Dustin Kight

Wearing Rainbows: Simple Acts to Show Your Faith Inclusion

Filed By Dustin Kight | May 21, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: COLAGE, faith communities, family equality, Family Equality Council, lgbt family, religious faith, task force, welcoming affirming church

Last week the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's allingodsfamilyInstitute for Welcoming Resources, Family Equality Council and COLAGE launched a multimedia, LGBT family-inclusive faith curriculum called All in God's Family: Creating Allies for Our LGBT Families. (Click here to read our joint press release.)

Since then, we've been asking LGBT parents and allies to share stories with us about their faith communities. Are they already welcoming and inclusive? What do they do to make your family feel embraced? What could they do better?

I got an email from Sharon of Naperville, IL this morning. She wanted to tell us about her welcoming and affirming church:

"My partner, Janice and I, were church shopping in Naperville, IL in the early 1990's. Some close friends of my partner attended First Congregational Church in Naperville which is a United Church of Christ church so we checked it out. On our first visit, a member came up to us wearing a pink triangle pin so we asked him why he was wearing it and it was outreach to GLBT people to let them know the church is inclusive."

The simple act of wearing a pink triangle, a symbol of the LGBT community, sparked Sharon and Janice's interest and signaled to them that a welcoming door was open.

"We've been attending ever since. We have 9 year old twins now and I teach Sunday school and am co-leader of our Christian Education Ministry. We feel we are part of our church family in every way. Right when we joined the church, they were in the process of trying to become open and affirming which we did become the following year. Every member's name tag has a rainbow on it and we recently employed a lesbian Youth and Family pastor. There are 2 other lesbian families and a couple of GLBT couples in our congregation. Our sign outside the building has a rainbow with the words 'We are open and affirming' on it."

Now that Sharon and Janice's family are settled in their own welcoming and affirming church, they're helping others become move along the path.

"We are helping my partner's sister, Jackie, help her UCC church become open and affirming. I am passing [All in God's Family] onto her."

Want to use All in God's Family as a resource in your faith community, or pass it on to someone you know? Click here to learn more and order your copy today.

Cross-posted at the Family Equality Council Blog.

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christophe | May 21, 2009 5:27 PM

One of the reasons I think that the gay community doesn't make church a central part of their lives is due to it's exclusive attitude. its nice to see this post about a mainstream Church that seems to understand what a TRUE Christian is. In the Atlanta area I was only able to find 3 churches online that were gay inclusive. I went to one last Sunday and it was what appeared to be an exclusively GAY Church. They were welcoming enough, but the congregation would not normally be the type of people i would associate with on a social basis and that was quite upsetting to me. I am not trying to be a snob about things, I just wish we had more choices in where we are able to worship. We seem very restricted and thats a real shame.

talk about being in Peter Labarbera's back yard...

wait, it's his front yard! his address is in Naperville, IL.

i lived there years ago when it was a nice quiet little berg. it's now the second largest city in Illinois and it ain't quiet any more. but it is good to see that it is mirroring what's happening in the rest of the country. well, with the exception of Americans for Truth.

I am thrilled to add this resource to my ever-growing library of materials for becoming an open and affirming church. Our church has just begun discussion of the issue, the first step in the long process that culminates in making a statement of affirmation for all to see.

The recent sermon and class series has opened the door, and now we have to let the dust settle a bit to prevent a knee-jerk resistance to the idea. As our congregation mulls over what they've seen and heard, we will be gathering together those who were strong and vocal in their support, to discover where they see themselves in this effort.

It is a delicate process at first, but I have great hope for our church and for all those churches who are called to be real followers of Christ, showing his grace to all, no matter what.

Christophe, you might benefit spiritually from attending a church where the people are not those you would associate with on a social basis. It can be a good learning experience, if all parties are open and the church is a lively one. It is worthwhile seeing many ways that people inhabit their faith. It sounds as if you attended an MCC church - most members are LGBTA, and most come from conservative evangelical, pentecostal, or sometimes Catholic backgrounds (churches in which there are no officially sanctioned lay-clergy discussions about possibility that being gay isn't a sin). Worship style of some MCC churches can be a bit foreign to people from a liturgical church background.

It's the little gestures that mean so much.

During transition, I attended an Episcopal church in Indianapolis. Even when I wasn't dressed as a proper woman, I was still treated as such. They insisted on being open, affirming, and understanding.

It was the first time I had _ever_ felt welcome at a church.