Brandan Robertson

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Brandan Robertson (born June 24, 1992) is a bisexual writer, activist, and speaker, best known for his writing and commentary on millennials, ethics, contemplative spirituality, and his work as an LGBTQ activist to evangelicals. Robertson currently serves at the Lead Pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego, California. He also works regularly as a consultant and adjunct instructor at several seminaries including San Francisco Theological Seminary, Auburn Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary. Robertson received his Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and Theology from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois and his Masters of Theological Studies from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. Robertson writes regularly for Patheos, The Huffington Post Blog, Progressing Spirit, and Sojourners Magazine. He is the author of "Nomad: A Spirituality For Traveling Light" (Darton,Longman,Todd, 2016) and "True Inclusion: Creating Communities of Radical Embrace" (Chalice Press, 2018), and the editor of "Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians" (Cascade Books, 2017). He is the executive director of a small non-profit, "Metanoia", which seeks to "foster spiritual and social evolution" through advocacy and education.

Background[edit]

Brandan Robertson grew up in Elkridge, Maryland and was born into a non-religious family. In November 2005, Robertson had a transformational conversion experience at Grace Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland, where he first became active in Christian ministry. In early 2006, Robertson began a street-preaching ministry in the heart of Baltimore, Maryland where every week, he and a number of youth from his church would spend hours preaching in open air and sharing "gospel tracts" with those who passed by. Starting in 2008, Robertson began serving as an ministry intern at a Bridgeway Community Church, an influential evangelical megachurch located in Columbia, Maryland, pastored by international author, speaker, and expert on race-relations, Dr. David Anderson. At Bridgeway, Robertson was given the opportunity to preach to the congregation of 6,000+ and became a regular leader in the churches well-known "Tuesday Night Prayer" gatherings.

Robertson created his first podcast, "Prayer Warriors Radio", at the age of 15 and through that medium was able to conduct interview with well-known national evangelical leaders such as James Merritt, the former President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Robertson attended Long Reach High School in Columbia, Maryland, where he frequently led campus bible studies and Christian programs. Robertson continued blogging and podcasting until 2010, when Robertson began attending college at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. At Moody that Robertson began a popular student radio show called "The Bridge" on Moody Campus Radio,[1] which sought to expose the student body at Moody to leading Christian voices from outside of the evangelical tradition to spark ecumenical conversations throughout the campus. Through this radio show (and later podcast), Robertson began gaining a wide audience beyond Moody as he conducted interviews with internationally renowned Christian leaders such as N.T. Wright, Miroslav Volf, Timothy Keller , and Brian McLaren.

Since 2014, Robertson's work has grown beyond American Evangelicalism, and now focuses on broad Christian spirituality, mindfulness, and social evolution. Robertson identifies as a "contemplative activist" and has worked with national and international organizations and government entities such as the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Peace Corps, the White House, and groups like Changing Attitudes Ireland to spread a message of inclusion and to work to secure human rights for sexual and gender minorities. In June 2017, Robertson was appointed to be the Lead Pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego, California, a progressive, LGBT+ inclusive Christian church in North Park.

The Revangelical Movement[edit]

In 2011, Moody Bible Institute cancelled Robertson's show on Moody Campus Radio, partially due to Robertson's vocal support of civil marriage equality for LGBTQ individuals and the progressive theological leanings of many of his guests. After being brought into a meeting before the Dean of Students to be questioned about his potentially theological and political views, Robertson began writing "The Revangelical Blog", with the mission of "rethinking, reforming, and renewing the Evangelical faith." [2] Over the next few years, Robertson's blog would grow to be among the top evangelical blogs, creating a platform for Robertson to speak to a national audience about social, theological, and political issues from a progressive, millennial evangelical perspective.[3]

Robertson's Revangelical Movement continued to cause controversy at Moody Bible Institute, specifically related to Robertson's writing and interviews focused on the topic of homosexuality. In 2013, Robertson began attending a "healing prayer" ministry at Moody Bible Institute, at the recommendation of a number professors, in an effort to "heal" is sexuality. After a year of prayer ministry, Robertson graduated from Moody Bible Institute and moved to Washington, D.C. where he continued to write on the topic of sexuality.

Destiny Image controversy[edit]

In 2013, Robertson received a book deal from Destiny Image Publishers to write "Nomad: Not So Religious Thoughts On Faith, Doubt, and the Journey In Between", a memoir of his journey from fundamentalism to a progressive evangelical faith. After completing the manuscript in February 2015, Robertson made international headlines when Destiny Image Publishers canceled his contract, citing his support for LGBTQ inclusion as a barrier to being able to effectively sell the book to their evangelical/Pentecostal audience.[4] However, in 2016, Robertson's book was officially signed for release throughout Europe through Darton, Longman, and Todd Publishers. In 2017, Robertson's book "Nomad" was acquired by Kok Publishing in the Netherlands to be translated into Dutch.

LGBTQ advocacy[edit]

In September 2014, after Robertson has moved to Washington, D.C., he was named the national spokesperson of "Evangelicals for Marriage Equality", an organization that sought to encourage evangelicals to support civil marriage equality, even if they were unable to support sacramental marriage equality in the church.[5] In August 2014, Robertson also began working full-time as the evangelical program director at Faith In Public Life, a "strategy center for the faith community advancing faith in the public square as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good"[6] Through his work at Faith In Public Life and Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, Robertson became a prominent voice in the national conversation surrounding religious freedom, LGBT+ rights, and the de-politicization of evangelicalism in America.

In November 2014, Robertson helped to convene a historic meeting between Southern Baptist leaders and LGBT+ movement leaders during the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commissions National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. This meeting opened the doors for conversations and collaboration between some of the most influential religious leaders in America and leading LGBT+ activists. In January 2015, Robertson's work was featured in a TIME Magazine article, "Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage",;[7] and was the subject of an MSNBC mini-documentary film about his work to convince Southern Baptist leaders to support marriage equality.[8] Robertson's story and work have since been featured in a number of national outlets including TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal,[9] Associated Press, The Washington Post,[10] POLITICO,[11] and Religion News Service,[12] among others. In January 2015, Robertson launched The RISE Network,[13] an organization which seeks to help create productive dialogue among people of faith around issues of LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion in the church, among a number of other major social issues. The RISE Network was a project of Faith In Public Life.

Leading up to the Supreme Court's ruling against state legislation barring same-sex couples from marrying in June 2015, Robertson organized a sign-on letter of over 100 evangelical pastors and leaders voicing their support for same-sex marriage both civilly and within the church.[14] This historic statement marked a clear schism among evangelicals on the issue of LGBTQ inclusion and was widely circulated in national media. On June 30, 2015, following the Supreme Court's historic ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Robertson delivered a speech entitled "A Witness to Equality" at Washington National Cathedral's service to celebrate equality, alongside well-known transgender activist, Rev. Allyson Dylan Robinson.[15] Following the Supreme Court ruling, Robertson has also organized a number of national responses to Kim Davis, the Kentucky Court Clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses to LGBT+ couples in her county, and partnered with many national organizations to help oppose "Religious Freedom" bills that seek protect public businesses from being sued for discrimination against sexual and gender minorities. In 2015, Robertson participated in the U.S. Peace Corps first ever LGBT+ interfaith event in Washington, D.C. which was streamed to Peace Corps sites around the world.

In January 2016, Robertson started “Nomad Partnerships”, a nonprofit that seeks to equip and empower faith leaders to be fierce advocate of human rights. Through Nomad Partnerships, Robertson continues to be a national voice advocating for human rights of sexual and gender minorities and has begun to work with LGBT+ rights organizations internationally to garner support of faith leaders of the rights of sexual and gender minorities. Robertson continues to speak regularly around the world on the topics of sexuality and spirituality and has worked with a number of organizations to further dialogue around pressing faith-based political issues. In August 2016, Robertson spoke at the White House Federal Summit on Bullying on the impact of faith-based bullying on LGBT+ youth. In March 2017, Robertson testified in favor of Colorado House Bill 1210 which sought to ban conversion therapy on minors in the state of Colorado. The bill was killed by Colorado Republicans for the third year in a row.

In June 2017, Robertson joined Faith In America, a non-profit founded by Mitchell Gold, to facilitate conversations with pastors at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Arizona. On the second day of the conference, Robertson along with four other representatives of Faith In America were forcibly removed from the Convention and given no reason. Robertson penned an article in Huffington Post in which he suggested that the reason the Southern Baptist Convention had him removed was because of "fear" over having conversations about LGBT inclusion with LGBT Christians.

Leaving Conservative Evangelicalism[edit]

In March 2016, Robertson wrote an op-ed for TIME Magazine in which he claimed that he could not "in good conscience, remained aligned with the modern manifestation of the [evangelical] movement." In the summer of 2016, Robertson began identifying as a"contemplative Christian", identifying less with the traditional conservative doctrines of Christianity and more with broader Christ centered spirituality. Robertson's writing and work now focuses on mindfulness, contemplation, and a "spirituality of wonder", rather than espousing traditional doctrines or dogmas of a particular religious denomination. In 2017, Robertson's non-profit presented an international series of live events called The Future of Spirituality, where Robertson and leading spiritual thinkers such as Rob Bell, Ken Wilber, Krista Tippett, Thomas Moore (spiritual writer), Richard Rohr, and Laurence Freeman discussed the future of religion and spirituality for audiences around the world.

Robertson continues to identify with the spirit of the broad evangelical movement, while rejecting evangelical doctrines such as penal substitutionary atonement, Calvinism, and belief in hell.

Missiongathering Christian Church, San Diego, CA[edit]

In July 2017, Robertson was installed as the Lead Pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego, California. Missiongathering is a progressive evangelical congregation founded by gay pastor Rev. Rich McCullen in the early 2000's as a church for those who had been burnt out by traditional conservative Christianity.

Other affiliations[edit]

Robertson is on the board of directors for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, The Humane Societies Millennial Advisory Council, The Democractic National Conventions LGBT Advisory Board, The OPEN Network, and serves on the United States State Departments Sub Working Group on Religion and Social Justice.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Contributor, "Rally: Litanies for the Lovers of God and Neighbor" (Upper Room Books, 2019)
  • Contributor, "A Preachers Guide to the Lectionary Sermon Series" (Westminster John Knox, 2018)
  • "True Inclusion: Creating Communities of Radical Embrace" (Chalice Press, 2018)
  • Editor, "Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians", U.S. Edition (Cascade Books, 2018)
  • "Gay and Christian, No Contradiction" (Metanoia Media, 2017)
  • Editor, "Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians", U.K. Edition (DLT Books, 2017)
  • "Zwerven Met God: Ik Ontedekte De Verwondering En Mijn Godsbeeld Kanteldet" (Dutch Edition of "Nomad") (Kok Publishers, 2017)
  • Nomad: A Spirituality for Travelling Light (DLT Books, 2016)
  • Author of Forward, "The Courage To Be Queer" by Jeff Hood (Wipf & Stock, 2015)
  • Contributing Author, "Kissing In The Chapel, Praying In The Frat House" Edited by Adam Copeland (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Bridge on MCR". The Bridge on MCR. Brandan Robertson. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  2. ^ Robertson, Brandan. "About Revangelical". Brandan Robertson. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  3. ^ "The Revangelical Blog". Patheos. Patheos Evangelical. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  4. ^ Dias, Elizabeth. "Young Evangelical Leader Loses Book Deal After Coming Out". TIME Magazine. TIME Magazine. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  5. ^ Robertson, Brandan. "The Story Behind Our Launch". TIME Magazine. TIME Magazine. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  6. ^ http://www.faithinpubliclife.org/about/
  7. ^ Dias, Elizabeth. "Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage". TIME Magazine. TIME Magazine. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Evangelizing Marriage Equality Among Evangelicals". MSNBC. MSNBC. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  9. ^ Audi, Tamara. "Southern Baptists, Gay Community Break Bread At Conference". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  10. ^ Pulliam Bailey, Sarah. "Why Same-Sex Marriage Is Expected to Heat Up This Election Among Evangelicals". Washington Post. Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  11. ^ Lerner, Adam. "Conservatives regroup after gay marriage defeat". POLITICO. POLITICO. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  12. ^ Merritt, Jonathan. "If the Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage, How Will Evangelicals Respond". Jonathan Merritt. Religion News Service. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  13. ^ "The RISE Network". The RISE Network. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  14. ^ "An Evangelical Response". An Evangelical Response. Brandan Robertson. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  15. ^ Robertson, Brandan. "A Witness to Equality". Revangelical. Patheos. Retrieved 15 July 2015.