During the opening session of the More Light National Conference, Alex shared a new direction, a theology of God’s abundance for our work moving forward. As Alex shared this vision, I reflected on a movement that welcomed all my being. Too often in church spaces it is safe for me to only wear my Christian hat. Or my white-latino hat. Or maybe my liberal hat. Often I have to decide, pick and choose, which hats I will wear when I walk into that space. A theology of God’s abundance calls us to shift from a welcome framed as an “or,” and instead create church spaces where anyone can enter wearing all their hats.
In Alex’s post a few weeks ago, he shared:
“Grounding ourselves in a theology of God’s abundance clears a new path for the the next chapter of ministry. The next 40 years of the LGBTQ faith movement call us to refocus on who God is as a way to understand what God is calling us to do in the world. Moving forward we must ask ourselves: “How do we respond to God’s abundance through our acts of justice and welcome in the church and the world?”
Stepping into the next 40 years of ministry, we must respond to a changing world and a changing church. States continue to propose discriminatory legislation and some congregations continue to exclude LGBTQ individuals, LGBTQ ordained leadership, and same-sex marriage. The goal of this work must respond to God’s abundance through acts of justice and welcome not just within the church, but also the world.
Today More Light is launching two programs to accomplish the work of justice and welcome for the next era of the LGBTQ faith movement: the More Light Networking Groups and the More Light Ambassador Program.
More Light Networking Groups will help congregations, chapters, and seminary groups turn words of welcome into acts of justice and service. These groups will connect people across the country with similar calls to justice. We will convene each Network to focus on a particular issue area facing LGBTQ justice and inclusion, and we will recruit issue-area experts to facilitate each Networking Group. Ultimately the goal is for our More Light congregations to share resources and learn from one another in order to deepen our ministries for justice. This winter we will launch the networking groups by recruiting long-time and new member congregations. Representatives from local congregations to the Networking Group could include: a pastor, a ruling elder, and a member of the congregation’s More Light Committee.
Our first Networking Group is launching in early 2016 to help congregations discern and vision for “what’s next” for the work of LGBTQ justice in their local context. The Discernment Networking Group will work through a discernment process to answer three questions:
- What are the gifts of your congregation?
- What are the needs in your community?
- Using the gifts of your congregation, how can you meet the needs of your
Following the discernment process, we will form more focused Networking Groups dedicated to specific issue areas mentored by field experts. This work will begin with a pilot cohort. As we perfect the process, we will begin to open it up to the broader network of More Light churches, chapters, and seminary groups.
As congregations work together to discern and vision for their next steps on the path to LGBTQ inclusion, we need More Light members mobilized to put their faith into action. To further More Light’s mission in the world, we are creating three cadres of More Light Ambassadors focused on advocacy, speaking, and teaching.
Advocacy ambassadors will call on congregations and members to step out as people of faith. As we continue to see political action impacting LGBTQ people, advocacy ambassadors will recruit congregations and More Light members to respond. Advocacy ambassadors will track local policy developments, collaborate on advocacy strategies, and assist local congregations and MLP members with letter writing campaigns, op-ed campaigns, or press conferences. We are currently recruiting advocacy ambassadors in key states, NC, GA, MI, OH, and TX. We intend to broaden the program over the next year to fully incompass the entire country.
Speaking Ambassadors will visit local congregations, sharing the message of God’s abundance. As we live into our new framework, a theology of abundance, this cadre will allow us to broaden our reach to many more MLP congregations, chapters, and seminary groups. The work of speaking ambassadors will be shaped collectively by the work of our advocacy ambassadors and our networking groups, so that they can share what is most relevant to the program priorities of MLP. Congregations will have the opportunity to request a Speaking Ambassador by completing this form. We also invite you to apply to join our first cadre of Speaking Ambassadors.
Finally, Training Ambassadors will not only continue the work of coaching congregations to become More Light, but also work with congregations on extending their welcome internally. This cadre will equip congregations through trainings about sexual orientation and gender identity, creating visibility in your community, and becoming a more light congregation. This cadre will begin to form in the spring, coinciding with a national training for Building An Inclusive Church.
Our cadres of ambassadors will extend their gifts of advocacy, speaking, and teaching in More Light congregations and our Networking groups will strengthen our impact of justice in the world. Through this work we are creating avenues to respond to God’s abundance in order to amplify our beacon of welcome and impact change in the church and world. We at More Light invite you to join us on this journey, as we step into a church that is answering “What’s next?” together.