Over the past few years, there has been a growing understanding in American culture that June is known – by many people – as “Pride Month.” This is the month in which a segment of the population celebrates LGBTQ+ people. Of course, not everyone celebrates “Pride,” as it has come to be called in certain circles. But there are many people – gay and straight alike – who do celebrate.
I do know that there are those who are not at a place – in mind or heart – of celebrating “Pride” or of full acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. For many, this matter is something that is quite difficult because, in their minds, it seems that the cultural understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people happened “so quickly” or “too quickly” or should have never taken place in the first place because of how they feel or what they believe. Sometimes, it is hard to disentangle ourselves from feelings and beliefs – especially when they are felt and believed so deeply. And yet, these people who may not share my own feelings and beliefs on acceptance deserve my love just as much as everyone else, even if it is more difficult for me to love those with whom I disagree.
This past week, I got a phone call from another pastor in our Presbytery, who asked me how our congregation has navigated conversations around LGBTQ+ issues. “To be honest,” I said, “it has been a very slow and organic kind of thing.” As I said in a sermon a few weeks ago, some people have left our church over the PC(USA)’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues. But, at the same time, there are many of you who have stayed.
We have never been a rainbow-flag-waving congregation or a group of activists out in the streets. Instead, we have been (and continue to be) a congregation that is learning how to love one another and to love our neighbors in ways that are organic and authentic. And if “with God’s help, we envision a congregation, community, and world that is more loving, peaceful, and whole – on earth as it is in heaven,” then what does this mean for our congregation and those who are LGBTQ+ as well as those who struggle to accept LGBTQ+people?
A few weeks ago – the week of the Community Mental Health Forum that BPC hosted – Nova Dunn, a 14-year-old, died by suicide, jumping from a highway overpass bridge in Manchester. A family friend wrote, “. . . Nova left this earth and found the peace and acceptance he was searching for.” A survey conducted last fall by The Trevor Project – the nation’s leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth – reported that 41% of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months. Those who were trans, nonbinary, and/or people of color reported even higher rates of those seriously considering suicide. This same study also noted that “LGBTQ young people who had access to affirming homes, schools, community events, and online spaces reported lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who did not.” I would add “churches” to this list of possible affirming spaces. Click HERE for more on this story and this study
I never met Nova Dunn, and I do not know whether or not he ever heard of Bedford Presbyterian Church. Still, I do hope that other people who do hear of Bedford Presbyterian Church know that this is a place that seeks to be where the image of God is seen at the heart of every person who walks through our doors. We believe in a God who made all things, even human beings, in all of their variety and called them “good.” God takes pride in God’s own creation. We still have a ways to go toward seeing that divine made-in-the-image-of-God goodness in all people, but may we envision a congregation, community, and world that is more loving, peaceful, and whole. . . on earth, as it is in heaven.
See you in church!
Grace and Peace,
Prepare for Worship
This Week: “Trying for Three (The Holy Trinity and the Church)”
- Read Psalm 8
- Read 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
- Read or sing Hymn # 11 – “Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud”