Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

More from BPFNA Peace Camp

One of the fascinating people we’ve had with us this year is Rabbi Lynne Gottlieb, one of the women to be ordained a rabbi in the history of Judaism. I met her a few years ago when the Fellowship of Reconciliation (see link at the right of this blog) celebrated its 90th birthday at a conference in L.A. Rabbi Gottlieb is the creator of the Muslim-Jewish Peace Walks and I, as a Christian, joined them. Rabbi Lynne’s Hebrew name is Miriam, which is also the first name of my youngest daughter (7). This has delighted my Miriam and she has adopted R. Gottlieb as her rabbi–and has been learning how to write “Miriam” in Hebrew.

R. Gottlieb, along with Hector Arizabotl from Colombia, has been helping us to use theatre to work on peace issues, especially a participatory technique called “theatre of the oppressed.” It has been bitter-sweet that she has helped us focus on the descending spiral of violence in the Middle East just as news reports have reached us of continued fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon –as if the Gaza standoff wasn’t enough.

Another fascinating person is Rev. Elise Elrod–whose full name is Ronald Elise Elrod. She is transgendered and lost her church when she came to terms with this and got corrective surgery to become outwardly female. Her wife, Joanie, has remained married even though they now have no sex life since Joanie is straight and Elise is now asexual. She has incredible humor and has used it to help us begin to understand the situations of the transgendered –very different from the sexual orientation issues of gays, lesbians, and bi-sexuals. I am hoping thatwe can have Elise come speak at my church, Jeff Street in Louisville. For Elise’s fascinating story of transformation from an overweight, conservative, male Southern Baptist minister and former engineer to a thin, liberal, secretary and itinterant preacher, her work in diversity training (IYQYQR or I Like You Like You Are), and information on gender identity disorder and transgendered persons (where, unlike with gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons, the issue has nothing to do with sexual orientation!), see her website: http://www.eliseelrod.com !

More later.

July 13, 2006 - Posted by | Baptists, GLBT issues, Jews, Judaism, peacemaking, prejudice, progressive faith


  1. And maybe preach a sermon at Six Flags over Jesus while she’s in town?

    Comment by Dan Trabue | July 14, 2006

  2. Not that I know what “Six Flags Over Jesus” is (sounds funny), but I have good news! Several churches are offering Elise pulpit time she has a trial sermon on 13 August! If she is called to this pulpit, she will be the first transgendered person to pastor an American Baptist congregation! Currently, she is a member of the wonderful Glendale BC in Nashville (Alliance/ABC/CBF–co-pastored by two women, one of whom is an out lesbian!), which shares much of the spirit (or SPIRIT?) of Jeff Street.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 14, 2006

  3. You’re kidding me – you’ve not heard a certain local megalo-church referred to thusly?

    Comment by Dan Trabue | July 17, 2006

  4. No, which one? We should still invite Elise Elrod to preach for us.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 17, 2006

  5. THE local Churchasaurus. The Kong of Churches in Louisville. You know, Six Flags over Jesus?

    Comment by Dan Trabue | July 17, 2006

  6. Er, Southeast Christian, perhaps? Sorry I don’t know the jokes, but I try not to think about them or other mega-churches much at all.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 17, 2006

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