June is Pride Month and I’m newly introduced to the upcoming tradition of Affirming Sunday (June 4; #AffirmingSunday). I encourage you to mark it in some way in your own church. This new Christian tradition asks churches both to embrace pride, and to actively demonstrate affirmation of the lives and struggles of LGBTQ people in our communities. Full inclusion and participation are needed if everyone in spiritual communities is to experience God’s unfathomable love and inclusion. If we have experienced that Divine love and inclusion, we know how important and transforming it is (as is true if we have experienced it’s opposite).
Affirming Sunday invites churches to stand in solidarity for a more inclusive faith. This tradition is needed as we cannot assume LGBTQ people experience inclusion without it being stated overtly. Unfortunately, queer people have too often heard the opposite message within churches. So let people know they are included and celebrated. Every Sunday. And let this emphasis be known in a particular way on Affirming Sunday.
I’m thrilled with the progress I do see. I’m thrilled that the queer young people I love are more likely to find churches that embrace them and demonstrate to them God’s embrace than were their elders. I’m thrilled they can be introduced to God’s reveling in the fullness of who they are. So too, I recognize they will not know this unless people show it to them. I also realize that the part of the world where I live makes it easier for people to find an inclusive, affirming church than is typical in other parts of the country. All the more reason to make affirmation broadly known, to broadcast the message of inclusion like dandelion fluff so it can plant seeds in the hearts of people everywhere. May those seeds root the knowledge of God’s love and affirmation in many hearts.
The Church is Changing
In so many ways, churches are being called to change and adapt. This can meet resistance, as churches and other big institutions tend to adopt change at a snail’s pace. But the past several years have revealed that churches can change—though this has been manifested all too often in the negative. Many American churches have been quick to adopt intolerance, excuse of authoritarianism, and conspiratorial thinking. The rapid spread of these trends baffles the mind. So the institutions that embrace an alternative to exclusion and fear-mongering are challenged to adapt quickly. This is not to say churches should lose their foundations just because society is awash in rapid change. But it does mean churches need to proclaim loudly when they are rooted in Gospel love and open-heartedness, and allied with the American justice movements—such as the civil rights movement—so often started and inspired by people of faith.
When I ponder why some Christians are not affirming of LGBTQ members, I wonder if unfamiliarity is part of the problem. Often people fear what is unfamiliar, and perhaps these Christians do not have family or friends who openly identify as LGBTQ. I want people to experience a broadening within churches, an expansion of what is familiar—where churches become opportunities to know people across a wide spectrum. Churches and other non-related communities are often places where we get to know many different kinds of people. This happens as we eat together, attend group discussions, or visit before and after services.
To learn more about Affirming Sunday, check out the website at: https://affirmingsunday.org. For a directory of affirming churches near you, visit: https://nu.community . For additional information, quotes, or interview requests, please contact Adam at email@example.com.
Available HERE. Jesus Loves Women: A Memoir of Body and Spirit