MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
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/).
Strategic planning for any organization can be daunting, but it’s a necessary thing for the growth and health of that organization. In past strategic planning sessions for Kinship, we’ve talked about how much an all-volunteer organization can do, how we can encourage more members to be involved and to lead, what our goals are regarding the Adventist denomination, and what our goals are regarding our members and their needs.
I don’t think it’s any surprise that no organization can be everything to everybody. But I feel that Kinship has often tried to do that; and, when we do, it can become harder to meet members’ needs. It’s certainly made even more difficult when you realize that fewer than 15 people on the international board lead all the member interactions, almost all the programming and projects, and all communications. Thank goodness for all the coordinators around the globe who also offer their time and energy to stay connected to members in their regions and respond to their needs locally.
Kinship’s mission statement is to provide a safe spiritual and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists, their families, and those who support them. We provide community and advocacy for LGBTIQ individuals; and we pledge to stand with you, no matter where you are in your journey.
For over 40 years, Kinship has advocated for our members who remain within the Adventist denomination. I’m all for that. But in almost every one of those 40+ years, the denomination has continued to turn its back on its LGBTIQ members. They have talked about us, but not with us, no matter how many times we’ve asked, invited, and appealed. We’re grateful for the few congregations, clergy, and educators at our Adventist institutions who have embraced our community; and they’ve done that while the denomination behind them has rejected us.
My personal desire is for Kinship to spend less energy on trying to change the denomination’s opinion of us, and to spend more energy on making sure our members know just how amazing and wonderfully made they are, just the way they are. Our members do not need to change who they are to be loved by God, and Kinship stands with them just as they are! I’m grateful every single day that Kinship is composed of Adventists, atheists, Christians, non-Christians, spiritual people, and secular people in all of our variations. Each one of us is valuable.
So what would It’s A Wonderful Life, Kinship Edition look like? If SDA Kinship International had never formed, what would the impact of that absence be on you? For me, I can’t even imagine! I have found such a home, such a loving family, and lifelong friends. I realize that there are many allies who embrace me and the Kinship community, too. If all that was just gone from my life, I can see just how alone and lonely I would be.
Thank God I don’t have to imagine. I know what Kinship means to me. I am embraced by Kinship, just as I am. I hope you feel that embrace, too. It’s your continuing support for Kinship that will allow other LGBTIQ Adventists and friends to feel it as well.
Yolanda Elliott, President
SDA Kinship International, Inc.