“Anything less than affirming LGBT people felt like participating in oppression of people Jesus came to be with.” – Julie Rodgers
There are spaces that exist in the world to push back against broken systems and to advance and cultivate healing for the people within those systems.
The Reformation Project is such a space.
More and more I’m in awe at the breadth of resources, scholarship, and groundwork that this one organization does.
TRP works towards the full affirmation of LGBT people within the Church; specifically in Evangelical spaces.
The work that TRP does not only has the present in view but also the future.
TRP wants to ensure that there are safe and affirming spaces for LGBT Christians, 10, 20 even 50 years from now.
Not only in the United States but for the world.
This organization is just under four years old.
Such a massive vision has impacted my own life in a profound way.
It’s resources and the friendships I’ve gained because of its existence have shaped the trajectory of my life.
I became affirming very close to the time I came out and my affirmation is in large part due to TRP.
Before I talk about the TRP conference in Long Beach this past weekend I need to vent real quick.
If you are reading this and you are a straight Christian and nonaffirming I need you to understand something.
I need you to..
Affirm our full personhood the way you affirm your own.
Allow yourself to love the parts of us that your own biases and misinformation call ‘sin’- because God calls it whole, intentional and beautiful.
Open your eyes to the reality that you hold to an ‘interpretation’ of an ancient text that births death (figurative and literal) and not life.
Christian, you must be better when it comes to LGBTQIA people.
God is waiting for you to be better towards us.
Our Orientation and Gender Identity are not sin.
Our Orientation and Gender Identity are not out of place of what God intended –
God gave it to us.
God loves us for it and so should you.
You literally have no excuse.
The Conference was life giving.
There were spaces for POC to process, be and vocalize in spaces such as “The Academy for Racial Justice” and workshops like “Decolonizing our Spirits” where we examined the history and legacy of Empire, Colonialism and White Supremacy within Christian history.
Within those spaces I and other POC and those in solidarity with us were able to work through difficult reflections and conversations. I shed a lot of tears and processed a lot emotionally, specifically during the Academy for Racial Justice which was excellently run by Kenji Kuramitsu , AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez , and Darren Calhoun
I learned about Intersex people, (specifically Intersex people of faith) voices that are essentially erased and not talked about in the Church at large, through a compelling life story told by Lianne Simon and an indepth scholarship by Christian Theologian, Dr. Megan DeFranza.
Reverend Winnie Varghese and Dr. Cheryl B Anderson were two of the key notes I was able to witness live and I’m still processing a lot what I took away from their speeches.
Note: Be sure to check the Reformation Project’s Facebook page for the live streams of the key note speeches
I couldn’t attend them all but just take a look at some of these work shops…
“Navigating Spiritual Abuse in LGBT Families” by Laura Beth Taylor
“Untangling the Mess- Navigating the history of the cultural and religious discrimination of LGBT people in America” by Kathy Badlock
“A Contextual Bible Study of Judges 19 and Q&A with Dr. Anderson
“Deconstructing the Dialogue: A New Way to have the Conversation” by Reverend Jonathan Vanderbeck
“Transgender Christians” by Nicole Garcia
“Creating a Safety Net for LGBTQ students at Christian Colleges and Universities” by Donald Schershligt
“The purpose of God in the case for Marriage Equality” by Dr. Mark Achtemeier
“Healing through Story Telling – Rediscovering the distinctiveness and shape our stories to heal ourselves and our communities “ by Deborah Jian Lee
“Straight White Jesus and the Religion of Empire: Decolonizing Our Spirits Through POC Solidarity” by Jordyn Sun and Justin Cambell
“And Their Home Receives Them Not: Exploring the Double Consciousness of Being Black and Gay in the Black Church Experience” by Eronica C King
I’m grateful because TRP was gracious and generous to me.
My story was included in one of the pamphlets. People could see in that small block of space my story of coming to terms with being gay, pursuing its erasure, my journey in choosing celibacy and my journey towards the affirmation of LGBT people as a whole as well as the affirmation of myself. TRP afforded me the opportunity to travel to California and participate in something meaningful.
I was allowed on stage and able to share my story.
It was moving and I’m deeply grateful for being able to share.
I’m grateful for being able to gather and worship with my family.
A family with a spectrum of lives that are literally part of the healing of the world.
In our own lives, we bear witness to the dismantling of problematic and destructive systems in place of God’s expansiveness, inclusion and love.
The Church can’t ignore, discount or try to erase our identities.
Our sacred intersectionality that exposes and pushes back on poor pastoral care, biases, discrimination, and prejudice.
God is for us and God is pushing back through our very being and the Church must listen.
Anywhere there is the marginalization of ethnic, ability, gender, orientation, religious minorities and or any other personhood of humanity that is pushed to the margins- there are people who exist for awareness and advocation.
Uplifting and restoration.
Systems of oppression and privilege cannot stand.
The Kingdoms of the World will become the Kingdom of God.
I love the words of my beloved brother Kenji Kuramitsu as he reflected on this past weekend.
“I believe in the Kingdom come, that all the colors will bleed into one…
and that white supremacy and colonialism won’t have the last word”