Rev. Dr. Margaret Mayman profile

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride indeed.com [00:00:05] Margaret maman as the lesbian minister at St. Andrews on the terrace, which is a Presbyterian, libertarian, Christian church, [00:00:15] that's not often two things that people kind of think about to mix. [00:00:21] Gay and Christian, gay and Christian. [00:00:25] No, but there are a significant number of gay people who are part of Christian communities, and there is quite a number of gay church leaders to worldwide. So we have with the sort of, obviously out welcoming congregation and Wellington. [00:00:41] And how does do you? Are you part of like a, [00:00:45] like a group of Presbyterians and what [00:00:47] is a Presbyterian Church of it around New Zealand as the National denomination and it's very two theological units varied in terms of its inclusiveness, or lack thereof, but there is sort of a network of progressive Presbyterian churches, who, because our churches stand on gay and lesbian leadership is not particularly inclusive, but there are a number of us who are continuing to practice being practicing being welcoming and inclusive and hospitable. And, and it's just no big deal. [00:01:19] And Have you always been? Have you always been Presbyterian? Or have you always been Christian, [00:01:24] as well as lesbian? or How the hell [00:01:27] along with and I've been listening, I think, I grew up and tomorrow in the South Island, and my family went to the local Presbyterian Church and my, on my mother's side of the family, their Scottish heritage. And so a lot of the people Scottish segments were Presbyterian, and they came to New Zealand in the 19th century. So yeah, that's kind of in my bones and blood. And, and I came out much, much later in my 30s. Yeah. And when you come out in your 30s, when we're really kind of really involved in the church always just going or no, I was a minister in the congregation and Christchurch at the time. And it was the congregation that I was attracted to, because I had made a commitment to being open and inclusive, before I arrived, and before I knew that I was going to leave them to be in for the most was actually it was quite interesting process because it was a bit harder for them than I think they thought it might have been. But saying that you are happy to have a gay clergy person and actually kind of living with it is two different things. But a lot of them did they vary based. [00:02:33] So what have been some of the more varied responses of people. [00:02:39] There are a lot of within the wider Christian community there are genuinely hostile and threatening almost response responses. But I don't live with it most, you know, day to day since I came to St. Andrews as an out lesbian in that community is very welcoming. And the thing that I'd like about being able to be visible out in a church leadership role is that St. Andrews is a place where people know that they can come if they you know, because gay people turn up and all sorts of Christian communities, and often quite conservative ones, and people realize they're gay, and then they no one in their own community that they can talk to. So it's good to be there at St. Andrews on the terrace and just be a place where people can come and talk about faith and spirituality and sexuality. And that's I see that as one part of what we do is being able to provide people with resources about biblical interpretations and things that really can be quite distressing for people. [00:03:39] So what are some of the biblical interpretations? Well, [00:03:43] in the Old Testament, and people quote, the texts of Tierra from Leviticus, which say, you know, a man shall not live with a man is with a woman is one that's frequently quoted. But the interesting thing that when you look back at society, they had no concept of, of a variety of sexual orientation, they assumed that God had created male and female, and only the heterosexual versions of those. So they saw he homosexual activity is being against nature, and therefore being against God. They were also in a situation where they were constantly imperiled as a people. And so reproduction was very important. So the teachings against homosexual acts, and they, along with the teachings against masturbation and any kind of sexual activity, that wasn't going to be procreative. So now that we know that science and reproduction is actually not an imperative, in the 21st century, there are plenty of us here for sexual and not dying so to be is, then it's, you know, we can look at the center from it. I mean, I thought the earth was flesh to I mean, and they will, you know, they were amazing people for the time that, you know, they really did try and understand what it means to live in community into, to have a sense of the sacred and to tell these stories. But, you know, we don't follow every word that they seed. And then in the New Testament, there is not Jesus said nothing about sexuality. It does appear that he crossed all kinds of gender and social boundaries and was sort of disruptor of the status quo in lots of ways. St. Paul, is much more problematic. But if you look carefully at the texts that are quoted from the Paul and Lisas, they're mostly addressing temple prostitution. And they seem to really be the attacks are really ways of against homosexual activity. And he also doesn't know about homosexual orientation. They're mostly about differentiating the Christian community, from the pagan community around about so he do he all sorts of rules and regulations. That was sort of about keeping the communities together. So my my view with all of this is that the context in which those traditions and doctrines and teachings happen to be taken into account and we have to engage them as 21st century people know, and quite different things. [00:06:19] So what is it about? I get sued, and people sometimes aren't even Christians, funnily enough, who will put Pope Susan, Susan butts up, I guess not pulling other butts like I'm, you know, not eating shellfish, or campaigning against men who aren't circumcised. [00:06:36] It's just absolutely selective. And I guess that just goes to know the homophobia that still exists. And people use whatever [00:06:45] resources they can find, to pick up the homophobia, but that's what it is. It is the homophobia. And the thing that distresses Megan about biblical interpretation is that the people who quote the stuff about sexuality, ignore the teaching things about economic justice. And if you get all the verses out of the Bible that have to do with homosexuality, you'd have six or eight maybe little holes in the Bible. If you cut everything out about economic justice, the Bible would fall apart. Its thumb, what about water? That book, the Jewish in the Christian traditions were honored? So selective, [00:07:19] selective reading? Absolutely, [00:07:21] yeah. Yeah. And I think being part of a faith community is not for everybody. And there's some people who, you know, go through the lives that, you know, it's not an important thing for them. But for those people who do want to belong to a faith community, I think they have the right to if they're gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender, or polyamorous is the latest people who come to the dangers of So, you know, it's all a learning curve. [00:07:47] Did you ever struggle with either your faith or coming in? Did they ever seem to be an opposite? [00:07:54] No, no. And I think that's because I grew up in a fairly liberal tradition. And I was theologically educated before I came out. So I had a way of interpreting the Bible that context seriously. And I knew a lot of gay people, you know, and I'd studied in Union Theological Seminary in New York. And one of the things I really enjoyed about it when I've been from Dinesen, which has been done my first theological degree to New York was that they had a gay and lesbian caucus at the theological school. So there were people articulating what it was to be gay and Christian. We've been part of my life for quite a long time. [00:08:30] I was elected that seminary had a pub in the childcare center. [00:08:36] So how long were you? So you went over have [00:08:38] over to New York to study in here? I was there for 12 years, it was one of those long, very long study here, [00:08:43] HD programs they do in the States. So [00:08:45] yeah. But I was lucky, I had the kind of fees that they let me work. So I was able to do some teaching and some other interesting work. And I had a child when I was there, too. So it's definitely the slow track on the PhD. [00:08:59] And when you but also, you knew that you wanted to keep on this ministry [00:09:04] music ministry. Yes, Yes, I did. And I really hadn't had much experience in parish ministry before I went, but I, I thought the things that I believed about my faith were about the spirit nourishing us to make the world a better place for everyone. And I think you need to do that in the community. And I thought that a faith community would be a good place to do that work. And I still think that it's a really privileged job to have because it's every day is different. And I'm, you know, here and it's Nando's. I'm fried by the congregation to do work. To do that, you know, talking again, is being people but I also am involved with at the moment with refugee resettlement issues. And so you know, it's by creating worship, which is kind of like an art form with poetry really. So yes, it's a it's a wonderful mix of things to do. [00:09:57] And what about within this wider, diverse communities or other govt iPhone? [00:10:06] Is there a confusion that your Christian and your minister, was it? Any kind of discrimination or prejudice or wonderment? I think there is a [00:10:16] wonderment and but I haven't really encountered a great deal of hostility. There's a [00:10:21] I think, probably for women. And I went through in the 70s and 80s training for ministry, late 70s. I should say that there were a lot of feminists who wondered why women would want to stay in, you know, a patriarchal religion. And so I kind of done a lot of work with feminist communities talking about, basically, it's our rights to, to the heritage, that has been the heritage of our mothers and grandmothers and, and they've always been women in Christian communities. Often the histories lost, the names are lost. But some of the scholars have discovered wonderful things about women's involvement in the early church communities. So it's kind of like we have a right to be here. And I I try and explain that same thing to game as being people who want to, but I have I have a crisis of about whether it's possible to remain within the Presbyterian Church about your own New Zealand when it's enacted legislation, which is discriminated against game is being people in leadership, and I have really struggled with it over the years. But once again, I have no other company, it's I feel like it's not just me, it's the community of St. Andrews, and they, they want the church to keep being presented with another, you know, another vision, another way of being the church and we can do that. And if we walked away, we wouldn't be able to. [00:11:42] So it's a quite a lot of difference between the different denominations and Altidore, [00:11:47] the Methodist Church has a good policy and that so it's an inclusive in terms of its leadership, but it's my experience of my game has been friends in the Methodist Church that that doesn't stop the prejudice local levels. And so they actually find it quite hard to get 3g positions within congregations. In the Anglican Church in our own New Zealand, it varies on diocese, and also the regional group depending on whether your Bishop is going to be helpful or not, and the Catholic Church than I know the gay priests and the Catholic Church, but they know clearly the from a hierarchical point of view, there are no gay free some against the church. But there are some wonderful people working in the in the Catholic system. And they I think they've kind of reconciled the what they can do with the community that they're part of. And they have quite a different feeling about that than they do about the hierarchy of New Zealand and and Rome. So yeah, so it does vary in the you know, the difference between what the official statements are and what the practices is pretty significant. [00:12:52] Once I heard you talk about spiritual violence, [00:12:57] yeah, and every I guess it really kind of resonated with with me and being raised in a Christian family and on here, can you talk a little bit about? [00:13:05] Well, I think [00:13:08] that's [00:13:10] the teachings that can deem gay and lesbian people and tell you that you can't be a person of faith. And gay or lesbian, do actually do violence to our spirits. So and I think that's one of the most shocking things that the church continues to do. And that distresses me that people in evangelical church communities that teach homophobia don't understand the impacts of what they're doing. They don't understand that young people growing up on their communities may actually harm themselves or take their own lives as a result of what they hear about themselves. So here it is, it's it's dangerous stuff and and I think it's really important that people of faith confront those churches that are doing that. [00:14:00] Do you know where the girl is vino trends of buses, [00:14:03] your indices, the [00:14:06] ministers or passes or in [00:14:10] my my own partner is works as [00:14:15] a chaplain and elderly care. And another guy fringe in Wellington who's a hospital chaplain. And there's, there's a gay clergy, men in Auckland in a parish. So yeah, there and there are others who have been in parish ministry that are now and other sort of more outside and fit quite a number of gay people are involved in forms of chaplaincy. because there aren't many congregations like Cindy Andrews that are sort of so utterly welcoming. [00:14:46] has some dangers always been walking? Has it been big struggles, or is it always been really, [00:14:52] I think, progressive for a long time at over 25 years, in the 80s. And [00:15:00] but its head of history of [00:15:03] social justice work that goes back beyond there's the minister to before me, was very involved in the anti Springbok tour movement. And so they, as a congregation have been used to thinking about the political implications of their faith. And even way, way back when it was probably more of a traditional parish church. One of the ministers was involved in supporting the strikers and the waterfront strike in 1950, whenever that was 1950, something. So they've had that kind of the background of being engaged in ordinary life, which is, it's a wonderful legacy that, that we continue to grow and develop. [00:15:46] So it's not just queer people that make up the congregation? [00:15:51] No, absolutely, no, it's a real mix. And that's a that's a nice thing, that it sort of there are enough queer people that this kind of recognition and feeling like personal safety numbers, but there's also just a feeling like, you know, I said, some people won't know who's gay and who's not. And, and at least, you know, they get to know a particular person visa, obviously, then they'll know because there's no need to hide either. But it isn't. Most of the time, that's not an issue. And there, you know, there, there are kids from babies to know, through school age, and there, I think our oldest active members, currently just about 292. So it's, you know, it's great to have that diversity of gender and age and some diversity of social class. Not very diverse racially. Yeah, it's, it's, you know, having visitors. [00:16:44] And so, with the St. Andrew's church service, I guess, is it quite a traditional church service, or they all just really varied across the board. I think, [00:16:56] in some ways, the structure of our service is quite traditional. So we follow a traditional liturgy that you would recognize, and lots of Christian churches around the world, but the content of what we do the words that we use, and we don't have a prayer book, so we, we either right, or find messages that work for whatever theme or biblical passage or [00:17:15] whatever, you [00:17:16] know, I think that we're kind of reflecting on. And I think it's that freedom with in the service that that expresses our a very contemporary understandings of faith and we are blessed a New Zealand to have some wonderful writers of contemporary hymns. So we sometimes sing a hymn from the tradition. And even then I changed the words of the two or four, but I like the tune. But, but we will save a lot of new things that we can choose that really, I think people singing is not something that people do much you know, in an ordinary society, but it is, it is a way of kind of, it's almost like sharing your faith with other people. You sing what you believe in the in the in the music has a kind of in a and it goes well an energizing, uplifting aspect to it as well. [00:18:05] Yeah, singing was definitely something I must win when I stopped going to church and living on [00:18:11] you know, rugby matches when the Welsh are here to serve in New Zealand to sing in public. [00:18:18] karaoke [00:18:19] when you drive away. [00:18:23] Um, so apart from the Sunday morning, church service, what else does St Andrews host will do [00:18:30] with our two main other things that happened during the week, and every week, we have a free lunchtime concerts, and they often more and the sort of classical vein but they're also jazz and in singing and various other things. And that's part of recognizing that all around us, there are lots of people working in the central city. And so we provide a kind of little island of tranquility. On Wednesdays at lunchtime. Sometimes the music last week was seriously avant garde and bizarre. And other times it's, you know, really, you know, traditional classical music, sometimes really funky jazz stuff. So it's, it's people could just come along and they can eat their lunch and church have him come and go as they need to go. So that's a good thing. And then not every week, but quite often we'll have lecture series, or visiting speakers who reflect on issues related to church and society. And sometimes they're quite theologically oriented, and sometimes more just on border social issues. And then we're lucky enough to be able to have the church open six days a week. So where we are located as a sort of busy part of town, but the structure of the church means it's quite a quiet place inside. And it's surprisingly light and peaceful, in the middle of a busy area, so people do just come and such and pray, reflect whatever it is that they're doing. And we we've sort of trying to say that this, it's not just for Christians, that's for anybody who just wants a place to set, some be still in the middle of everything that's going on. And I noticed, you know, with the beginning of the economic downturn, a lot of public servants were losing jobs and teams are being restructured, there were more people who just sort of obviously coming for square, quiet place to kind of think and if people wanted to talk to somebody, there's some often someone around, but usually it's just, you know, being centered and having a little timeout. So it's good to be able to offer that because it's a very expensive building to maintain their historic church. And it's, it would be tragic, if it was only used an hour or two a week that's being hospitable about this. That's good. And we're looking more at developing the art side of things, more music. But we've got an arts festival coming up in Wellington, and we've got a special series that will be running through that. And we will we're visual arts to we've had a couple of art exhibitions because it's lovely, light space and, and being a Protestant church, there's not a lot of ornamentation. So it's kind of like a bit of a blank canvas. So we're looking to talk to artists and sort of to be a place where people can exhibit. And I think that will also be another reason that people will have to cross the threshold and enjoy the space. And yeah, and sometimes we have, you know, other people can use the church to we're not assumptions, you know, you can only use it for worship, but we're, we're concerts, lectures, public meetings, and I remember when there was a lot of focus on whether cricketers should go to Zimbabwe, we had some public meetings around data, issues around civil union time, when that legislation was being looked at, we were a place where people could meet and talk about those kind of things. It's good to be able to do all of that. [00:21:58] Yes, definitely very inclusive. I remember having a few youth group queer youth group has sleeper beds right here [00:22:09] in the hall. And so that's Yeah, that's been really really useful. [00:22:12] And the hall is being renovated at the moment. So the next time they sleep over the bathroom facilities will be slightly be cooked in the kitchen is important for youth. [00:22:22] Well, some of your hopes, not only for folk for Christian communities, as well as diverse queer communities, what would your hopes be, [00:22:34] to move towards [00:22:37] I think just being you know, providing places where people can talk to each other and talk about things that are important, I think more and more and more interested in being a place where we can be a place for dialogue about the issues that divide us or that are difficult. And, and I would, the sum of those will be issues that particularly if the game is being basically transgender people, but others are just issues that are facing us as people on the planets when we're, you know, facing climate change and quite worrying developments in terms of economic power alliances. [00:23:16] And I'm, you know, looking at the [00:23:19] issues about what what government can provide for people and what it will vote in the future and sort of how communities can look after each other if things do get more difficult in those areas. So all of those things are important and I think we know as far as queer people are concerned, we sometimes we can kind of rest easy and Wellington because we can be ourselves and we can you know, go out with our partners and our friends and just you know, not have to worry but I was recently at a family funeral and gore and there was an article and which is in the in the deep south of New Zealand for those who don't know, and that with the Presbyterians have a very strong and there was a really sad as in the giveaway, you know, weekly paper about a cause for civil union and that the paper had been going to cover this capitals, civil union and, and and affirming and celebrate free kind of way. But the capitals family had talked them out of it saying that would actually be dangerous, and it would be stupid for them to be out and visible. And I know we we often forget in Wellington that that New Zealand, provincial New Zealanders really still a very hard place to be gay and people interviewed for the article said, you know, there was there were a couple of these beings and Google but they keep to themselves. You sort of say, oh, [00:24:39] chances are, [00:24:41] that there are you know, many more than this. But yeah, so I think that's probably something that those of us who are interested in the well being of gay and lesbian people need to keep paying attention to him. And you know, not just kind of rock on an Auckland and Wellington Juliet lives. [00:24:59] Some things you so much for sharing with us and yeah, we have thoughts on on spirituality and the judgments and continuing to, to keep thinking I guess and being aware. [00:25:10] That's in

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.