The Institute for Welcoming Resources of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has just released an updated and greatly expanded version of Building An Inclusive Church: A Welcoming Toolkit 2.0. This resource will help equip your congregation to be a truly safe and welcoming place for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The Toolkit draws upon 30 years of experience within a variety of Christian denominations and is biblically and theologically rooted. It uses tools of relational organizing, congregational assessment, conflict management and change theory. The new edition is enhanced with the experience of all those who have used it to train hundreds of people making it even more useful and relevant to your work and ministry.

You may download the new guide from the Institute for Welcoming Resources.

At the National Conference

Prior to the beginning of the MLP National Conference on Friday, September 27, MLP will offer a dynamic Building an Inclusive Church training from 9am to 5pm. This will give you an opportunity to become familiar with the Toolkit 2.0. Training will be conducted by Rev. Debra Peevey and Alex McNeill, MLP’s new Executive Director.

Rev. Debra Peevey

Rev. Debra Peevey was ordained in 1981 as the first open lesbian in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She served as Pastor of Findlay Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) from 1982-1992. She then served as Chaplain to Hospice of Seattle for four years. Debra has over 30 years experience working for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life and work of the church. She was one of two State wide faith-field organizers working against the passage of Prop 8 in California. In addition she served as More Light Presbyterian’s Outreach Director for the ratification of Amendment 08B and Amendment 10A. Amendment 10A was the successful campaign that removed all barriers to the ordination of LGBT persons in the PCUSA. Most recently, she was the Faith Director for Washington United for Marriage, one of three state campaigns that made history by winning marriage equality for committed loving same sex couples at the ballot box in 2012.

Debra and her partner, Candy Cox have been together for 28 years and were legally married on June 28, 2008, 21 years and a day after their original covenant June 27, 1987.

Alex McNeill

Alex Patchin McNeill’s driving passion is working for queer and transgender inclusion in sacred spaces. He is the first openly transgender ministry candidate in his conservative Presbyterian region in Western North Carolina. He currently serves as the lead trainer for the Institute for Welcoming Resources “Building an Inclusive Church” program, a national ecumenical effort to equip progressive Christians with the tools to help their churches become more welcoming to LGBTQ congregants. He is also the Communications and Development Director at Equality Maryland, a state-based organization working to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against LGBTQ Marylanders.

Alex earned his Master’s of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School with scholarship on the intersection of religion, gender and sexuality. He is one of the subjects of Out of Order, a documentary film being made about queer clergy in the PC(USA). Recently, he launched Queer Sunday School, a project of two future Presbyterian ministers to reclaim the bible as a source of liberation. He will continue to speak, organize, and fundraise for queer religious issues until all faithful LGBT individuals can call a church home.

You may register for MLP’s National Conference here.

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