Shuck and Jive

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rev. Janet Edwards Invites You to a Party: Her Trial!

I met Rev. Janet Edwards a couple of years ago at a More Light Presbyterians conference in Nashville. She is a direct descendant of the Puritan firebrand, Jonathan Edwards, and Janet is no less feisty. A mix of intelligence and compassion, she is graciously moving the Presbyterian Church toward inclusivity.

In 2005 she officiated at a wedding (although not recognized as such by the state) for two women. The announcement of the wedding was placed in the local newspaper as other weddings are listed. A colleague of hers got wind of it and initiated church court proceedings against her.

Here are some of my posts about Janet:
The first trial in November 2006 exonerated her on a technicality. So a new complaint was filed. She faces trial October 1 in Pittsburgh.

Is Janet bummed? Nope. She has extended an invitation to all to come to the party, er, trial. Here is the latest from More Light Presbyterians, Come to the Trial:

I am Janet Edwards, a Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh, PA. I greet you with the joy that springs from Jesus’ gospel of love!

On June 25, 2005, I was blessed beyond measure to preside at the Spirit-filled wedding of Nancy McConn and Brenda Cole. Following the usual practice, Brenda and Nancy placed an announcement of their marriage in the Celebrations section of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The announcement included all that we expect in such notices: a picture of the couple, a list of the wedding party and a brief description of me as the officiant. This public disclosure of my pastoral act has led to a trial under the disciplinary rules of my church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

I understand my calling from God to be a “pray-er,” to devote myself to prayer without ceasing. So I am shocked myself that my life’s work has placed me at the very heart of the long-stewing debate that engages the whole world on the place of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in our community.

Perhaps we can all agree that we, in the church, are not very good at talking about our differing views on the inclusion of GLBT people in marriage. We keep a stony silence or throw accusations — and this is why my trial becomes such a gift from God. It is an opportunity for the different sides in the church to lay out their positions for ourselves and the world to see, to think about, to pray about, to talk about.

This is why I want the world to come to this trial, participate in the conversation and worship around it. Please come.

Here is the way to do it:

The trial will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, October 1, 2008, at the Grand Hall of the Priory, 614 Pressley Street , Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Just call All Directions, 412.566.1710, say you want to come to the trial and they will plan your trip. If you are able to give the time to come, we are able to arrange your travel and stay in Pittsburgh.

To start a dialogue now, I invite you to read an overview of the brief I have submitted to the Permanent Judicial Commission of my presbytery called an Apologia in preparation for the trial. Whether you come to the trial or not, thank you for giving my position your prayerful consideration.

May the peace of Christ be always with you,

Rev. Janet McCune Edwards

Here are the details from her website. Need a video invitation? OK:

Despite the great subversive fun of inviting everyone to a trial, this is serious business. Janet is putting her ordination on the line. It is serious for lgbtq people, their commitments, and their rights. It is serious for ministers and congregations and their freedom to follow their consciences as they do ministry.

Janet is hoping that this event will be an opportunity for the church to talk about the theology of marriage. Take the time to read her Apologia that she is presenting to the Permanent Judicial Commission. Here is the full version in pdf.

Thank you, Janet.


  1. I don't know John, it's this kind of publicity hound stuff that really bothers me. if she wants to make a personal statement and face the trial, that's fine by me, but advocating for people to "party' with her, sounds narcissistic.

    I'm trying to walk with you all, John, which is hard for me to do.

  2. Let's get the facts. She was taken to trial (twice). 14 accusers publicly signed on. She is making her case. The "party" language was mine. Her language is about worship and conversation. It often takes these events to bring out the issues. She is serious. Do read her Apologia.

  3. I hope they don't start building fires outside the courthouse.

    Ah, Salem 1688. People exhibited behavior that the establishment deemed "unusual". It was blamed on witchcraft and good, innocent people were hanged and imprisoned and burned at the stake.

    Deja Vu?

    Bone chilling, no?

    I don't know, stushie. Nothing wrong with handsome young Greeks or pretty flowers as far as I can see.

  4. What would Jesus wear to her trial?

    Something serious and yet light. A little business and a little party.

    Perhaps a tuxedo print t-shirt to go with his mullet.

  5. Stushie, the other side has been making a mockery of our denomination by staging these events for years. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for supporters to come and be with her during the trial.

    After all, I think it's important that the PJC see that this "trial" isn't about one woman, but about a cloud of witnesses.

  6. I understand the cloud of witnesses bit, and perhaps the Church should allow "amicus" petitions in cases like this.