes Monday dinner, Tuesday breakfast, lunch, dinner, Wednesday lunch, banquet, Thursday breakfast)
You can register online now!
For more information
Watch the UCC Coalition's website for more information!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

An Unexpected Christmas Message

“A Gift” by Nancy L. Dahlberg

It was Sunday. Christmas. Our family had spent the holidays in San Francisco with my husband’s parents. But in order for us to be back at work on Monday, we found ourselves driving the 400 miles home to Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

It is normally an 8-hour drive, but with kids it can be a 14-hour endurance test. When we could stand it no longer, we stopped for lunch in King City. This little metropolis is made up of six gas stations and three sleazy diners, and it was into one of these diners that the four of us trooped--road weary and saddle sore.

As I sat Erik, our 1-year-old, in a high chair, I looked around the room and wondered, “What am I doing in this place?”

The restaurant was nearly empty. We were the only family and ours were the only children. Everyone else was busy eating, talking quietly, aware perhaps that we were all somehow out of place on this special day, when even the cynical pause to reflect on peace and brotherhood.

My reverie was interrupted when I heard Erik squeal with glee, “Hithere.” (Two words he thought were one.) “Hithere’ he pounded his fat baby hands—whack, whack—on the metal high chair tray. His face was alive with excitement, eyes wide, gums bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled, and chirped, and giggled, and then I saw the source of the merriment...and my eyes could not take it all in at once.

A tattered rag of a coat—obviously bought by someone else eons ago—dirty, greasy, and worn...baggy pants—both they and the zipper at half-mast over a spindly body—toes that poked out of would-be shoes...a shirt that had ring-around-the-collar all over and a face like none other...gums as bare as Erik’ uncombed, unwashed, and unbearable...whiskers too short to be called a beard, but way, way beyond a shadow, and a nose so varicose that it looked like the map of New York.

I was too far away to smell him—but I knew he smelled—and his hands were waving in the air, flapping about on loose wrists.

“Hi there baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster.”

My husband and I exchanged a look that was a cross between “What do we do?” and “Poor devil.”

Erik continued to laugh and answer, “Hi, Hithere.” Every call was echoed.
I noticed waitresses eyebrows shoot to their foreheads, and several people sitting near us “ahemed” out loud.

This old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

I shoved a cracker at Erik, and he pulverized it on the tray. I whispered “Why me?” under my breath.

Our meal came, and the cacophony continued. Now the old bum was shouting from across the room: “Do ya know patty cake?...Atta boy... Do ya know peek-a-boo?...Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo!”

Nobody thought it was cute. The guy was a drunk and a disturbance, I was embarrassed. My husband, Dennis, was humiliated. Even our six-year-old said, “Why is that old man talking so loud?”

We ate in silence—all except Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring applause of a skid-row bum.

Finally, I had enough. I turned the high chair. Erik screamed and clamored around to face his old buddy. Now I was mad.

Dennis went to pay the check, imploring me to “get Erik and meet me in the parking lot.”

I trundled Erik out of the high chair and looked toward the exit. The old man sat poised and waiting, his chair directly between me and the door.
“Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik.” I bolted for the door.

I soon became obvious that both the Lord and Erik had other plans.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back, walking to sidestep him—and any air he might be breathing. As I did so, Erik, all the while with his eyes riveted to his best friend, leaned far over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s “pick me up” position.

In a split second of balancing my baby and turning to counter his weight I came eye-to-eye with the old man. Erik was lunging for him, arms spread wide.

The bum’s eyes both asked and implored, “Would you let me hold your baby?”

There was no need for me to answer since Erik propelled himself from my arms to the man’s.

Suddenly a very old man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, and pain, and hard labor—gently, so gently, cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back.
I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm and commanding voice, “You take care of this baby.”

Somehow I managed, “I will”, from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest—unwillingly, longingly—as though he was in pain.
“God bless you ma’am. You’ve given me my Christmas gift.”

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

With Erik back in my arms, I ran for the car. Dennis wondered why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly and why I was saying, “My God, oh God, forgive me.”

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Networks in the UCC

Dear Reader,
The support network for individuals and churches that advocate welcoming glbt persons into the full life and ministry of the United Church of Christ congregations of central Pennsylvania is coordinated by a volunteer task force called Central Pennsylvania Open and Affirming (CPONA). This task force is open to anyone who would like to be part of our effort to create a church of full-inclusion. Some of the activities we have supported are workshops, drama and films for church groups on human sexuality and lgbt issues, participation in gay pride events, distribution of literature, and counsel for congregations seeking a process for considering what it means to become ONA. Our next meeting is at 12 noon, at the United Church Center, 900 South Arlington Avenue, Harrisburg. Feel welcome to attend, or email us at to be placed on our regular email list.
Within the United Church of Christ, there are many groups and resources for people interested in what it means to be a welcoming and inclusive church. The UCC/LGBT page on the denominational web site is An active coalition also exists within the United Church of Christ, headed by The Rev. Ruth Garwood. The website of the Coalition is
Thanks for reading. We hope you'll be in communication with us.
Allen M. Fluent, for Welcoming Congregations in CPA

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Prop 8 The Musical

The stars come out to prove that sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Keep fighting the good fight, one day marriage will be for all God's children.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thoughts on Prop 8

from a member of my extended family, Paul who lives in California with his partner.

Dear Friends & Family, religious, non-religious, gay, and straight allies,

Regarding California Proposition 8
State Constitutional Amendment to Ban Same-Gender Marriage

Despite the unfortunate probable passage of Prop 8 and it’s ramifications, the internal election numbers show something very important and much worth CELEBRATING!

Look at the numbers/percentages of people who voted to NOT write discrimination in to the California Constitution, nearly half the voters. You merely need to ask yourself, What would those numbers have likely looked like only one year ago, or five years ago, or ten years ago, or twenty years ago, or more? If you believe the likely numbers voting NO on such an Amendment in years past would have been much smaller, then that also means that many of the people who voted NO on Prop 8 in ‘08, must have changed their minds at some point. That also indicates that many/most who did, or would have, voted YES on 8 in ’08 are NOT enemies of equality and fair mindedness either. They simply need the time and opportunity to be de-programmed of the hatred and bigotry they’ve been taught. Because almost no one is born with bigotry and hatred… babies don’t know bigotry and hatred, they’re taught it.

Writing discrimination in to the California Constitution and in to the state’s history, AGAIN, is certainly not one of California’s or America’s prouder moments. However history shows us that fair mindedness and equality wins out in the long run, and that all struggles for equal rights and fairness have all gone through many “Fits & Starts”, but eventually succeed. Otherwise, rather than us living in the “Rapid Information Age” as we do, we would be living as if it were still the “Bronze Age” [as some still do with divisive Bronze-Age interpretations of various religions]. It was only in 1987 that my sister’s multi-ethnic straight marriage finally became federally protected. That’s only 21 years ago, when they were pregnant with their second son. And not until now, our 44th U.S. President, or 52nd U.S. President if you also count the first eight from 1776-1789, will the president NOT be an all white guy, let alone one that would DARE publically say something supportive and respectful about gay people. Proof that equality and fair mindedness can eventually see their day.

Many of us worked and continue to work tirelessly to defeat discrimination, bigotry, and hatred, during this election and everyday of our lives, THANK YOU SO MUCH! However our work is not done.

So, Now what?, you might say…

If they can’t see or hear us they can’t appreciate us or learn from or about us. Instead they will learn bigotry and hatred from others, for that’s the only other voice.

Be visible, it makes a HUGE difference. Closets are for clothes… and that goes for you religious and straight allies too. ; )

Be heard, speak your mind and heart, even if your voice shakes. Remember speaking from the heart… opens minds, speaking from aggression… closes them.

There shouldn’t be a second class or separate class in America, unfortunately we/there are.

Be informed. Be intelligent. Be heard. Be seen. Be counted.

Peace, love, equality, and just say no to Hanging Chads [as they do in some countries just for them being 14 and gay],


P.S. Thanks for reading, and never give up hope for equality

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

A great Bible study.

St. John's UCC in Boalsburg made the choice to look at becoming open and affirming. Rev Ann Graves came up with a great resource for our discernment. The book and video are "Listening to the Spirit" The sub tittle is "What is the Gospel message to our church as we relate to gay and lesbian Christians?" It's a resource from the Disciples of Christ but it rings true for us at a questioning church. Also, my new book/ play "All the little children" will be ready for your book shelfs soon. Drop me a note at for more information on both resources. Have a wonderful Christmas season. Yours in Christ, John Kelly Poorman

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