The Embrace

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I have a regular walking route around the city where I live. I particularly like taking a stroll in autumn when the trees are at their peak.

A few years ago, the trees lining the street were especially beautiful—that stunning gold, yellow that steals the breath. During one walk, however, I turned a corner to witness a scene even more arresting than the trees around me: a young man stepped up on the curb to embrace a young woman in the most tender of ways. He reached out slowly, gently and she leaned into him in trust. It was a snapshot of love and beauty that has remained with me. I remember thinking at the time that I shouldn’t have seen it. That the moment wasn’t meant for me. Yet, that is where my eyes fell—at the precise instance of their embrace.

And then a strange thing happened: I felt feelings. As a gay kid growing up on the church, I have worked hard to not feel anything—to keep everything at the level of my intellect. This, of course, was a coping mechanism to deal with too many feelings most of which seemed to run counter to my growing faith. I just couldn’t figure out how to sync my desire for other guys with what I was learning about Jesus.

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A LOVEboldly Thanksgiving

loveboldlythanksgivingThe previous few weeks have been difficult and heavy. I’m sure that, like me, many of you have been bombarded with story after story of injustices, hate-crimes and hate-groups, and fear, sorrow, and outrage in the wake of the election.Right now, it’s harder than ever to have real, honest, productive, civil conversations about topics that divide us. However you voted, or didn’t vote, perhaps your heart, like mine, has been heavy as you’ve watched folks around you respond in ways that don’t seem much like Jesus. Right now, it’s harder than ever to have real, honest, productive, civil conversations about topics that divide us. And now this week we prepare to gather to give thanks around a table with family and friends, who perhaps have wildly different viewpoints than we ascribe to, or who have hurt us with their words, or worse – have disinvited us from the table altogether.

The importance of creating spaces to have meaningful conversations on divisive topics is felt more profoundly today than what most of us can ever remember. I am reminded how vitally important our work is. God is still at work with us. He is transforming lives with these dialogues. I’m convinced the path ahead, while tough at times, is all the more necessary for us to navigate.

The importance of creating spaces to have meaningful conversations on divisive topics is felt more profoundly today than what most of us can ever remember. On Friday, we held a public dialogue on faith, sexuality, and gender identity. The presenters held vastly different viewpoints – from conservative/traditional to progressive/liberal. But we all came together, as Christian brothers and sisters, to turn our hearts and minds towards how we can find ways to move forward together. The experience left me reminded of the great hope that we have in a Savior that moved into our neighborhood when we were still his enemies. I pray that we might find ways to move toward one another in the midst of conflict, rather than away. If you need some encouragement this week that this sort of relationship-building and sustaining is possible, you can watch the recording of the event here.

There is much for us to be thankful for this year, but most of all I am encouraged by each of you who remain in conversation with us. As we quickly approach the close of this year, I hope you will consider a year-end gift to support our work. We need your support in these conversations now, perhaps more than ever.
Grace and Peace,
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Heidi Weaver-Smith
President & Founder

Getting This Party Started Right

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A few years ago, I attended a dinner party with a group of LGBT Christians. As we delicately sliced our warm brioche and broiled sole, we began to share our coming-out stories. Each person told how, over Thanksgiving dinner or in a letter or in a YouTube video, they opened the door to others allowing them into a hidden part of their lives. I found these offerings remarkable and brave as are all such instances when we open ourselves. I also sensed these coming out experiences were, for most folks present, a declaration of membership in a new tribe—the LGBT community.

As I drove home later that evening, I reflected on what transpired during our meal and was struck by the similarity between these coming-out tales and the salvation stories I had been hearing in my church small group. How interesting that the experience of publicly accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior also serves to declare membership in a new family—the Christian church.

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