At our Diocesan Convention in March 2021, Bishop Stokes announced a restart of the LGBTQ Commission. There is much work to be done as we strive together to “respect the dignity of every human being.” In the past, members of the LGBTQIA+ communities (we’re always open to adding more members) have been hurt by the Church. Some have even lost their faith. Some Christians continue to hurt and reject members these communities. But we believe that our faith in God’s love has been too small for too long. We’re here to celebrate God’s love in all our lives.
I am pleased to have been called to be the new chair and to recruit members for the commission. We have members from across the diocese and across the spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ communities as well as straight allies.
We see our mission as two-fold: education and advocacy.
Self: “What are your pronouns?” If someone were to ask you that, could you answer them? There are many communities and identities that are represented in “LGBTQIA+”, more than you may realize. What do all those letters and symbols mean?
Each of the six colors of the most familiar form of the Rainbow Flag has a meaning: red means life, orange means healing, yellow means sunshine, green means nature, blue means harmony, and purple means spirit. You may have seen extra colors added to the traditional Rainbow Flag recently. Do you know what they represent? One of our passions as the LGBTQ Commission is education.
Community: We want to educate our neighbors, next door and across the world, how the love of God includes them, too, regardless of their orientation or expression. We want to educate families and those who love someone different from them how to love them even better. There are so many LGBTQIA+ people of faith already in our diocese, and we want to give them the opportunity to share their stories with those of other faiths or of no faith. We want to help LGBTQIA+ people of faith and their families find resources and communities to support their spiritual growth, personal discipleship, and leadership, both lay and ordained.
Parishes: In the Episcopal Church we like to say, “All are welcome!” But do we really mean that? Do we fully understand what that means for our parish life together? We’d also like to educate leaders in the church around actually meaning what we promise.
Our plan is to develop resources for individuals, small groups, parishes, convocations, and even diocesan-wide gatherings, as well as in-person or virtual training sessions.
Advocacy: For decades The Episcopal Church has been on the frontlines of advocacy for LGBTQIA+ individuals and families, from civil rights to marriage rites, from adoption to ordination. We have worked together to provide full and equal access to the sacraments of the church to ALL. But our work is not done.
We have members of our church and community whose voices are just beginning to be heard – members of the trans, non-binary, and other communities. There are legal challenges to be fought, but also moral ones. We want to equip our parish families to show their love and acceptance now, and in the future, whatever struggles may come.
How to Get Involved
Connect with us on our site and on social media. Right now, we’re just on Facebook, but we hope to spread our mission and message to other platforms. Look for us marching in the NJ Pride parade and at many of the Pride events across the state and even across the country! Come march with us!
Above all, pray for us! Pray that our mission to educate, advocate, and fulfill our baptismal promises may be closer to reality every day!
Chair, LGBTQ Commission