November is traditionally a month to be thankful. In bygone days, the harvest is completed and we thank God for what He has blessed us with. Few of us still live off the land, other than possibly a small backyard garden. We are more thankful for what our local grocery store has on its shelves.
As Pride month ended, I watched our SDA Kinship 2021 Virtual Pride Parade, and I felt a genuine sense of pride in being a member of our organization. From the very first moment I found Kinship, I knew I had found a community that embraced me and loved me just the way I am.
Here in the United States, June is Pride month. For more years than I can remember, but probably close to 20, Kinship Region 2 has participated in the D.C. Pride Parade—until last year when it was postponed because of the pandemic. Each year before that, my region has rented a large pickup truck, decorated it together, and given out candy and flyers along the parade route. Not one year has ever passed without someone with an Adventist background coming up to us, amazed that an Adventist LGBTIQ organization like Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International exists!
I’ve been thinking recently about just what Kinship means to its members. What does Kinship do, and who benefits from Kinship’s existence? In fact, it made me think about what it would be like to do a Kinship version of It’s A Wonderful Life (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/).
When so many people around the world had such an atrocious 2020, it’s a bit daunting to come up with an inspiring New Year’s message for my Kinship family. Not one place on this globe has been unaffected by the pandemic, much less the all-too-common bigotry and hate. The last year makes us wonder and think of the song, “Where is the Love?” by the Black-Eyed Peas. Listen to the song here. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpYeekQkAdc&ab_channel=BlackEyedPeasVEVO] To read the lyrics, click on this link. [https://genius.com/Black-eyed-peas-where-is-the-love-lyrics]
The loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made the last few weeks tough, not just for the women of the United States, but for all of us. Justice Ginsberg was an extremely thoughtful and intelligent presence on the Supreme Court who expanded the civil rights of women in the United States, promoted the equality of men and women, and conducted herself with grace and determination on the highest court in the land. Her legacy will live on in spite of a concerted effort to undermine her efforts. I appreciate what she has done for women and, as a woman not married to a man, I could not have independently owned a home and business if it were not for her work as a civil rights lawyer, judge, and Supreme Court justice.
When 2020 began, who could have ever imagined just where we’d be by July? With the global pandemic, our lives have taken quite a turn. While the effects of COVID-19 have been horrific all around the world, the infection rate has worsened in my country. Without clear and decisive leadership using actual science and making sure every citizen has access to personal protective equipment and accurate testing, there is very little chance that the infection rate will slow down any time soon.
These last several months in the United States where I live have been extremely stressful for everyone. Quarantining has brought out the best in some people and the worst in many. Incidents of domestic violence have increased significantly as most people have been asked to stay at home. And not only have millions of people lost their jobs, but the number of people who’ve died from COVID-19 in my country has surpassed 100,500.
As February comes to a close and March has arrived, it’s time for our scheduled Kinship Board of Directors' meeting. All officers, directors and leadership staff come together to discuss what Kinship has been doing since the last board meeting, make plans for future events and programs, discuss ways to keep our members more engaged and connected, and find ways to meet the needs of our members. We also discuss the finances of the organization and ways to fund the programs and events we have planned for 2020.
We just had a special election to fill the seat of recently deceased Congressman Elijah Cummings here in my county in Maryland. I took my one Democratic resident and myself up to the local elementary school to vote. It is such an important thing for all of us to do so that we all have a say as to how our county, our state, or our country is run. If we don’t vote, I don’t think it’s our right to complain. The only way things get changed is if we are willing to step up to help make the changes we want to see.
Many people deal with depression that can be amplified at this time of year because of the holidays. Some people find this is their least favorite time of the year because of loneliness, anxiety, grief, medical issues, big family or social events, and other kinds of stress.
In July, SDA Kinship held its 40th annual Kinship Kampmeeting. It’s always a fantastic time to meet new folks, visit with those we see just this one time a year, and if we are lucky, reconnect with those who’ve not attended in many years too. I started thinking about what it is that keeps folks coming back each year and staying active in Kinship. What makes our members drift away or even leave under less than favorable circumstances?
In two weeks, we will gather near Portland, Oregon, for SDA Kinship’s 40th annual Kampmeeting! It is absolutely fantastic that Kinship has survived and grown into this amazing community of members from all around the world! And it started with just a few folks who wanted to connect with other gay and lesbian members from a Seventh-day Adventist background. Today we are many folks connecting with other LGBTIQ folks who are current or former Seventh-day Adventists or allies.
When I think about what you might want to hear about each month, I think about the events Kinship leaders have organized, the updated website, the projects that are important for our mission and the amazing things happening in Africa and elsewhere around the world where Kinship members are making a difference for our community. I also want to share things that offer support and encouragement.
A few days ago, the SDA Kinship leadership team met in Baltimore, Maryland, for our annual Spring Board Meeting where we spent a lot of time working on new initiatives to build a better tomorrow for our members and allies. You’ll get more details about these initiatives in the coming weeks.