On November 2, 2015 I led a workshop at Hartford Seminary entitled “Proactively Welcoming the LGBTQ+ Community into our Faith Communities.” With about 20 people in attendance, we had energetic conversation about how to widen our welcome to include all of God’s people. Below are some of the good ideas and resources that were collected during our time together:
Eric Elnes Darkwood Brew DVD about LGBT issues
- Fish out of water Vanderbilt University. “A spirited documentary that explores the seven Bible passages notoriously used to condemn homosexuality and justify marriage discrimination.”
- For the Bible tells me so. “A compassionate and insightful documentary about the contemporary face of an old conflict between Christian fundamentalists and gay and lesbian people.” Among the interviewees is Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.
- Bridegroom. “On May 7th, 2011 a young man named Shane Bitney Crone tragically lost the love of his life, Tom, to an accident. Because they weren’t married or prepared for the unexpected, Shane lost all legal claim to Tom after he died.” Struggles of a same-sex couple living in California during Prop 8 (which banned same-sex marriage).
- Out Late. This featurefilm looks at five individuals who made a decisive change later in life-to come out as lesbian, gay, or transgender, after the age of 55.
- Milk. Depicts life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk.
- Before Stonewall. The history of the gay and lesbian community before the Stonewall riots.
- After Stonewall. Historical retrospective of the Gay Rights movement from the 1969 Stonewall riots.
- glsen.org Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. Resources on working with children and families
- gsanetwork.org Gay-Straight Alliance Network
- openandaffirming.org/ Open and Affirming Coalition UCC
- storycorps.org/outloud First person accounts of coming out
- UCC Coalition (United Church of Christ)
- Reconciling Network (United Methodist)
- Metropolitan Community Church In-care students (those studying for ordination) are available as speakers; they will be glad to visit other congregations to talk about LGBT concerns.
- Find a PFLAG meeting near you. Look at their website
- The Loft (Fairfield CT). Associate Pastor of First Church Congregational, the Reverend Jennifer Campbell and her colleague, Dr. Liane Nelson facilitate a youth group called The Loft for lgtbq teens (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) and their friends every Friday from 4-5:30 at The Community House of First Church, 148 Beach Road. More information about First Church Fairfield
If/when a congregation is feeling “stuck” – they don’t know how to revitalize their Open and Affirming welcome or perhaps haven’t even begun the conversation about formally declaring their welcome, that church needs to
- Talk with other ONA churches
- Listen to the stories of the LGBT community and remember why this welcome is so important
The feeling of being “stuck” is often related to fear – fear of losing members, fear of offending someone, fear of losing money or pledges. Take the time to name the fear – by unmasking the fear we can take away some of its power.
- Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two by Allan Berube
Example of Morning Welcome in Worship; this can be crafted to fit any week and church season and can be adjusted to include a variety of descriptions:
Although the temperature may not feel like it, the spirit around town these days feels like Fall is here. Welcome to you if you have been away for the summer and now are coming back; we hope your summer had some Sabbath moments in it. Welcome to you if you are new to town, or just decided to visit us for the first time; we are glad you are here and look forward to getting to know you, and to you getting to know us. We actually mean it when we say everyone is welcome here, because we represent a wide variety of folk of different races and ethnicities, gender and sexual orientation, age and marital status. A few of us have lived in greater New Haven all our lives, but most of us are from somewhere else originally. Many of us live in New Haven now, but we also live in Hamden, North Haven, Cheshire, Cromwell, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Durham and East Haven! We vary from one another in sports teams we support, musical tastes, favorite movies or books. We also differ in theological views and in religious backgrounds or lack thereof. So we hope you will stick around after worship for some iced coffee and lemonade. Wherever you are on your life and faith journey, you are welcome here.
(written by the Rev. Dr. Rochelle Stackhouse, Church of the Redeemer, New Haven CT).
Please share your ideas and resources in the comments!