Throughout 2022 we have reprised — and updated! — our popular weekly blog 52 Ways to Expand Your Welcome to LGBTQ+ People and Our Families. Every week, for the past year, we have posted suggestions on how your faith community can become more welcoming to – and inclusive of – LGBTQ+ People and Our Families.
We hope that our ideas have provided you with some creative and useful ideas that have helped you to increase the welcome that your congregation offers to LGBTQ+ people. Our goal with this series has been to help congregations think innovatively about how to build welcoming, affirming spaces for people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Of course, we realize that not all of our ideas may fit each and every faith community; we do hope, however, that every one of our ideas has prompted conversations about what are the best ways to build and increase your welcome in your own context.
As we conclude this year’s series, we want to restate our belief that pastoral care with – and among – lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gay people of faith offers a religious community multiple opportunities to live into a call to welcome and to include everyone. And, as we hope our series has demonstrated, ministry among and with LGBTQ people offers any congregation invigorating challenges and remarkable joys.
This series assumes that ignoring the pastoral care needs of LGBTQ people is unjust; that insisting that the sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or sexual expression of queer people is sinful or disordered is incompatible with the powerfully liberating message of the scriptures; and that offering pastoral care that is half-hearted or does not speak adequately to the lives and needs of LGBTQ persons is to deny them the love and support that all religions teach is due every person.
It is common knowledge that current debates concerning LGBTQ persons and queer sexuality threaten some denominations, churches, and synagogues with schism and even outright dissolution. Amid such turmoil your pastoral care with LGBTQ people is indispensable because it offers living testimony to Jewish and Christian beliefs that everyone is equal and loved in God’s sight. Moreover, your ministry can change peoples’ hearts and contribute powerfully – and probably in ways never fully knowable – to building the beloved community that Martin Luther King, Jr., described so eloquently and that we, as committed believers, yearn for so deeply. One need only peruse the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to realize that they reveal wonderful varieties of human relationships and family structures that reflect life-giving values of love, mutuality, and equality.
While the biblical record urges your congregation to be open to a variety of relationships and family structures, the ministry of pastoral care challenges all of us to provide excellent care for those who come to communities of faith for help in sustaining their relationships and their families. Once again, the hallmarks of such care include an acceptance and celebration of LGBTQ persons and their sexuality; an eagerness to learn from queer people themselves about their relationships and their families; and a commitment to explore theologies of sexuality that creatively apply the healing wisdom of the Jewish and Christian faith traditions to the lived experience of queer people.
Thank YOU for exploring our 52 Ways to Expand Your Welcome to LGBTQ+ People and Our Families blog. May you find challenge and joy in bringing about a revolution of positive pastoral care for LGBTQ people and our families as you find that such care, while not always easy, is certainly a much-needed and rewarding ministry!
Adapted from Schlager & Kundtz, Ministry Among God’s Queer Folk: LGBTQ Pastoral Care (Second Edition, 2019): pp. 223-224.