SDA Kinship - March eNews
Important notice: Kinship eNews is published on the public part of the Kinship website at http://www.sdakinship.org/news-blog.html. This means that you will no longer need to log in to the members-only area of the website in order to read full articles or the full issue. The public eNews contains important reports and messages from your Kinship leadership. News and announcements from region coordinators and chapter leaders are now emailed directly only to members in those specific regions. If you do not receive email from your region coordinator or chapter leader, please let Member Services know.
Message from the President
Family and Friends
Church Relations Report
From Your Director of Communications
Building Safe Places - for Everyone
Kinship Kampmeeting 2016
Rehoboth Mini-Kampmeeting 2016
Kinship Europe Meetings
Book and the Beach Mini-Kampmeeting
Living Eden's Gifts
As I was preparing to write my column for this month’s eNews, I noticed the post that our International Director Floyd wrote on the international Facebook group page. He shared a little background about Kinship as an organization and invited people to ask questions or comment so that he or one of the directors could respond.
His post came just when I was deciding what to share with you this month. I wanted to share about Kinship this month because early next month, the Kinship board and leadership staff will get together for board meeting.
The last two face-to-face board meetings have focused on revising the Kinship strategic plan. However, although we have done an enormous amount of work and also shed a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish this task, we’ve still not completed it. Late last year, we decided to postpone completing the new strategic plan until we’ve worked with an organizational consultant. Kinship’s future is far too important for us to find that the new strategic plan is much the same as the previous one. So much has changed within Kinship and the world around us, and we can’t afford to complete the planning process without making real changes in how Kinship functions.
I feel that Kinship is at a crossroads. If we want to remain relevant, it may be time to take the road less traveled—at least less traveled by Kinship thus far. Historically, Kinship has been a wonderful support organization; and, as time has gone by, we’ve also done more advocacy work as well. But we can’t allow our organization to just go wherever the tide takes us. We must plan for a successful future.
Just what would a successful future look like for an organization like Kinship? That’s where an organizational consultant who has worked with other successful LGBTQ+ non-profit organizations can help us. As well as that advice, we need more questions, comments, suggestions, and hands-on work from each one of you. Many of you are experts in fields that could help Kinship to accomplish the things our community needs as we move toward where we want to go. We need all of us working together.
In the future, I want for Kinship to have much greater visibility within the denomination so that people who need or support us can find us. I want Kinship to be the group that the denomination invites to events like the South African summit on gender and sexuality, not groups of people who reject themselves and encourage families and congregations to reject their youth. Our stories are so much more accurate and more relevant than the stories the church usually hears; but, so far, the denomination has sought out those who perpetuate the church’s fundamental beliefs, regardless of the thousands of experiences they don’t account for.
I want all of our members to be able to hold their heads high with love for themselves and our community instead of hanging their heads in shame. I want Kinship to be so useful and helpful to our members that our members willingly support Kinship projects, campaigns, and events. Though we have over 2,800 members, to have fewer than 100 financially support Kinship at any time in a year just doesn’t make sense.
I also want this organization to mean what it says. If Kinship says all are welcome, we must offer things that reach each demographic. If we are an organization for current and former Adventists, we need to actively serve and support both groups. If all are welcome in Kinship, we must have something to offer members who no longer claim the Adventist faith because they’ve found spiritual homes in other denominations or religions, and our agnostic and atheist members. If we don’t, we aren’t being honest with ourselves. No Kinship member should have to question whether they are welcome here.
There is so much more that could be said in this month’s eNews article, but I will stop here for now. If any of you would like to continue this discussion, please respond to this column or start a thread on our international Facebook page where we can continue looking for ways to improve Kinship and where you can share how you’d like to get involved. With board meeting just a month away, it would be great if I could take some of your input there for the directors to discuss. We all want to find ways to make Kinship an even better organization than it already is, and we need to have more hands and more funds to make those changes.
An Open Letter to Any Parent of an LGBTIAQ+ Child
Recently and ongoingly (Kris is a poet and wordsmith so occasionally he forges odd words), transgender people have been in the news. The world and national news and the internal news that Adventists hear through their social media and other communication channels.
Transgender people have been in our personal news lately as well.
We have been asked to share our experience as parents of an MTF transgender daughter. We have known about this reality in our lives for the past four years.
In this open letter, we write a listing of a few of our decisions and learnings. Perhaps they will be helpful to others who also walk the path of parenthood with an LGBT child of any age.
- We decided to listen. When our son came out to us, he asked us to listen to a 10-page letter he wrote and read to us sobbing. We listened then held her close.
- We decided to grieve. The fact is we had “lost” a son. We didn’t announce it in church and there was no funeral—but our son had “died.” Accepting this loss prepared the way for our acceptance of the new reality…so we could accept the daughter he told us she was.
- We decided we had been placed in a “second closet” when she came out. At first, we didn’t talk about “it.” To complicate matters, we are a pastoral family. Who should we talk to? How would we answer the question, “How is your son?” Closets are protective…but they are dark and unhealthy places to live. So, we decided to open the door to our closet…swallow hard…and talk about “it” appropriately to others.
- We decided to educate ourselves through reading. We searched the internet for information. We read books. We read other people’s testimonies. We adopted an open mind on the topic and read to learn…not to confirm preconceived opinions or longstanding traditions.
- We decided we are still a family. We decided God was calling us to live out the deepest depth of parental love. “Can a mother forget her nursing child…Yes, they can.” Isaiah 49:15. Could we? Yes. Should we? No! We decided we would never emotionally or physically abandon the person that carries our genes…regardless of her gender identity or presentation, regardless of her name, clothing, hair color, piercings or tattoos. She’s stuck with us. We’re her parents. We’re stuck with her. She is our child.
- We decided to stay in family fellowship. This wasn’t a hard decision…but it had to be intentional. We continue to claim her as our flesh and blood…and we still want to do things together, now in adulthood. Her master’s degree graduation happened six months after she came out. Of course, we were there. And there are holidays to enjoy, ball games to attend, dinners out together. Her sister sibling is getting married. She is included. Period.
- We decided to continue to be parentally physically affectionate. The experts say a person needs 12 hugs a day. She probably isn’t getting that, given the fact that she’s single and transgender…so we are committed to hugging her in greeting and parting…and other times in between.
- We decided to believe her story and experience. Rather than discounting her perspective on her thoughts about herself, we choose to take her word for it. We believe you, girl.
- We decided to use feminine pronouns and her female name. (The name she settled on was actually suggested by her mother!) We did this out of respect for her as a person and also to communicate love and acceptance. To do otherwise, to insist on using his old name and calling him “he” may have resulted in pushing her away.
- We decided to put ourselves in her place. What would we want from our family were we in her situation? We feel the Golden Rule applies here. We decided to model God’s grace…taught in The Prodigal Son (Luke 15). We choose to NOT give her what some felt she deserved (rejection)…but what she needed (inclusion).
- We decided that we are not alone. So we sought others for peer support and counseling. We heard from caring friends and family—some ahead and some behind us in a similar life journey. Out of these emails, conversations, and meals out…we found that we were “normal” in our feelings and thoughts. We found other Adventist parents who found the grace to love their children, too.
- We decided to take a break from ministry. We took a sabbatical, and the time away from the daily grind of work gave us schedule space to deal with thoughts and emotions.
- We decided to have a key heart-to-heart talk with our children…individually alone and then together. This was a turning point in our family dynamics, and no one could do it but the two of us. We…mom and dad…did it together. It was transformative.
- We decided to keep praying with and for her. God is not dead…and the Divine is still at work…in our lives and her life. We lift her up in prayer daily, and when she leaves our presence, she joins us in a family prayer circle.
- We decided to stop asking God to change her back into a him…and began asking God to change us. God has been answering those prayers.
- We decided talking about our family was healthy. We talk about our own feelings and our daughter in appropriate ways with people we can trust. We have slowly moved from silence to advocacy for others in the LGBT community, offering love and care where we can.
- We decided that we would stop blaming ourselves. We know it’s not our fault as parents that our child has these thoughts about herself. We didn’t cause this. The jury is still out on causative factors (a choice of nurture or a condition of nature?), so we have decided to blame the reality of humanity’s fall instead.
- We decided to get acquainted with her friends…other members of the LGBT community. This includes attending worships, parties, and outings. Even a pizza night. You know…normal human kindness kinds of interactions.
- We learned that acceptance was a harder road…but we were up for the challenge. We know we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
- We learned we could find peace in a new normal.
- We learned perfect families don’t exist. “You have the perfect family…a boy and a girl…and the boy is older,” someone once said. In their patriarchal world, this may be a good thing…but it hardly matters. Our family is what it is…and we love each other.
- We learned that our families of origin are more gracious that we thought they might be. After she came out to the rest of the extended family, we saw them offer continued love and grace to our child. We should have known that would be the case…for they have shown grace to us throughout our lives.
- We learned we will never fully understand what our daughter is going through. We are cis-gendered. Our brains match our bodies. Hers does not. But we learned we could have empathy.
- We learned that all people deserve love and respect, and all people deserve to be at “God’s table” …and not under it. We should never equate people with “dogs.” Matthew 15:27. Jesus welcomes all to His table…and offers a feast of food, friendship, and faith to each one.
- We learned that gender identity and expression is a painful experience for a person who is transgender. It isn’t something that they choose to be hip or cool. And we need not make their life more painful. In fact, the Christian would make their path smoother and their load lighter by living out the love found in 1 Corinthians 13 and taught in the Sermon on the Mount. We choose to practice this basic Christian ideal.
- We learned personality is not gender-related. She is the same as he was. She is just as creative, messy, and funny as he ever was. She is computer-savvy and still a passionate baseball fan—just like he was.
- We learned that the brain is still the great mystery of the human body. A mass of grey, gelatinous tissue; it controls the whole of the body. It is the holy of holy of the human, if you will. And all aspects of brain function, chemistry, and its final output in thought and feeling is still a great mystery.
- We learned to interpret the traditional homosexual Bible passages through the interpretive lens of the ministry of the grace of Jesus. The same Jesus who loved tax collectors, women, lepers, and the foreigner…would also love the LGBT community today. By following Jesus’ example in this, we realize that we will likely be criticized the same way He was. “Why do you eat with publicans and sinners?” To that question, we will give Jesus’ answer.
- We learned to find comfort in Bible verses not usually quoted in discussions of the intersection of faith and the LGBTIAQ community.
- Luke 10:26 – When asked for a list things or one thing to do for eternal life, Jesus asked a question back. “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” That is a key question. “How do you read it.”
- Romans 14:5 – “Each person should be fully convinced in their own minds.” Since humanity is a glorious mix of races, cultures, perspectives, genders, etc., there is bound to be differences of conclusions. And every person is given the freedom to think and act for themselves.
- Romans 14:15 – “Do not, for the sake of your food destroy and ruin someone for whom Christ died.” We could insert any topic in the place of food. Do not for the sake of _______ destroy someone for whom Christ died. In the kingdom of grace, a person is more important than a policy, a proposition, or even a principle.
- Matthew 19:12 – Jesus’ mention of three types/causes of eunuchhood deserves consideration and study. Born that way, made themselves that way, or made that way by others. Certainly people born with any difference—physical, emotional, mental, etc. receive Jesus’ accommodation in the kingdom.
- We learned that love is a choice. And we choose love. Love is drawing our daughter close, rather than pushing her away. Love is including, not excluding. Shunning is not an option for us.
- We learned that if the family dog, Lady, could treat her the same as always—with a friendly tail wag and an eager tongue—we could follow Lady’s example, minus the wagging and licking.
- We learned two wonderful phrases of healing, encouragement, and hope:
“There are some things that only God knows…and They (the Trinity) are not telling.” Life is mysterious and there many things we don’t understand. God’s ways are not our ways and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. God’s ways are beyond finding out. Some things are best left with God.
“We are not in Eden anymore and we are not in Heaven yet.” We are here: outside one perfect garden…and not yet in the next perfect garden. We are trapped here…on a flawed, sin-filled earth, of which we are a part. We’re all in this together…so, sinner, be kind and gentle and neighborly to your neighbor, the sinner.
And we’ll close with one additional decision:
We decided to courageously use our names. Having written before with pseudonyms, this piece is signed with who we are.
We both come from families that have been part of the Adventist Church for several generations: there are accountants, teachers, pastors, chaplains, doctors, nurses, and professors in our family tree that have served God in this church for entire careers. Others, whose jobs weren’t and aren’t in denominational employ, have served this church in numerous volunteer officer roles as well. We are Adventists by faith and fellowship. And we are a family that has LGBT members.
Our limb of the family tree includes a gay grafting and a lesbian leaf and a couple of transgender twigs. (Kris, the poet, strikes again.) And that is just what is known at this time.
We understand that the only way to end the culture of shame in the Adventist Church is to speak out and up for the other members of our church.
So we say… “Love your gay and lesbian children. Love your transgender kids. Love your intersex child. Love your queer child. And if you don’t have one of your own…love someone else’s. For surely, they are among us.”
That’s our story. We love our daughters. Your results may vary.
Family and Friends Coordinator
Contact the Family and Friends Coordinators
February was a busy month. It began with the annual meeting of the Kinship Advisory Council. For the first time, Kinship and Seventh-Gay Adventists were given a booth at an Adventist gathering in Seattle in mid-February. At the end of February, the Building Safe Places meeting in Palos Verdes, California, invited Chris Blake to share and dialogue about a new project.
February was a busy month. It began with the annual meeting of the Kinship Advisory Council. Members of the Council spent the first part of the day reporting their activities to support the LGBTIQ community. We also had two guests: a retired union president from Africa and a physician who graduated from Southern and Loma Linda. Both of them shared their stories and their desire to support our community. It had been suggested that an updated paper be published to supplement the book, Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-day Adventist Perspectives. The Advisory suggested that an article be written to commemorate the tenth anniversary for the conference on homosexuality that was held in January 2006. They further suggested that Kinship and the Advisory work toward preparing articles by Adventists and other Christian authors that could be posted on a Facebook page sharing current trends in theology, sociology, psychology, ministry, and legal perspectives. It was the feeling that such articles would get more attention than publishing a white paper. The Advisory had a report from Yolanda about current work Kinship is doing. There was a report regarding the combined work that is happening with Enough Room at the Table, Building Safe Places for Everyone, and A Sanctuary for Conversation: Listening, Loving, and Learning. It was voted to expand the number of members of the Advisory to include more pastors and educators, especially those working with the IAGC.
For the first time, Kinship and Seventh-Gay Adventists were given a booth at an Adventist gathering. The One Project issued an invitation for their meeting in Seattle in mid-February. Over a thousand pastors, students, and members of local congregations attended; and many came to visit the booth to learn more about the newly released DVD, Enough Room at the Table. All the copies of this DVD and the film Seventh-Gay Adventists that were brought to the meeting were gone at the end of the conference. The highlight for me was getting to spend several hours with a person who came out to me during the meeting, who is a member of a congregation where I pastored.
At the end of February, the Building Safe Places meeting in Palos Verdes, California, invited Chris Blake who was the moderator for Enough Room at the Table and the author of the new four-hour workshop for churches, A Sanctuary for Conversation: Listening, Loving and Learning to share and dialogue about this new project. It is hoped that, in the next few months, this program will be back on track to be supported by the North American Division. The material in the workbook was successfully presented to the youth directors in North America last Spring and at the Ministerial Association meeting in Austin last summer.
Do you have ideas to share or want to dialogue about how we can interact with local churches, conferences, or the General Conference? Please share your ideas and questions on the Kinship Facebook page. Or you can send me your comments, questions, ideas, or suggestions here.
A new documentary from our friends in Australia! A special thank you to Dr. John Wallace and friends for making this possible. Dr. Wallace was recently interviewed on a national radio program in Australia to discuss Here I Am.
Here I Am interviews 28 individuals and discusses the importance of telling our stories at the intersection of faith and sexuality. “Coming out” can be a difficult time for Christian families, individuals and those close to them. They often feel completely alone in the world. In this documentary, parents, children, partners, couples, and supporting pastors and psychologists speak from the heart about the experience of coming out in a Christian environment. They discuss the importance of faith, the difficulties of coming out in families and the church, solutions to the problems, their best advice for others, and hope for the future.
Links to bookmarks:
Public Facebook Page -https://www.facebook.com/sdakinship
Twitter - https://twitter.com/sdakinship
Kinship Blog - http://sdakinship.org/news-blog.html
We Are Seventh-day Adventists: Every Story Matters - http://wearesdas.com
Bisexual Health Awareness Month
March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month (BHAM) focusing on Bisexual+ Youth. Bisexual, fluid, pansexual, and queer youth experience higher rates of suicidality, interpersonal violence, and mental distress compared to their gay, lesbian, and straight peers. BHAM has formed local and national partnerships to raise awareness about the various social, economic, and health disparities experienced by bi+ youth.
- March 1-4: (Statistics) A focus on current statistics and research surrounding bisexual+ youth, including mental health, sexual health, and interpersonal violence.
- March 7-11: (Intersectionality) An emphasis on how race, ethnicity, gender, ability and class can further impact social, economic, and health disparities among bisexual+ youth, particularly in regards to experiences of oppression and discrimination.
- March 14-18: (Resources) A spotlight on current resources, and the creation of new ones, that can improve the health and wellbeing of bisexual+ youth.
- March 21-25: (Action) The promotion of programs, policies, and services that can work to prevent or decrease social, economic, and health disparities among bisexual+ youth.
If you have any inquiries about #BiHealthMonth this year or want to get involved, you can reach out to the Bisexual Resource Center’s BRC.
Kampmeeting Assistance Available for KinYouth
It's not too early to start thinking about SDA Kinship Kampmeeting in Baltimore this July 26-31, 2016. There are scholarships and financial assistance available to KinYouth specifically and you are encouraged to apply. Fill out the form to be considered for assistance. (http://www.sdakinship.org/events/sda-kinship-kampmeeting/scholarship-application-us-kampmeeting.html?form_id=34&show_form_title=0&show_form_description=0). We can't wait to see you there!
More information about KinYouth at: http://www.sdakinship.org/regions-groups/groups/youth-of-kinship.html.
Or you can email Rebby or friend her on Facebook and join the KinYouth Facebook Group.
Debbie Hawthorn-Toop, Director of Women's Interests
March, what do you think of when you hear that? Spring? Many of us do. But what do you think of when you think of spring? I think of longer days, warmer days, flowers, trees budding, and the grass turning green again. I also think of spring cleaning. Airing out the house, getting rid of clutter, and having fresh/new beginnings. It is a time I also look at my personal life and try to clear out the clutter. It is a time to look at my relationships with others and clean out all the toxic or negative people in my life. When was the last time you de-cluttered your life?
Time to Register
Women and Children First weekend registration is on the Kinship website at https://sdakinship.org/events/women-children-first.html. The dates are July 22-26, 2016. The number of attendees is limited this year, so if you are planning on attending please register early. We have already had several members register, and it is on a first-come-first-served basis. Women & Children First Weekend is open to all female Kinship members, including our wonderful allies.
For a look at the property where we will be staying, at go to: http://bit.ly/1RnqdES
Please feel free to contact me with any other suggestions or ideas that you may have for KinWomen.
More information at: http://www.sdakinship.org/regions-groups/groups/women-of-kinship.html
Our readers say that one of the most important parts of this newsletter is the stories. We've had several people say how much they appreciate Jerry McKay's series. We've had requests for more stories like Jerry's. Well, there is one way to have those stories—for you to write them. We will help you edit. We would be willing to e-mail interview you. We are willing to get what you write in segments. Mostly, we just want to share because that is the way we in Kinship become a community. If you are willing, you can write to us (address below).
If you have comments, questions, or submissions for publication, you can write to us here.
You can find archived copies of the Connection online at http://sdakinship.org/resources/connection-newsletters.html.
This month (March 14-18) we are having the largest gathering in our young history. The Team Support group plans to have a theological think tank. The 28 members of the Local Wisdom group comprise conference presidents, a GC theologian, union youth leaders, pastors, and—for the first time—church elders. At their request, we will be discussing The Bible, the Character of God and Homosexuality; Building Bridges between Adventist Communities and Their LGBTI Members; and Hearing our Stories.
Because of the Local Wisdom request for stories, we have put together a booklet that contains stories of Kinship members. Ruud compiled a mix of intersex, transgender, gay, lesbian, same-sex parents, couples, and marriage stories. They are ideal for sharing at any event in which you may participate or with family, friends, and church members.
You are our best source for new articles, new announcements, Bible studies, and stories. We would be most appreciative to have you help us stay updated. You can send links to .
You can find many resources on our website at http://buildingsafeplaces.org/
You can receive our newsletter by contacting us here.
July 26-31, 2016 Save the Dates!
Kampmeeting 2016 is coming up in four months! Don't forgot to sign up and make your reservations to join us. Information regarding location and fees are on the SDA Kinship website at https://www.sdakinship.org/events/sda-kinship-kampmeeting.html.
We are working hard to make sure we have a diverse group of speakers that covers all aspects of our beautiful diverse group of members as well as providing fun and exciting activities and events in which all can participate throughout the day and evening. Check out the tentative schedule, here.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kristina here.
We will have the beach house from Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning, providing our attendees an extra day to play at the beach, boardwalk, or outlet shops.
Please fill out the registration form online as soon as possible to make sure you get a room at the beach house! Once all spaces are filled, you will need to find your own room at one of the many hotels in the area.
The cost for the weekend at the beach house, which includes a warm bed, Friday evening supper, Sabbath and Sunday breakfast, and Sabbath lunch is $125/person. The cost for the weekend if staying off-site is $80/person. All other meals are your responsibility.
Our speaker this year is Pastor Al Konrad, Brian’s good friend!
For any questions, please contact Yolanda.
Click here to fill out the registration form.
I look forward to seeing you soon!
AWA - This month's German meeting (somewhat the equivalent of a Forum meeting) is focused on Homosexuality and the Adventist Church. They have invited Tonja, Floyd, and Rene to speak with them. For more information, you can contact Ingrid.
EKM 1-5 September
We already have 23 people confirmed to attend! If you would like to join us at a lovely seminar hotel in the parkland of Germany, hear devotionals by participants and local allies, learn about our brain with Arlene Taylor, be a part of a play, and meet an international group of Kinship members, you can register online (see link below) or contact Catherine for registration information.
For more information, you can go to https://sdakinship.org/events/european-kinship-meeting.html.
Kinship Europe Holiday
If you would like to continue your holiday from September 5 to 12, here is a link to the beautiful house we'll get to share. For more information or to register, you can go tohttps://sdakinship.org/events/european-kinship-meeting.html. Here is a link that describes our house: http://www.belvilla.com/holiday-home/germany/netze-15-persons-DE-34513-29.
More information about Kinship Europe at http://sdakinship.org/regions-groups/regions/europe.html.
European Coordinator:Ruud Kieboom
European Youth Coordinator: Itamar
The Kind God of the Old Testament?
Cost: $240.00 per person
We're keeping the dolphin cruise, great meals, beautiful view of the ocean, comfortable rooms, remarkable people, lighthouse visits, and a surprise or two. We moved the date on the off chance that having our gathering later in the month will provide more sunshine and fewer hurricane warnings. We are shifting our study this year to be a mix of presentation and discussion. Our topic is God's Grace in the Old Testament. We'll hear about and discuss stories.
You can register at https://sdakinship.org/events/book-beach-mini-kampmeeting.html and sign up to pay at little less than $35.00 per month per person from April to October. If you have questions, you can contact Catherine.
We look forward to seeing you!
One of our local allies is working with young Adventists who are struggling with their orientation and their contexts. This Bible study is one of the resources used.
If you or anyone you know would find a Biblical study of the issue helpful, you can access the entirety of this Bible study about "the clobber texts" at http://bit.ly/1MiHCY3 or http://bit.ly/1DHTbcV,or you can order a hard copy version to share from Catherine.
Without generous, caring persons like you, Kinship could not exist. Kinship operates solely on contributions from its members and friends. Help us reach out to more LGBTI Adventists by making a tax-deductible donation to Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International.
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International
PO Box 244, Orinda, California USA 94563
Visit us on the web at sdakinship.org
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