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Doing the Right Thing

Recently the Obama administration announced that it will no longer enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (a congressional law which opposes same sex marriage).  This change in policy caused jubilation in some quarters and disappointment in others.   I am in the jubilant camp.  People I care about are in both camps. 

The rationale for not pursuing litigation against those accused of violating the law is that President Obama and the Department of Justice consider it unconstitutional.  I am no legal scholar, but I agree in principle.  The legal rights and responsibilities of marriage should, in my view, be available to everyone. 

Of course, religious bodies have the right to refuse participation in marriage ceremonies which do not meet their requirements.  For example, some churches refuse to bless marriages entered by those who have been divorced, or those who don't belong to the same religious group.  That is their right.  But simply because a church does not choose to bless a marriage does not properly rob everyone, whether  members of that church or not, of their right to enjoy the benefits of the marriage contract.       

Our society is moving toward a more inclusive idea of marriage between same sex adults who seek a legal commitment to each other.   Churches are also finding a deep and meaningful role to play when same sex couples seek the blessing of God and the spiritual community to grant depth and strength to marriages and families. 

I am proud of the leadership taken in this issue over many years by the United Church of Christ.  I am proud of our congregation in its ability to include as spiritual companions and covenant partners people who disagree on this and other issues.  We are challenged to provide faithful love, care and guidance for the formation of strong marriages, thriving families and bold Christian discipleship.  

Some have questioned the political instincts which led the president to take the step of opposing the Defense of Marriage Act.  Evidently he did it in service to the promise he made to defend the constitution as he understands it.   Some might question my decision in making any statement about that choice.  But it only seems right to do so.  I trust the bonds of our spiritual covenant.

Posted by Diane | 3:01 pm, 2/25/11 | Permalink

These are a few of my favorite things ...

First we had the Basement Brothers. (Their challenge?  Heat.  Their meeting place? The furnace room, of course.)

Then came the Plumbing Partners.  (Don't ask.)

The visionary Visit to Bethlehem Travel Group combined with the All-Costumes All-the-Time Work Team to create an intergenerational experience during Advent, and a whole set of new Pageant costumes.

Now it's Mary and Martha (Nagase/Moyer) at work to edit the 2011 Lenten Devotional Booklet (with production help from Lorraine and cheerleading by Diane).  And all the people who wrote an entry!  Way to go!  Look for your copy of the booklet on March 6. 

I love watching the way projects get picked up and carried by our church members.  Some of them (plumbing comes to mind) are less glamorous than others (the dinner auction will be Simply Elegant!).  Some require working with others (what harmony we hear in our church musicians) while others (designing this website, for example) are solitary, even contemplative efforts.

Hosting homeless families or teens in the church?  Building a house through Habitat for Humanity?  Organizing and delivering holiday meals, school supplies, winter wear or canned goods?  Sponsoring a couple from Iraq as refugees to the United States?  None of these can be done alone; they all require the wider effort of the church living out its mission and its vision with others in the broader faith community.

That's quite a list, yet these projects of our congregation are just the beginning.  There are also the church financial volunteers, the Sunday School and youth ministry leaders, the gifted teachers of Adult Sunday School, the party animals of the fellowship side of things, and the soulful team of aestheticians who prepare our worship space.  There is the day-to-day task of managing the groups and the shared space of a busy downtown church, used by many community groups.  There are the clergy members who provide pastoral care when the pastor is out of town.   

Don't forget the people who show up faithfully Sunday after Sunday, pray their hearts out, share a cup of coffee, and spend a little time to greet someone new.  Remember the prayer we offer when people are sick and the casseroles we deliver when they come home from the hospital.  Treasure the children who crowd the chancel and save a seat for the pastor.  Praise the elders who believe in the church and honor its future.

For all these and many more, I give you thanks, O God.

Pastor Diane

Posted by Diane | 2:11 pm, 2/25/11 | Permalink

Welcome To My West Coast, Mr. President

     It's always exciting to hear the President is coming to town.  President Obama will be in Hillsboro tomorrow as part of his journey to highlight all things educational, scientific and green/techie.  I will do my best to make the sun come out for him.  Help me out here, everyone.  Of course, we loyally proclaim our fondness for the rain, but really ... our little patch of the valley looks SO nice in the sunshine.

     I love thinking of the President at Intel, where so many of our members spend their days.  If you see him, say hello for me.

     Before arriving in town tomorrow (Friday), today the President is in my former stomping grounds, the San Francisco Bay Area.  Before  moving to Oregon almost twenty years ago, I lived in Berkeley, Oakland, San Carlos and Belmont.  It's too bad Mr. Obama won't make it up to Seattle after he visits us in Oregon.  If he did that, he could experience the entire West Coast expanse of my personal geographical history.  (The great thing about Seattle, where I grew up?  It makes Oregon seem oh so sunny.)

     You might have noticed that another fond personal locale is in the news this week, too.  Thousands have protested against state budget cuts and in favor of public employee union rights in Madison, Wisconsin, where Tom grew up and where we both went to college.  They filled the Capital Square where  my summertime memories include farmer markets, outdoor concerts, and the annual art fair.  I was also present on the same ground in my college days as political leaders came through town.  We gathered for rallies and sometimes made public statements about American foreign policy.

     The thousands of people gathered on the Capitol Square today are not there for the sake of leisure, but rather for the sake of livelihoods, public services, and the right to organize as labor unions.  At one time Joanna worked in the capital, and her husband, George, still does.  Madison's drama may not reach the magnitude of Cairo's recent public demonstrations (see my sermon from last Sunday for my comments about that) but Tom and I are fixated on our old home town this week, and its vital connections to people that we love.

     Rev. Diane Dulin

Posted by Diane | 3:56 pm, 2/17/11 | Permalink

News and Reviews Rev. Diane Dulin

There is something both awesome and frightening about images coming out of Cairo, Egypt this week.  Thousands of citizens gather daily to demand a change of leadership, creating an inherently explosive situation.  Each day brings word of new participation.  Today the headline says two million have gathered to speak out.  Everyone seems to agree:  the goal is to end President Mubarak's thirty-year rule.

The images I have seen contain mostly male protesters.  It's not surprising in a culture where men do most of the talking and women mostly stay home.  Yet, upon further investigation, more women are involved than might first appear.   

Look this up on You Tube:  "The Bravest Girl in Egypt," posted by iyadelbaghdadi.   She is veiled in pink and blue.  She is full of fury.  She shouts her solo phrases of protest (English translation provided) and they are repeated by male voices.  It is a set of demands, accusations, taunts and (to my ears) even poetry.   She can't stand still.  Her voice is strong and musical.

Her courage humbles me.   Her passion and commitment demand my respect.  May her movement bring peaceful change to her people.  My prayers are with the people of Egypt.

Posted by Diane | 9:57 am, 2/01/11 | Permalink

News and Reviews Pastor Diane Dulin

Friday night at Marylhurst University was Joe Gilliland's senior recital for his degree in Music Therapy.  What a grand night it was.  Approximately twenty-five church members were present within a large audience at the beautiful St. Anne's Chapel.  Joes' wife Junko was there, of course, and so were Joe's parents, Marcia and Steve, as well as sister Beth, and brother-in-law, Joe.

The evening was a diverse and aesthetically unforgettable evening of classical, contemporary, gospel and brand new music composed by Joe.  He sang, played guitar, and coordinated a flawless choreography of performers and instruments.  Joining Joe on stage was a talented mix of his friends and fellow students.  Junko accompanied him for the first section of the performance.  Everyone looked and sounded smashing.

Joe honored our church when he sang "Let Us Break Bread Together," noted in the program as offered in dedication to this congregation.  It's true:  here we find family, here we come home.  Joe articulated that sentiment in written words and then offered his dedication in music.  The gift he gave us caused a warm glow of love and friendship to emanate from our section of the chapel.

Thank you, Joe, for including us in your evening.

Posted by Diane | 8:52 am, 1/26/11 | Permalink

VIEWS & REVIEWS Pastor Diane Dulin

Writing a blog is a new and wonderful opportunity.  I will share thoughts and enthusiasms, book or movie reviews, travel adventures when I have them, plus general impressions, opinions or pontificating.

Well, you probably won't let me get away with much pontificating.

I may focus on church news at times, but most often I expect to range more broadly.  Let me know what you think.  Send any topics you wish I would address.  If I think I have anything sensible to say, I'll say it.  If not, I will try to do the smart thing: I will give you the gift of silence.

Special thanks to Morgan Reeder for designing our new church website and teaching me to blog.  She is not responsible for what I write, but she's the one who made it possible for me to do so.  Below is my very first entry.


January 20, 2011


This week my reading is taking me deep into Mongolia.  I will travel there in July with Tom, during the first part of my sabbatical.  The nomadic lifestyle, grand sweep of desert and steppe, and fascinating mix of religious influences caught my interest almost a year ago.  Since then I have read many books about Mongolian history, culture and geography.

My current travel inspiration is GOBI -- TRACKING THE DESERT by John Man.  It describes his journey in southwestern Mongolia in the mid-1990s.  That was shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and sudden exit of Soviet money and personnel.  Economic distress in Soviet-built cities and disintegration of Soviet-mandated rural collectives followed.  

John Man tells of traveling through villages struggling to survive.  He describes nights spent in small hotels with dirty water and no electricity.  All across the area he encountered a jumble of abandoned Soviet era buildings and equipment.  He met families re-establishing themselves as independent nomads, and living in traditional gers (yurts) which are simple, rather elegant one-room homes, capable of being dismantled in an hour when it's time to move.     

When Tom and I travel to Mongolia this summer, I suspect we will find much progress has been made since the 1990s.  Yet, my reading suggests even now one often departs the road to drive free-form across the Gobi, and gers continue to prevail.  Since I rather enjoy (temporary) hardship when I travel, I am not too worried about gaps in electricity, lack of smooth roads, or occasional absence of hot water. 

One feature I know for certain will fascinate:  the vast landscape, the wide horizon, and the treeless desert.  Although my travel will include jet airplanes, jeeps, camels and maybe horses, I am most eager to lace up my hiking boots and walk. 

Posted by Diane | 7:44 pm, 1/20/11 | Permalink