About Kinship eNews
Kinship eNews is now published on the public part of the Kinship website. Click on the links below to go directly to specific articles. The public eNews contains important reports and messages from your Kinship leadership.
In this issue:
• Message from the President
• From Member Services
• Election Results
• Breaking News: R.I.P Morris Taylor
• Church Relations
• From Your Director of Communications
• Kinship Women
• Building Safe Places
• Kinship Kampmeeting 2016 Report
• Kinship Europe
• Book and the Beach
• Living Eden’s Gifts
• Kinship Support
• Helpful Links
News and announcements from region coordinators and chapter leaders are emailed directly only to members in those specific regions. If you do not receive an email from your region coordinator or chapter leader, please let Member Services know.
Message from the President
Kampmeeting this year was fantastic, and I’m so glad for everyone who was able to come during the week or weekend. Each Kampmeeting is spectacular in its own way, and this year was no exception! Every speaker brought their own unique perspective to the sessions, including Larry Hallock who shared his story and spoke about members who have moved beyond Adventism. Even those who are still part of the church enjoyed hearing him and it was important to hear: Kinship has been trying to make sure that all our members are being taken into consideration as we search for presenters, and the feedback we’ve gotten this year lets us know we have improved!
The church service offering on the Sabbath of Kampmeeting is the time per year when we usually receive gifts or pledges that meet most of our operating budget. Every year, the money given or pledged during that service has increased as our operating costs have risen. This year that was not the case.
Over the last several years, our offering rose from the low $40,000 to $60,000 last year. This year, we received just over $14,000.
We base our projects for the upcoming year on our offering and donations, and it could not have been a bigger shock to receive only $14,000 to fund all of the work Kinship does for and with members around the world. I have to give a huge thank you to Daneen for making this clearer to our attendees. She explained that Kinship could no longer do the things we do without the income to pay for projects, publishing, conferences, exhibits, books, translations, seminars, films, or contractors.
Daneen shared that Kinship has supported and funded both of her and Stephen’s film projects, Seventh-Gay Adventists and Enough Room at the Table. And because of her appeal, our Sabbath offering rose from $14,000 to almost $44,000. This is still less than our recent annual average; but I have no doubt that as you and other members see, hear, and participate in the projects that serve our community, you will support them.
Every year, I pledge to give a certain amount each month to Kinship. Last year, I was unable to fulfill my pledge for the year as my business went into a severe downturn. I give of my time and energy to Kinship but still felt very disappointed that I was unable to give monetarily as I usually have. This year, though, I renewed my pledge, and “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” (a saying I heard from my mom and dad), I plan to fulfill that pledge this year.
Do you feel Kinship has been of value to you or to someone you know and love? If so, please show your appreciation by making a donation today or starting a monthly contribution. Only with your support can Kinship continue to move forward and provide the services that our community needs.
Yolanda Elliott, President
SDA Kinship International
From Member Services
Naveen Jonathan, Vice President
Do you find yourself at times wanting to control the number of emails you receive? While we understand that we all lead busy lives and receive a lot of messages in our email inboxes, we do not want you to miss out on important messages from us. Our email system allows you to control the number of emails you receive.
Please click on the following link to take control of your email:http://sdakinship.org/home/how-to-change-your-email-newsletter-subscriptions.html. For any questions please send an email.
I would like to thank each member who voted in this year’s Board of Directors elections. We need each member’s support to fill board and leadership staff positions in order for the work of Kinship to move forward. Your voice is heard through voting and participating!
Here are the election results:
- Director of Communications: Clinton Sorzano
- Director of Development: Yeshara Acosta
- Director of Youth Interest: Jaden Rajah
- Corporate Secretary: Jonathan Cook
- CFO/Treasurer: Karen Lee
Your Board of Directors is looking forward to working hard for you!
See the full Board of Directors at http://sdakinship.org/about/leadership/board-of-directors-for-kinship.html.
Breaking News: R.I.P. Morris Taylor
Morris Lyle Taylor
January 17, 1931 - August 9, 2016
It is with sadness we write on the passing of our friend and brother, Morris Taylor. And even though we are sad, the thought of Morris brings a smile to me, with many pleasant moments and wonderful memories. Certainly my own memories of Morris start from my college days at Andrews. His presence was commanding. His performances were memorable. The music building was not far from the men’s dorm, Meier or Burman Hall, and was always on my way to one of my classes. I took piano from his wife Elaine and knew Morris was not far away. While a recent post on Facebook had him referencing and questioning perfection, he certainly always demanded the best for himself and his students, always did. At the end, I think the demands he made of himself produced much; he was productive in his artistic expression on the canvas, as he had been with his music. One thing I admired about him while he was in San Francisco, was his desire to enjoy life and enjoy it fully.
His painting brought him pleasure. I remember one of his art exhibitions where his watercolors of flowers, landscapes, and other nature scenes were exhibited on one side of the gallery and paintings of leather men and other graphic body parts on the other side. I brought my 80-something mother to the show and she carefully examined all of them and kept rather quiet, as a good gallery visitor, but afterward did say she liked the exhibit even though there were some things she did not quite get.
His music was deeply felt and performed with ease, yet with incredible depth and expression. At Church 1.0 he would play with such ease, such grace, that his spirit shone through. And yet, I remember one performance at Kinship Kampmeeting that was anything but quiet. It was boisterous, with lots of energy, and passionate. All done donned in leather gear. Yes, he was a man who was not in hiding, nor dressing entirely as expected, alive, daring, bold.
Both his art and music gave us pause as we stopped to ponder, feel, think, and enjoy. Both were infused with his spiritual self, his profound sense of life, and the sense of having found himself and willingness to share.
--Obed Vazquez, Region 8 Coordinator
I met you, Morris Taylor, at Second Wind in San Francisco around eight years ago. Those who were there could not have missed you. You had a style, your style. You were proud and quietly loud! You were intriguing, entertaining, puzzling, challenging, clear, real. Morris the artist, musician, painter, professor, friend, husband, father, master, performer, man, human, mind, soul. Morris the cat. You were someone I learned to admire, respect, look up to and love.
Our hearts are heavy, our eyes blurred by tears, our souls sad, our emotions complex, and our minds puzzled. We miss you already! You were certainly one of a kind. Thank you for the blessing you were in our lives. Thank you for modeling. May Jonathan Taylor and your relatives find the comfort they need in good memories and in your legacy! As you taught us, “It has to be fun!” Much love!
--Pastor Marcos Apolonio, Church 1.0
In honor of Morris, Stephen and Daneen have reposted their “It Gets Better (for Adventists too)” video from 2011, which features Morris as one of the participants. The abridged version [8:59] is at https://youtu.be/6qXQRxr4ZWg. The full version [18:49] is at https://vimeo.com/26613330. Daneen writes, “We've lost a light. I'm posting the extended version here because you get to hear a lot more from Morris, who was a longtime musician and teacher at the Adventist flagship school, Andrews University, before he came out and began living and speaking his truth. Thank you, Morris, for sharing your story and hope with us all. You will be missed.”
--Daneen Akers, Friends Coordinator
Morris’ memoir, Nine Lives of Morris, is available on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Nine-Lives-Morris-Great-Tales/dp/0996439072/). In this beautiful 124-page full-color book illustrated with his own exquisite watercolor paintings, Morris shares his “spiritual journey as a Seventh-day Adventist in raising up a church only to find out how difficult it is to find his own place as a gay man. Morris shares the adventures of his retirement years when he joins the leather community with vigor and starts a new career as a watercolor artist. Even when diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow, the author maintains his equilibrium and honesty. The nine disparate elements do not tear apart the protagonist. Rather than disintegrate, Morris thrives as he integrates his roles as a Child, Pianist, Artist, Soldier, Father, Missionary, Professor, Gay Man, Master and Leatherman.”
Debbie Widmer, Family Coordinator
Having just returned from Kinship Kampmeeting, I am reminded why we are here. We met with a number of families on Sabbath afternoon. In this safe environment, we shared our experiences and gained support from others on similar journeys.
Because of the world we live in, how we have been raised and, even our religious backgrounds, it can be hard for families to cope when a family member comes out. Shock and disbelief are often the first reaction. For some, numbness, denial, emotional outbursts, anger, and fear follow in one degree or another. As with any grief, these feelings can last from days to years. Families need to be good to themselves and take time to deal with the grief.
When family members come out, families often go into the closet. Whatever the reasons, and there are many, the result is often a sense of deep loneliness. It is hard to reach out for support. It is hard to be vulnerable. For those of us who attended the family meeting, we had a moment to open that door of our closet and either peek out or step out. For me, every time I risk opening that door in a safe place and with others who understand, I find a piece of that loneliness disappears.
Loneliness begins with an awareness of a deficiency of relationships. It might make us sad or have a feeling of emptiness. We might be filled with a longing for contact or we feel isolated, distanced from others, and deprived. This tears away at our emotional well-being.
Loneliness can be detrimental to one’s health. The sense of isolation can have a similar effect on the brain as when an individual has physical pain. Stress hormones become abnormally high and that elevation can affect multiple body systems. Some of the effects may not be seen for years, even decades.
Chronic loneliness can increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. It can lead to long-term inflammation, elevated blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular disease. These diseases can lead to an earlier death.
There is also a close relation between loneliness and sleep. Depression and anxiety lead to sleep disorders, trouble falling asleep, and staying asleep. Sleep becomes less restorative, both physically and psychologically. The net result of all of this is that we have higher levels of cumulative wear and tear.
There are ways to alleviate loneliness. First, understand that loneliness is a fact, not just a feeling. Knowing that this is a normal reaction to shock, grief, and denial is important.
Second, reaching out to others will help alleviate loneliness. Reaching out can be difficult when you feel exposed or when you have fear. The need for safe places to reach out for support is incredibly important. We need to cultivate healthy relationships. By finding like-minded supportive people, we don’t feel as alone. One way to do this is to commit to showing up at gatherings or meetings that provide the opportunity to meet others in a safe environment.
Listening and speaking to others who are coping or who have come to a more comfortable space can make you feel less alone. The sharing of experiences helps us to realize that these emotions that we are going through are normal and others have and are dealing with them, too. We share what has helped us. We have time to focus on someone else going through a similar experience, and the act of listening to them enables us to forget a little bit about our own loneliness.
This is why SDA Kinship supports families. There are resources on our website for you. Kinship Kampmeeting provides a safe group space for families. Next July, Kampmeeting will be on the West Coast. Watch out for more information and put it on your calendar. There is a private Facebook page just for families. (If this interests you and you are not currently on our page, let us know so we can get you added.)
There are other resources, as well. PFLAG (Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays) has groups meeting in many communities and they also provide a safe group space for families. (While it started out for families of lesbians and gays, they are open to any and all families of LGBT+ individuals.)
Please don’t stay in a lonely space/closet. Take the risk, open the door. Find a safe place to communicate with others. Let us support you.
To contact the Family Coordinator, click here.
For more information online, visit http://sdakinship.org/about/regions-groups/groups/family-friends-of-kinship.html.
Dave Ferguson, Director of Church Relations
This month, we celebrated another year of Kinship Kampmeeting. From a Church Relations viewpoint, there were several highlights for me. Ann Roda’s presentation emphasized the importance of always listening to our members to know what needs are felt and need to be addressed. Mitch Tyner’s presentation reminded me that Kinship provides what the denomination usually does not (except for a few individual churches), an open door for all who wish to become part of a community. Larry Hallock’s presentation and conversations with individuals reminded me of the importance of maintaining the relationships we have had with those who have been members of Kinship. The Kinship family includes (and rightly so) a wide diversity of individuals: those who still want to be involved with Adventism; those who have been badly hurt by the denomination and want nothing to do with it and sometimes find Kinship uncomfortable, since we still have “SDA” as part of our name; the growing number of those who have moved to another faith experience or none at all; those from a wide variety of gender expressions or orientations; those who are partners of Kinship members with no ties to Adventism other than their partner; our wonderful parents, friends, and allies who also span a great range of diversity. Kampmeeting reminds me of the wonderful, inclusive community that Kinship provides for this diverse family of members from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. We need to continue to find ways to celebrate and more effectively communicate within our family to make it all that it can become.
From Your Director of Communications
Clinton Sorzano, Director of Communications
How can the Communications team better serve you? Be sure to stay up-to-date with everything Kinship related. Follow us on our public Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram (see links below). When you find interesting articles or projects we should be aware of, please email me.
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/
Jaden Rajah, Director of Youth Interests
Hi, I am Jaden Rajah,
I was born on May 14, 1993. I am twenty-three years old. I have two parents, Eric and Candi Rajah. I have one other brother, Brenden Rajah, and a sister-in-law, Chloe Rajah. For grade school, I went to College Heights Christian School (CHCS). For high school, I went to Parkview Adventist Academy (PAA). For University, I am enrolled in Burman University (formerly known as Canadian University College); I am taking a religious studies degree.
When I was eight years old, I discovered I had same-sex attraction. I did not know the word “gay” at the time but I knew I was different. I have been out for over a year now. I have been involved with youth for many years. I worked at Foothills Camp at Bowden, Alberta, as a senior counselor for five years and was the tumbling director. At the University, I restarted the kids’ and teens’ acrobatics and gymnastics program called Junior Acronaires; I was the coach for six years. For four years, I have been involved with kids’ Sabbath school and kids’ church. When I came out over a year ago, I started a support group for LGBTQ teens and youth in Central Alberta. My group is called Will and Grace. Part of the inspiration is from the television show, as well as that God gives us the free will to be our authentic selves the way he created us and that the people that love us will show us grace. Twenty-one people are part of this group, and we have about 12 to 13 people coming to each social gathering. We put on a social event every month. I have a huge passion to be a mentor and help teens and youth overcome their struggles. I am so glad I can now serve as the new Director of Youth Interests.
More information about KinYouth at http://www.sdakinship.org/regions-groups/groups/youth-of-kinship.html. Or you can email Jaden or friend him on Facebook and join the KinYouth Facebook group.
Debbie Hawthorn-Toop, Director of Women's Interests
Our 2016 Women and Children First weekend is now behind us. What a great time we had! We made some new friends and built on already formed friendships.
Members began arriving Friday afternoon. Friday evening, we had a meet-and-greet and then vespers. Saturday morning after breakfast, we had our Sabbath worship service followed by another wonderful meal. The rest of Sabbath/Saturday was free time.
On Sunday we went to a pow-wow that was being held in the area and then to Yolanda’s place for swimming and playing in the pool. Monday was a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium. Tuesday it was clean up and check out. The majority then went on to Kampmeeting.
Everyone pitched in to prepare and clean up at meal time. We had a great house that had lots of entertainment as well. Air hockey, pinball, and a movie theatre where we watched the movie Carol. Oh, and, of course, there were puzzles as well. The one thing that told me the weekend was a success was that there was laughter—lots of laughter. I saw several “heart-to-heart” chats happening, too. I believe that the friendships that were formed will be long-lasting bonds.
I will soon start working on next year’s Women & Children First event. I will keep you informed when there is information (dates, etc.) to share. I do know that it will be in San Diego in 2017. I am really excited about that as I personally love San Diego.
Women & Children First is open to all Kinship members, both LGBTQI and Family & Friends who identify as female.
Women’s Chat continues to take place on Friday evenings 5:00–7:00 p.m. PST (8:00– 10:00 p.m. EST). If you are not on Facebook, please feel free to contact me for the log on and password. You can join at any time and leave at any time. You do not have to be there for the full two hours.
Chat is a safe place where members can share anything on their hearts. What is said in Chat is not to be shared outside of Chat.
If you are a LBTQI female on Facebook but not in the KinWomen Facebook group, please write to me and I will correct that.
Please feel free to contact me with any other suggestions or ideas that you may have for KinWomen. I can be reached by email and on Facebook.
More information at http://www.sdakinship.org/regions-groups/groups/women-of-kinship.html
If you have comments, questions, or submissions for publication, you can send email, here. We look forward to hearing from you.
You can find archived copies of the Connection online at http://www.sdakinship.org/connection-newsletters-7.html.
Building Safe Places—for Everyone
Safe Places Team: Ruud Kieboom, Frieder Schmid, Ingrid Schmid, Floyd Pönitz, and Catherine Taylor
Facing Doubt: A Book for Adventist Believers 'on the Margins' is written for the alarmingly fast growing group Seventh-day Adventists who have doubts about issues of the Christian faith, especially in its Adventist version, and who worry about a number of trends in their church. Among these concerns are, in particular, the growing fundamentalism, the intolerance for diversity in viewpoints, the discrimination of women, and gender issues.
The author is Reinder Bruinsma, a retired Dutch pastor-administrator who had a long church career in different words of the world in a range of different functions and has written more than twenty books. In this new book he honestly acknowledges his own questions and doubts. But he is not thinking of leaving his church and he explains why. He deals with the basics of having faith, or re-finding faith, and with the importance of believing together with others and of knowing what one believes. However, he argues that not all doctrines are of equal importance and that the Adventist Fundamental Beliefs may not be used as a yardstick for one’s orthodoxy. The book wants to point the reader to ways of creatively and constructively facing one’s doubts.
The 192-page paperback book may be ordered at Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Facing-Doubt-Adventist-Believers-Margins/dp/099354052X/). The paperback version retails for $14.90. Also available for Kindle.
You can find many resources on our website at http://buildingsafeplaces.org/.
Kinship Kampmeeting 2016
Kristina Burgos, Kampmeeting Coordinator
Hello and Greetings!
Kampmeeting has ended and what a great time we had! The speakers were great, and this year we had Larry Hallock speak about his journey from Adventism to atheism. Our goal and mission is to hear the voices of all of our members. We are such a beautiful and diverse group and we want to make sure that each of you feels comfortable attending Kampmeeting. Aside from the very hot and humid weather, it was great to meet new friends and catch up with old ones. The Maritime Institute also has two large virtual simulators for ship handling and tugboat trainings. It was amazing as we were able to take a tour and “drive” the boat through a harbor and out to sea while dealing with various situations (seas of 30 feet to explosions and buoys that were thrown in our way). It definitely was a highlight for those who attended to the tour.
We also had two film screenings, one from AJ Oetman called The Wolf’s Robe, and from Daneen and Stephen, Enough Room at the Table. As the week came to an end, we had Olive Hemmings speak during the church service. What a dynamic and passionate speaker! Finally, Jonathan Cook and Yeshara Acosta were our emcees for the evening during the Talent Show. We were blessed to have all of our speakers give thought-provoking sessions, leaving us with great ideas to ponder. I do hope that those who followed us on live stream enjoyed the week and will, hopefully, be able to join us next year.
I would also like to acknowledge the Kampmeeting Committee for their hard work in preparing for our event, as well as being on-site to make sure that everything went smoothly. A big thank you to:
Yolanda Elliott, Naveen Jonathan, and Karen Lee for all their help with setting up, registration, and answering any questions that came their way.
Jonathan Cook, Yeshara Acosta, and Jonathan Doram for leading us each day with our theme song and songs of praise as well as special music.
Justin Mezetin for his A-V skills and keeping us live and connected to the world outside.
Reggie Garcon who planned and organized all the social games and dances for the Meet-and-Greet and game night.
Linda Wright for putting together the program book.
I couldn’t have done it alone and together we did a great job!
Kampmeeting 2017 will be in San Diego, although dates are still pending. We are already working hard on creating a fantastic Kampmeeting for you all in 2017. See you next year!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding Kampmeeting, by clicking here.
Europen Kinship Meeting - 1-5 September
Our meetings begin September 1 but we've already begun to get to know each other. Because of a mishap with Floyd and American Airlines in EKM 2015, WhatsApp became part of our culture (that's a longer story for another time). This year we have developed an EKM 2016 group. We’ve been sharing pictures of ourselves with each other so we’ll know what we look like when we meet in person. We also have an email group to get longer messages and reminders. We’ll make sure we get Ruud lots of photos so you can meet us in the next Connection.
More information about Kinship Europe at http://sdakinship.org/regions-groups/regions/europe.html.
Book and the Beach — October 26-30, 2016
The Kind God of the Old Testament?
Cost: $240.00 per person
This month we will be sending out registration forms for those of you who have already attended. We also have registration forms online that are easy to access at https://sdakinship.org/events/book-beach-mini-kampmeeting.html. Along with our conversations about the love of God in the Old Testament, we're planning dolphin watches, tours of Elizabethan Gardens, a trip to an outdoor museum in Manteo, and, of course, lots of great food. We'd love to have you join us. If you have questions, you can write to us by clicking here.
Living Eden's Gifts
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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