Towards a Welcoming & Inclusive Church
A Time to Build Up
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All in God's Family: Creating Allies for Our LGBT Families
Giving you opportunities to gather with other members of your congregation to pray, to learn, to share, and to work together to transform your lives, your congregation, and your world into a loving place in which God's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families can thrive.
To Do Justice: A Study of Welcoming Congregations
In order to both highlight the vibrancy, faithfulness and power of the Welcoming Movement and to counter the 'false witness' of those who seek to quash this movement of hospitality and justice, the Institute for Welcoming Resources surveyed pastors and leaders of 1,200 Welcoming congregations to ask them about their work and witness. Two areas emerged that warrant particular focus and celebration:
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A Transgender Curriculum For Churches and Religious Institutions
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Embodying Our Faith
The Riddle: new anti-homophobia message from UN Human Rights Office
76 countries still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere continue to suffer violent attacks and discriminatory treatment. In this simple, high-impact video from the UN human rights office, individuals from diverse backgrounds pose questions directly to the viewer designed to expose the nature of human rights violations suffered by LGBT people around the world. The video includes cameo appearances by UN Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. The UN's message: LGBT rights are human rights. Together we will build a world that is free and equal. You can watch this video with English, French, Spanish, Italian and Korean Captions by clicking the small, square "CC" button in the bottom of the YouTube screen and selecting language. Over the next days we will also be adding Chinese and Arabic. Keep checking the site for updates.
Faith in Action
Social Security Modernizes Gender Marker Policy
I’m so excited to share today’s news from the Social Security Administration (SSA) with you!
SSA has announced the modernization of the medical requirements transgender people must show to update the gender marker on their social security record.
This means that transgender people will no longer have to meet their archaic surgery requirement because they’ve replaced that requirement with “appropriate clinical treatment” the way several other federal agencies already have done.
As a transgender woman, I can’t adequately express to you how exciting this news is for the transgender community. This policy change is potentially the largest federal win our community has ever had!
I work everyday with transgender people who are navigating the bureaucracy required to change their documentation and this change will have a tremendous impact on their lives. When trans people apply for jobs, seek health care, housing or travel they often face discrimination when their ID documents don’t match up. Because Social Security documents feed into other federal systems, this change will have a tremendous impact and make it easier for their ID documents to match their gender identity.
SSA also issued guidelines on how staff should interact with transgender people including important protections like confidentiality, proper pronoun usage, and treating transgender people with respect and dignity. I wish that we didn’t have to fight to be treated with respect and dignity, but I’m glad the SSA is not just implementing policy changes, but encouraging their staff to implement the changes appropriately.
This change has been one of the Task Force’s top priorities because social security documents are so important for transgender people when applying for jobs and accessing Medicare and other vital services. The Task Force isn’t alone in fighting for the rights of the transgender community, we’ve worked closely with the National Center for Transgender Equality. Check out their helpful guide to the new policy and what it means in detail to transgender people. Read it here. (http://www.transequality.org/Resources/SSAResource_June2013.pdf)
While we’re extremely excited by this major victory, we know there’s still more work to do and will continue to work with federal agencies to fight for policies that will benefit the entire LGBT community.
Huge win: Social Security Administration modernizes gender marker policy
The LGBT community celebrates a huge win for transgender individuals today, as the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the modernization of the medical requirements transgender people must show to update the gender marker in a person’s social security record, eliminating the archaic surgery requirement and replacing it with “appropriate clinical treatment” as several other federal agencies already have done.
A growing presence in the LGBT rights movement: The religious
Big GLBT pride events like the parade and festival happening in D.C. this weekend have been going on for so long and are so ubiquitous, they can seem barely newsworthy. Except for the fact of one growing segment: the religious.
Churches, synagogues and other faith-based groups are stepping up their outreach to gays and lesbians, part of a general opening of doors that have been firmly shut, including in the U.S. military (which dropped “don’t ask don’t tell” in late 2011) and the Boy Scouts of America (which dropped its ban on openly gay boys last month).
A Baptist Revival Of Love
Last year I had a dream, a vision really, of driving across country in a RV sharing the good news of the ministry of inclusion within the Baptist community that is known as AWAB, the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists.
In this vision, the word “revival” was very present. I was curious about this since I am a true-blue New Englander with no real experience in revival meetings. But as I prayed I felt AWAB was being called to hit the road in the summer of 2013 and bring our message of inclusion to as many Baptists as we could. Little did I know this vision would give birth to the Living Jubilee Revival Tour, the 30-day, 3500-mile trip across 15-states which begins June 10, 2013.
Puerto Rico Legislature passes nondiscrimination bill protecting LGBT people
The Puerto Rican House of Representatives today approved a nondiscrimination bill that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in employment. Last week, the Senate approved the bill in a 15-11 vote and Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has vowed to sign the bill into law.
The House today also approved a bill to add protections for sexual orientation, marital status and gender identity to the domestic violence law. It now moves to the Senate.
LGBT rights are advancing in Puerto Rico as a consequence of decades of activism and a change in government last November. The Task Force has been at the forefront of this struggle for the past seven years. These efforts include speaking out against hate crimes and anti-LGBT violence; standing in solidarity with the Puerto Rican LGBT community; meeting with Congressman Luis Gutierrez to ask for support in this struggle against anti-LGBT violence; and the Task Force's National Religious Leadership Roundtable convening in Puerto Rico to express support.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force expresses deep disappointment in Senate Judiciary Committee's failure to consider protections for same-sex binational couples in immigration reform bill
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force expressed deep disappointment in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s failure to consider protections for same-sex binational couples as part of the comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill S. 744 was passed out of committee today by a 13-5 vote.
Statement by Rea Carey, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
We remain steadfast in our commitment to passing immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented men, women and children living in our country, including at least 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants.
Seminary Interns Working with IWR and the Task Force
For the past three months, the Institute for Welcoming Resources of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has had the honor and pleasure of working with two United Theological Seminary interns who were placed through the Integration of Ministry and Local Theology class. Mercy Monroe and Deb Braun worked closely with us on curricular development for our Building an Inclusive Church program and organizing efforts around the freedom to marry in Minnesota.
At the heart of their time with us was the practical study of how religious leaders can help build a movement for justice in theologically grounded ways. To that end, we prayed, studied and acted together. We examined how movement-building theory has anything to say to the Church and the Academy. We took concrete actions toward increasing the numbers of welcoming congregations and then asked, how is this ministry? We phonebanked and stood with thousands at the Capitol and discussed how these actions related to preaching and Bible study.
All of it was done with an eye toward helping Deb and Mercy be progressive religious leaders at the intersections of the Church, the Academy and the intersectional Movement for Justice. On Tuesday, May 14th, just hours before MN Governor Mark Dayton signed the freedom to marry bill into law, the Integration of Ministry and Local Theology class met for worship, blessing and celebration to give thanks for all that we had experienced and accomplished. "We are dancing in the Light of God, we are dancing in the Light of God...." were some of the words sung and embodied during that service. For me, they name the experience of the past three months. I give thanks to God for Mercy and for Deb. And I look forward to all that we are building together.
Rev. Rebecca Voelkel
Nice comments, Rebecca. Thank you.
The internship with IWR was a highlight of my semester. I was home mowing the lawn today but felt like I should have been at IWR-especially after yesterday and the events of this past week. Missing that Wednesday rhythm, not to mention working with you, David and Barbara. All three of you were dear to come to our class celebration with everything going on at the Capitol. Thanks. My heart sang when each of you arrived.
Keep on marching and building!
Dear TaskForce friends,
I want to offer my extreme gratitude for the opportunity of interning with IWR. It has been an incredibly rich intellectual endeavor, investigating how to put theology into practice and how movement-building connects with vocation, as well as a source of personal growth and inspiration as a leader. I am thrilled that UTS is reaching out to organizers and I'm curious to see how these connections develop. I feel so gifted by the mentorship of the staff at IWR, truly embodying their welcome and commitment to intentional justice work.
Blessings and many thanks,
Marriage equality passes in Minnesota as bill heads to governor
A marriage equality bill is heading to the desk of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton following today’s Senate passage. The governor has vowed to sign the bill, which passed in the House last week. Minnesota will join 11 other states plus the District of Columbia in legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. The law would take effect Aug. 1. This victory comes on the heels of new marriage equality laws in Rhode Island and Delaware.
The Task Force, which has offices in Minneapolis, contributed significant resources to secure marriage equality in Minnesota. And as a member of Minnesotans United, the Task Force helped defeat the anti-marriage equality amendment last fall.
New Bible study looks at God’s extravagant welcome found everywhere in scripture
WASHINGTON, May 6 — The Institute for Welcoming Resources, a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, has released a new 10-session Bible study that celebrates the Bible’s overwhelming message, in story after story, of God’s radical love and welcome.
“Every time we think we know who’s in and who’s out, God does something to challenge those assumptions, to unbind our hearts and minds from old ways of understanding, and to draw the circle ever wider,” explains the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for Welcoming Resources and faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
In each session, people are invited to think about what groups today have been made to feel that they are not welcome.
“Many persons today find themselves rendered invisible, kept at the edges — or altogether outside — our faith communities: people of color, immigrants, LGBT people, those struggling with poverty, those with special needs and more. If you could say anything to our churches in the 21st century as we wrestle with whether or how to welcome persons who seem so 'other' to us today, what would you say?” says David R. Weiss, author of the Bible study series.
Hearts Unbound, Engaging Biblical Texts of God’s Radical Love Through Reader’s Theater, explores 10 of those inspiring stories of radical love and welcome. Entertaining, thought-provoking and participatory, each session looks in-depth at the story, the historical context out of which it came and some of the insights to be gained.
“Hearts Unbound helps you fall in love again with the Bible's power, wisdom and beauty,” says Voelkel. “Here are the scriptures about Ruth and Jesus and other important figures, presented in ways that invite you in, unbind your heart and remind you why you love the Christian tradition.”
Designed to be used as a small-group Bible study, Hearts Unbound uses the format of reader’s theater.
“All you need are six to eight people around a table, reading the script, having fun, all the while learning a great deal in the process,” she says.
All 10 sessions are available for free download.
A Christian Message On LGBT Equality
As public opinion shifts, people long for compassionate dialogue on LGBT equality in their faith communities. Our “culture wars” are morphing daily into real conversations about our shared challenge to improve our common humanity. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a couple of updates.
Our editorial interns have been hard at work to create this incredible highlight video featuring a message on LGBT equality from Christian leaders. Our team spoke with a variety of faith leaders rallying for marriage equality at the U.S. Supreme Court during last month’s historic hearings on Prop 8 and DOMA.
Read more at Believe Out Loud
On NBA Center Jason Collins' Coming Out: The Truth Will Set You Free
In a profoundly simple way, NBA veteran Jason Collins became the first active player in one of the four major U.S. professional sports to come out as gay. Collins said, "I'm a 34 year old NBA Center. I'm black. And I'm gay" in a first-person article posted on April 29 on Sports' Illustrated website.
Collins said in the article that he had "endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie."
Collins' coming out drew extraordinary support, including calls from President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, current and former NBA teammates and athletes from other sports.
Community of Christ delegates in Independence recommend allowing marriages, ordination of gay people
The Community of Christ’s USA National Conference has recommended policy changes that would allow for the ordination of gay people and marriages or covenant commitment services of gay couples.
John Weese Apostle Linda Booth read the policy recommendations of the nearly 1,500 delegates from the Community of Christ 2013 USA National Conference. The conference was held this past weekend at the church’s auditorium in Independence.
The conference held this past weekend attracted about 2,000 people, including about 1,500 delegates, to the Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence, said Kendra Friend, a member of the church’s communications and media relations team.
The delegates, by more than the required majority, recommended that the sacrament of marriage be extended to members of the same sex where legal in the United States.
"In Our Fullness: Faith and Activism Across Difference"
Produced by the Institute for Welcoming Resources, a Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in partnership with the Macalester College Chuck Green Civic Engagement Fellowship.
For more information: info@WelcomingResources.org
Additional Ecumenical & Multi-Faith Groups Convened by IWR
Resources from IWR Available
Hearts Unbound: Engaging Biblical texts of God’s Radical Love through Reader’s Theater
by David R. Weiss
The overwhelming message of the Bible, in story after story, is that of God’s radical love and welcome. Every time we think we know who’s in and who’s out, God does something to challenge those assumptions, to unbind our hearts and minds from old ways of understanding, and to draw the circle ever wider.
HEARTS UNBOUND invites you to explore ten of those inspiring stories of radical love and welcome. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and participatory, each session looks in-depth at the story, the historical context out of which it came, and some of the insights to be gained.
Designed to be used as a small-group Bible study, HEARTS UNBOUND uses the format of Reader’s Theater. But fear not… no costumes, sets, or refined acting chops needed! All you need are six to eight people around a table, reading the script, having fun, all the while learning a great deal in the process.
All ten sessions are available for free download below.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, HRC y UNID@S presentan nueva guía bilingüe dirigida a familias e iglesias latinas para educar sobre la orientación sexual, la identidad de género y la Biblia
En un esfuerzo por promover el diálogo dentro de las familias e iglesias latinas sobre la orientación sexual, la identidad de género y la Biblia, el National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, la Campaña de Derechos Humanos y UNID@S, presentaron hoy una nueva guía bilingüe, A La Familia, Una Conversación Sobre Nuestras Familias, la Biblia, la Orientación Sexual y la Identidad de Género en una conferencia de prensa durante la 82va convención nacional de la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC por sus siglas en inglés) en Cincinnati, Ohio.
"LULAC está en contra de todo tipo de discriminación. Me siento muy orgullosa de mi estado natal al aprobar los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo", dijo Ralina Cardona, directora estatal de Nueva York para LULAC. "Como americanos, tenemos que aceptar nuestras diferencias. Es lo que separa a este gran país. No todos somos de la misma cultura, color, orientación sexual o religión, pero todos somos americanos y en nuestra unidad está nuestra fuerza, pero en nuestras diferencias está nuestro poder".
Más artículos sobre A La Familia en español
HRC, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and UNID@S release new bilingual guide on sexual orientation, gender identity and the Bible for Latino/a families and churches
In an effort to foster a dialogue with Latino/a families and churches on sexual orientation, gender identity and the Bible, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and UNID@S, unveiled today a new bilingual guide, A La Familia: A Conversation About Our Families, the Bible, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at a press conference during the League of United Latin American Citizens' 82nd National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people often face unique challenges in Latino/a families and churches. To help in the process of acceptance and inclusion, A La Familia is born out of a profound desire to faithfully integrate an excluded group of people back into the life of their churches and families. This guide is written for two primary audiences: heterosexual people honestly struggling with LGBT issues and the Bible, and those whose sexual orientation and gender identity have marginalized them within their family or church or even both.
The Institute for Welcoming Resources is delighted to be a partner in the transdenominational Believe Out Loud campaign. Believe Out Loud provides a much-needed national network for churches committed to welcoming and affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as beloved children of God.
Believe OUT LOUD is based in a simple truth: Privately believing that LGBT persons should have an equal share in our church and society is not enough; we must publicly proclaim that belief. Believe OUT LOUD gives the congregations, parishes and missions of our denominations the means to do exactly that.
New Believe OUT LOUD web site!
Building an Inclusive Church
Training and a Toolkit
Drawing upon twenty-five years of experience within a variety of Christian denominations, this Toolkit is a step-by-step guide to help facilitate a Welcoming Process in your local congregation. Biblically and theologically based, it uses tools of relational organizing, congregational assessment, conflict management and change theory.
AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD!
Building an Inclusive Church
New & Timely Resources