In Aimée Simpierre Posted

Protein Please!

By Min. Aimée Simpierre
As a minister of the gospel who is also a lesbian, I am compelled to constantly push the LGBTQ Christian community forward. The need I sense now, is that we begin to grow from the question of: “Can you be Gay and Christian?” to simply “Can you be a Christian?”

As LGBT individuals’ relationship with Christ changes, heals and progresses, clergy must reciprocate by offering tools to help LGBT Christians grow and mature. Maturity involves moving beyond the acknowledgment that Christ loves gay Christians and on to the “meatier” aspects of the faith.

Discovering God’s love opens the door to the Kingdom. But what to do once you’re inside?

One note Gospel?

As Gay Christian ministers, we face the threat of constricting the Bible, and our faith, to a one-note sermon titled the “Gospel of God Loves Gays.” Let’s be clear, this is a most powerful message. It is quintessential good news. Championing inclusion  should be at the heart of our theology, just as it was for Christ. God’s unconditional love and welcome empowers our community and brings hope and healing to those with deep wounds. The Bible’s history of being used as a vehicle for repression and oppression of everyone from women, to African-Americans and slaves, has thwarted the unconditional love that our faith trumpets. and hurt too many seeking souls. So many cling stubbornly to misinterpretations of the so-called “clobber scriptures” (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:21-31, etc.) used inappropriately to condemn homosexuality, that the recovery process for many gay people of faith and open-minded believers will be long and ongoing. Resources (such as the ones listed on this website) and a drive to seek out the truth have helped many recover; others may never return to Christ or His often-antagonistic churches. Therefore we must never eliminate His unconditional, radically inclusive love from our theological menu. However, over time, consistently reducing the Bible to the “Gospel of God Loves Gays” causes our churches to run the risk of growing malnutrition-ed Christians.

Consider this. When the crowds gathered at the feet of Jesus (Matt. 14:14-20), they were offered a balanced, well-rounded meal – containing both protein and carbohydrates: fish and bread. No doubt if the audience had been offered a clay cup filled with water they would have been grateful, but under-nourished.

Paul describes the dilemma this way: 1Cr 3:2 “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able [to receive it], and even now you are still not able.” Teaching the message that we are accepted and welcomed at the feet of Jesus is one thing – but encouraging them to stay at Christ’s feet long enough to truly worship and commune, and eat the full meal He offers, is another task entirely. There must be progression. We do not have a faith that ends at acceptance for everyone. That’s milk. We have a comprehensive all-encompassing faith that begins with acceptance for everyone than proceeds to use biblical teachings to guide individuals through turbulent times, heal the sick, maintain a steady moral compass, comfort the grieving, care for its youth and elderly and strengthen the poor. This is the meat of our faith. And we are hungry for it.

Finding Balance

So teach us eschatology. Teach us of salvation and sanctification. Teach us the parables of Jesus and the epistles of Paul. Teach us the story of Deborah as well as David and Jonathan. Teach us the whole Bible and how to study it. Teach us the truth about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Teach us the “clobber scriptures” and the healing verses, and how to develop a day-to-day worship relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. Teach us about resurrection and teach us about the crucifixion – yes, the crucifixion. It is bloody, and not “PC” but it is the sacrifice that opened the door for this lesbian to be accepted into the Body of Christ. So teach me why Easter matters, so I can understand the power of redemption – and love myself just as deeply as I now know Christ loves me.

The gay christian cannot be allowed to fall into the same pit as the straight. If we do not broaden our community’s understanding of the Christian faith, we will live stunted immature Christian lives, replete with its judgmental, unsettled, critical, and insensitive traits. This is our opportunity to let our lights shine – to be cities on hills. So let’s not go around the same mountain too many times. Once you have received that gospel of “God Loves Gays,” preach it to yourself everyday, embrace it, bask in it and share it with others. Simultaneously, let us also learn how to read, study and dissect the rest of the Biblical teachings that apply to gays – that would be all of them. Bon appétit!

Join the discussion: What topics could be added to the menu at your place of worship to enhance your spiritual growth?

(Guest Columnist Minister Aimée Simpierre is the founder of NuWine Press: The all-inclusive and LGBT-affirming voice of independent Christian Publishing)

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In Michael Elam Posted

Wounded Healers

by Mikael “Dr. Mike” Elam, MDiv

As a Christian, I have served in many faith traditions since my youth. I’ve been Catholic, Non-Denominational, Presbyterian and Baptist. Through all these years and institutions of theological teaching I’ve had a secret, a secret for which no one could offer a healing. I would get a condemnation or get a listing of scriptures depicting some evilness and my abomination in the eyes of God. No one said, I understand. No one wanted to listen and not judge. Right or wrong what I was going through was real not imagined. Because of pressure as a black man in part and the Ignorance of Human Sexuality as a whole, there seemed to be no hope for me, not even in my perception of GOD.

My prayer life consisted of asking and pleading with God to remove this from me. Let me be an alcoholic or a drug addict, at least I knew there would be help for me. So I became an addict, a sex addict and New York City offered a plethora of places to satisfy my addiction. My addiction eased my depression, comforted my oppression and nursed my suppression. My addiction was not my problem, my secret was. I gave into my addictive behavior and then spent weeks in deep depression promising God never to do it again, only to repeat the behavior again and again. Suicide was becoming an option.

I honestly felt God was not listening to me, but God was. I kept putting my sexuality as a priority, but the Spirit kept telling me that’s not it. It’s not the source of my problems. Despite this struggle I gained leadership roles in churches, started new programs and received numerous accolades, but this secret was killing my insides. I needed to purge, but where? I tried Christian counseling but that failed miserably. I then went to a White gay counselor who couldn’t relate to my particular circumstance. Where would I go? Who could I trust, Who could I get to listen?

Upon This Rock

In the fall of 1996, I became a regular visitor to St. Paul Community Baptist Church. And by the following Spring, I became a member. After reading, “Upon This Rock, The Miracles of a Black Church;” I was certain that this was the church for me. I just didn’t know how much of an impact it would have on me. St. Paul offered a variety of ministries to choose from, but one in particular caught my attention, “Wounded Healers”“Wounded Healers” is a ministry dedicated to helping people involved and/or recovering from alcohol and drug addictions and those who have been affected by them. “Wounded Healers” is a no holds barred type of ministry. It’s a place where your issues can be addressed. Why you picked up? Where did you pick up and with whom? And long has it been since your last hit?
Everything is openly discussed and kept within the four walls.

“Wounded Healers” helped me open up my sexuality and I received the healing that I was looking for, liberation and most important. Love! No more closets, finally I was free from my secret and private pain and my freedom came in all places a Black Baptist Church in East New York Brooklyn, with an Intentional Men’s ministry and that’s a fearless act.
Now, my coming out did not mean for me to march for gay rights nor did it mean that I would be the next grand marshal in the gay pride parade. It just meant at the time, that I had come clean with my secret and private pain. There is healing in revealing. The more secrets you let go, the greater the chance of stepping out of the closets in your life. The healing process had begun; a healing within my circumstance. I soon realized that there are some things that we all have to work through in order to glorify God. I’ve learned that there are lessons in the coming out process.

Stepping out of the closet Is a Fearless Act, It is an Empowering Act. Audre Lorde once said, “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed, but when we are silent we are still afraid, so it is better to speak.”
Dr. Katie Geneva Canon, “Tell your truth even when they say it’s a lie, tell it anyway”

It is a Divine Act: Isaiah 65:1 “I reveal myself to those who did not ask for me: I was found by those who did not
seek me. To a nation (people) that did not call my name, I said, “Here I am Here I am”

As I look back on my life, witnessing what the Lord has brought me from, the words of the epistle of James 1:2-4, 2 comes to mind. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. V.12: Blessed is the man perseveres under trail, because when has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

“Wounded Healers” celebrates 26 years of ministry and I have been the director of the ministry since 2012.

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In News Posted

Third Annual Forum In Review: Aint No Hurt Like Church Hurt

LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent held its  third annual forum on January 31, 2015.  The title of the forum was “Ain’t No Hurt Like Church Hurt: Has Your Religious Experience Been Harmful or Liberating?”

The title proved to be inviting and challenging for many. Because most of us understand what it has meant to be hurt by religious teachings, the title served as a call to come, tell your truth, experience and share. The day was divided into two parts. A panel was presented during the morning session, and the afternoon session consisted of four workshops.

In spite of the cold wind, participants came out and stayed the entire day with many more joining us for the afternoon session. Over 100 were in attendance. Our members felt that this third forum was our best because of its outreach to people outside of the traditional Christian denominations. It also included “straight” people and attracted a variety of church-attending people as well as those who did not attend church. The variety of the speakers’ panel, including a Yoruba priestess, a Muslim woman, and a transgender man, also brought multiple voices to help shape the discussions of the day. The workshops were led by knowledgeable and informed facilitators.

Positive Expressions

We are encouraged by the positive feedback that we received. The forum evaluations were overwhelmingly positive with people expressing that they were leaving feeling empowered and energized to work more focused in their churches, families and communities.  While not all could identify what the work would be, others talked about educating and advocating for LGBT rights.Feedback included suggestions for future workshops and emphasized the need for continuing diversity as represented by non-Christian faith representatives, artistic performances and more time to attend workshops.

We believe that we are fulfilling a very important mission and space in our community.  We have as our mission the empowerment of LGBT same-gender loving people who currently attend, and those who have abandoned their faith; the education and advocacy for the
rights of LGBT people in the Black community especially those in the churches.  Always we seek to empower for the purpose of motivating our community to action around issues of social justice.

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In News Posted

Let’s Go Shopping!

LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent is proud to announce it’s first item for sale on our website.

You may now purchase a copy of the following DVD on our “Shop” page using PayPal or a debit card.

How do Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people raised in faith traditions reconcile their spiritual beliefs with their sexual orientation? For many it is not an easy process. But reconciliation is possible. In this documentary, 15 members of LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, a New York City-based organization that seeks to affirm LGBT people in faith communities, share their unique journeys to find personal relationships with God.

Purchase the DVD here!

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In News Posted

Celebrating our Bus Shelter Photo Project

We are proud to celebrate our Bus Shelter Photo Project, which consisted of posting a number of announcements at bus shelters in predominantly African-American areas, announcing that you do not have to abandon your religious identity because of your gender identity/orientation. We listed our website as a resource for finding welcoming and affirming congregations. It is approximated that 4 million people saw these posters. We look forward to presenting an expanded version of this initiative this year to raise awareness and provide encouragement. For a close up of the poster, click and download the pdf: LGBT Bus Shelter Poster_MAIN_5.12

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