Seven months ago, I traveled to Kansas City to be a part of the inaugural Reformation Project Conference. Led by Christian LGBT rights activist Matthew Vines, The Reformation Project strives to generate affirming worship environments by highlighting what scripture actually says (and doesn’t say) about same-sex relationships. The conference was engaging, emotional, and extremely informational, and I returned from Kansas City energized and ready to begin evangelizing an affirming view of scripture.
Luckily, I was already fortunate enough to be surrounded by others in QCROSS who understood God’s desire for us as queer Christians to be our whole and true selves. However, I knew there were others on Michigan State’s campus who were afraid to claim the queer Christian intersection for themselves. The Reformation Project propelled me to take action, and shortly afterwards, Jenn Tafel, Sarah Midzalkowski, and myself began to prepare an event for the purpose of educating the MSU community about living in the queer Christian intersection.
As the event began to take form, Jenn, Sarah, and I began to realize how necessary this dialogue was for MSU’s campus. Once the Deboer v. Snyder trial began, opinions on both sides of the marriage equality issue became more pronounced and prevalent. Amongst the various voices, only a select few represented an affirming Christian perspective. As a result, we wanted such a point of view to be more present and highlight God’s intent for ALL to have to right to commit themselves to their suitable partner.
We also realized the importance of bringing voices to the table that represented queer Christian leadership. It was for that reason that we decided to form a panel for the event that would consist of queer Christians involved in some form of ministry. In our search for such voices, we were fortunate to find three amazing leaders whose stories represented to beautiful grace of God’s healing power in our lives.
Dr. Rev. Selma Massey, founder and head of WHOSOEVER Ministries, shared her journey of how her relationship with God grew in her quest to overcome her mother’s condemnation of her sexuality.
Joey Lopez, youth minister at Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, discussed his process of understanding that God loved those in the queer community, which in turn led to him coming to terms with his own sexuality. Asher O’Callaghan, intern at University Lutheran Church in East Lansing, talked about his journey to both understand his identity as transgender, and to discern a call to ministry despite negative experiences within non-affirming Christian groups.
Perhaps one of the most powerful moments in our planning process occurred once we learned the date of MSU’s Pride Week. As we began to contact ministers to form our panel, we realized that Pride Week had fallen on what is a very busy time for all Christians, but ESPECIALLY ministers:
And that’s when the phrase Holy/Pride Week began floating around QCROSS. Our beautiful queer Christian intersection was reflected in this special opportunity to both celebrate the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and fully celebrate our identities within the LGBTQ community. Though the planning committee was unsure of what to expect regarding the outcome of our event, we were pleasantly surprised by the meaningful dialogue and networking that occurred amongst MSU students and faculty and members of the East Lansing community regarding the issues of spirituality and sexuality.
Our panelists shared their stories, answered thought-provoking questions, and engaged in small-group discussion with our attendees. I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit working in and amongst those at our event, particularly as people began to share their personal experiences and offer one another support and comfort.
For me, this event was the perfect start to my Holy/Pride Week. It reminded me of the power of community for support and encouragement. The event also highlighted the continued need for evangelization about Jesus’s affirming message that ALL are welcome in his church. We need not worry about leaving a part of ourselves at the door, for when we take pride in our whole and complete selves, we draw ever closer to being the holy people God calls us to be.