By Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
Gays In Faith Together
When I first came to Grand Rapids in 1980, we were known as the city of churches. We were defined by our religion and our different denominations.
It wasn‘t always an image that brought to mind open arms and open doors.
But what would happen if we used that clout, that strength, that foundation as the city of churches to create a message, a vision of God’s love - for everyone.
What if we created a network of churches: Baptist, Catholic, Christian Reformed, Church of God in Christ, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-denominational, Reformed … any way you wanted to worship, it could happen for you, your divorced mother, your gay brother, your transgender neighbor.
You don’t have to hide who you are when you sit in the pew, because as followers of Christ, you can be all that God has meant you to be.
Because you don’t have to hide, you are whole. You are grounded. You are solid in your belief and understanding of God’s love for you and you are learning God’s purpose for you.
Because there is no longer shame heaped upon you as you are, you no longer feel the need to “fit in” and enter into relationships that were never meant for you.
You no longer feel the need to bury your shame and guilt about being who God made you to be by over indulging in food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sex.
You can openly study and learn about and from others like you without fear. Resources are plentiful. You can find movies in your community that challenge you and make you think. You have books, artwork and community events that bring you joy.
Because you are feeling solid in your faith and yourself, you create study groups within your church and you enjoy growing and learning from one another. You partner with other churches for study groups, teaching and learning from one another.
You are excited about reading the Word and engaging others. You see clearly the messages of Christ and even see Christ’s Spirit in others.
You encounter others in the community who are hesitant and who have been taught to be fearful of accepting you and you engage them in conversation. You are grounded and open and with a loving heart.
You recognize that for some, this idea of a gay Christian or a gay person of faith, is foreign and goes against everything they have been taught. And because you come from a place of love; a love of God, a love of yourself, you are firm and loving in your responses.
What is Gay Christian Yes? It is a movement. A reclaiming, if you will, of Christianity. A reclaiming of the social justice message of Christ.
Just as we define ourselves as members of the (lesbian gay,bisexual and transgender) LGBT community, we also define and are defined by our relationship with God. It is personal. It is strong. It is powerful and ever growing.
And because it is a relationship, we nurture it. We question it. We hold it up, exploring its boundaries and we grow it. And the beauty of being a gay Christian is that we also have a chance to be a gift, if you will, to other Christians.
For most heterosexual Christians, their faith is taken for granted and their relationship to God is taken for granted. But because we have questioned and been questioned, we know the faith journey, we are the faith journey and we can be leaders for other Christians, gay, straight, questioning.
Won’t you join GIFT as we create a coalition of individuals, churches and organizations, friends, family and allies who want to make West Michigan a place where all God's children are affirmed ?
-Join our first "Sun & Spirit Book Study Club" starting Tuesday July 27 where we will discuss the first four chapters of "Bulletproof Faith" by the Rev. Candace Chellow-Hodges.
- Attend the "Sisters in a Strange Land" weekend retreat for Christian lesbians led by Melanie Morrison and myself August 20 at the Leaven Center in Ionia county.
- Check out our GIFT website at http://www.gaysinfaithtogether.org/ and become a member
and keep visiting for information on new programming and chances to support GIFT.