“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
– Cornel West
By Alex McNeill, More Light’s Executive Director
More Light was founded on the conviction that while there was “Yet More Light” to shine on the scriptures and in our understanding of God’s love, we were called to help bear that light into the world. We also believe God’s abundant love both compels and enables us to shine our light and engage the world around us. In our 44 year history since Rev. David Sindt first held up his handwritten sign asking, “Is Anyone Else Out There Gay?” More Light bearers have been activists, advocates, and organizers teaching and leading others to turn on their own lanterns for justice. Like Dr. West, we believe that justice is what love looks like in public. It is love that moves our feet to act against systems of injustice and to bear our light in the world.
Philippians 1:9-11: “And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encourages a community that had once been mired in conflict and who was now moving through it. Paul celebrates this reconciliation, and prays that their love would continue to expand their knowledge and insight. It is their love for one another through conflict that has brought about this reconciliation, and it is love that will make them worthy of standing before God.
In my five years as Executive Director, I have continually been inspired by the way love transforms congregations and communities. I have seen people’s love shine so brightly that it becomes a beacon of hope and justice. As we enter the fourth week of Advent, I am grounded in the belief that it was love that broke into the world on that cold December night 2000 years ago: a love that refuses to give up a beloved humanity – on me, on each of you, and on us as a global community. This kind of love is the love that moves our feet to action, transforms our relationships with one another, how we worship and how we engage the world around us.
I believe More Light churches and individuals embody this kind of love, and are engaging in some of the most creative and vital ministries and missions throughout the denomination. However, as of right now, More Light bearers are operating in individual pockets, shining their light community by community. I am proud to share with you my dream to connect these pockets of light into a circuit that will illuminate the nation. We are living in a time that calls for nothing less than the full wattage we can offer.
Today we are celebrating the launch of the More Light Ambassadors Program. As part of Mobilizing Faith Voices, this program builds on two key foundations from More Light’s history. The first is our rich history of organizing for justice to shine light within our communities and the nation. The Ambassador Program will also build on the founding principle of the More Light Churches Network: we are stronger when we are connected.
To launch the program, we are recruiting an initial cohort of 15-20 Ambassadors. If you have a passion for using your gifts to further LGBTQIA+ justice and inclusion in congregations and communities, we encourage you to apply! We have launched an online application on the program’s homepage.
The Ambassadors cohort will build relationships with one another by participating in a multi-part online organizing training paired with group and one-on-one coaching to support individual projects in their region. I have been trained as a professional coach through a Holmes Coaching Group, a program certified by the International Coaching Federation in order to effectively coach our More Light Ambassadors. The training series will build on lessons we have learned in our 40 years of organizing people of faith within the PC(USA) and beyond. By providing More Light Ambassadors with organizing skills and connecting them with organizations and resources in their regions, we will support them with the tools to organize and engage members of their communities through the strength of their own voices and ideas.
The long-term goal of the Ambassador program is to build an expansive online and in-person model that will allow individuals across the world to become ambassadors in their communities. Through this program, More Light Ambassadors will be prepared to promote the creation of inclusive, faith-based, community-driven movements that will increase public support for LGBTQIA+ people in communities facing discriminatory legislation, and promote a religious narrative that supports the LGBTQIA+ community. While there are other organizing training programs, More Light’s Ambassador program is unique in centering a faith-based approach combined with a mentorship and coaching element throughout the cohort experience to help participants gain the confidence and courage to take action.
In Advent we wait with expectant longing for love to be made flesh and to break into the world. In the past year, we have witnessed and resisted in the places where hate has threatened to trample God’s beloved children. As love shines forth from the manger, we commit to take up our shepherding crooks, to follow a star, to begin a journey to further the Gospel of radical abundance we know can transform this world. We invite you to join us in this journey. We need your light.