NY’s mainline Protestant leaders support proposed downtown Islamic center

It’s taken a while, but New York’s mainline Protestant leaders have issued statements about the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero.

No great surprises here. The NY bishops of the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church all gently support the project, while acknowledging the pain still felt by so many.

I’ll paste their full statements below.

United Methodist Bishop Jeremiah Park declares his support for the project, writing that “denying the fundamental right of a religious community, as long as it fulfills the same legal requirements applied to all other religious communities, by singling it out for the wrong reasons, compromises the integrity of who we are at our core.”

He also writes: “Our hearts break over the sacrifice of the dead from 9/11 and the pains and sufferings of their loved ones and our country. However, to truly honor them, to truly preserve the historic significance of the Ground Zero, and to truly triumph over the evil force of 9/11, it is necessary to stand firm on what America believes in and be willing to pay whatever the price to protect and preserve freedom and equality for all.”

ELCA Bishop Robert Rimbo doesn’t offer the same outright pledge of support, but concludes with this: “There is much pain very near the surface of our emotions with regard to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. But how will preventing this center from being constructed help us to deal with that pain? There is great fear driving our lives today. How do persons of faith respond to that fear? We commend ourselves to the reliable and merciful arms of the God of Abraham, the God whom Jesus calls Abba, the God whom Muslims and Christians in various parts of the world call Allah. This God promises a reign in which all shall be well. Our faith is bigger and stronger than all our fears.”

Italics mine. Sure sounds like he is in favor getting beyond the fear and building the place.

Finally, Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk, as I noted last week, wrote a public letter supporting the Islamic center. It includes this: “The plan to build this center is, without doubt, an emotionally highly-charged issue. But as a nation with tolerance and religious freedom at its very foundation, we must not let our emotions lead us into the error of persecuting or condemning an entire religion for the sins of its most misguided adherents.”

Of course, Archbishop Tim Dolan has offered to be a conciliatory voice, but has stopped short of taking a position. In a recent blog post, he wrote: “Although I have no strong sentiment about what should be decided about the eventual where of the Islamic Center, I do have strong convictions about how such a discussion should be reached: civilly and charitably.  The hot-heads on either side must not dominate.”

Here are the full UMC, ELCA and Episcopal Church statements… Continue reading

Religious leaders in support of gay marriage: The list

The Empire State Pride Agenda has released a list of more than 700 clergy and lay leaders who support gay marriage in New York.

They divided the list by region: Buffalo, Albany, Central NY, Hudson Valley and the Catskills, Long Island, NYC and Rochester/Finger Lakes.

Since they went through the trouble, here are the signees from the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, who seem to include a lot of folks from around here (the statement they signed says “We, the undersigned, urge the New York State Legislature to protect families in New York State by extending marriage to same-sex couples”):

Hudson Valley & Catskills

The Rev. Patricia Ackerman, Episcopal, Nyack
The Rev. Paul Alcorn, Bedford Presbyterian Church, Bedford
Seminarian Christina Jean Alexis, West Center Congregational Church, Bronxville
Helen F. Andrew, Memorial United Methodist Church, Sleepy Hollow
Leonard Andrew, Memorial United Methodist Church, Sleepy Hollow
Cantor Dana Anesi, Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, Chappaqua
Jean-Marie Angelo, Grace Episcopal Church, Mount Vernon
The Rev. Janet L. Avery, Metropolitan Community Church of the Hudson Valley
The Rev. Raymond J. Bagnuolo, Palisades Presbyterian Church, White Plains
The Rev. Edwin D. Baker, Retired, Episcopal, Croton Falls
The Rev. John Barrett, United Church of Christ, Bronxville
Rev. Adam G. Bartholomew, Episcopal, Mount Vernon
Sharon A. Bellamy, Presbyterian, Amsterdam
Hirham Benmira, Presbyterian, Andes
John Bevacqua, Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester, Mohegan Lake
Margaret E. Borgstede, St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
Sandra Borowsky, Orangetown Jewish Center, New City
The Rev. Melissa Boyer Holt, United Methodist Church, Buchanan
Tracy Breneman-Pennas, Unitarian Universalist, Montrose
The Rev. David M. Bryce, First Unitarian Society of Westchester, Hastings-On-Hudson
Rabbi/Cantor Angela Buchdahl, Central Synagogue, Scarsdale
Rev. Karen Burger, United Methodist Church, Carmel
Susan M. Cabrera, King of Kings Lutheran Church, Montgomery
Archbishop Michael Champion, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Buchanan
Dennis Chorpenning, Bronxville Methodist
Mark Clark, St. Francis Xavier Gay & Lesbian Ministry, Nyack
Frances Colombo, St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
Rev. Gary D. Comstock, United Church of Christ, Woodstock
The Rev. Dale Cranston, Episcopal, Suffern
Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, Chappaqua
Jason M. Davis, UU Northern Westchester, Chappaqua
The Rev. Susan G. De George, South Presbyterian Church of Dobbs Ferry
Rev. Peter Dennebaum, First Congregational Church, Chappaqua
Christopher J. DiGiorgio, St. John’s Episcopal Church of New Rochelle
Brother James Dowd, Episcopal, West Park
The Rev. Roderic Frohman, Third Presbyterian Church, Rochester
The Rev. Joseph H. Gilmore, South Presbyterian Church of Dobbs Ferry
Rabbi Andrew Gordon, Scarsdale Synagogue-Temples Tremont and Emanu-El
Kathy Green, St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
The Rev. Harry C. Green, First Unitarian Society of Rockland County, Pomona
The Rev. Thomas Gregg, Pastor, West Charlton United Presbyterian Church, Amsterdam
The Rev. David Gregory, United Church of Christ, Middletown
George Hermann, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, Larchmont
Rose Ann Hermann, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, Larchmont
Rev. Anne Herscher, Methodist, Montgomery
The Rev. Rayner W. Hesse, Jr., St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
The Rev. Jean A. F. Holmes, Presbytery of Hudson River, New City
The Rev. Margaret E. Howland, Presbyterian, Yonkers
Rev. Thomas Hughart, Presbyterian, Bedford
Rabbi Jennifer Jaech, Temple Israel of Northen Westchester, Croton-On-Hudson
Chip James, Cherokee, Monroe
Debora J. Jordan, Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester, Mohegan Lake
David J. Juhren, St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
Paul L. Kerlee, Episcopal, Elmsford
Cantor Hayley Kobilinsky, Congregation B’nai Yisrael, Armonk
Leonora A. Kovacs, Church of The Messiah Rhinebeck
Rabbi Douglas Krantz, Congregation B’nai Yisrael, Armonk
Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger, Poughkeepsie
Evelyn Lombardi, Episcopal, West Nyack
Linda Lott, Saint John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill, Orangetown Jewish Center, Orangeburg
The Rev. Richard R. McKeon, Zion Episcopal Church, Dobbs Ferry
Marsha Melnick, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, Warwick
Carol Mencher, Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains
Susan E. Meyer, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, Warwick
Rabbi Shira Milgrom, Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains
The Rev. Deb Morra, CSW, Community Unitarian Church at White Plains
The Rev. Daniel M. Morse, First Presbyterian, Middletown
Rabbi Benjamin Newman, Congregation M’vakshe Derekh, Scarsdale
Rev. Thomas Nicoll, St. John’s Church, Larchmont
Rev. James O’Hanlon, Lutheran, Mount Vernon
Rev. Katherine Herron Piazza, St. John’s Church, Larchmont
President Barbara Pollard, Reform Jewish Voice, Scarsdale
The Rev. Cheryl Renn, One Spirit Interfaith, Yonkers
The Rev. William Blake Rider, Christ Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie
Guy Robinson, St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
Elizabeth B. Saenger, Jewish (Reform), Mamaroneck
Michael R. Sabatino, Jr., Zion Episcopal Church, Yonkers
Rev. Dawn Sangrey, Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester
Rabbi David A. Schuck, Pelham Jewish Center
Barbara G. Selbst, Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains
The Rev. Angela M. Skinner, Presbyterian, Yorktown Heights
Rabbi Abigail N. Sosland, Solomon Schechter High School of Westchester
Father James F. Stewart, Benedictine Gronge, Harrison
The Rev. Mary Ellen Summerville, Asbury United Methodist Church, Tuckahoe
The Rev. William Taber, Third Presbyterian Church, Rochester
The Rev. Molly Blythe Teichert, The Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco
Petra Thombs, Community Unitarian Universalist Church at White Plains
The Rev. Rachel Thompson, Bedford Presbyterian Church
The Rev. Dr. Michael Tino, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester, Mount Kisco
Denice Tomlinson, Community Unitarian Universalist Church at White Plains
Susan Torres-Bender, Unitarian Universalist, Monroe
Rabbi Gordon Tucker, Temple Israel Center, White Plains
The Rev. Martha E. Vink, New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Delhi
Rev. Terri Vitale, Interfaith, Mt. Vernon
Robert Voorheis, Zion Episcopal Church, Yonkers
The Rev. Kenneth L. Walsh, Reformed Church in America, Kingston
The Rev. Fr. John B. Warfel, Grace Episcopal Church, Middletown
Rabbi Tom Weiner, Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains
David Weiser, St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Rochelle
Rev. Norman D. White, Pastor, Lutheran, White Plains