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New Cal/Nev Pro-homosexuality Anti-SUV Bishop Takes On Pagan Name At Ordination

The new bishop of the United Methodist Church's California-Nevada Conference plans to focus on its primary mission of preaching the Gospel and doing justice.

What's in a name?

Beverly Shamana's tells a lot about who she is and how she wants to live.

Shamana is a combination of "shaman," a medium between the visible and invisible spirit worlds, and "mana," a word meaning the spirit that is among us and within us but cannot be controlled or contained.

Not bad for someone who is the second African American woman ever to be elected a bishop of the United Methodist Church, the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination.

When Shamana, 60, grew up in Pasadena, her given name was Martin. When she married, it became Anderson. After 10 years, she divorced. Shortly before her ordination in 1979, she chose a name for herself--Shamana.

"I wanted a name that transcended time, space and ethnicity. I wanted a name that was universal," she said.

"I said, 'I don't want any name that has "son," "him," "he" or "man" anywhere in it.' I wanted a female name. Then I get this name--Shamana--that starts with shaMAN and ends with MANa and has 'man' in the middle of it! God has a sense of humor, doesn't she?"

...In an earlier interview, however, she said, "I certainly am in favor of the full sexuality that God has given us. I don't draw the line between how people express their sexuality." Meanwhile, Shamana said she is determined to work with all sides in those areas where agreement can be reached.

...Closer to home, Shamana said that preachers often shy away from challenging the materialistic lifestyles of their congregants.

"I'm just stunned by the young people and older, middle-aged folks who have SUVs and [think] it's just wonderful. So what if gas goes up? 'We'll just buy what we need and get on the road.' There's just an air of blessing about all of it," she said. "Yet if we read the Bible passages, they ought to prick our consciences. I just don't know if they do."

...In her quiet times, Shamana finds peace and insight as an artist who fashions human figures out of gourds. The work "connects me to the ancient past, the faraway past, the pre-Christian past as well as into the future," she said.

That sense of connection, she said, is at the root of her name, as well. "The name continues to give me something to grow to," she said. "I never feel like I embody that name fully. It just keeps calling me forward. It has just felt right."

Excerpts taken from July 29, 2000 Article: Seeking the Universal in Life By LARRY B. STAMMER, Times Religion Writer

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