“More Light’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.”
When we baptize children into our community, we promise to nurture them in the faith and support them as they grow. As a church, the promises we make when we baptize someone bring with them a commitment to take the journey with young people as they mature in their faith. What does that support look like for LGBTQIA+ youth? How do we proactively create spaces in church so LGBTQIA+ youth know they are welcome? This series addressed practical ways in which congregations can support LGBTQIA+ youth.
Series Trainer: Jess Cook
Jess is the Program & Communications Manager for More Light and is a candidate for ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Prior to joining MLP, Jess was the Youth Programs Director at Side by Side, an organization in Richmond, VA serving LGBTQIA+ youth. While at Side by Side, Jess worked with hundreds of young people through support groups, a leadership program, and various programs in the community. They created a parent support group and a meals program, and trained a wide variety of faith community leaders and service providers on best practices for working with LGBTQIA+ youth.
A native of East Texas and lifelong Presbyterian, Jess holds a Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary, a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Baylor.
Check out Jess’s TEDx Talk on what faith communities can learn from spaces dedicated to LGBTQIA+ youth for more.
Click on the links below to access resources and to read more on each part of the series.
- a review of language and terminology
- an overview of the current landscape for LGBTQIA+ youth (including risk factors and suicidal ideation)
- an introduction to what LGBTQIA+ youth need to feel supported in the church and ways congregations can be proactive in their ministry for LGBTQIA+ youth.
- how to create a welcoming youth group space
- how to write and implement policies for bathrooms, camp and church trips
- how to respond when a youth comes out
- how to handle lock-ins
- how to talk to parents
- how to talk to congregation members
- how to uphold policies if they care challenged