Let’s make this the year we celebrate the power of story. This month we paid homage to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of our nation’s greatest leaders. Part of honoring his legacy included sharing speeches and sermons he gave, marches he led, and the stories of people who worked in the civil rights movement like Rosa Parks and Bayard Rustin. We share these stories as a way to celebrate the courage of these civil rights leaders and to inspire courage in ourselves and others as we work to advance the path of justice in our church and society.
I was particularly struck last week by a sermon Rev. John Russell Stanger preached at Not So Churchy, an alternative worshipping community developed through Presbyterian Welcome. John discusses Chimamanda Adichies’s TED talk called “The Danger of a Single Story.” Adichie is a critically acclaimed writer from Nigeria and is attracting a whole new generation of readers to African literature. In her talk, Adichie claims “the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
We often see the danger of the single story in social movements, or in stories about our history, our denomination, and the leaders we admire. A single story gets shared so many times that we forget all the other stories we aren’t telling. For example, in the movement for LGBTQ welcome in our denomination and society, two single stories often get advanced: that Christians do not support LGBTQ people, and that LGBTQ people must leave their faith to find acceptance. I can’t tell you how many times I have encouraged LGBTQ people with the reality that many Christians do love and accept them and that they can find a home in the church even if things are not perfect yet. Often times, these LGBTQ people simply need to hear that God loves and affirms lesbian, gay , bisexual, transgender, and queer people not in-spite of our sexuality and gender identity, but because of it. During these moments, I remember the importance of sharing a multitude of stories.
This week, through our partnership with Standing on the Side of Love, we were encouraged to start developing our story of Self, Us, and Now as a way to be able to share with others why we support LGBTQ people as people of faith. As we approach the 221st General Assembly, we have the opportunity to tell our story of Self (why we support the ability of all loving and committed couples to marry in the PCUSA), story of Us (why supporting the freedom to marry is a Presbyterian value) and story of Now (why we cannot wait any longer to show our support) in our churches and presbyteries. I encourage you use the materials provided by Standing on the Side of Love to craft a story to share that is moving and meaningful and that will create a multitude of stories about faith and LGBTQ welcome.
At More Light Presbyterians, our aim is to lift up many voices and use these perspectives to fuel our movement. I am really excited to announce our More Light Presbyterians Editorial Board, a 13 person team comprised of ministers, future ministers, and lay leaders from across the country. May your faith and perspective about the world be enriched and deepened through their stories.
Yours on the journey,