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Mother’s Day to Father’s Day series considers new definitions of family

Queering the Family from Unbound and More Light Presbyterians includes Bible studies and essays

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The past few years, Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice has launched Advent and Lenten devotional series focusing on groups such as Black Women and people with disabilities.

Now, Unbound is reuniting with More Light Presbyterians, its partner on its first award-winning series, to carve out its own spot on the calendar. Queering the Family, a series of Bible studies and essays by people in the LGBTQIA+ community, will run between Mother’s Day, which occurred this past Sunday, May 9, and Father’s Day, June 20.

Unbound managing editor the Rev. Lee Catoe said the idea for the series came out of discussions he was part of within the church about how to observe Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

“It really made me think about how do we expand the definition of family and not stick to the binaries of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, because we have become more inclusive ­— but I don’t think we’ve been as inclusive as we could be when celebrating just how different families form,” Catoe said. “We really wanted to get a variety of perspectives from the queer community about how they have formed family and a lot of the themes surrounding family.”

The themes for the coming six weeks will be love, growth, nurture, accountability, grief and celebration. The writings started Monday with Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell of Portland, Oregon, writing about holding hands as a gesture of love and how that expression has manifested itself in his relationship with his partner. The twice-weekly essays will be published Monday and Wednesday on Unbound, and the Liberation Bible studies on the Psalms will be on Facebook Live on the More Light Presbyterians page at 2 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday.

the Rev. Alex Patchin McNeill

“I am excited for readers to hear from a broad range of perspectives, those who have been out as LGBTQIA+ for decades and some more recently, but all who have experienced the blessing of queering the family and have something to teach us about the possibilities it holds,” said the Rev. Alex Patchin McNeill, Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians, together with a guest, the leader of the Bible studies each week. “I hope people will learn queering the family is a verb, an intentional act to expand how all of us, queer identified and beyond, can care for and love one another.”

In addition to the essays and Bible studies, the May 18 episode of Unbound’s online talk show, “Just Talk Live,” will feature participants in the series. In addition to being bounded by the parental holidays, the series will also extend into Pride Month and be part of that celebration.

Catoe said the intention is not to “diminish Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but to expand our definition of what it means to be family, and to kind of humanize the queer community a little bit. I think some people will write about divorce, and some people will write about being single, or some people may write about adoption or surrogacy or things like that. But it’ll just try to nuance family more, because a lot of people in the queer family have chosen family, and we don’t often recognize that as being legitimate, so we’re trying to do that.”

Expanding visibility and ideas was one of the outcomes of the 2020 Lent series, which is one reason McNeill is looking forward to extending the partnership.

“The collaboration between More Light and Unbound was essential to bring that series to life,” McNeill said. “We continue to receive testimonials from people who used or found the Ashes to Rainbows Lenten series collaboration about how it helped them feel seen and loved in church, some for the first time.

“These testimonials move the metric from simply ‘success’ to life-saving.”

Unbound is part of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy which is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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