A few weeks ago, I was privileged to participate in an extraordinarily powerful service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka for National Coming Out Day. We stood with each other, Christians and non-Christians, celebrating those who have found it possible to come out. And recognizing the responsibility of humanity to continue to work until coming out is no longer a requirement of authenticity and love.
In a few weeks, I will be helping Equality Kansas of Topeka, UUFT and others remember and honor the far-too-many transgender people who have met with violence and death in the last year as part of Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is not possible to ignore the connection between the violence, and the utilization of faith as a mechanism of oppression against people who only want to be who they truly are, and love who they truly love.
I woke up this morning to the Transgender News Yahoo Group email I subscribe to. The headlines included news of another transgender suicide, a Baptist leader calling for the Christian boycott of marriages of same-sex couples and a legislative effort in Wisconsin to allow people to sue schools if the schools respect the identity of their transgender students. I wondered how Christianity had become so lost that people would espouse Jesus and judgement in the same breath.
But I also woke up to a world this morning where I know that people of all religions, people of no religion, espouse love for each other as our purpose on the planet. I see these people every day, espousing Jesus and justice, reconnecting Jesus with love or simply believing that people should be treated with love and respect.
And I woke up knowing that I have been blessed to become involved in helping to plan an upcoming conference in Kansas City by The Reformation Project (TRP). Matthew Vines, the founder of TRP, is the author of the book, GOD and the GAY Christian.
It seems pretty basic to me. If you are using the Bible to advance policies and positions that exclude anyone, you are misusing the Bible. This is not what the Bible really calls us to do. It is not what the Bible really says. Question: What does the Bible really say?
The Reformation Project exists to help illuminate the message of love that has somehow been lost for so many people of faith. TRP examines the context and content of the verses in the Bible that are most often used to obscure this message of love. TRP presents and teaches a Bible-based case for affirmation of human beings who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
The Kansas City Conference, like previous TRP conferences in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, is designed to help Christians (and non-Christians) become more able to share the truths of the Bible; more able to share the Bible's message of love; the Bible's intentional message of inclusion. The conference is November 5-7, 2015 at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.
From the conference website:
The conference will be a prime networking opportunity for all Christians who want to advance the dignity of LGBT people, especially Christians in non-affirming churches, denominations or communities who seek to have more loving, fruitful and informed conversations with non-affirming friends and family members.
The incredible list of keynote speakers includes Vicky Beeching, Christopher Coleman and Nicole M. Garcia, as well as Matthew Vines. I am highly honored to be a workshop presenter as a transgender woman of faith. Workshop presenters and panelists include Eliel Cruz, Rev. Adam Hamilton, Debi Jackson, Romell Parks-Weekly, Dr. Mitch Randall, AnaYelsi Sanchez, Kenji Kuramitsu, Oneida Chi and Shae Washington.
The conference; which begins on Thursday evening, November 5th; mixes keynote speeches, interactive trainings, break-out sessions, workshops, panels and a special Saturday evening performance by members of the Heartland Men's Chorus.
From 9:00 to 4:30 on Thursday, The Reformation Project will host its second Academy for Racial Justice (separate registration required). The academy will combine biblical teaching, simulations, ethnic-specific break-outs and significant cross-cultural dialogue around the intersection of racial identity and LGBT issues.
I woke up to a world this morning where I know that people of all religions, people of no religion, espouse love for each other as our purpose on the planet. I see these people every day, espousing Jesus and justice, reconnecting Jesus with love or simply believing that people should be treated with love and respect.