Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "She wants to be a lizard"

You will have to go to Bilerico tomorrow after noon to see my response to the following:

Dear Father Tony,

It’s pretty clear that the LGBT community is angry at organized religion and quite justifiably so, especially in light of recent events. But there are plenty who desire to be received into a loving congregation. More and more churches are recognizing the need to be intentionally welcoming and inclusive.

Let’s say you’ve been given access to the senior pastor of a large metropolitan church whose membership is, for the most part, white, educated and conservative. What gay members may be present are well-closeted. The pastor wants very much to have his church to be open and affirming, and he is willing to guide his congregation in the process.

What advice would you offer him?


Update: It's up. Get on it.


Birdie said...

I can't wait to see how your answer is linked to that title.

Alan said...

As I'm sure you're aware, but just in case you're not ...

Most denominations already have LGBT organizations, (such as More-Light Presbyterians for the PCUSA, which I'll plug because I'm a Presbyterian), etc. Those organizations have resources specific to the particular problems that churches in particular denominations may face by coming out as affirming congregations.

No sense in reinventing the wheel here.

Birdie said...

I think it's the worst-kept secret to readers of this blog that I want to be that lizard. (So that's what you meant.)

The incredibly valuable information offered here by Father Tony is not to be found in the resources of those organizations, Alan—not where I can find it, anyway; and I've been looking for more than two years.

There is an embarrassment of riches if you want to know WHY a church should be welcoming. There are materials for every audience imaginable, from inquiring beginner to master theologian, on perspectives in looking at Scripture and methods for learning more. There is almost nothing on HOW to reach the point where your church is ready to discuss the issue calmly. The assumption is being made that by the time you are looking for these resources, the church has somehow come to the conclusion that they need them.

This is the first time I've seen something concrete I can actually grab ahold of and with which I can move forward. Info I've got; means is what I've needed.

Thank you, Tony, for the insight I've needed for this next important step in my church's spiritual growth. I knew I asked the right person. May the national exposure your column on Bilerico enjoys help it reach the people who need this as much as I.

Alan said...

"Alan—not where I can find it, anyway; and I've been looking for more than two years."

Wow, that's very, very surprising and sad to hear. I'm sorry to hear that you haven't found folks in such organizations to be are more helpful. I can't speak for other denominations, but fortunately MLP is committed to helping folks in just such situations. If you were a PCUSA church you'd have people beating down your door to ready help. :)

Locally, it's become something of a cottage industry for folks from our church to host meetings for folks of other local churches that are seeking to be more inclusive, to help answer their questions, give strategies that worked for us, etc, or to participate in sessions at other churches about our journey as a MoreLight congregation. I'm surprised this practice isn't more common in other areas in the country.

In any event, many blessings on this work and I hope you're able to find similar sorts of folks in your area and faith tradition.

Tony Adams said...

Well Birdie something tells me that I didn't say a thing you didn't already know in pectore.

Anonymous said...

Your response of a.-to-m. was so A-to-Z! Encouraging thoughtfulness with each step is so simple. Though difficult, too. Thoughtfulness can demand a lot of time, but the result's most often worth the investment.