Practice Joy

Karen Oliveto

Since Easter, our pastors have offered a series of sermons called Practice Joy. The anthems and hymns have been joy-based.

Still, sometimes I forget about doing joy. I read the news or watch it on television and become distraught. It’s not just the latest shooting, but about some state legislator from Tennessee (I think) who says we can’t do anything about it.  Or the book bans that are designed to “protect”  our kids from becoming transvestite Latinx bisexuals spouting Critical Race Theory. When I see this, I curse at my television, quite literally.

But two events last weekend reminded me of the power of joy. One was the sermon, tied to Romans 12:9-21. Specifically, in verse 15,  “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” There is power in not going through the pain alone; there is even a reflective joy.

The other was that my wife and I attended a gathering at the First United Methodist Church of Schenectady. The congregation was celebrating its 27th Anniversary as a Reconciling Congregation. For those not versed in UMC lingo, “All persons are recipients of God’s love and grace; God intends the church to be a community which embodies love, grace and justice for all people as a sign of God’s covenant. We, therefore, will continue to seek and welcome persons of any age, gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability as full participants in our community of faith.”

The speaker

The speaker was Bishop Karen P. Oliveto of the Mountain Sky Conference, the first openly LGBTQAI Bishop in the United Methodist Church. She may be the most optimistic pastor I’ve encountered, and I’ve known a few.

After speaking for a while, she asked us to discuss the things that distress us with a neighbor. This was very easy. After another bit of her sharing, she called on us to share what we did to bring ourselves joy. This was more difficult.

After the talk, my wife and Karen got reacquainted. Karen is the sister of one of my wife’s best friends since college. Karen had spoken in Oneonta, about an hour from here, at some point pre-COVID, but I couldn’t make it.

On the lookout

After the talk, I started looking for every opportunity to find joy. We went out to a diner and had cheeseburgers. Of late, we rarely have beef, so it was terrific.

Then I went home. A blanket had covered my stuffed animals because I was tidying up. But they gave me joy – I was reminded of this when a young girl at the Karen Oliveto talk mentioned hers – so I needed to liberate them. One of my favorites is Lenny. He’s named after Leonard Bernstein and has the sweetest roar. We hung out on the sofa and watched TV.

The next day at church, there were several opportunities for humor. Like many funny things, the humor is diminished in the retelling. One encounter involved pizza, inside out.

Don’t forget to practice joy. It’s easy to forget.

June rambling: fragments of finality

new Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact!

Close but no cigarTheir billionaire descendants, who control Krispy Kreme, Stumptown and other brands, are grappling with the exposure of an unspeakable secret.

The Iranian People Are Not Our Enemy.

John Oliver: Mount Everest’s tourist industry.

Nearly 1 in 4 American adults are worse off now than before the Great Recession.

Forgiveness Is a White Privilege.

The “Moral Budget” is a plan for the future, because everybody has the right to live. Rev. William Barber: “Jeremiah 22 tells us that when political leaders abuse their office & hurt the poor, we must show up in person to deliver a prophetic indictment. Now is the time.”

Weekly Sift – Socialism: What’s in a word?

Best game show host. “Who is Alex Trebek?”

Mark Evanier’s Mayberry Monday.

Arthur’s Internet Wading for June 2019.

Now I Know: Why Frogs Ribbit and The Art of No Noises and Rudolph the Red Knows Undersea Warfare, Dear and The Everyday Hockey Superhero For Hire.

Fastest lawnmower.


Explosion science: an animated guide to building demolition

A Guide to Low Cost or Free Drug Rehab Options.

How to Make Your Bedroom Accessible for Disabilities.


U.S. Air Quality Is Headed the Wrong Way

‘Plasticrust’: A new form of pollution is forming on a Portuguese island.


Karen Oliveto — United Methodist Church’s first lesbian bishop. My wife knows Karen; Karen’s sister and my wife were college roommates.

Not everything we “know” about the Stonewall Rebellion is true; heck, just read Arthur’s blog all month.

New GLAAD Study Shows Decline in LGBTQ Acceptance In 18-34-Year-Olds.

Barbara Walters interview with playwright-actor Harvey Fierstein (1983)


The Lawless Administration.

John Oliver: Impeachment.

Sulzberger wanted to reach the business leaders and conservatives who read the Journal.

Twitter Will Put Warning Labels On His Rule-Breaking Tweets

Kimmel Shows How His Campaign ‘Monetizes Stupid’.

The Most Serious Accusation Yet?


Bobmill: The final story and Fragments of finality.

Could Donor #2065 Be My Father?

Census Bureau Releases First-Ever Report on Men’s Fertility.


I Only Smoke When I Drink – Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact

Tiny Desk Concert – Sesame Street

Once Upon A Time – MonaLisa Twins, featuring John Sebastian

Coverville – 1266: Cover Stories for Alanis Morissette, and Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople and 1267: Cover Stories for Stereophonics and The Kinks.

The New Gospel of Rock.

Disney Medley on plastic bottles.

Don’t Send Me Away – Garfield Fleming.

How Beethoven went from Napoleon’s biggest fan to his worst critic.

The Day the Music Burned.

Methodist church in Oneonta stands for LGBT rights; Karen Oliveto to speak May 17, 18

First UMC Oneonta has a long history of standing for justice. Our work, however, regarding inclusivity in the church is not about an issue, it is about people—our people.

I was reading the website of the First United Methodist Church in Oneonta, NY. It’s a pretty special place whose motto is: Open Hearts Open Minds Open Doors. It is A Reconciling Congregation, which, in UMC parlance, means to “create full inclusion of all God’s children regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” I should note that my parents-in-law are members of the church.

The congregation did something rather remarkable, especially if you understand church polity. It held a:

Special Church Conference on Sunday, March 16… to discuss a resolution presented to the congregation by the Recon­ciling Ministries team of our church… After two hours of discussion, listening, amendments, voting, and tears, the special session of church conference voted to pass an amended resolution. It reads:

RESOLVED, that First United Methodist Church of Oneonta, New York will withhold 40% of its remaining apportionment from the Upper New York An­nual Conference in 2014 and will [withhold] 100% of its apportionment beginning in 2015. In 2014 the 40% withheld will be redirected to the Reconciling Minis­tries Network. 40% of the 100% withheld in 2015 and beyond will be given to RMN, and 60% will be given to other ministries as determined by the First United Methodist Church of Oneonta. This practice will continue until the United Methodist Church removes the discriminatory language from the Book of Discipline and grants gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people all rights and privileges accorded to heterosexual people, specifically ordina­tion and marriage.

The resolution was then sent to our bishop, Rev. Mark Webb, along with a letter composed by the Reconciling Ministries team here at our church. The bishop re­sponded promptly, asking if Pastor Emily and Pastor Teressa would sit down with him, our district superintendent Rev. Jan Rowell, and his executive assistant Chris­tine Doran… We were able to sit down together on Wednesday, April 9th during the bishop’s noon break.

The bishop began the meeting in prayer and then expressed several times that this meeting was in no way a reprimand nor was there any negativity. We discussed the action our church has taken and why this decision was made. The Bishop indicated that he understands the pain and heartache the congregation feels, and that he has to manage these types of actions being taken by churches… A time is being set up for our District Superintendent, Rev. Jan Rowell, to have a conversation with the con­gregation about the issue—Monday, May 12th in the evening at 6:30 p.m.

First UMC Oneonta has a long history of standing for justice. We make our voices heard on many different issues—hunger, homelessness, human trafficking, health care, education to name a few… . Our work, however, regarding inclusivity in the church is not about an issue, it is about people—our people. It is about the wonderful church family that worships together, learns together, spends time in fellowship, and lends their hands and hearts in service. Our denomination currently holds that some of our active and engaged members cannot have the same rights as others who worship along­ side them. No matter how gifted and talented they are, some members cannot become clergy. No matter how committed and loving their relationship is, some members cannot get married in their home sanctuary. This church takes a stance on many issues, but we understand that equality isn’t an issue. It is simply the way God calls us to live as citizens of God’s commonwealth.


KarenOlivetoSAVE THE DATE—May 18, 2014 First UMC will be celebrating 25 years as a Reconciling Congregation by bringing Rev. Karen Oliveto, pas­tor at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, to our pulpit on May 18. In her pastoral assignments she has expanded congregations and has been instrumental in the effort to open the doors of the United Methodist Church to all persons including those identifying as LBGTQ and their families.

As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you. ~Genesis 9:9
I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. ~Exodus 6:7a

At its heart, covenant is about belonging. We belong to God. As the Body of Christ we also belong to each other. God commits to us and we, in turn, commit to be God’s people. Covenant knits us together. God initiates covenant and never betrays the call, gifts, and promises given to God’s people.

The church exists because God’s Holy Spirit has called us together and bound us in covenant for the purpose of a particular mission: God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.

Bound together in this covenant, as disciples, we form what many call the beloved community. We have in­sisted, always, on the importance of walking together in all of God’s ways. We are called to be careful caretak­ers of this covenant, stewards of our relationship with God and one another. Though the month of May is a busy time and our calendars fill up quickly, let us commit to be stewards of our covenant. Let us be sure to make time to be together in community, to be the Body of Christ.

There will be one service at 10:00 am with a luncheon after. Rev. Oliveto is a remarkable preacher, teacher, and theologian. A few of us have had the wonderful honor of hearing her speak and preach at national events. Please save the date and come worship and celebrate with this wonderful church family! And please RSVP to the church office so we have plenty of food for fellowship after the service.

In order to take full advantage of Rev. Oliveto’s visit, we will not only hear her preach but glean some of her wonderful wisdom. On Saturday, May 17, First United Methodist of Oneonta will be offering a work­shop: Evangelism: A Ministry of Invitation, facilitated by Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto. Rev. Oliveto is also part of the adjunct faculty at Pacific School of Religion teaching evangelism. Evangelism can be a “scary” word. She will help us develop approaches in becoming intentional in our invitation to invite and nurture “disciples for the transformation of the world” (Upper NY Conference mission statement). The workshop will be from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm with lunch provided. The workshops are designed to be appropriate for both youth and adults and we encourage our youth to attend and be part of the conversation. Reservations would be appreciated by Thurs. May 15. Please indicate in your response if you need childcare on Saturday.

You may email or call the church office. Phone: 607 432-4102.

And there’s this:

ALL God’s people. In May we light the candle for Bishop Melvin Talbert. Bishop Talbert is retired from the Western Jurisdiction and has recently been brought up on charges for performing a same-gender mar­riage. He is the first Bishop to have done so. Bishop Talbot was also a colleague of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement. During General conference 2012 he has started advocating for Bibli­cal Obedience; challenging the United Methodist Church to put obedience to the Bible before the Book of Dis­cipline.


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