The words that follow are tied to the documentary video with regards to welcome that I posted earlier. In collaborating with PFLAG on this project, it was important to keep the message of welcome and participants’ reactions as a message of hope and light to the broader community. However, I can’t in good conscience be silent about some of the stories I collected. Our faith traditions carry a command or call to welcome and be hospitable to those in our presence. However, many faith communities use holy scripture(s) to condemn, ostracize and, in some cases, demonize those in the LGBTQ community. Those who wish to most loudly profess the “authority of scripture” don’t frequently quote or cite passages about the implications of standing between someone and God.
For those who may not have read my previous post, On Saturday, October 5, 2019, PFLAG Charlotte hosted their annual faith forum, “At the Intersection of Faith and LGBTQ identities.” We asked those in attendance to create a visual piece of art that represented what welcome feels like. We took photographs of people holding their art and remaining anonymous and we recorded audio clips of the participants answering a series of questions about who they are and how welcome feels. One of the audio questions was, “were you raised within a faith tradition?” The participants shared that they were raised in a broad array of faith traditions: Nazarene, Presbyterian, Jewish, Catholic, Methodist and more; however, without being asked, many of those same respondents shared they are now atheist, agnostic, and non-religious. Those in attendance included members of the LGBTQ community, but also included family members, friends, and allies. Concentric circles, rippling out.
We all have a desire to be whole, sacred and loved. While our faith communities may be a place where such a sense of belonging is deeply rooted, having a greater awareness and a deeper understanding of the feel of welcome encourages and empowers us to build relationships and pursue collaborations that lead to more open, welcoming faith communities. I invite you to continue the conversation in your faith community.