You're standing in front of your Family and Friends prepared to make your dreams of a lifetime come true. It's at that moment that you are grateful that you have a professional guiding your ceremony. The Supreme Court has finally ruled upon this issue. Now is the time to plan your perfect LGBT Wedding. I have been performing Commitment Ceremonies since the beginning, and I am so pleased this has opened up for everyone to marry the one they Love. Contact Reverend Jacqui Weiks, Your LGBT Wedding Officiant
We are an open and affirming, multi-racial and multi-cultural, assessable to all, peace and justice oriented body of faith. We go into the community and God's disciples. Grounded by the teachings of Jesus the Christ, we uplift Christ's goodness, create spiritual community, and care for God's people and God's world. Dynamic hope, incredible compassion, extravagant hospitality, and radical love are our core values.
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Affirming Churches & the LGBT Religious Gap
At times it can be difficult to separate the LGBT community’s political and cultural battles from religion. After all, many of the country’s discriminatory anti-LGBT laws are billed as “religious exemption” measures, allowing bigots to discriminate based on their interpretation of scripture. These laws seem to paint a stark contrast. You’re either religious, or you’re LGBT. The reality, however, is much more complicated and includes affirming churches.
For many LGBT individuals, feeling outside of religion and spirituality can limit self-expression, reflection, personal growth, and even a sense of community. For those who were raised within a faith community that they now feel ostracized from because of anti-LGBT beliefs, this sense of isolation can be a lifelong struggle. Thankfully, there are many affirming churches that are actively trying to draw LGBT individuals into the fold, promoting tolerance and acceptance.
What are Affirming Churches?
Recently, there has been an expansion of “open” or affirming churches and congregations identifying themselves as welcoming of the LGBT community. More specifically, this distinction has gained a lot of traction within the Protestant community in the United States, with many of the largest and most active churches opening their doors to LGBT congregants and shifting their doctrines toward inclusion:
- The United Church of Christ – The words “open and affirming” to describe LGBT-inclusive churches actually stems from the United Church of Christ, which called for equal LGBT rights as early as 1969 and ordained its first LGBT minister in 1972. The church has also performed same-sex weddings since 2005.
- Episcopal Church – Much like the UCC, the Episcopal Church has long led the charge in creating LGBT-affirming places of worship. Since 1976, the Episcopal Church has recognized LGBT individuals as “children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the church.”
- The Presbyterian Church – Although the church has officially stated that it “has no consensus in the interpretation of Scripture on issues of same-sex practice,” many developments have opened the church to LGBT believers. The Presbyterian Church has ordained LGBT ministers and allows its faith leaders to perform same-sex ceremonies.
Many other large Protestant organizations, including the Disciples of Christ and the Friends General Conference, have also recently made strides toward inclusion and affirmation, giving LGBT individuals opportunities to express their faith and join religious communities.
Can Affirming Churches Shift Faith Positions?
With the expansion of affirming churches across the country, the perceived division between LGBT individuals and religious believers is beginning to fade, and these churches are already beginning to influence others to move toward inclusivity and acceptance. While progress has been slow, there are many indications that affirming churches have begun to influence the positions of other congregations and religious organizations:
- The United Methodist Church – The UMC stands at a crossroads regarding the LGBT community. Although the church’s doctrine states that homosexuality is against Christian teachings, many pastors are creating LGBT-affirming congregations, performing same-sex weddings, and pushing for the church to revise its stance on LGBT inclusion.
- The Roman Catholic Church – With Pope Francis taking a more vocal stand on LGBT inclusivity, many are watching to see if the church’s traditionally anti-LGBT doctrines will shift as well. The Catholic Church finds itself in a tenuous position, with many of its members supporting LGBT inclusion (and gay marriage) despite the church’s opposition.
- Baptist Churches – Within the United States’ diverse community of Baptist churches, varying beliefs and positions on LGBT inclusivity exist: the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, for example, is comprised of churches pushing for LGBT inclusion despite the Southern Baptist Organization’s belief that homosexuality is a sin.
In many ways, beliefs about LGBT inclusivity and acceptance are beginning to shift, leaving behind the conservative and outdated views of fundamentalist churches. This is a promising development for LGBT individuals of faith, since it reduces the sense of incompatibility between religious belief and LGBT identity.
Affirming Churches and Spiritual Identity
The division between religion and LGBT identity is, in reality, one that is based on old beliefs that have found a foothold in the most conservative, fundamentalist religions. The wide array of affirming churches and congregations driving LGBT inclusion and affirmation are pointing the way forward and providing LGBT believers with opportunities to foster spiritual growth and become a part of a community. These churches realize that sexual orientation has little to do with the search for belief and spiritual truth, and demonstrate that a person of faith can find a place, no matter how they identify.
Have you found a welcoming, affirming congregation that includes and celebrates your LGBT identity? Are you actively seeking a church that will respect and support your spiritual journey? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new wave of affirming churches and what they mean for LGBT spirituality!