Messages from your Kinship Leaders
Vol 9 No 11 November 2015
Changes to Kinship eNews
Message from the President
Halloween weekend is finally over. The time has also changed from daylight saving time to standard time, falling back one hour. If these events aren’t enough for one weekend, the NAD (North American Division) was having year-end meetings. At these meetings, a document was submitted for a vote by those in attendance. This document was largely authored by Dr. Heather Knight, President of Pacific Union College, who recently disinvited Ryan Bell from a presentation he’d been asked to give to psychology and social work students just last week (http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/29/ryan-bell-disinvited-speaking-pacific-union-college). Talk about trick or treat; this must be the trick.
The document up for a vote has taken much of its content from the recently distributed Andrews University paper submitted by the theology department (http://atoday.org/adventist-seminary-releases-new-pastoral-position-paper-on-homosexuality.html). In short, according to Spectrum magazine’s Twitter feed, this statement on homosexuality says that marriage is between a man and woman and it differentiates between orientation (struggles needing compassion) and practice. It also states that those who conform to the biblical teaching may fully participate in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This document also makes recommendations regarding facility use, marriage ceremonies, youth ministry, and healthcare ministry. It states that Adventists engaging in homosexual sex/promotion of sexual behavior that contradicts Adventist belief are ineligible for employment or church membership (http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/11/02/breaking-adventist-church-north-america-approves-sexuality-document). See https://twitter.com/spectrummag.
According to the Adventist Today and Spectrum reports, the NAD Executive Committee voted to send the document back to committee because the paragraph regarding facility use was “not sufficiently clear.” Jared Wright of Spectrum said the paragraph they were uncomfortable with because it was not clear is this: “Adventist churches and institutions should exercise discretion in allowing outside groups to use meeting spaces. Groups with beliefs contrary to the Adventist Church should be carefully screened. Clubs and organizations from within the church or institution are also expected to function in harmony with the mission of the Adventist Church.”
If the administrators vote this in and my church decides to comply with this statement, our local region could be stopped from holding our monthly vespers service on my church campus. Some of Kinship’s other annual meetings would not be allowed to take place on any Adventist university campus either, and the unofficial student groups at our colleges could also be affected.
Each time one of our ever-morphing church statements gets a tweaking at these meetings, it becomes more rigid. I didn’t think it was possible for the Adventist church leadership to become more narrow-minded than it has shown itself to be over the last five years, but I was wrong. Whenever it seems like the church is moving towards love, compassion, and inclusiveness, however minute that movement, the pushback has been staggering.
Regardless of further Bible study, science, logic, prayers, and even discussion with fellow theologians and educators who have differing opinions on what the Bible says about sexuality, the church leadership’s stance on the LGBTI community seems to be stuck on the horrid idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” And each one of us in this community can attest to the fact that that concept is impossible to follow and is incredibly damaging. Lately, it feels like the church leadership wishes to keep the church pure yet increase membership—what is it that Ted Wilson keeps saying? “Revival and reformation!”
Churches are not for the pure, or there would be no members. Jesus said, “Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” We are to care for and about one another, not continually tear those different from ourselves down. Instead of producing papers, articles, documents, and statements about us, why not talk to us? If those within the church administration who fear the LGBTI community would get to know us, perhaps the policies they use to keep people like us closeted or out of the church could become policies that draw people to Jesus! That’s the important thing anyway.
Although it often feels as though the church doesn’t want our community to get too close, I’m glad there are many within the Adventist church who do and are precious allies and friends. I’m also grateful for Kinship where all are welcome and valued whoever we are. Whatever our orientation or gender identity, whether we’re current or former Adventists or no longer believe in a God, the way we treat one another is what is important.
Yolanda Elliott, President
SDA Kinship International
Family and Friends
Kris and Debbie Widmer, Family & Friends Coordinators
Support! Support! Support!
That is what Family and Friends is all about. We exist to help families with a listening ear, support, and resources to help in the journey.
We would like to encourage families and friends of the LGBT community to contact and connect with a local chapter of PFLAG. We actually attended our first meeting this last month. It is quite a distance from our home, but it was worth the time and effort.
We met many wonderful people, heard their stories, and shared our story. Both Kris and I felt comfortable very quickly as stories were told that we could relate to. Often this journey can be very lonely, especially for those from faith communities. It was such a relief to share openly and to see the looks that said, “Yep, I understand what you are saying; we’ve been there.”
So, what is PFLAG? It is a non-denominational support group for families and friends of someone who identifies as a member of the LGBT community. While PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, it is also for families and friends of anyone in the LGBT community, including bisexual and transgender.
We were blessed by our evening with other friends and families at PFLAG. There are more than 500 chapters across America, so, there might be a chapter near you.
We’d like to see support groups form where friends and family members of Kinship could get together regularly. Having a support meeting where group members are from the same faith community could be very beneficial. If you would like to be a part of a meeting like that or would be willing to host one, we would like to help out as a resource.
A Family and Friends group meeting is now scheduled for Thursday, November 12, 2015, at the Glendale City Church. It’s located at 610 East California, Glendale, California. If you are in that area or know someone who is, come join us from 7:00 to 9:00 p,m.
We are hoping to host a Family and Friends meeting in the Seattle area in February.
Kris and Debbie Widmer
Family and Friends Coordinators
Church Relations Report
Dave Ferguson, Director of Church Relations
Unfortunately, the last month has seen two documents produced that could bring harm to the LGBTIQ community. The Seminary at Andrews University prepared a 21-page paper on homosexuality that purported to present biblical and pastoral ways to address the subject. The Kinship Advisory Council is taking the time to prepare a response to that paper.
This past weekend the North American Division was presented with a paper four pages in length addressing homosexuality. It was sent back to committee several times but was eventually voted 74 to 17 as a Statement representing the Division on the topic of homosexuality. The Communication Team from Kinship is preparing a response to this document. It was pointed out at the NAD meeting that this is a statement and not policy. Nevertheless, it contains similar language to a statement voted at Spring Council in 2014 that makes it clear that those who are living in a same-sex relationship or support those who do are living outside the accepted teachings of the Church. Pastors are told not only that they cannot perform same-sex marriages, but could be disciplined for attending a same-sex wedding.
What is surprising is that there were 17 who courageously voted against the NAD policy. This is something that certainly would not have happened even a few years ago. It will be interesting to see what legal implications the “statement” will have, even though it appeared that the wording sought to be careful regarding healthcare institutions. It made clear that the denomination would not knowingly hire anyone who was homosexual. There was an obvious intention to destroy the current IAGC (Intercollegiate Adventist GSA Coalition) groups on Adventist college campuses. Will this result in witch-hunts? Will it lead to loss of federal funding and funding for student loans? Will this further alienate young adults? All this remains to be seen. Stay tuned for further reports and statements from Kinship and the Kinship Advisory Council. What would you like to see happening at your church or in your city to create an awareness of Kinship?
On November 15, the Kinship Board will be meeting. I would love to know from you what Kinship might do to help you in reaching those in your church. Can we help you organize a showing of the new documentary, Enough Room at the Table, or a screening of Seventh-Gay Adventists? Can we help you provide a Building Safe Places seminar or invite your pastor to one of the Building Safe Places Conversations? I want to have some ideas from you to share with the Board.
From Your Director of Communications
Jonathan Cook, Director of Communications
In October we celebrated LGBT History Month. It was a time to remember, reflect and take pride in those who came before us. The pioneers, the vanguards. Throughout the month, I was amazed by the stories I read. Biographies that became part of our collective history because ordinary people all around the world decided to live honestly and authentically and not accept anything less.
As we celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada in October and November in the United States, I am thankful for these individuals. It reminded me of monarch butterflies. In their remarkable migration, it takes four generations to complete this journey that spans three countries. It is with this long-term view that we at Kinship need to view our work. It is easy to become discouraged when civil rights are stripped away from citizens in cities like Houston, Texas. This happened to same-sex couples in California in 2008 when voters took away the right to marry. However, in time, marriage equality would come to the entire country a few years later.
Just as the General Conference takes steps backward in Cape Town and the North American Division votes on policy that is hurtful and backward, we look to the future. We also remember our history. Kinship started because of brave individuals standing up and speaking their truth to the Church. That they matter. They are just as much a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as anyone else. With that perspective, we do not lose hope. We get to work. There is much to do, and there has been incredible progress already. May we give thanks for the Lord’s many blessings. Let us celebrate the “both/and” God who celebrates the great diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.
Links to bookmarks:
Rebby Kern, Director of Youth Interests
Now is a time to give thanks.
Throughout the year I find myself faced with opportunities, growth, development, and questions. My relationships build and change. I become more comfortable in my own skin. Understanding that I'm not unique in these daily struggles helps me reach out to those around me.
Most days I try think of what I can do for others rather than what I can do for myself. This way of thinking is foundational for creating a better world. The key is to build relationships and understand others.
Take the time today to reach out to someone you know and build intentional relationships. Share your story and be a friend. Thank someone for their friendship, compassion, and kindness.
This season I also ask you to consider giving back to LGBTQIA youth. Make a meaningful donation to SDA Kinship during the holidays to support the lives of young people across the world. Help them find acceptance within themselves. Together we can create so much change.
We wouldn't be here without your help. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
More information about KinYouth at: http://www.sdakinship.org/regions-groups/groups/youth-of-kinship.html.
Debbie Hawthorn-Toop, Director of Women's Interests
October is the month that we Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving. As I sit here I am looking at my wife lying on the couch wearing her “clam shell” (due to a fall at the end of September resulting in a broken back), I could be sad or angry. However, I am very thankful. I am thankful for many, many things. A few of which are: my wife, that I still have her in my life and she will heal; my Kinship family, who have all been so loving and supportive; our kids and grandkids; my co-workers; my house, as many don’t have a home to live in; food to eat, as many go hungry; my cat, who snuggles and makes me smile. I could go on and fill many pages with all the things I am thankful for. I encourage all of you to take some time and make a list of all the things big or small that you are thankful for. You will be amazed how big the list will become once you get started. Then, don’t throw it away. Read it from time to time, especially when you are feeling down. Too many dwell on the “woe is me” and forget all the positives that they have in their lives. I also challenge each of you to think of something you can do to make someone else’s life better. This does not have to be big nor does it have to cost money. Sometimes it is simply an encouraging word.
Welcome to New Members
We have had several new members that have joined our Kinship family. We welcome all new members, including our allies.
Women & Children First
October has been a busy month. I am continuing to work on the details for our Women & Children First Weekend. The dates are July 22-25, 2016. I have received the contract for the house and am working out a few final details before we get it signed and the deposit paid. I am hoping to have the registration up on the Kinship website in the next few weeks. The number of attendees is limited this year; so, if you are planning on attending, please register early. Women & Children First Weekend is open to all female Kinship members, including our wonderful allies.
Catherine Taylor, Editor
For the December issue we would like to know what suggestions you have for getting through the holidays. It could be meals, sanity, people to be with, or unusual but enjoyable holiday activities. We are interested in your experiences and your learning. Even some stories of holiday disasters can be great ways to learn—and help keep other people from going through them. We'll send out a questionnaire to your e-mail in a couple of weeks.
Building Safe Places—for Everyone
Safe Places Team: Ruud Kieboom, Frieder Schmid, Ingrid Schmid, Floyd Pönitz, and Catherine Taylor
On October 10, at the Hot Topics in Safe Places presentation in Long Beach, California, Cherise Gardiner and her leadership team welcomed us to their church in gracious style. Seventy people were at the morning presentation. We were treated to a delicious potluck lunch. Thirty-five stayed for the afternoon. Some attendees drove from the Hollywood church for the last two components. We gave away lots of information. Floyd, in his usual thoughtful way, spent lots of time discussing the issue of LGBTI people in the church with church members.
Kinship Kampmeeting 2016
Kristina Burgos, Kampmeeting Coordinator
July 26-31, 2016 Save the Dates!
Rehoboth Mini-Kampmeeting 2016
Mark your calendars now for Rehoboth Beach mini-Kampmeeting in 2016! The dates for our Rehoboth Beach weekend will fall on April 28-May 1, 2016. It will be a week later next year, so we’re counting on the weather to be perfect! Make sure you start planning for it now!
European Kinship Meeting
September 2016 - We will be meeting at a beautiful seminar hotel in the Odenwald area, south of Darmstadt. Dr. Arlene Taylor will be one of our featured speakers. She will present the most recent research on the brain and sex, gender, and orientation.
Contact Ingrid Schmid for additional information
In Other Kinship Europe News…
Living Eden's Gifts
At the Long Beach Safe Places meeting, there were many people who had concerns about Bible texts. Most of them took copies of this Bible study to research for themselves.
You may read this booklet in its entirety online at http://bit.ly/1MiHCY3 or http://bit.ly/1DHTbcV.
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.
Make your gift online today at https://sdakinship.org/component/jdonation/?view=donation&campaign_id=1&Itemid=350.
Remember to follow SDA Kinship on Twitter and Facebook!
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International
PO Box 244, Orinda, California USA 94563
Visit us on the web at sdakinship.org