To the Generous Space Community:
As the Board, we solemnly believe that the ministry of GS, in the current iteration, has run its course and needs to wind down responsibly.
That isn’t to say that the work of reconciliation amongst the communities of sexual & gender minorities, their faith journeys, their families, allies & others is finished, or that the incredible restorative work to date is for naught. Of course there is so much to celebrate! But we recognize that with the loss of so many staff, in such a quick time has fundamentally shaken the community’s confidence in the organization. We hoped that attempts at reconciliation, through the consultations with outside experts, prayer and trying to hear each other, would allow all parties to work through their tensions. Unfortunately, this failed.
What does ending Generous Space Ministries look like?
We are at a point where we believe that Generous Space must go into a period of dormancy as we establish how to finish well. The Board has not yet established an official end date for the organization; any continuing donations during this time will assist us to wind down well. As the Board takes this time, we invite the community to grieve and honour GSM; to support each other in our mourning, and dream of what the next iteration of queer/christian intersectionality might be.
GSM was built in a different time, originally practicing harmful conversion therapy as its ministry. Over the past two decades the ministry transitioned significantly. Under Wendy’s leadership the ministry became a living apology, working to bring about reconciliation for those with marginalized identities as they relate to questions of faith in, primarily, an evangelical Christian context. While the focus of the ministry has changed, the underlying structure remained a hierarchical one; one that held power in a few Board members and the Executive Director position. In the world of social justice organizations, many struggle against the tension of wanting to shift toward structures of power-sharing to empower those who were traditionally left out. This dynamic also occurred at GSM between the staff, the ED and the Board. Currently the Board is mainly composed of white members; for example, five of the six new Board members who joined in the last year (out of eight total) are white. While there are other diversities on the Board, some of us have not been as aware of the damage that our power and privilege has done, sometimes due to our blindspots. The Board is implicated in having maintained the existing hierarchical structure, one that was criticized as an oppressive framework. GSM ultimately failed in the endeavour of reconciling this harmful structure with our intersectional vision, leading to the difficulties experienced between staff and the Executive Director. While we encouraged mediation and other efforts at reconciliation, these efforts were unsuccessful.
The Board was engaged in the process of governance & policy evaluation with an outside consultant while this breakdown came to a head. The Board acknowledges that we failed to proactively address the discrepancy between vision and framework. We recognize that the current board has neither the capabilities nor the capacity to implement a radically new structure. We believe that the current organization’s baggage impedes the ability to pivot at this point. We have prayerfully come to the conclusion that this board is being called - in this moment - to help GSM “wrap up” well.
It is our hope that members of the community, removed from this harmful power structure, may organize independently to carry on the mission of GSM. The Board is contemplating how to best “pass the baton” in the event that the Spirit leads a group to take GSM’s place. So what is ending?
We are currently winding down all formal staffing positions. In doing so, we will be ending GSM programming that relies on staff involvement. This includes projects, retreats, and workshops.
The Executive Director position within the organization will also be wrapping up. Wendy’s remaining time will involve helping the Board conclude the ministry’s existing obligations. The Board is committed to supporting Wendy in doing this important work at a manageable pace.
What Programming will Continue?
As an exception, we are investigating how to continue the WAGE project (led by Jordan Sullivan; listening to conversion therapy survivors) so that it can complete its mandate as a government grant.
How might the Community Continue?
We recognize that Generous Space is more than just an organization. Some of the most enriching and valuable aspects are the relationships we have built with each other.
To that end, volunteer-led small groups are encouraged to continue to support each other as they are willing and able, independently of GSM. If groups are able to continue meeting online or in-person they are encouraged to self-organize as per their context.
What about Facebook Groups?
We intend for the Generous Space facebook community group (& sub-groups) to continue on. We encourage each group to nominate volunteers to take over admin responsibility. For facilitators, their dedicated facebook group can also continue to serve as a forum of peer-support.
Who to Contact with Questions?
The Board will be monitoring the organization’s general email account at email@example.com. Please direct all questions to that account. For ending automatic donations please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Engagement Moving Forward:
The Board will be setting up a process to address questions from the community, ideally within the next two weeks. Additionally, we continue to compile resources for grief counseling, and are aware that this is a painful time for our community. We anticipate that this winding-down process will not be a quick one. Over the coming months the Board will further engage with the community as events unfold.
In Conclusion: Regardless of what the next months bring, the Board is committed to honouring each other and the community, and celebrating all of what GSM is - including the people, the achievements, and the blessings.
We affirm and cherish the gifts that GSM leadership including staff have displayed over the years. They have sacrificed so much for so long, and served into so many people’s lives. Generous Space is God’s ministry, and he has been working through the ministry to reach out to the marginalized and call people into fellowship, belonging, and affirming each one’s Belovedness. We trust that this calling will continue to express itself in ways we have yet to realize.
God be with us in this pain,