2015 ODCC Annual Fall Conference September 18-20, 2015
Peggy Campolo, who we lovingly refer to as our Patron Saint, was the inspiring force behind the creation of Open Door Community Church. As a friend of Pastor Randy, she counseled him when he was fired from his job as an associate pastor at a local church because he chose to be honest about his long time loving relationship with his spouse, Gary. At the time, Pastor Randy felt he had nowhere to go where he would be welcomed in to worship. Peggy told him that if he felt that way, there must be many more people who felt that way as well. She suggested the idea of founding a church where everyone would be welcome, and the seed for Open Door Community Church was planted.
Peggy has long preached her ministry of inclusiveness, and she has worked hard to bridge the gap between the misunderstood and the misinformed.
As Open Door Community Church approached its 2007 Annual Fall Conference, we decided to honor Peggy’s work with an award that would not only honor her, but would, in her name, honor the work of someone every year who exemplifies her ideals of inclusiveness and equality.
2015 Carrier Pigeon Award Recipient: Dr David Gushee
Dr. David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. Widely regarded as one of the leading moral voices in American Christianity, he is the author or editor of 20 books and hundreds of articles in his field, including Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust,Kingdom Ethics, The Sacredness of Human Life, and, most recently, Changing Our Mind. Dr. Gushee has always accompanied his scholarly production with church work (First Baptist Church, Decatur), activism (human rights, creation care, LGBT acceptance), opinion writing (Washington Post, Huffington Post, Baptist News Global), board service (Public Religion Research, Sojourners), and domestic and global media consultation. He has lectured on every continent, with endowed lectures scheduled in New Zealand and Holland in 2015. Dr. Gushee has been married to Jeanie for 30 years. They are the parents of two daughters and a son, and the grandparents of a beautiful baby boy, Jonah. They reside in Atlanta.
As Distinguished University Professor, Dr. Gushee teaches at McAfee School of Theology and throughout Mercer University in his specialty, Christian ethics. As Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life, he organizes events and courses to advance quality conversations about major issues arising at the intersection of theology, ethics, and public policy. Beyond his work at Mercer, he currently serves as Senior Columnist for Baptist News Global. Dr. Gushee also serves on the board of directors of Sojourners and as Vice-Chair of the board of the Public Religion Research Institute. He is also a member on the Death Penalty Committee & Detainee Treatment Takforce of the Constitution Project. He has most recently become a Faith Consultant for the Family Acceptance Project.
Dr. Gushee is a scholar, activist, and churchman. His research interests focus on the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ and the Christian theological-ethical tradition, together with its contemporary implications for Christian discipleship and public witness. He has published twenty books and many hundreds of essays, book chapters, articles, reviews, and opinion pieces. Probably his most widely noted books before Fall 2014 were Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust (Fortress, 1994/Paragon House, 2003), Kingdom Ethics (IVP, 2003),The Future of Faith in American Politics (Baylor, 2008), a devotional work with his wife Jeanie called Yours is the Day, Lord, Yours is the Night (Thomas Nelson, 2012), and the broadly endorsed Sacredness of Human Life (Eerdmans, 2013), which interrogates what it has meant, and proposes what it should mean, to say that human life is sacred. It is his most ambitious and demanding scholarly project to date, and has been nominated for the prestigious Grawemeyer Award.
As an activist, Professor Gushee was the principal drafter of both the Evangelical Climate Initiative (2006) and the Evangelical Declaration against Torture (2007), both of which changed the conversation in church and society about their respective issues. He is regularly quoted in major national media of all types, including NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, as an authority on the role of religion, especially evangelicals, in American public life, and as a voice for civility and dialogue across our cultural divides. He maintains an active voice on social media (twitter: @dpgushee).
Dr. Gushee’s release of Changing Our Mind (Read the Spirit books) in late October 2014 added a new chapter to his scholarship and activism. In this book, Dr. Gushee makes a biblical case for a transformative rethinking of the LGBT issue and for the opening of all Christian hearts to full acceptance of so often marginalized and mistreated gay Christians in the life of the Church. Since the release of the book he has sought to embody his repentant commitment to serving the well-being of the LGBT community by joining the work of the Family Acceptance Project as their Faith Consultant, becoming a member of the advisory board of the Atlanta chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and accepting invitations for a busy lecture season on LGBT & Christianity issues in 2015.
Dr. Gushee, his beloved wife Jeanie, and their regal cat Noah live in Atlanta, Georgia, where they eagerly await visits from their grown children Holly (with her husband Jonathan), David, and Marie. An ordained Baptist minister, Dr. Gushee and his wife attend First Baptist Church in Decatur, where he teaches a weekly Sunday School class, as well as Holy Cross Catholic Church. David is a long-time Atlanta Braves fan and, at 53, still very much enjoys competing with his students and colleagues on the tennis court.
2015 Carrier Pigeon Award Recipient: Stan Mitchell
Stan Mitchell, Senior Pastor Grace Point Church in Nashville Tn. Pastor Mitchell has been to Open Door in 2004. He recently made news by announcing that his evangelical congregation would now move to full inclusion of LGBTQ folks saying in part
“Our position that these siblings of ours, other than heterosexual, our position that these our siblings cannot have the full privileges of membership, but only partial membership, has changed,” he said, as many in the congregation stood to their feet in applause, and other sat in silence. “Full privileges are extended now to you with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill, and willingness. That is expected of all. Full membership means being able to serve in leadership and give all of your gifts and to receive all the sacraments; not only communion and baptism, but child dedication and marriage.”
With those words, GracePointe became one of the first evangelical megachurches in the country to openly stand for full equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ community, along with EastLake Community Church near Seattle. The results of the conversation, he told his congregation, were not unanimous or exhaustive, but they were sufficient.
ROB AND LINDA ROBERTSON.
Evangelical parents from Seattle Washington. Their story about their son Ryan “Just because he breathes” first gained a wide audience in 2013 when it was published in the Huffington Post. They are supportive parents to gay Christians in the Seattle area and Linda works with moms of gay kids and writes and speaks. http://justbecausehebreathes.com/
Ray Boltz is an award winning recording artist and has sold more than 4.5 million records. He has earned three Dove awards, three OUTMusic awards, and had more than a dozen number one radio singles.
He has performed in every state in the U.S. and in many countries around the world.
Since ‘coming out’ as a gay man in 2008, Ray continues to perform in affirming and accepting churches, conferences and Pride events.
His newest project “True” deals with his struggle to reconcile his faith with is sexual orientation.
Two songs from this project have gained national attention. The song “Don’t Tell Me Who To Love” has been adopted as an anthem for marriage equality. The song “Who Would Jesus Love” was named as one of the top songs in Billboard’s international songwriting competition (Christian/Gospel Division).
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday September 18th – 7:00 PM – Conference opens with Welcome – Praise and Worship and solo music Followed by the presentation of the Peggy Campolo Carrier Pigeon Award to Dr. David Gushee.
Saturday Morning 9:00 am – Dr David Gushee
Saturday Morning 9:45 am Q & A Dr Gushee
Saturday Morning 10:30 am Break
Saturday Morning 10:45 Panel Discussion concerning the Evangilical Church after Marriage Equality: Panelists Peggy Campolo, Stan Mitchell, Rob and Linda Robertson, Pastor Dick King and Robert Cottrell, and Paul Atkins Associate pastor of Canvass Community UMC
Saturday 1 pm – Rob AND Linda Robertson conducted a presentation.
Saturday Night 7:00 pm –Ray Boltz in concert.
Stan Mitchell spoke and was awarded the 2nd Carrier Pigeon award of the weekend as a surprise.
Sunday Morning 10:45 Worship Service – Stan Mitchell delivered the message