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May 3, 2023 News

May 2023 Vestry Papers: LGBTQ+ Pride

Dear Friends,

Diverse. Spiritually grounded. Authentic. Speaking truths informed by individual journeys of self-affirmation and knowledge of God’s love.

These are voices from the Episcopal Church’s LGBTQ+ communities. This Pride issue – ECF’s first celebration of Episcopal LGBTQ+ laity and ministry – connects you to four individuals who are finding sacred meaning in their lives within the context of their faith and sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.

I am blessed to introduce these voices to you. There is urgency to their inspiration and inquiry. For even as they speak of open and brave journeys, the unwelcoming experiences of so many LGBTQ+ Christians signal daily rebuke and discrimination. A friend texted this week to tell me that her church – proud to be fully inclusive and affirming for their LGBTQ+ community – was recently vandalized. Another individual with a West Coast foundation that fights LGBTQ+ discrimination tells me that legislative and rhetorical attacks against our community, particularly assaults on transgender rights, are at an all-time high.

These four offerings – two videos and two articles – are a reminder of the work to be done. We hope they speak of courage and belief for a world made more beautiful by these LGBTQ+ Christians and their commitment to a Church where all God’s children are loved and valued.

The Rev. Senator Kim Jackson self-identifies as ‘Afrolachian,’ born and raised a Black woman in rural Appalachia. Kim currently serves in the Georgia State Senate while simultaneously serving a congregation for people who live on the streets of Atlanta. In A God Who Loves Us Just As We Are, a video conversation with my colleague Dr. Sandra Montes, Kim shares her journey from a small town, to becoming the first ‘out’ lesbian in her diocese to be ordained, to living out her ongoing commitment for racial and social justice.

In Becoming The Person God Created Me to Be, Freya Gilbert writes powerfully and with grace of her journey of becoming her true self: a transgender woman. Her ministry of lay preaching gives scriptural context to the importance of sanctuary for her within her diocese, while raising important issues of acceptance and support for the wider Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg, in Do You Really Belong Here?, a video conversation with Dr. Sandra Montes, speaks of Episcopal ministry as informed by her Lakota tribe culture and her status as a winkté – a two-spirit healer and facilitator in the spirit’s many transitions. Shaneequa’s message of ‘difference as sacred’ grounds this expansive (and fabulous!) discussion.

In Differentiating Between the What and the How, Alan Yarborough of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations challenges us to move beyond the complacency of proclaiming, “Of course, we support LGBTQ+ people!”. Alan issues a clarion call to action and advocacy, acknowledging that the work to be done is complex and multi-pronged, but positing that this church is well suited to implement strategies that are contextual, built on mutual learning, and forged by humility.

Our June issue will continue this focus on stories of life, faith and inspiration from the Episcopal Church’s LGBTQ+ communities. ECF is also working to curate helpful resources by and for the LGBTQ+ community on Vital Practices. If you have a relevant resource to share, please send it to [email protected]. If you are looking for a specific resource, please email us and we will do our best to point you to it or connect you with a person who can help.

In fellowship with these faithful voices,

Craig Bossi
VP of Finance & COO
Episcopal Church Foundation

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