The View from the Classroom Window

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On our Christmas party and sharing the fun with the greater SC community

Hello Moms!

So, I have had a very interesting exchange today via emails with the local Santa Cruz Homeschool Yahoo group (my main source of info for all things homeschool in this area--which I why I occassionally quote good stuff from the group here, for the benefit of you all).  As most of you know, when we have a special "Vintage Homeschool Group" event and I tell you all to invite friends, I also send an invite to all the families on the Santa Cruz Homeschool Yahoo group.  This is usually for the "Back to School," "End of School," "Valentine's Day," and "Christmas" parties.  Do you remember Hilary who came a couple of times with her son, or Zan who came a couple of times with her son and daughter, or Susan who came once with her young son and daughter?  These are just some of the people who have visited our parties from the greater SC homeschool community to be friendly and join in the fun.  I am so glad they did, and I hope they felt welcome. 

Well, today I posted a group-wide invitation to our Christmas party.  What follows are the emails that came as a response this afternoon.  I'll explain at the end why I am sharing this dialogue with you all, but I think you will be able to figure it out:

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Hello all!

Our Vintage Homeschool Moms group is having our annual Christmas party next Monday, Dec. 19 from noon until 2:30 there at Vintage Faith Church in S.C.

All familes are welcome!

Please check out this link for more details: http://vintagemoms.blogspot.com/2011/12/old-school-monday-christmas-party-is-on.html

Hope the rest of your week is a merry one! : )

lisa c-------

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I was wanting to find out more about the Vintage Faith Church a
while back when some friends were talking about the Abbey
coffeehouse the church runs, and was very disappointed to find out --
from the web site and from reviews of a book by the pastor -- that
they are anti-gay. Would "All families are welcome" really apply to
all the local two-mom homeschooling families and LGBT homeschooling
teens I know?

In general Santa Cruz has a lot of LGBT-inclusive and welcoming
churches and other houses of worship -- just for one small example,
it is my experience as a person who has danced in both the Downtown
Santa Cruz Holiday Parade and the Santa Cruz Pride Parade that the
latter has a lot more churches in it -- so yes, it was an unpleasant
surprise that a church that seems to want to make a big deal of
having a hip coffeehouse would not be included in that number.

I hope we will all remember that homeschooling families are a
diverse group.

T--- T------

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Hi T---,

Thanks for your honest and sincere email response to my invite.  The Vintage Homeschool Moms group is just that--a bunch of moms who enjoy getting together to have fun and encourage one another in our homeschooling and parenting.  The Christmas party is not a church-sponsored event, but we routinely use the Vintage Faith Church classrooms for our gatherings, since they have such great facilities (like a bathroom in the classroom, the gym for the kids to run around in, etc.).  We call ourselves "Vintage Homeschool Moms" just because most of us happen to be, but we have families from other churches join us, and have welcomed Jewish, agnostic, and atheist parents as well.  I am the organizer for most of the gatherings we have, and I love to invite new people--you never know who might really want to get their kids out of the house for a fun, casual event with other homeschool kids, or what mom might be struggling and need a few kind words. : )

So, we do not claim to represent the overall Vintage Faith Church, and I am sure all of us moms in the group have different opinions about all aspects of life, just like all of us here on the homeschool group forum do.  I can't speak for any of the other moms (or dads, who are welcome and sometimes come too!), but I personally welcome any homeschool family who feels comfortable with us.  What I can speak for the other moms about is that yes, most of us are trying to live as followers of Jesus Christ, and believe each and every person is a unique, valuable creation worthy of love and respect. 

You are right that this will not be an all-inclusive gathering, in the sense that we will be celebrating "Christmas" and not "the Holidays" and God might very well come up in the conversation as moms chat.  ; )  I posted the invite with the assumption that anyone who wants to avoid such things would simply disregard it.  But it will not be a religious gathering in nature (i.e. other than the fact that Christmas is what it is, we are not out to convert you), and so I invite anyone who is comfortable with such a dynamic to please feel free to join us.

lisa

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Wow, thanks for doing the research T---. I'll look into this too. I've been to The Abbey twice to knit with a friend, just assuming they were friendly.  As another lesbian mom, I won't be spending my money there anymore.


A--

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Hi Lisa,

 I was confused by some parts of your reply (below), so I was hoping you could clarify a few things:

- Is T--- correct that this church has an anti-gay theology?  I understand that your group is not church-sponsored, but some might consider this information relevant in deciding whether to attend an event at their facility. 

- You said that most of the members of the group are in fact members of the church.  Does the group have an explicit understanding that gay families are welcome and will not be subjected to anti-gay attitudes?  If not, a reasonable person might assume that the stance of the church is the (unspoken) stance of the group.

- Statements like "every person is a unique, valuable creation worthy of love and respect" are often code for "hate the sin, love the sinner."  Is this in fact what you meant to convey?

We are indeed a diverse group, and should be free to announce gatherings etc. that would not suit all of us.  I do think, however, that accurate information about the nature of a group would be helpful.

Thanks in advance for clarifying,

M--

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Speaking as an all inclusive mom, I feel that you both are being very unfair with your expectations and judgements. I also feel the tones of your reply/comments are very negative and unaccepting themselves. Let us keep our personal feelings aside and ask objective questions with the expectation of a reasonable answer.
Sent from my LG phone

[no name given]

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If you are referring to my comment, I don't see how declaring that I won't spend money in a cafe that funds an anti-gay church is being unfair to anyone, least of all Lisa, who wasn't representing The Abbey. I want all homeschoolers to feel welcome posting here, but I also want to be reasonably informed about the politics/religious leanings of any group or event I choose to attend, so I welcome the discussion that has followed Lisa's posting.


A--

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Hi M--,

Your questions are reasonable.  I was trying to avoid speaking for the overall church, for several reasons.  Mainly I don't feel qualified to speak for the church, so hope all of you who are really interested in knowing the church's stance on such issues will go directly to the source, and call and set up a meeting with one of the pastors.   D-- K------ is the pastor who I think T--- was referencing in her email, and he is a very sensitive man who is always available for such discussions.  If you would prefer to speak with a woman, K------ J----- is not a pastor, but is one of the members at the heart of the church.  I understand why some of you want to know the church's stance on gender identity, GLBT families, etc., esp. in regards to the Abbey coffeelounge, since we all want to support business (or in this case, non-profits) that align with our personal values. 

I tried to be clear that I was not speaking for the other moms/families in the Vintage homeschool moms group, but you are raising an excellent question about whether or not the other moms would welcome gay/lesbian families.  To be candid, I don't know.  What I do know is that they have welcomed every other family who has come, and I will never invite the greater homeschool community to an event that is specifically religious in nature or at which they might not be welcome.    

I do want to address your question about whether my statement "every person is a unique, valuable creation worthy of love and respect" was code for "hate the sin, love the sinner."   While every single word I chose is loaded with meaning, and intentionally so, please take them together in their most beautiful, person-affirming way.   I personally respect people of all faiths, cultural backgrounds, etc, and hope those of you who know me even a little in person would agree that I live out these beliefs.  (I feel like I am supposed to whip out my "diversity portfolio" at this point, or show you my gay and lesbian parent personal references. ; ) 

I am not offended that you are asking, esp. since I am sure others are wondering at this point, although it is certainly uncomfortable.  I enjoy being a part of this homeschool group because it represents the whole broad spectrum of our greater Santa Cruz area, and in fact do not choose to participate in groups that purposefully exclude a variety of world views.  But within this group, I hope there is enough room on the spectrum of ideas for mine too.   It is healthy and wise for such a group to avoid entangements that come with seeming to promote certain views above others.  I have been sharing only those events and ideas that seemed to be relevant to the greater homeschool community. 

So, everyone, do my clarifications and assurances here suffice?  Do we all agree with M--'s statement that "We are indeed a diverse group, and should be free to announce gatherings etc. that would not suit all of us"? 

Ironically, I have to run to church now. ; )  But please feel free to email again if we need to further the dialogue.

lisa

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That was all the emailing that happened today.  If more views come forth, I will add them to this post, because I think this is an important dialogue that you all should be aware of, since it concerns you specifically. 

Tonight when I was at the kid's choir practice, I had a chance to share some of this with a few of you, and was so glad to get the response I expected from you, which was that you were unhesitatingly willing and even glad to open our special events to all homeschool families, and only hoped that any who came would be as willing to tolerate our views as we would be willing to tolerate their views. 

I think it was actually really cool that such a conversation happened in that public forum--that people were talking about churches being welcoming or not, Christians being loving to others or not, esp. those with whom they might disagree.  I am sure not only the parents who participated in this dialogue thought about the implications, but surely so did all the parents who just read the responses and did not chime in. 

I want you all to have the same chance, to think about these things, and what response we as a body of believers in Jesus Christ should have to our surrounding community. I do hope that us Christian homeschool moms (wherever we are!) would genuinely welcome any family who we encounter--that we can love them without fear, from the fullness of Christ's love for them. 

Since the SC Homeschooling group has been given this blog link for the information about the party, I have written this with the expectation that some of the readers might be more curious about us after the email exchange and might stop by this blog.  I hope whatever we say here will reflect who we really are, and we will be seen for the friendly bunch we are.  So, please feel free to comment, and "let your gentleness be evident to all--the Lord is near." : )

much love to you all,

lisa




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