Society for Pentecostal Studies Scrambling over LGBT Dispute with Urshan College

Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

by JEFFREY WALTON

The Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) is scrambling to make alternative arrangements after the host institution for its annual meeting withdrew just weeks before the gathering is to occur.

Urshan College of Florissant, Missouri, which is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church (UPCI), was set to host the gathering of the largest and most prominent academic society within the Pentecostal tradition. Citing the presence of a gay activist on the conference speaker schedule, the school withdrew their invitation to SPS on Monday.

Among the scheduled presentations announced two weeks ago for the SPS meeting is a session on gay Hispanic Oneness Pentecostal history by Felipe Agredano. Agredano is a Hispanic Oneness Pentecostal who is also a politically connected LGBT activist.

SPS officials have defended the participation of Agredano as a speaker, despite SPS bylaws placing the society within the tradition of Pentecostal churches – a tradition that historically proclaims the proper context of sexual intimacy to be within marriage between a man and a woman.

“After an effort by both sides to find a way forward, we agreed that the best course of action was to move forward with the annual meeting without Urshan’s role as host,” the SPS Executive Committee wrote to society members earlier this week. “Urshan has offered their apologies and to assist SPS in securing alternate venues and human resources needed for the Conference.”

“There also appears to be misinformation among some Urshan constituents about SPS, our mission, goals, and objectives as a Society,” the SPS officials added. “We regret that it has come to this conclusion.”

The SPS officials appear to have been referencing a vigorous discussion on social media in recent weeks among UPCI members. UPCI General Superintendent David K. Bernard weighed in on Facebook and also addressed a letter to fellow ministers.

“While on an overseas trip, I was dismayed to learn about potential problems with at least one of the presenters,” Bernard wrote. “While Urshan had no role in the selection, I regret it and apologize for any resulting negative association with Urshan, the UPCI, or the Apostolic faith.”

The UPCI official clarified before the withdrawal of the invitation that Since SPS is the convener of the meeting, it would not be considered an Urshan event.

“Thus Urshan had no role in choosing speakers or topics,” Bernard stated, equating the school’s involvement to providing a meeting room for a civic group or facilitating a discussion of area ministers.

Responding to a series of concerns voices by UPCI members, Bernard dismissed some but acknowledged the problem posed by hosting a presentation by a gay activist.

“The most significant concern is that one of the 250 presenters identifies himself on social media as an Apostolic homosexual and may use his 15-minute speaking slot to promote this agenda and embarrass the Apostolic movement,” Bernard reported. “If so, then this is a spiritual attack, and we need to treat it as such. In my understanding, this would be contrary to the bylaws of SPS. Therefore, I have contacted the SPS Executive Committee about this session.”

The theme of the March 9-11 gathering is “Pentecostalism and Culture”. The SPS web site describes the 2017 program as about the relationship between Pentecostals and the broader culture(s) they have inhabited.

“Under this broad theme, the conference will explore Pentecostal interactions with — and contributions to — culture, a Pentecostal understanding of culture, and the broader theological relationship between Christianity and the cultures it inhabits and has created,” the site explains.

Controversy – including dispute around human sexuality – is not new to SPS. The group drew attention in 2013 after its then-President, Paul Alexander, gave an address suffused with Liberation Theology and Process Theology themes. Alexander also called for the society to be open to the promotion of homosexual, transgender and intersex “realities” as faithful representations of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. Alexander was dismissed (the equivalent of being defrocked) from the clergy of the Assemblies of God denomination the following year. He remained on the faculty of Palmer Seminary and as co-President of Evangelicals for Social Action until last year.

In 2010, emergent church author and theologian Tony Jones was invited to speak at the SPS annual meeting, held that year at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NCU is affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination. NCU officials and AG General Superintendent George Wood requested that SPS dis-invite Jones, citing his public advocacy for same-sex marriage among the reasons. SPS ultimately located the Jones presentation off-campus, and NCU allowed SPS to continue meeting there.

In an earlier separate letter addressed to the Urshan community, Bernard outlined his goals in engaging with SPS scholars, among them the opportunity to represent and defend Oneness Pentecostalism. The UPCI is the largest Oneness (non-Trinitarian) Pentecostal denomination.

Presentation: Theology Transgressing Borders in Latina/o Latin American Pentecostal Theology
by Felipe Agredano, East Los Angeles College
Chair: Daniel Alvarez, Pentecostal Theological Seminary

35 Comments

  • Stan Wayne
    Reply February 23, 2017

    Stan Wayne

    Do you guys belong to SPS ? I wish you did.

  • Troy Day
    Reply February 23, 2017

    Troy Day

    There are many in the group who perhaps are long standing members. In 2013 its then-President, Paul Alexander, gave an address suffused with Liberation Theology and Process Theology themes. Alexander also called for the society to be open to the promotion of homosexual, transgender and intersex “realities” as faithful representations of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. Alexander was dismissed (the equivalent of being defrocked) from the clergy of the Assemblies of God denomination the following year.

    • Stephen Williams
      Reply February 24, 2017

      Stephen Williams

      I read Alexander’s presidential address in Pneuma and found it disturbing.

  • William Lance Huget
    Reply February 23, 2017

    William Lance Huget

    Hhmmm…

  • Troy Day
    Reply February 23, 2017

    Troy Day

    There was a Queer-Pentecostal Dialogue at Princeton Theological Seminary organized in 2012 by The Association of Charismatic and Theological Students (ACTS). The title of the symposium was Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Sexuality, Gender, and The Body in the Pentecostal Church. http://www.stonewritten.com/?p=3933

  • Alan N Carla Smith
    Reply February 24, 2017

    Alan N Carla Smith

    am I wrong stating that Liberation Theology is more aligned to Marxism than to the Word of God? A theme in Process Theology professes God is not omnipotent.
    So adding the LGBT dispute would be the icing on the cake in this meeting, would it not? Just shows how sick the Bride of Christ has become…

  • Troy Day
    Reply February 24, 2017

    Troy Day

    This seems to go back to 2010 when emergent church author and theologian Tony Jones was invited to speak at the SPS annual meeting, held that year at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NCU is affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination. NCU officials and AG General Superintendent George Wood requested that SPS dis-invite Jones, citing his public advocacy for same-sex marriage among the reasons. SPS ultimately located the Jones presentation off-campus, and NCU allowed SPS to continue meeting there.

  • Stan Wayne
    Reply February 24, 2017

    Stan Wayne

    Yes I think SPS is nuts but I belong

  • Troy Day
    Reply February 24, 2017

    Troy Day

    Stan Wayne Never seen you as presenter. That’s strange! Before some time AskDrBrown unveiled The Darker Side of LGBT Theology: From Queer Christ to Transgender Chris https://stream.org/the-darker-side-of-lgbt-theology-from-queer-christ-to-transgender-christ/

  • Troy Day
    Reply February 24, 2017

    Troy Day

    Kudos to Urshan College for standing for their faith statement

    • Stan Wayne
      Reply February 24, 2017

      Stan Wayne

      I agree

    • Troy Day
      Reply February 24, 2017

      Troy Day

      Seems North West has done the same though much quieter in 2010

  • Stephen Williams
    Reply February 24, 2017

    Stephen Williams

    I have a student membership. At first to have access to Pneuma, now looking to attend in the future and perhaps present a paper. But this and past controversies are making this a tad uncomfortable.

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 2, 2017

    Troy Day

    Anyone knows the outcome? Pete Fiske

  • Walter Polasik
    Reply March 4, 2017

    Walter Polasik

    Umm….brethren…whatever happened to I Cor. 5:10,11? So, the Society for Pentecostal Studies has sunk this low? Wow. And picking between a Christian College and offending a gay guy…they pick the gay guy? Really? Wow. Well, Jesus is coming next week if Pentecostals are doing this!

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Troy Day

    Stan Wayne Are you already there? Who’s going to keep us posted live on what’s happening @ SPS Karen Lucas ?

  • Stan Wayne
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Stan Wayne

    I have to earn a living

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Troy Day

    Specifically interested on the Thursday, March 9 Symposia 9:30-11:00 Salon AG Presentation: Theology Transgressing Borders in Latina/o Latin American Pentecostal Theology
    by Felipe Agredano, East Los Angeles College
    Chair: Daniel Alvarez, Pentecostal Theological Seminary

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Troy Day

    One similar article (different content) by Néstor Medina appeared in 2014 Pneuma, Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 432 – 446 under the title: Transgressing Theological Shibboleths: Culture as Locus of Divine (Pneumatological) [PNEUMA 36 no. 3 (December 2014): 1.15]

    • Stan Wayne
      Reply March 9, 2017

      Stan Wayne

      Sounds like he doesn’t understand “illegal” and

    • Troy Day
      Reply March 9, 2017

      Troy Day

      Sounds like it went and passed?

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Troy Day

    Stan Wayne Seems it was only gently mentioned as 3. Dialog around issues related to Latino/a theology
    a. Thursday sessions devoted to exploring themes
    b. Nestor Medina’s address on faith, cultural, and the Spirit

    but then again who is there to tell us?

    https://www.facebook.com/spsusa/posts/1443340099041426

  • Stan Wayne
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Stan Wayne

    Yes

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Troy Day

    Oh wait a minute! Seems like our own Daniel Rushing and Thangsan Hisfootstep are there right now. May be they can shed some light on the said presentation after supper Daniel was live blogging too

  • Stan Wayne
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Stan Wayne

    Cool

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Troy Day

    Bro Thangsan Hisfootstep did not attend the presentation but I am sure Daniel Rushing did not miss it He may tell us later

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Troy Day

    Yap it sure happened. Seeing some familiar faces there but not Daniel Rushing

  • Daniel Rushing
    Reply March 9, 2017

    Daniel Rushing

    I did not attend that presentation, but Rick Waldrop did.

  • Troy Day
    Reply March 18, 2017

    Troy Day

    Tony Richie Did the SPS post you published respond to this issue?

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