I was startled when Floyd reminded me that October is Kinship Awareness Month. So many of you live in my mind and in my heart so much of the time, that it seems like it’s always Kinship month for me. When I think about the ways Kinship is important to me—well, it’s you. Plain, simple, complex, hopeful, frustrated, inspiring, loving you. This month, there are some people I want to tell you about and some I will leave to their privacy.
- Ruud: You Are Invited and You Are Safe with Me is beautiful because of you. And that’s only the start. The rest of you will have to meet him to understand.
- Colin: You made a film and also made illustrated instructions so I could find my way into 21st-century Zoom.
- Ivy: You teach me cultural humility and make sure I get these notes done.
- Tom: You teach us about THOSE texts and other biblical conundrums with humor, gentleness, brilliance, and grace.
- Tanja: You are the boarding school roommate I never had. We’re working on getting a book group going.
- Verna-Lee: I am in awe of your courage.
- Bruce and Eddie: Well, you know I love you. Thank you for being big brothers. You, David, and Terry were the first people who taught me Kinship was home.
- Ingrid and Frieder: There are few words. I am in awe of you and care for you deeply.
- Jens: I learn from the courage and grace of your journey.
- Pam: Oh, my goodness. You have reminded my heart that everyday funny chit-chats are possible. You help me survive Lorraine’s death.
- Kirsten and Eileen: You teach me about so many ways people can be safe.
- Mwole: Yep, I would have followed you over the rails of that horse cart . . . and I don’t do that for just anyone.
- Stefan and Joachim: I cannot imagine a September vacation without you or Friday nights without photos of your Irish . . . well, your Irish way of welcoming the Sabbath.
- James: I tell lots of people that one of your first messages to my post-surgical self was, “We’re praying for you, and can I see a copy of the X-ray?” Also, I do love arguing theology with you.
- Jacquie: Thank you for your particular, wonderful self and the hundreds of hours you proofread my work.
- Linda: For getting so very many missives mailed and doing it with love and grace.
- Kayla: Wow, thank you. I appreciate this time to get to know you.
- Justin: You listen in many careful ways. It’s amazing to me that you can write what I think in my voice. What a gift.
- And then there is Floyd. Thanks for putting up with my sniffling when I thought we had blown Building Safe Places that year, for finding me a church when I didn’t want to leave, for taking me to my first leather bar (at 5:00 in the afternoon), for having faith in my visions as I figure out what they are, for caring so much about this Kinship community that you stretch my heart. What an amazing gift that I get to know you and work with you.
. . . and dear wonderful readers I haven’t even told you about the surprising, amazing, laughter-and-tears-filled family reunion that was the European Kinship Meeting last month. I have never seen or been to anything like it.
Clearly, what makes Kinship so valuable and healing is all of you. I wish for you unexpected blessings.
Take good care of yourselves for you are valuable and valued.
— Catherine Taylor, Vice President
Every so often, I hear stories of LGBTQ+ people from the ‘90s, ‘80s, and earlier. I hear of how people were OUT, proud and loud before there were any rights and before the internet. When I hear those stories, it reminds me that I am part of a chain of LGBTQ+ people who have been paving the way for me to be able to come out and enjoy life so openly.
When I attend Kinship Kampmeeting and hear stories from times past, from Kampmeetings in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and I see people and an organization that has been promoting LGBTQ+ rights in the Adventist Church for 40+ years, it makes me proud to be part of this legacy.
However, many SDAs still don’t know who we are, why we exist or why they should join our movement to help the SDA Church become more loving, accepting, and compassionate. Many Adventists still believe negative stereotypes, and many Adventist families think that they need to reject LGBTQ+ people, including their kids, because of their biblical worldview.
I’m glad Kinship shows another way. Kinship promotes hope for LGBTQ+ Adventists to hold onto their faith, live in integrity, and be out and proud LGBTQ+ members of society. As Kinship Awareness kicks off, we aim to empower members with confidence and insight, so we can share Kinship more broadly. We can invite our family members, as well as church communities, to attend Kinship events and bring their questions and doubts. We’re not here to have all the answers, but we are willing to journey alongside people as they ask questions.
Stay tuned to our social channels as we share news and feel free to share our posts with others in your network. Together, we can spread the good news of SDA Kinship and work together to create authentic, safe spaces for our members and beyond.
— Justin Mezetin, Director of Communications
P.S. I hope to see many of you at Kinship Kampmeeting this year in Riverside, CA, from November 9-12. See Kampmeeting.com for more info.
Happy month of May!
There has been so much happening in the past few weeks. If you haven't joined in with the presentations, I hope you will check out our YouTube channel and catch up with the recordings there. Both the Washington Adventist University summit and the Adventist Peace Fellowship summit were inspiring, enriching, and filled with wonderful presentations and sermons. I highly recommend spending some time soaking in the presentation. Adventist Today had Kinship's own Ron Lawson for their Sabbath Seminar present on Colin Cook's Quest ministry—one that supposedly could change attendees from gay to straight. Of course, that was false advertising. It was quite an eye-opening presentation. These and many more can be found on our YouTube channel: //www.youtube.com/@SDAkinship" data-cke-saved-href="https://www.youtube.com/@SDAkinship">https://www.youtube.com/@SDAkinship.
It Is with Sadness That I Write This Letter
BY JERRY MCKAY
The 1986 Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) season took over at work in midwinter. To keep up with the volume of mutual fund purchases, my employer hired temporary staff. That was how I met Judith, a friendly, attractive woman with dark wavy hair. We hit it off immediately. I told her, with some hesitation, about my journey and my work with HA. As Judith worked in theatre, she assured me she was fine with my orientation, that I was not the first gay man she had ever met! We frequently had lunch together and occasionally met up outside of work.
“While together the other evening,” I wrote, “I allowed myself to feel anything that I was aware of.” My reserved personality, dampened by hyperconservative Christian caution, continued to make it difficult for me to relax and feel anything or think about anything sexual related to women. It was always a challenge to just be and linger over thoughts like kissing a woman! Writing as if I were practicing a mindfulness meditation, I continued, “I didn’t resist, but tried to let the thought of kissing her flow in and out of my mind freely.”
Helping Our Faith to Understand and Love
As we watch our top faith leaders react and respond to genuine modern human situations, we see exposed many weaknesses, misunderstandings, and argumentative behaviors. Strong words; but we feel many of the top leaders understand and desire supporting modern loving decisions but are too “weak” to oppose narrow old-fashioned beliefs, which clearly reflect “misunderstandings” in the education and interpretations of biblical translations. “Argumentative” behaviors occur when one or more high-level leaders independently create one-sided committees with targeted purposes without listening and considering valuable and accurate modern information.
Over the past decades, these activities have occurred with many subjects and situations. For us, SDA Kinship, many decisions have been issued and committees have been formed to reject our family “rainbow” members and their families, too. Fortunately, our local church and our friends accepted our gay son, and we never encountered some of the mean and hurtful behaviors that are occurring today.
Many of our SDA Kinship members are familiar with Carrol Grady, and those who have attended Kampmeeting may have had the opportunity of meeting her in person. Carrol was a pioneer in the Adventist community, advocating for women’s rights and for bringing about a better understanding of what it means for a parent to have an LGBTQIA+ child or loved one. Her book, My Son, Beloved Stranger, was groundbreaking and has been translated into several languages.
It was the first time a conservative Adventist mom and wife of an Adventist pastor and church leader, openly talked about and wrote about her journey of understanding and supporting her gay son. She dearly loved her Kinship family and was like a mother to so many of us. Her quiet and kind demeanor made it easy to talk with her. Personally, I got to know Carrol well because we worked a booth at many Adventist conferences, including the General Conference session in Toronto, before being banned. I well remember her sharing God’s love for His LGBTQIA+ children with anyone who walked past our booth and would listen to her. She was a force to be reckoned with. Carrol was woven into the fabric of Kinship and taught us how important our parents and allies are for Kinship’s ministry.
After a recent fall, Carrol experienced a decline in health and passed away on March 24 in her home surrounded by her loved ones. Although her earthly life has ended, her light and the ministry she started will live on and on in each of our hearts. If you haven’t yet read her book, you can read it online at https://www.sdakinship.org/en/stories or download the PDF. I highly recommend that you pass it on to your parents or family. I’m sure it will resonate with them like it has for so many others.
There will be a memorial service for Carrol at the Bellevue, Washington, Adventist church on May 6 at 4 p.m. Pacific Time (US).
Carrol, may you rest in peace until Jesus calls you from the grave and we will join you in a huge Kinship Kampmeeting under the Tree of Life. We will continue your work and ministry and never let your voice be silenced. Carrol, we love you. Let’s all join and spread the news that God’s love is unconditional for everyone. Carrol often said, “There is a special place in heaven for LGBTQIA+ folks who have endured the rejection and marginalization from the Seventh-day Adventist church.”
As Spring has arrived and we celebrate the resurrection and renewed birth, I hope we can also feel renewed as we bloom and blossom celebrating our genuine selves.
— Floyd Poenitz, President
@KinshipPrez (on Twitter)
Sleep well, looking forward to meeting again
Recently, our Adventist faith and SDA Kinship community lost a brave and loving member. Carrol Grady and her husband were lifelong missionaries and worldwide leaders and supporters of the Adventist faith. Carrol often shared about her firm beliefs in the basic teachings of our faith. Then, many years ago, their youngest son came out of the closet and Carrol and her husband went into their own faith closet—a common journey for all “rainbow” families.
But Carrol’s love for her son would not be quenched by their personal beliefs. She started researching and exploring all available articles, books, and biological studies regarding sexuality and sexual attractions. Her strong maternal love for her family helped her shift from earlier learned black-and-white decisions to slowly accepting broader and real information. Yes, it was a challenging journey since her husband was employed at the General Conference level of Seventh-day Adventists. She respected their situation, but her intense motherly love for her family continued to grow and explore.
Carolyn and I like the term “tenacious: holding firmly, persistent, stubborn”—that was Carrol! A few years after going into their closet, she wrote and published their family journey, My Son, Beloved Stranger. For protection and safety, the first edition used pseudonyms for everyone. But as folks started reading and connecting with their family journey, she started supporting LGBTQ+ issues at public events; and, in 2005, she republished their story under her name. It is a powerful, very well-written family life story.
Carrol joined SDA Kinship many years ago and started the “Family and Friends” ministry. She realized families and friends need to connect for support and understanding of their family “rainbow” member. She was often seen at major Adventist conferences in booths discussing and supporting “rainbow” families and situations. She was tenacious; her strong motherly instincts rallied many other mothers and families.
In closing, we want to share her final epilogue statement from My Son, Beloved Stranger.
“One of my greatest sorrows is realizing how many Christians have failed to show Jesus’ love and have driven our sons and daughters out of the church and away from God. I am thankful for the ministry of Kinship, which has provided what my church has not: a place of compassion and support for those who have been rejected. I believe that someday in the future many of us will look back in shame at our lack of love. I’m just thankful that God knows the hearts of our children and will judge them with mercy and true justice.”
Thank you, loving, tenacious Carrol. It was an honor and joy to know you and work with you. Rest in peace from your final painful days. Soon all of our “rainbow” families will gather—what a potluck that will be!
— John and Carolyn Wilt, Families and Friends Directors
Most Adventists grew up listening to sinister prophecies about people coming to take our Bibles. Hence the need to learn our memory verses, so we could defend our faith despite the absence of Bibles. We also heard rumors about Roman Catholics and apostate Protestants who would beat, imprison, and even kill those who insisted on worshiping on the seventh day of the week, God's true Sabbath.
My, how things have changed! Now it's not Bibles that are being banned; it's any book that fundamentalist Christians find objectionable, typically books about racial, gender, and ethnic diversity. State legislators in a frightening number of states are intentionally pushing legislation that would punish school teachers for teaching tolerance about gender orientation with fines and termination of employment.
Things in Africa are even more alarming. Several governments—with the support of Christian leaders (even Adventists)—support laws that seek to prohibit homosexual behavior with imprisonment, corporal punishment, and even death. A time of trouble indeed.
We have to be active and proactive. If we thought we lived in a tolerant, live-and-let-live society, we can think it no longer. People in power are seeking to marginalize those without power. We can't allow them to get away with it.
After World War II German pastor Martin Niemoeller reflected on the complacency that took place during the rise of Nazism: "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
Jesus spoke about protecting "the least of these" (Matt. 25:40). Everyone should have a voice; and we should use ours to make sure they do.
Preying on the Wounded
BY JERRY MCKAY
My journal entry for Saturday, June 1, 1985, opens with, “I am in a state of anxiety and emotional tension.” Colin had called at 7 a.m. to talk about a recent trip to Vancouver for a Homosexuals Anonymous (HA) certification seminar. People completing the seminar could facilitate an HA chapter as I was doing.
Colin had initiated some kind of celebration experience with an attendee. I knew from experience that a celebration experience was a “therapeutic” intervention intended to help a person overcome body image issues. This intervention might include praising God while in various states of undress, for the perceived deficiency of various body parts. Apparently, the person involved had regrets and/or concerns about the experience. Perhaps they even felt some misguided sense of responsibility. Whatever the case, they contacted Quest and spoke to a staff member.
There is a saying about "best laid plans." Sometimes life throws a wrench into the plans when you least expect it. The Kinship Board has been meeting pretty much via Zoom for the past couple of years. There are some discussions that just are best when they are in person. So we were looking forward to gathering together at a site on the East Coast where one of our allies has a large beach house they offered to us for free. A golden opportunity, until it wasn't. At the last minute, more than half the board could not travel on the planned weekend. So we agreed to go back to connecting via Zoom. At least for now. The key to life is being flexible and open to a scenario different from what we planned. So the in-person discussions will have to wait until another day when we can find a doable solution.
Board meeting is a time when we can look forward to and share what we want Kinship to look like and be doing in five years. My simple answer is much, much more exposure and awareness of SDA Kinship by Adventists around the world. The tricky part is how to accomplish this. If you have suggestions, please send them to me. What would you like to see the goals to be for SDA Kinship? Please drop me a note and share that with me.
Social media is some of the most effective advertising we can do. If you haven't checked out (follow, like, subscribe, forward, retweet, etc.) what Kinship is posting, please do so. We are @sdakinship on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; and on YouTube we are @sdakinshipint. Check out the Kinship Connects podcasts on your favorite podcast player. Alicia Johnston is producing a weekend YouTube video. Check it out. Also, Kendra has started Season 2 of IMAGEO GEI and she is sharing her relationship with Roxan! A must-hear!
I really want to hear what you feel we need to be doing more of, or differently. Please let me know.
Have a great March! And remember that when plans change, go with the flow and be flexible. Things will probably work out and possibly even better than you had planned for!
— Floyd Poenitz, President
@KinshipPrez (on Twitter)
Thank God for technology! When it works, it's definitely a blessing from heaven. When it doesn't work, well, it's not hard to imagine it coming from that other place.
When COVID closed churches and schools and prevented us from associating with friends and family members, Zoom and FaceTime gave us the means of connecting with others. Even though screen time was not as good as connecting in person, it was better than nothing.
The upside of digital communication is that distance is irrelevant. People on the east coast of the United States can attend Sabbath School and worship services on the west coast. Despite differences in time zones, webinars on dozens of topics are no further away than a computer keyboard. No airline ticket? No problem.
But an on-screen presence will never match in-person communication. The words, "Let us consider how we may spur one another to love and good works, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another" (Heb. 10:24, 25), were written long before COVID or Zoom were imagined. But they reveal an unalterable truth: we need each other.
Kinship is trying to identify congregations throughout the United States and the world that welcome and affirm members and friends of the LBGTQ+ community. Can you help us identify congregations where you feel welcomed and affirmed? Drop me a line and tell me about it. Of course, that will mean getting dressed and driving to a nearby church, but it will help us identify those who are truly welcoming and who just talk about it. You can reach me at
Join me in being one of those who "spur one another on to love and good works."
I hope you are dry, safe, connected to friends, and have things in your life that give you hope.
I don’t usually do this but, this month, I am going to tell you a quick story from my life that I hope will give you a sense that it’s possible to have good things come out of difficult ones.
When I got outed two decades ago, I lost all the work I had been doing as a consultant for several conferences and camp meetings: family trainings, teaching individuals and systems how to deal with sexual abuse in the church, supporting pastors and their families, preaching, teaching Sabbath School, etc. Thanks to Floyd and the Glendale City Church, I had a congregation that is still sanctuary to me. From there, my life began to build again.
I won’t bore you with the entire journey, but I believe God used and is using Kinship to make what had been a time of loss, a blessing, and an adventure.
If I had safely stayed with my little New England congregation and camp meetings, I never would have:
Greetings Kinship Family!
I hope you are settling into the new year 2023, and things are going well. Your Kinship leaders have been busy so far this year already. You probably have read in my posts that Kinship’s Communications Team had a rocky ending to 2022 and an equally rocky beginning to 2023. It has been a challenge to get the website, mailings, and everything back in order.
ENJOY THE KINSHIP “SPIRIT”
We’ve been re-reading an excellent book by Loma Linda theology professor, Richard Rice, Believing, Behaving, Belonging: finding a new love for the church. Early in the second chapter, a section is titled “The Spirit Creates Community...the spirit not only works within us, but it also works among us, or between us. It gives spiritual life to the community and the individual.”
In the book Roughing It, Mark Twain shares an experience in which he and two friends found themselves lost in a blizzard at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. After crossing a swollen creek they wondered in which direction they should set out. One of the men maintained that his instinct was as sensitive as any compass, so they followed his lead.
After a half hour they came upon some fresh horse tracks, so they urged their horses to go faster, hoping to catch up with the travelers just ahead Then they came upon tracks newer and fresher and spurred their horses onward, thinking they were following a company of soldiers from a nearby fort. As they trotted along, and the tracks became fresher and more numerous, they began to think that the platoon of soldiers had become a regiment.
Dear Kinship Friends,
As the focus on Kinship Awareness Month comes to a close, let’s continue to promote and talk about SDA Kinship and look for opportunities to tell others about SDA Kinship every month. If you have any stories to share about how you spread the good news of Kinship with others during the month, I would love to hear about it.
Homosexuals Anonymous—the Toronto Chapter
BY JERRY MCKAY
I arrived back in Ottawa from Reading, Pennsylvania, the Easter weekend of 1985. The Saturday before I moved to Toronto, I attended church. I started attending this congregation as a child in the mid-1960s. This was the church I always returned to whenever I came home for a visit. Most of the pillars of the church were farmers. Small-town folk made up the rest of the congregation of some forty people. To say everyone knew me was not an exaggeration. That makes it easier to understand how, with no warning as to the subject, when I asked to make an announcement from the front of the church, I was given permission to do so without hesitation.
Motivated by that sometimes-naïve Christian eagerness to “lay the truth out there” in personal witness, I announced I struggled with homosexuality, had attended Quest Learning Center hoping to remedy the problem, and that I was moving to Toronto to begin some kind of ministry.