Lent 2019 ~ Tell Your Pastor #imaffirming

This Lent we are inviting church people to give up the comfort of silence and speak up in support of their LGBTQ+ siblings in Christ. The challenge is to tell your pastor that you affirm LGBTQ+ people in the church!

Many have felt helpless watching church politics and decision making bodies wound LGBTQ+ people again and again. Official church processes have proven to be one sure thing: slow. In the meantime, countless LGBTQ+ people are hurt by the church, prevented from full participation, and often feel like second-class citizens in their communities of faith. This ought not to be!

LGBTQ+ people are Beloved and they Belong!

This Lent, join us in this tangible call to action: challenging our churches to dismantle any barriers preventing LGBTQ+ people from fully engaging as Beloved children of God who fully Belong.

“My pastor already knows I’m affirming” Tell them anyway. Your participation matters! And encourage others to participate as well.

“My denomination doesn’t allow clergy to officiate same-sex weddings and won’t ordain LGBTQ+ people in same-sex relationships.” We’re asking you to do what you can – to share your support for full affirmation of LGBTQ+ people in the church. We don’t know what impact it may have – but we’re hoping that a groundswell of support will make a tangible difference in our local congregations.

“What exactly do you mean by affirming? Is it different than being welcoming or inclusive?” To be affirming of LGBTQ+ people in the church means you support their full and equitable participation and equitable celebration of their relationships and families. Many people use the word inclusive to indicate support of LGBTQ+ people. It can be a little more fuzzy about what someone means and can also be perceived to have a bit of a patronizing tone (e.g. People in power agree to include.). Welcoming is a term that can leave people hanging. What do you mean that you welcome? Does it mean we can sit in the pews and give to the offering but nothing else? Does it mean you recognize my relationship/marriage/family? Welcoming is a concrete place to begin – but it can still leave LBTQ+ people feeling like there is a stained glass ceiling limiting their participation.

“I’m not fully sure what I think about the church blessing same-sex marriage but I love my LGBTQ+ siblings in Christ and want to express my support.” Tell your pastor that. Speak up about your desire to support LGBTQ+ people in the church. Take the best step you can now!

“I really don’t know if my pastor will be very receptive. It feels risky to do this. What if they have a poor reaction?” There is a risk that some people will treat you differently if you disclose that you fully affirm LGBTQ+ people. That is a risk an ally takes. If you’re worried about a theological argument, remember that while it is important to know not only what we believe, but why we believe it, that doesn’t mean you need to study up on ancient Greek to share this information with your pastor. You are expressing your support for LGBTQ+ people as a follower of Christ called to love God and love your neighbor. If you are concerned about significant pushback, you may want to speak with some trusted friends from your congregation to discern what concrete steps you can take together to tangibly express support for LGBTQ+ people in your church. If you and your friends feel it would be detrimental to speak to your pastor, then it may be important to focus on finding other supportive people in the congregation first. Feeling safe is important. For people of privilege, contributing to cultivating safety is important work. Counting the cost to stand up for those who are pushed to the side or are experiencing harm is an inherent part of the commitment to follow the way of Jesus. We encourage you to discern wisely your next best step!

“My church is already affirming. How can I participate?” A couple of things, share the artwork and the daily reflections widely. Encourage others in your networks to participate. If your church would like to help promote this initiative specifically, send us your logo and we’ll add it to the list of supporting groups.

“I identify as LGBTQ+ how can I participate?” If you’re able, tell people why this matters to you personally. And then let us know if we can include your thoughts on the main webpage for this initiative. What would it mean to you if straight cisgender people participated? It would be great if you’d also encourage the straight cis folks in your life to checkout the initiative and sign up to participate.

Lenten Reflections:

Right here on the Generous Space blog we’ll be sharing short daily reflections throughout the 40 days of Lent. Feel free to share them on your own social media platforms using the hashtag #imaffirming

Sign Up to Participate:

If you are committed to speaking to your pastor sign up here!

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