Journey - Chapter 15

Journey - Chapter 15
Journey - Chapter 15 The Year of Before and After - Part II It was midnight when I finished reading the Ministry interview and headed home. The familiar residential streets of Tokyo seemed different that night. My trance-like walk home was broken once by a brief exchange with a passing policeman whom I knew. I remember this odd detail because his greeting jolted me back into the present. Although my head was filled with the hope of healing from homosexuality , when I saw him I was once again aware of how attractive I found him. This left me feeling uneasy. Once home, hoping not to wake anyone, I slipped into bed and tried to sleep. That was impossible. It is said that just before you die your life passes before you. Mine passed before me many times that night. I replayed events from childhood and with male friendships in high school and college. I recounted my long “relationship” with Donna and my three prior years in Japan. I spent most of the night reassessing every event through a new...
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MY NAME IS MATTHEW

MY NAME IS MATTHEW
My name is Matthew, and I am a grade 12 student at Kingsway College, a Seventh-day Adventist high school in Oshawa, Ontario. I am 18 years old. To some, I have a strange and somewhat obsessive love of Narnia and all things medieval. I grew up in the Adventist Church and consider myself a faithful Christian. I am also gay. But, to me, that is only one of the many things that I am. Besides Narnia, I love Lord of the Rings and all that fantasy medieval stuff. My life goal is to have a castle of my own one day. I have plans for that. I live about an hour east of Toronto, Ontario, in a city called Oshawa. It’s a pretty notable place in the Adventist community in Ontario. The Ontario Conference is here and so is my high school, elementary school, and the church of 1000+ members. There are also many other Adventist churches in the area so there are a lot of Adventists nearby. It is difficult to understand what people’s attitudes are towards the subject....
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Alicia Johnston's Video

aliciajohnston
On April 22, former Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Alicia Johnston, in this Facebook video shared that she is bisexual.  The Kinship community couldn’t be prouder of her on this huge step she has taken on her journey!  Alicia, we applaud your strength, courage, and conviction.  We stand with you.  Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International  info@sdakinship.org www.sdakinship.org
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WHY I VOLUNTEER MY TIME FOR SDA KINSHIP

WHY I VOLUNTEER MY TIME FOR SDA KINSHIP
People who know me and my history with the Adventist Church, or those who hear what is still going on in the local churches often ask me: Why are you involved with SDA Kinship? Why are you still a member of a church that is obviously not interested in YOU? And to be honest, I wonder that as well from time to time. It does cost me time and often it costs my nerves. It costs patience and sometimes also money. Sometimes the work with Kinship can be very frustrating. At those times I need to remind myself: I remember the first time I fell in love with a women and my doubts regarding my beliefs regarding this. I remember feeling desperate about maybe no longer belonging to God and being not wanted by the church, which was also a part of my family. I remember searching for answers to get my doubts under control. The seemingly hopeless fight against my feelings which seemed to be "wrong" at the time. I remember the joy I felt when I heard from...
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MEMBERSHIP

MEMBERSHIP
It is important for any organization to know and understand the needs of its members, and SDA Kinship's greatest asset is our members. To help gather current data, the Kinship Board created a survey that was sent out to all members with email addresses to find out what challenges our members are facing and what direction the Board needs to move the organization in.  The survey was sent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German to 2586 members and we received about 260 responses. The following are some data from each question. How long have you been a member? The highest percentage of respondents were in the 0- to 5-year range. Primary reason for joining?  Looking for community, support for being LGBTQ and Adventist.  Satisfaction level for meeting those needs: Most responses fell between Neutral and Satisfied. Extremely satisfied was three times as great as Extremely dissatisfied.  Top three personal challenges: isolation; uncertainty about local politics and about the direction the church is heading; family acceptance; health. Top three challenges for LGBTQ Adventists: Church acceptance and support; hostile political climate; isolation...
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FEED MY SHEEP

FEED MY SHEEP
Why did Jesus ask Peter three times, "Do you love me?" It has been said that Peter denied Jesus three times; and, therefore, Jesus made Peter claim his love for Him three times. The three questions seem to be the same; however, in Greek, they are different. Jesus calls him, "Simon, son of Jonah," his old name. Previously, Jesus had changed his name to Cephas, meaning "rock-man" in Aramaic; and in Greek, petro ; in English, Peter. In these three questions Jesus uses his old name, “Simon, son of Jonah,” reminding Peter that he had not acted as a "rock-man" when he had denied Jesus a couple of nights earlier. However, Jesus did not do this to embarrass Peter but to remind him of his weakness and need of the Lord to make him a "rock-man." Then Jesus said, "Do you love me more than these?" referring to the disciples. Peter answers, "Lord, you know that I love you." The word that Jesus used for love was “agapaō.” The Greek word for friendship is “phileō.” But “agapaō” is the greatest...
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CHURCH RELATIONS

CHURCH RELATIONS
During late January and the month of February, a number of events took place that provided opportunities for Kinship to be involved through the Director of Church Relations. The Creating Change Conference in Philadelphia for the first time offered a room called “Many Paths” for those of various faiths to meet for spiritual support. Some Kinship members who were attending the conference came to the space. This included an opportunity for those who wished to share their concerns, prayers, and fears during the inauguration of the new President. There were many opportunities to interact with various LGBT support groups, including those from the Muslim and Jewish communities. In early February, the members of the Kinship Advisory Council met for their annual face-to-face meeting. The Council is chaired by the Director of Church Relations with the President of Kinship and a member of the Board invited to attend each year. The other members of the Council are current or retired employees of the denomination or closely affiliated organizations. This meeting begins with the members sharing ways in which they have been...
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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
As an American, I’ve always felt that compassion was at the heart of the American people. What I’ve seen in national politics over the last year, particularly from the President’s campaign, was a total opposite of compassion. It seems to now be okay to act on the bigotry and hate that has been stirred up, and this makes me feel sad and angry because America is no place for hate and bigotry. The world is no place for hate and bigotry, either. So I was excited to attend the Women’s March on Washington (WMW) in January. The main message of the March was that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights. Visit the website        https://goo.gl/1WAhgo to learn how this powerful event came to be. The values and principles written in this document are extremely empowering. Please take a few minutes to read them. In that document, you’ll learn about the grassroots women-led movement that became a truly historic event across the United States and around the world. Being part of it was truly an amazing experience...
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JESUS AND MAGNETIC FIELDS

JESUS AND MAGNETIC FIELDS
By Regina Araujo When I was seventeen, I felt mesmerized by physics. It was absolutely elegant, I thought. Electromagnetism was (and still is!) my favorite branch of physics. Then an opportunity to “preach” on a youth Sabbath came up and I jumped on it! It would be my first time and I knew exactly what my theme would be: Jesus’ Magnetic Field! I knew what to do to illustrate and even brought my show-and-tell apparatus. I guess that was the easy part for everyone. It was also easy to make the correlation with Jesus as John 12:32 popped right off my Bible: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself." Cool! The cross is Jesus’ magnetic field which envelopes all humanity, just like the earth’s magnetic Van Allen belts around the globe. What a revelation! Yet, I concluded my talk that morning with a profound sense of dissatisfaction. Something was missing. And, in my heart, it was finding the cross of Christ attractive! I could not bring myself to say, like Paul, "For...
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MEET COLBERT

Tell us a little about yourself. I am 50 years old. I was born in the beautiful city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and have been living in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, for the last 24 years. I was born and raised Seventh-day Adventist but became Catholic about 10 years ago. How do you identify? I am a gay man. What was it like growing up as a gay person? I had a normal Adventist upbringing, singing in quartets, small groups, and youth choir, and being part of Pathfinders. I never considered myself gay and also hoped to have one of those glamorous weddings one day in church. However, I discovered my sexuality, that I was gay, when I left home and went to college where I met my first lover. So my upbringing was very normal mainstream Seventh-day Adventist.  Tell us about your coming-out experience. When I came out as a gay man I was a young adult and faced direct conflict with friends and elders in the church and suffered rejection that eroded my faith in the...
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BISEXUALITY’S FLUIDITY

BISEXUALITY’S FLUIDITY
By Salomón Benítez To highlight anything about bisexuality would be its incomprehension, including that of those in the sexually diverse community, even among bisexual persons. This is due to the lack of information and availability, as well as the bias that lingers about bisexuality such as, “A person declares himself bisexual when this person does not want to admit, or wants to hide, their own homosexuality.” The issue regarding bisexuality is not about hiding an expression of sexuality; it is a sexuality of its own. The bisexual person could have started amorous relations with whichever gender, and have felt unfitting of neither of the major assumed sexual orientations, heterosexual or homosexual. This generates confusion, anxiety, uncertainty, and low self-esteem. When the bisexual person hunches that they could be bisexual, they start to comprehend and to value their orientation in spite of the difficulties this brings, such as being accused of being bisexual because it's “trendy” or for fear of being called gay or lesbian. My personal experience carried me to overcome all these biases. A heterosexual person needs for the...
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REY’S STORY

REY’S STORY
My name is Rey, and I am from China. Here it is difficult to become a Christian due to many reasons, both religious and local policy, especially for someone who's not from a Christian family. Many years ago, my spiritual life accidentally started with my friend's invitation to attend a church which meets on Sabbath. I called it "Saturday church," and it was not until two years later I knew its full name of Seventh-day Adventist. As a new member in my church, with zero absences, I attended every introductory course. This lasted almost a year and I gradually developed a strong love for and faith in God. It's amazing for someone who never believed in Jesus. Everything about my church life here was nice: the congregation reads the Bible, sings psalms, and prays together. But one day, the pastor's words in class sharply hurt my heart. Pastors here openly and strongly condemn LGBTIQ people. You can never imagine how it felt for an innocent young man who was ready to come to the embrace of God's love to get...
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WHY I AM AN ALLY

WHY I AM AN ALLY
by Sue Gentry I had never met a gay/lesbian/transgender/queer (I don't like that word) until I went to graduate school, even though I knew some men who might want to be in this kind of life. However, I never met a lesbian until I met K. and J.  K. was in the same program as I was and J. was her partner. I went over to their home to go with them to a restaurant. It was then I saw K. kiss J. on the mouth.  I didn't think much of it until K. and I sat down in the booth and got settled in for our usual coffee and a snack. K. explained to me what was going on with her partner and that they were both lesbians. Since I was a curious person, she went on to explain what lesbian meant. I was from a very shielded background, but K. very graciously answered my questions. From that point on, we became friends. That was in 1980. We are still friends to this day. That was part of my...
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A Visit to Building Safe Places For Everyone

A Visit to Building Safe Places – For Everyone
By Tanja Koppers On March 6-8, 2017, twenty-three European and Central/South American pastors, counselors, theologians, church administrators, and lay leaders met in Odenwald, Germany, for a Building Safe Places workshop. For Thursday evening’s session, Catherine* asked members from SDA Kinship Germany to join the group discussion so some issues could be discussed with us (as LGBTs) and not about us. Sure, Catherine is one of us; but it is always better to have more voices and answers to deepen understanding. Like last year, Rene Tuchtenhagen (SDA Kinship member) and I responded to her invitation. In 2016, we were asked to tell our stories. This year the participants prepared three questions for us. What was your first positive dialogue with an Adventist church member? How did it affect you? What do you think about the Adventist Church’s recommendation that gay men and lesbians practice celibacy?  How would you like to be treated if you visited or joined a church with your partner? I will answer the last question first. Rene and I both responded quickly. We do not expect any special...
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KINSHIP RESPONSE to Statement on Transgenderism

KINSHIP RESPONSE to Statement on Transgenderism
Kinship Response to Statement on Transgenderism: Focus on Loving God’s Children Dear Friends, On Tuesday, April 11, 2017, the Executive Committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted a “Statement on Transgenderism” at its regular Spring Meetings. Kinship has reviewed this statement thoroughly and finds that, at a surface-level reading, this document professes love and acceptance for transgender people and includes a call to treat them with “dignity and respect.” Nonetheless, that does not diminish the genuine harm of this clear declaration: “As long as transgender people are committed to ordering their lives according to the biblical teachings on sexuality and marriage they can be members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”  By this, the church has permitted and even encouraged the refusal of membership on the basis of gender identity and sexuality for those who cannot conform. Ten “biblical principles relating to sexuality and the transgender phenomenon” are listed. No hard data is offered—indeed, none exists biblically—and the statement’s author added his own opinions, guided by religious and cultural norms, to the interpretation of the Scriptures and presented them...
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THE BATHROOM DEBATE?

THE BATHROOM DEBATE?
By Randi Robertson In an attempt to help bring understanding and compassion in the transgender bathroom debate, I will share two stories that shine a little light on the issue. When I was returning home from a weekend trip, it was getting late in the afternoon, and I was in deep southern Georgia driving southbound on I-75. I needed two things: a restroom and some food. I exited the highway at the first exit that had a fast food restaurant I liked. I was hungry but in dire need of the restroom. I entered the restaurant and headed straight for the ladies' restroom. When I opened the door, two preteen girls were exiting, being directed by a woman in her late twenties or early thirties. She directed them to wait in the area just outside the restroom entrance. They departed then I entered. What I found was a room full of girls, ranging from age 7 to about 14, along with two women. The group looked like a cheerleading squad. The young women were directing traffic, and I got in line to...
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