A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Episode 14: Queer Questions & Pride 2021!

June 03, 2021 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 14
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 14: Queer Questions & Pride 2021!
Chapters
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 14: Queer Questions & Pride 2021!
Jun 03, 2021 Season 1 Episode 14
Simon Doong and Lee Catoe

A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast celebrates Pride 2021!

Special Guests:
Shelley Donaldson (she|her)
Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, CT

Shanea Leonard (they|them)
Associate for Gender & Racial Justice, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Guest Questions: 

  • What does it mean to be a queer person in the church? 
  • What do I do when a young person comes out to me? How do I respond in a way that’s helpful rather than creating additional problems? How do I help them navigate our church community, which is generally inclusive and affirming, there are some who are not?

Resource Roundup:

Show Notes Transcript

A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast celebrates Pride 2021!

Special Guests:
Shelley Donaldson (she|her)
Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, CT

Shanea Leonard (they|them)
Associate for Gender & Racial Justice, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Guest Questions: 

  • What does it mean to be a queer person in the church? 
  • What do I do when a young person comes out to me? How do I respond in a way that’s helpful rather than creating additional problems? How do I help them navigate our church community, which is generally inclusive and affirming, there are some who are not?

Resource Roundup:

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to a matter of faith, a Frisbee podcast, the podcast, where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question because if it matters to you, it matters to us. And it just might be a matter of faith,

Speaker 2:

Whether it be faith in God, faith in others, or faith in yourself, we are brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and Unbound, the interactive journal on Christian social justice for the Presbyterian church USA. I am your host Lee Cato ,

Speaker 1:

And I'm your host Simon dune

Speaker 2:

Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions. So welcome everybody. It's it's a special week this week on the podcast, and we are celebrating pride this week. June is pride month and we are celebrating our siblings with a special episode that is dedicated to the community , uh , for our episode 14, right? Simon, we're getting there. We're getting to episode

Speaker 1:

15. Yep . We're getting there. And this is really exciting, I think because this is an episode where instead of Lee and I responding to questions in the beginning, and then we bring on the guests , uh, we're just going to cut straight to questions for our guests to respond to. And we've got some great guests lined up for you for today. So we really hope you enjoy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so it's, it's get a pencil on paper, get a note pad, take some notes because it's a really good episode about how to have practical things in order to be inclusive and be affirming to our siblings . So we hope you enjoy our time with our guests. So for this week, we actually have a very special thing for us this week because we have two people here as our special guests to answer questions about what will be and what is now pride month pride month, that's happening in June. And there are so many things happening with the church. And we'll probably get to that in our, our resource time about all these things that are happening with the community and with the church and the PCUSA. So today we're going to be welcoming the right reverend's Shaylee Donaldson, who is the associate pastor at first Presbyterian church of Stamford, Connecticut, and the right Reverend Shania Leonard, who is the associate for gender and racial justice at the Presbyterian mission agency. So welcome you. Wonderful, wonderful people. Welcome to the show.

Speaker 3:

Thank you . And so

Speaker 1:

Our first question is for Shania and it's a , it's a very small question. It's what does, it's not very small at all. It's a really complicated question, but I

Speaker 2:

Speak one word, small and word

Speaker 1:

Big and big in explanation and meaning. Yeah. What does it mean to be a person in the church?

Speaker 3:

Oh, well, Simon, that is a great question. Um, it's a , it's a loaded question, nonetheless. And it's a complicated question. I think I, first of all, let me say, I can't speak for all queers nor I can't even speak for all black queers, but I can give my perspective. And so I think that it's an interesting time of , um , transition. I think that we are in a period where we have moved beyond , uh , a lot of the stigma and taboo of what it means to be in the church. However, we're still in a , this is why I say transition. We're still in a period of complete acceptance and inclusivity. And so we sit in this kind of in-between period. One thing that is important to mention is that we are , um, we are, I hate to say it like this, but we are here and we're have not gone anywhere. But I think that our , um , ability to be seen, to be heard, to be affirmed and to be recognized in this church is at a growing pace. However, we still have many pastors who struggled to find positions and struggled to find churches that are open and inclusive and welcoming. There's a lot of don't ask, don't tell still happening within the church. And I think it's also an interesting to be a person in the church at this point, because for me, I'm my particular perspective to be. It means that there , there , that has to be a portion of your self identity that is steeped in social justice in some way. And so with that in mind, we live in a space where we don't eat . We don't only exist within the church and we exist in places where laws are becoming increasingly in opposition to our trans siblings and thus in increasing opposition to us as people. And so it's important that for us to be people in the church, that we exist in a church that not only affirms us, but it's able to take a stand for the totality of the community in a way that is meaningful and substantial and that's important. And so I think that to be and the church right now to be a person in the church is a place where many people might struggle because we don't always find that advocacy, but are also happy at the progress we've made. So, no, my answer is not easy because the question is not easy. It's a complicated transitional space that we existed, but yet here we are, because at the end of the day, we affirm who we are. We are from who God has made us. And we affirm our right and our natural place and God's family.

Speaker 2:

And this is a question that we did in St. Jude , but it kind of, well, it kind of goes along with it, but, but the more I think about it and the more people I meet and this happened a lot, honestly, while I was like dating to even be surprised that there are people of faith, you know, like it's kind of like within the culture , within the community, that, that, that just doesn't exist or it doesn't exist in some broader circles of, of religion and faith in general. So I wonder like, can you be a person who is and a person of faith? And I mean, we know that answer because we are those people, but I do think people want to know and maybe ways to kind of navigate that because that , that was very hard for me. And I know it's hard for a lot of people, but, but can we can, can those things co-exist

Speaker 3:

Short answer is yes, but I would like to continue to answer the question with a small story from my own personal history. When I was pastoring a church , um, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I started at 1001, the worshiping community. Now at that time, I was fully out, had , um, a girlfriend , um , a partner at that point who later became my wife , uh , just fully created a church in a worshiping space that was fully inclusive. All the things waived the pride flag, yada yada yada, where you're referring to use the whole gamut. However, I still had to show myself and show our church as a safe place for the community. Even though we were inclusive, even though I was fully out, it still did not matter. People were still skeptical of Christian space in particular being open and affirming and welcoming in Pittsburgh. And I'm sure that that's the case for other places around the country. And so we had to do the work of going into the community and showing ourselves as that safe place. And so it took some time, it's a time to build relationships. It's a time to build trust. And I'm glad to stay that when I left, we had had the full support of the community. I felt like the pastor to the, but it took time to build that because of that , uh , particular dichotomy that you're raising of . Can you be faith, a person of faith and? And of course the answer is yes, there is no stipulation in John three 16. There is no qualifier that said you must be SIS Peck or anything else. You can be fully yourself. And the price is still being, has been created for you. That salvation is where you, that crisis, where you, that, that the, all the totality of what it means to be a person of faith is afforded to you in the same way as afforded to anyone else. And so I stand firmly on that. They say, yes, you can be. Yes. You can be a person of social justice. Yes. You can be a person that's different. Yes. You can be a person that's trans Holly , Amber , all the things and still be a person of faith because God has called us not to, but we call us because of who we are. Shelly

Speaker 2:

Shelly was raising her hand and stuff. You want to respond to Shelly .

Speaker 4:

Well, and I can relate to that story in terms of being a lesbian and out lesbian pastor, I've never had admit and being at a church that is open and affirming, but being in a space where plenty of people knew that we had a pastor, but nobody really knew it in the community. And we're, we're probably the most centrally located church to downtown. And we have a really unique architecture style. So everyone knows who we are half the time. They don't even know that we're Presbyterian. They just know where the fish church. And when we put a flag, we finally put like a rainbow flag on our sign . Well , we got a new sign about a year and a half, two years ago. And suddenly I was getting phone calls from people in the community, people in the community who were saying, oh, I saw you put up a flag. I knew you were there and that you were a lesbian, but I didn't realize the church was welcoming. And to me, I thought, but that should be obvious because they have a gay pastor that they would be welcoming, but there is, there's still a lot of trepidation. And even then, you know, I'm a white woman, I'm a cisgendered white woman that, so I come with a lot of privileges of people don't look at me and just think, you know, they don't like , see a big, giant sign on me. That's like big old lesbian in the pulpit. You know, they don't see that. And so there is I think some disassociation that can happen for church folks where sure you've got a lesbian pastor, but, you know, she looks a certain way. That's easy to, it's easy for us to, to not really think about that part of her. And so, so yeah, so I, I w I, you know, resonate with that of it is it's, the church is still a scary place for a lot of LGBTQ plus people. And , and, but it just took all it took was for us to put that little sign out there. And suddenly people were like, oh, you're ready to say it outwardly. And that's different than being an open and affirming church , um , because anybody can be open and affirming. So, so, yeah, so it's, I understand that, that story. And I, and I think it's important to recognize that just because a church is open and affirming doesn't mean that everybody knows it, you can't make those assumptions. I really

Speaker 1:

Appreciate both of you sharing your experiences and your stories, because like you were both saying, it's so easy for that disassociation to occur, especially in the context of historical harm, prejudice, and discrimination. And the thing that I'm taking away from what you both are saying is that even if we think we're loud about our affirmation affirming inclusive culture and environment, we need to be louder. And we need to be very, very clear because otherwise that can easily be lost or just not noticed. And that's something that I personally thought about before.

Speaker 3:

And for me in particular, there's another layer to that, that historically the black community has been super conservative when it comes to this particular topic. And so it'll be out and open and affirming, and black is something that's totally different. For example, let's think about the pastors that we are, that we know of in our denomination, who are out and proud. I don't think it's a, I don't think it's an unfair assumption to say that most of them are not black. That is not to say that there are not more black pastors or elders or whatever the case may be. Uh , folks who are very clear, but because of that conservative, historic route in our community, it's super hard to be a person of African descent to be a black person and to be in a church. And so that's another layer of stigma that you have to fight against just to be totally yourself.

Speaker 4:

Well, and there is a, for someone as a white person that also then puts another responsibility on me that, that I have to realize that there's that intersectionality piece of, you know, as I'm a white woman from the south, and I don't have the crazy coming out story that some people had. Um, it wasn't easy, but also it really, wasn't hard when you hear some other people's stories. And so that's where that intersectionality piece comes in and remembering that, like, when I'm doing my, you know , anti-racism work here in Stanford and , and in the wider church that intersects with what I'm doing with the LGBTQ plus community, you can't separate those. And so, you know, I have a responsibility to, to remember those things that like, you know, I don't have that sort of , uh , I don't have that sort of a burden in terms of my race. I'm a white woman, I'm, you know, I'm, I'm part of the default culture. And so, and so it's also really important to remember that because it is, you know, everybody it's like everybody thinks with a lot of communities that all people think the same, not even remotely true, not even remotely true. And, and so you have to, like, you've got to work to get everybody on board, even, you know, even people within our own community. And so, so you have, you know , white folks, we have to really be aware of the fact that, like, these are compounded upon one another for, you know, for siblings of color who are, who , um, you know , who identify as transgender, whatever that is. That's something that we have to constantly be aware of. And so when you're working with these churches and these faith communities, you have to remember that that's part of it. You can't separate them. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And let me just clarify, and I'm not saying you said that, but just for anybody listening, I want to clarify when you said the burden for me is not my race. The burden is the white supremacy culture that we all exist in and are victims of. Right . And that's where the burden lies is trying to navigate that system, proud to be and proud to be black, but we're not, we afforded the opportunity to exist in a place where those things are all celebrated. Right? Yeah . And

Speaker 2:

I did a lot of this work when I was in divinity school about kind of holding the community accountable in many ways in which the community does in some ways perpetuate systems of racism and white supremacy. And we really do have to talk about that more. And that is also I think, a unique space of where people of faith can kind of enter these conversations to where, to where we are a part of a faith that believes in accountability and believes in ways that, that we have to, in order to keep moving forward in order to reform, as we say in the PCUSA, we have to be, we have to hold each other accountable and we have to hold a white supremacy accountable within our community, toxic masculinity, body shaming, all of these things specifically during this pandemic, all these parties that I've seen on social media with a lot of gay white men out there , uh, ignoring COVID, precaution, ignoring , um , all these things that we , we do have to hold ourselves accountable because we give in to toxic masculinity capitalism. When we talk about pride, all of these things , uh , that we need to kind of hold together. And I think people of faith are kind of can , can live into those, those spaces. So I'm really glad y'all brought that up and not to pivot too much, but I do think this is very, very relevant to our next question that we have to ask do you, and it has to do with young people and young persons and youth, something that unfortunately, and I will always say this, that the church can invest in more as young people. So , uh, what do add , here's the question? What do I do when a young person comes out to me, how do I respond in a way that's helpful rather than creating additional problems? How do I help them navigate our church community, which is generally inclusive and affirming though, we talked about ways it's not, there are some who are not so and so, Shelly , um, this is a lot of work that you do. So , uh , what would you respond to this question? That's been asked

Speaker 4:

Really great questions , um , that every church person who works with young people is thinking about at some point like they , these are some of the questions that I get asked the most by pastors and I'm youth workers and youth volunteers, and parents. Everyone's thinking about this nowadays, which is wonderful. Like I am so glad these questions are being asked. And I actually just wrapped up a cohort for youth workers focused on making ministries more LGBTQ plus affirming and supportive did that in on behalf of the presentation mission agency and the Presbyterian youth workers association. And , um, I ended up partnering with Alex and Jess for more light and more light Presbyterians, if you don't know who they are at this point. And so we actually did a teaching session all about these questions. And so these are things I talk about all the time in trainings, whatever. Um , because this is, these are the questions to really start to ask if you haven't yet, but what to do when a youth comes out, there's sort of these three steps that more light and myself and several others will always go to. The first thing to do is when a youth comes out to you or a young person comes out to you is to be affirming. This is who God made us to be. Whoever, you know, whatever we are, whatever we look like, what you know, who we love, whatever gender we identify with, this is who God made us to be. And we are loved by God. And so reminding that young person, like that's the first step, remind them. They may know it, but it's, it never hurts to hear you're loved over and over. And so reminding them that , um, that God loves them, that you're there for them, whatever they need, if they need you to be there with them, when they come out to parents or getting a name change, like let them know you're there for that. They need to know you're in their corner a hundred percent. They came to you for a reason. They trust you. Um, so you have to step up to the plate. And if you're not willing to step up to the plate as a leader in the churches, as someone, this youth can look up to in that way, then step aside, get out of the way. Um, it doesn't, it doesn't mean you're going to do this right every single time, but you have to be willing to try to step up to the plate and answer that call, because that is like the most basic thing you can do. Um, and everybody's at a different place with that number, to be honest with yourself , um , and the youth about what your limitations are, because there's always so much terminology and I'm always learning. And I called Jess cook a lot. And I'm like, can you tell me what this term means? We've had many rabbit holes where we like Wikipedia for hours on zoom with each other, trying to figure out things that maybe we haven't heard before. But it's important to , to be honest about the fact that like, I don't know at all, but I will covenant with you, my young person to do some learning, to do it on my own and whatever you're curious about learning, can I help you find a resource for it? You know, you'll find things for yourself. Uh , it's really important. We remember that all of these young people, they're looking for resources too , and it's our job to help them do that. So for instance, I keep a list of different resources that I always will share with parents, youth, church, workers, pastors, just for this purpose. Um , and I'm always looking to expand that list. If anybody has more things, children's books, things for families, youth, whatever. I'm always adding to the list and we should all be doing that. And it's important to remember. It's okay to not know it all. It's okay to keep looking for resources. Like I said, the terminology is always changing and that that's one of the key things about gender and sexuality is that there's fluidity. And so it's the exact same with the language and the culture of the LGBTQ plus community. And so it's never just like one and done. You're never like I have the answer and this is the answer forever. It's always, you've always got to be exploring. The third thing. When a youth comes out to you is look at your next steps. What you need to do next does the youth or young person need to talk to their parents or their family. Um , do they want to talk to the other young people in the church? Do they want to talk to the congregation? Should I just like, keep this quiet for them for awhile ? About two summers ago, I had a youth come out to me as trans. And they told me in a way that made that they were comfortable with doing, they had set the scene. Mom was there because this young person has amazing parents who had been on board to support their kid for ever since. You know, they started questioning things. So I'm , I wish everybody had that had a family like that. But after they told me, my first response was like, thank you. Thanks for trusting me with this part of you. This is really hard. I know it is. I know you've been told by your parents, but I'm just going to say it again. You're wonderful. You're fabulous. You're living into who God made you to be. And that is the most wonderful and authentic thing any of us can ever do. As people of faith going through those three steps. We ended up in this situation. We ended up talking with the other pastor of the church and this young person decided they wanted to write a letter to the congregation, introducing themselves, saying, you've known me. My whole life is this way, but I want to share something with you about myself and here's my pronouns. And here's my name. And I just wanted you to know this because you're my community. And so the other pastor, and I wrote a joint letter, letting the congregation know that this person, this young person had our complete, an unwavering support. And the other important piece was that if people had questions or they wanted to like ask about pronouns, they didn't need to go through this young person. They needed to go through the pastors primarily. Um, I volunteered to be the point person, but what happens instead of getting , uh , you know, negative comments or anything like that, we got a lot of people emailing saying, how do I support this person? What can you help me learn pronouns better? I don't understand this, but where are the resources that I can go to? And I also got a lot of people saying, can I send this young person a congratulations, email? Like, is that appropriate? Can I tell them how excited I am for them? And you know, it was like, heck yeah, you can , of course like tell them all day long. They need to hear this. And that was the best part about all this. And I didn't think our people would be shy about it, but I didn't know that they would like flood this whole situation with what do we do to support you? Um , and that was a really great, that was a great experience for me to have as a pastor. And now I have this young transgender person who truly knows that they're loved and accepted by their faith community. And that's really important things to remember about this is that nobody's going to be perfect about any of this. You're going to mess it up. Sometimes it's going to look different every time it's a different young person or whoever in your congregation. You know, the first time a youth came out to me, I was a 21 year old youth director in college. Like I did not like my frontal lobe was not developed yet. And it's really important to acknowledge that. And, and so it wasn't, I wasn't even out myself yet then, like I had no concept of the fact that I might be or lesbian, whatever. And so it was a little bit of a sticky situation. It was a little messy in the end. The youth knew that he was loved. Uh , we spend a lot of time in conversation with his parents and it turned out fine, but you know, every time's not going to be perfect. And that is that's okay. Like you, you gotta, you just gotta step up to the plate. Um , and you get better at it every time you do it. And the more you think about it, you know, one of the pieces of advice that I always give to anybody, whether it's a youth leader, a parent and other youth, or just people in general, is you never out someone because that's another thing. And I think I've met plenty of pastors and youth workers who they're, you know, they're, they're the well-intentioned person where they, they want that person to feel safe, but it's not your story to tell, like it's theirs. They get to make that decision. I had a fellow pastor who was trying to make a safe space for me as, as their coworker. And so they told some folks who we were working with in a professional setting, you know, Shelly's a lesbian and I just want to make sure that this is a safe space for her. And I appreciate those intentions. Like I truly, truly do, but at the same time, that's not the way to do it. The way to do it is to say, you know, is this a space that I could invite my, you know, a person into this space and they would be comfortable with you because I need to know if it's not. So then I enter these meetings with these people and they're like, just so you know, we're aware that you're a lesbian and we're cool with it. And I just thought, okay, thanks. Let's talk about this other thing now, you know, it's like the most Wellins . It's like, it's like, that's what, well-intentioned white, straight cisgender people do I get it? Like, I'm guilty of it too. Um, but it's really important. It's never your story. It's always someone else's story. Your job is just to hold it. So to get to the last question about helping, helping to navigate the community , uh, you know, whether it is in affirming and welcoming community, that's like screaming it from the rooftops or not. You know, there's varying degrees, everybody's in a different place. This is where we have to think ahead. Like as youth workers, as pastors, as leaders in the church, you have to think ahead and you have to be ready. And again, you're not always going to get it right, but you have to think ahead. You're the first line of defense here is that leader. And you don't want your young person to bear the burden of fielding questions of being burdened with, you know, with the discomfort of other people, because other people will quote, unquote, be uncomfortable. That's not what you don't want. You don't want that for them. So, you know, people know their congregations. You use that to your advantage, be strategic. Are there people in your congregation ahead of time that say, if you had a young person come out to you, who are the people that, you know, would support them fully? Like no questions asked, go to those people that have pre you know, have pre conversations with them of like, Hey, what would you do if a youth ever came out to you, you know, have those trainings with your leaders, even if you don't have kids in your, in your church. Because if you're, you know, preparing for that, that becomes a more welcoming space. So when a kid does show up at your doorstep, they know that it's a safe space for them. Um, and that's really important. And so you have to be strategic about it, and you have to, you have to start the work. Now, not when a kid comes out to you, like now's the time to do it. The other piece of that is you have to be ready to just like jump, jump in head first, because you never know what's going to happen. And I S I , I say that realizing that I'm an Enneagram eight, so I can be a bit aggressive about these things sometimes. Yeah. You do have to kind of dive in head first and be willing to be willing to address conflicts that are going to arise because of this. It shouldn't be that way, but it is. I had a Sunday school teacher who one time was calling a young person by the wrong pronouns and using their dead name. And this young person came and told me, and I, we, I had already gone through a training with these Sunday school teachers. Everybody else was fine, and this person would call this young person by their dead name all the time. And when you would call them out in front of everybody, he would just be like, oh, okay, good . That's it. And just keep going and using the wrong pronouns finally, after several conversations and, you know, telling the youth, you don't have to go to Sunday school, like I'm working on it because there's always bureaucracy to go through in the church. We know , uh , I kindly, as, you know, as kindly as I could call this person, and I said, look, you know, your behavior is not loving. It's detrimental to this person's wellbeing . And it's rude. Like it's rude at the end of the day. Like Jesus would not want you to be rude, just stop it. So thank you for all of the years that you've been teaching. Um, but you're not going to be teaching Sunday school anymore. You're not going to be doing that. And it, you know, it wasn't a pretty conversation. Um, but he wasn't my primary concern. Like he really wasn't. It was for my young person. And then I followed that conversation up with a sermon I was giving on , um , the next Sunday, if like, here's my name's matter and using the wrong names and the wrong pronouns for people, especially young folks is a contributing factor to the suicide rates of LGBTQ plus teens and young people. And so that was, you know, as a pastor, like that was something I could do to make a blanket statement, to remind people, you know, this is not, this isn't a joking matter using the wrong name for someone or the wrong pronouns, or just brushing off this thing that they have trusted with you. That's detrimental to who they are as humans. And so we can't do that. We're not called to do that so yet. So you have to be, you have to be proactive about it. And the other piece that I , I always try to preemptively, warn people about is that, you know, it is going to cause conflict. It just, at some point it will, maybe you have a congregation where it won't and I hope that's the case. Um , but if it does, you have to be willing to say goodbye to people there is. And I know that that's a really taboo thing to say as a pastor of a church, but know , don't

Speaker 2:

Get us cut off. You don't get us cut off. I'm just kidding.

Speaker 4:

No, I'm keeping this in. I'm keeping it . But , um, you know, they're your people too. Yes, they're totally your people too. But , um, the fact of the matter is, is that you have to be willing to put a hard stop to things because you have to ask, who's being like who's being harmed in this situation. Who's truly being harmed , um, losing people in the church. We're so concerned with losing people that we're not focusing on the bigger issues. And so, yeah, there is work. You have to do to walk alongside people. But at some point, if people don't want you to walk alongside them, or if they just actually don't want to get on board, stop wasting your energy, you know, LGBTQ plus people, we have to say goodbye to people in our lives all the time, all the time, every time you come out to somebody, there's a chance that you may, you know, you might lose somebody in your life because they don't want to want to be a part of it. Um , or they may not quote unquote, be ready for it, whatever. See you later. So, you know, I don't have a lot of sympathy for pastors and people in churches who were like, oh, well, we can't lose people. people. We lose people all the time just by being who we are. So get over your privilege. Like let people go shake the dust off and move on. Uh, and so I think it's really important that if you are an advocate for that young person, if they've come to you and they've trusted you, you need to be willing to say goodbye to people because they they're going to have to, at some point in their life, just like the rest of us in the community have, that's just, it's just a fact. So , um, so that's my controversial opinion or Shelly for the day.

Speaker 3:

We are not in community. If you don't respect my personhood. Right ?

Speaker 4:

Exactly. Like, you know, how do you, how do you sit at a table with somebody who sees you as less than, right ? Like, it's not fair to ask, to ask people, Hey, sit at this table with this person, even though you don't think that they're worthy of God's love in the way that you are. That's not okay. It's not okay to do that. And we have to, as people who are leaders in the church as pastors, we have to be willing to take that stand and stop sweeping things under the rug, because we don't want to deal with the conflict. Or we don't want to have to explain to the session why Mr. Jones over there just left the church, like, see , you know, there's only so much you can do. So I think this, we have to stop placating people.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Yeah. It's so easy to yet. I think for leadership and just as people of faith in general, it'd be like, oh, well, we need to meet people where they're at. You know, we need to meet the people where they are. But if where people are at is denying people and telling people that they're not loved by God, I'm going to go ahead and say this. I don't think they need to be at that table. I think they can go somewhere else.

Speaker 4:

Right? So there's, there's plenty of tables folks. There's plenty of plenty of other parts of the table. You can go sit at and when you're ready, you can come back to this table. One of the things that has always irked me the most is when pastor say about their churches, that they're not ready for that conversation, whatever it might be, whether it be dealing with racism, dealing with ableism , dealing with, you know, LGBTQ plus issues like who's ever ready for this, you know, who's ready. The people who've been waiting on it, like the rest of us are ready, get on board because we don't have there's no, there's no more time. Like lives are literally at stake nowadays. Like they always have been, it's even more so prominent now. And so this idea of like, well, we're not ready for that conversation

Speaker 2:

Cause it'll happen. I mean , they'll eventually have someone in your congregation, that'll be. It's going to happen everywhere and you need to be equipped for it, which might be a good time for us to transition to the resource part. Do we equip our people? Yes .

Speaker 1:

So Shelly and Shania, thank you so much for giving us your insight and your perspective. And you've, you've talked about sort of some resources already, but we're going to transition to our resource Roundup segment, where we tell folks about important resources that can help them learn more about these important issues. So what are some resources that you would recommend for our listeners about the experience in the church and trying to provide pastoral care to folks as they're coming out and living into being their true selves?

Speaker 3:

Yeah , so I will highlight , um, one is that my office has been doing and is continuing to doing , um, webinars that are open to the entire. Normally we're open to anyone and the next one is July 13 on gender and inclusion. Um, you can sign up , um, I'll share the link with you so you can sign up for that. Uh, the last one we had, oh , 125 people sign up around a denomination. The last one, it happened last month. And so that is a way for congregations to learn more about around the issues of gender and inclusion. My office is always a resource to do workshops around gender, sexuality, reproductive, justice, racism, intersectionality, culture , humility, all of those things are our workshops that are offered and everything that is a derivative of that like implicit bias, white supremacist culture and so forth and so on. Um , I also want to highlight that this is the first year that I , um, well not then my office is , um , making sure that that the national office is celebrating pride month . And so I I've connected with justice Unbound with the office of public witness with more light Presbyterians with actually the Presbyterian disaster assistance program with the task force , with disparities of black women and girls and with others who are still coming on board to make sure that we have a full calendar that we'll be putting out by next week , um, which with pride activities happening throughout the month of so that you can tap into that. There is a new story coming out by Friday this week that will have the calendar on it. You can access this information on our Facebook page, gender justice page. You can access the information on the denomination of website because of this story will be there. And I will also be putting out an article about pronouns so that we can have that discussion , um, in a more responsible way as well.

Speaker 4:

So there's a couple of resources I would highlight that I like to give out to congregation members to parents, to youth. The first one is actually one that one of my transgender youth gave me , um , a lot , quite a while ago. And it has been super easy for, for, for teenagers, for adults. And it's actually a little graphic novel. Uh, there's also a lot of graphic novel work around , um , welcoming folks. And so I'm always, I can always send, send that on , um, as a graphic novel lover myself, but , uh , it's by Archie bond Giovanni and Tristin Hammerson, and it's a quick and easy guide to they them pronouns. And it's just this like short little book, but it's all about the they them. And I gave this to my church folks recently when I had a transgender youth come out and it is a, it's a really easy way to help explain things. Being a new England people for some reason were really hung up on the grammar piece. Whereas being from the south, I was like, oh, we call everyone day. So it was a great way for them to wrap their heads around the grammar part, which was really good. The other things that I would want to lift up are these two books that were recently put out, it's a set of books that go together. One is for Chris , a guide for LGBTQ plus Christian teens. It's called fully and wonderfully made. And I have given this to several youth since it's come out to help answer questions of like, does God still love me? Yes. And here's all the reasons why God still loves you. And you know, it just, it answers a lot of great questions. It talks about safe sex. It's a sex positive book, which is wonderful because we have to talk about sex in our churches because that's just a reality. And the other one that goes along with it is called a it's a companion book called welcoming and affirming a guide to supporting and working with LGBTQ plus Christian youth by the same people. And, and it really does , um , address some of the questions like the age old question, how do I handle camps, lock ins and mission trips with my students? Like, that's the question everybody's got, everyone wants to know how to do a lock-in like that. So it answers some basic questions. So those are, those are a couple of things I would recommend. I am also happy to send my book list and my resource list to you. All. The other thing I recently did, and I tell everyone to do this with my cohort that I just finished, we gave them some homework where they had to watch or listen to media. So for instance, you know, I was like a lot of you work with young people. Here's all the cartoons out right now that you can watch that are affirming of same gender couples or of people. So for instance, my big thing is Shira and the princess is a power. I, it, I watched that show when I was 37 years old during quarantine. And you know what? Eight year old Shelly would have loved to have seen two female characters kissing at the end. And literally their love saves the world. Like go watch that stuff, folks, because that's what your kids are watching. There's so much on an adventure time is a great one. So consume media, like go listen to those podcasts, you know, watch, watch the movies, watch the cartoons, watch, watch the TV shows because those are also really important for people working with young people in the church to be up to date on those things. We're always trying to be up to date. So, and I , I'm happy to send that list that I use as well. Um, to you all in terms of the media,

Speaker 3:

I wouldn't grab the bunch of books off the shelf. I didn't think about books for some reason. Um , oh yeah. Book shelf of books. Well , I mean, I'm sitting in my office and they're looking at me and I'm looking at them and I'm like, it's not a duty , but , um , I can share books, booklets too . I got some stuff, especially stuff around being black and, but it might be helpful because then also we didn't even say anything about how conservative to Korean and Latin community can be around this something as well. So I'm just wondering, because that's a hard conversation. It is

Speaker 2:

Gail for doing this and thank you all for being here. I'm really grateful for both of you and the work that you do. And I wish that , uh, when I was younger, I knew someone like you. Cause I think my life would be very different. So I hope whoever's out there is listening to this, know that you are loved and know that there are people here for you. We might even put our ear . I might even put my email on the list today, if you have a problem. Um, and I'm sure Shania or Shelly would agree to that if you are needing someone to talk to, but yeah, all these resources will be on the show notes, Shelly and Shania's book lists. We'll put on there as well. But again, thank you all for being here and happy pride everyone, I think.

Speaker 4:

Oh no . Oh no. I was going to say one of my new favorite things on Twitter is that I have started interacting with a lot of like young youth in like high school and college who, you know, they put it out there and they're like, are there any pastors that would affirm me? And I'm like right here, right here. And so I get to have all these fun interactions with these teenagers and these like college students I've never met. And they're like, I had a hard day today and I'm like, I'm really sorry about that. God still loves, you know, and as pastors, that's our responsibility. So if you're not doing that on Twitter, you should be, get on Twitter, everybody

Speaker 3:

Just trying to make it on Facebook.

Speaker 2:

Well, we appreciate y'all.

Speaker 4:

Thank you for having us. This is great. Yes . This was fun. Thank you both much.

Speaker 2:

This has been the matter of fate podcast brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and Unbound. If you would like to submit a question for discussion, you can do [email protected], we look forward to hearing from you, see you next time. Thanks everyone. See you next time.

Speaker 1:

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for listening to episode 14 of a matter of faith, a Presby podcast, don't forget to subscribe on your preferred podcast platform of choice,

Speaker 2:

And don't forget to leave us a review. It helps us to continue to bring this type of content to you and make it a five-star one, but happy pride y'all until next time.