Printable online guides promote inclusion and understanding
by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Mission Agency has released new resources to help promote LGBTQIA+ inclusion and understanding within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as anywhere that individuals or families may be seeking answers about issues related to inclusion and diversity.
The resources include “F.A.Q.S: LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in the Church,” a guide that addresses questions such as “How does the Bible support the inclusion of all God’s people?” and “How does our denomination affirm the freedom and autonomy of identity?”
The second resource is “LGBTQIA+ Deepening Our Understanding: A Resource in Transgender Identity,” which is also written in a question-and-answer style and addresses topics such as “How can someone who is trans still be created in the image of God?” and “Does a trans person have to disclose their identity?”
The third resource is a bibliography covering various topics, such as LGBTQIA+ theology as well as pastoral care and ministry.
The materials were put together by various PMA ministry areas, including the Office Gender, Racial and Intercultural Justice; Compassion, Peace and Justice; Theology, Formation & Evangelism; and the Office of Theology and Worship, in consultation with members of the LGBTQIA+ community. They are aimed at a broad audience for individual or group study.
“We intend for them to be used by anyone and everyone,” said the Rev. Shanea Leonard, Director of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. “They are written to be easily navigated by both clergy and lay members of the church. They are intended to be used as guides or resources for teaching and group discussion, and they are intended for anyone who searches our PC(USA) website wondering about how we tangibly back up the statements made by our General Assembly.”
In the following Q&A, Leonard provides additional insight:
Q: Why are these resources needed?
“They are needed because every day more and more LGBTQIA and queer-identified people are victims of discriminatory legislation and bigoted predatory acts,” Leonard explained. “As a denomination that has declared the full inclusion and celebration of all gender identities and sexual orientations, we must provide comprehensive opportunities for growth and learning for the entire church, and finally, these resources are needed because at this pivotal moment in history, the production of these materials is needed and necessary to align our beliefs with our actions.”
Q: Are they strictly for groups or might they help with personal reflection as well?
A: “They can be used for both and are intended for both. However, if a deeper dive is needed, congregations and mid-councils can feel free to contact Samantha Davis, our new Associate for Gender and Racial Justice, for workshop needs.”
Q: Would the resources be helpful for people preparing for holiday encounters that might include people who are less progressive?
A: “Absolutely. In particular, the FAQ document would be especially helpful for encountering common questions surrounding LGBTQIA and/or queer identity.”
Q: Are there current issues you’d like to cite that show the relevance of these resources?
A: “We need only look to the [killings at Club Q] that occurred last month in Colorado or the 30-plus folks who have been murdered because of their trans identity this year alone or to the continuous struggle to affirm the humanity of LGBTQIA+ people that is constantly played out in our legislative system to see the current relevance of these resources.”
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: “It is clear that not everyone within the wider family of PC(USA) shares the same inclusive theological convictions. However, what is imperative is that we understand and affirm that our General Assembly has made declarative statements which these resources support and help to further the realization of a welcoming, inclusive and loving kin-dom of God for all people. This is the work of the Matthew 25 vision and the overall work of the body of Christ.”
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Categories: Matthew 25, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Tags: club q, compassion peace & justice, lgbtqia+ inclusion, matthew 25 vision, office of gender racial and intercultural justice, office of theology & worship, presbyterian mission agency, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, rev. shanea d. leonard, samantha davis, theology formation & evangelism, transgender
Ministries: Compassion, Peace and Justice, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, Gender, Racial and Intercultural Justice