I write to you today feeling inspired.
In 2018, across the country we have seen equal protections the LGBTQIA+ community has fought for so tirelessly come under threat. We have seen families torn apart. Our determination has been challenged under the weight of the hatred and discrimination espoused by both those in power and our neighbors.
Yet, as the summer comes to a close, I am rejuvenated by reflecting on the extraordinary work I see every day among More Light congregations across the country. Faced with hostility and intolerance, we have come together to affirm our commitment to creating a world of love and justice. Under attack by legislators who seek to exhaust and dismantle our communities, we have reached out to one another to build new systems for learning and care.
As churches and communities across the country come together in the spirit of affirmation and welcome, More Light is working to help your congregation live out your calling around inclusion. I write to you today to celebrate our victories in recent months, and to ask that you make a gift to help us continue building the infrastructure that is enabling Presbyterian churches to uphold their pledge to affirm LGBTQIA+ rights. As we honor our recent triumphs, your support is critical to advancing the Presbyterian Church’s commitment to stand for the right of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations to live free from discrimination, violence, and every form of injustice.
General Assembly: 100% of Overtures Passed Unanimously
“In God’s creation, we see and experience God’s image expressed across a broad and life-giving expression of gender. Honoring the breadth and variety of our gender identities and expressions is one of the ways we can come to an even deeper understanding of who we are created to be in relationship to God and each other.”
- The 223rd Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly: Resolution Affirming and Celebrating the Full Dignity and Humanity of People of All Gender Identities
In June, we attended the 223rd Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly. Together with our partners, including the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, More Light advocated for several overtures to advance the rights of LGBTQIA+ people. Through three historic resolutions, which passed with unanimous voice vote, the PC(USA) lamented the mistreatment of LGBTQIA+ persons in both Church and society, and empowered the offices of the denomination to advocate on behalf of the lives of LGBTQIA+ persons. The GA also affirmed (for the first time) transgender and non-binary people. Further, another resolution explicitly addressed the growing misuse of religious liberty claims to justify discrimination against marginalized persons. Notably, the Assembly also passed a resolution to study the need for an LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Committee in the denomination.
While we always love going to GA to connect with longtime friends and More Light folks, we also had the distinct pleasure of meeting a huge number of newer members of the More Light community through our booth and events. Thank you to everyone who said hello, asked for more resources, or purchased our new More Light shirts to show their pride (also available on our website at mlp.org/shop/).
Uniting for Our Future Summit
More Light has continued to engage and empower religious and community leaders with the skills and tools to organize their congregations as part of the movement for LGBTQIA+ equality. As part of our work in North Carolina, we joined a coalition of organizations to host the Uniting for Our Future summit in July. Uniting for Our Future engaged 120 faith leaders, activists, organizers, artists, educators, and change makers working across the state to increase grassroots power in response to the country’s immigration crisis and state laws that threaten LGBTQIA+ rights, voting access, and changes to the state’s supreme court voting process.
In the past six months, More Light has been busy developing and disseminating two new Teach-In series, as well as upgrading them to a more accessible digital format. Teach-In recordings are available on our website. Please reach out if you would like to learn more about how to share them with your congregation!
- Ministry with LGBTQIA+ Youth: This series examines pastoral care for LGBTQIA+ youth. Among other topics, the series provides an overview of the current landscape for LGBTQIA+ youth (including risk factors and suicidal ideation), an introduction to the ways congregations can be proactive in their ministry with youth, how to speak with parents of LGBTQIA+ youth, and how to respond if policies of inclusion are challenged. The series also dives into the biblical foundation for inclusion and explores how churches have successfully made worship more welcoming for LGBTQIA+ individuals.
- Caring for LGBTQIA+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers: This series, created in partnership with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, is designed to help congregations and pastors better support LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers, and to deepen their knowledge of the complex systems LGBTQIA+ refugees must navigate. Co-trainers for the series include professionals from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP), and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. These experts help explain language and terminology related to the experiences of LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers, a theological grounding for the importance of ministry with LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers, and strategies for how to identify community-based projects in service to those in detention and advocate for just and humane policies.
- Serving the LGBTQIA+ Homeless Community (forthcoming): Moving forward in 2018, More Light is preparing a Teach-In series addressing LGBTQIA+ homelessness. The series will equip congregations to add an LGBTQIA+ component to their existing ministries within the homeless community, helping them become increasingly sensitive to the unique needs and struggles of LGBTQIA+ homeless persons who seek services. More Light anticipates the three-part series will occur in late fall 2018.
One Teach-In participant said of their experience, “MLP’s Teach-In on caring for LGBTQIA+ youth is as inspiring as it is informative; an invaluable resource for all communities seeking to enhance their capacity for welcome and healing.”
It has been a whirlwind summer, full of exciting milestones. If you’d told me at General Assembly 2014 that we would pass such expansive overtures just four years later, I don’t think I would have believed you. As I reflect on the past five years as executive director of More Light, this tremendous progress has been made possible thanks to the support and passion of our national network of inclusive congregations and dedicated leaders – congregations like yours. As we head into the fall, we are ready to take the More Light movement further! Please consider a gift to this work which will set the stage for even more impact.
Each year, we ask all More Light churches and chapters to make at least a $200 contribution to support our community. Your contribution is a critical support that ensures we are able to offer Teach-Ins and other tools to your congregations to help you build on the Presbyterian Church’s landmark resolutions around LGBTQIA+ inclusion at GA. As a valued More Light church, we want to help you access our Teach-Ins and to thank you for your support. We invite you to go to mlp.org/shop and enter the code MLPChurchTeach-In at checkout to receive 10% off the cost of downloading one of our Teach-In series!
Alex Patchin McNeill