Eric's Retreat Story

To support Eric and others, please visit our Indiegogo campaign and donate to the retreat today so that we can bring these amazing people together once again.  Participating in the Presbyterian Welcome retreats has been invaluable to my journey in ministry. I have had the privilege of meeting the most amazing seminarians, allies, and friends. As a Candidate for Ministry, I have had the special privilege of sharing in their stories and joining in their hopes for a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that will welcome our gifts and our zeal to both to participate fully, and to make a difference in it. I have learned that in some presbyteries and seminaries in our country it is patently unsafe to reveal the entirety of who God made us to be; our same-gender/gender fluid orientation(s). Many of us are forced to hide in plain sight, denying who we are for the acceptance of others.

The Presbyterian Welcome retreats provide us with a support network. We become part of a family that prays for each other’s hardships and concerns. We become part of a family that cheers for each other’s victories and accomplishments. We laugh at each other’s jokes and adventures. We practice the love and support of each other that we want to model for the larger Church, all throughout the year.

The passage of 10A has not made the Presbyterian Welcome retreats unnecessary. Openly LGBTQ Inquirers and Candidates are still a new reality for some of our Committees for Preparation on Ministry around the country. This means that we still need to be strategic and prayerful about moving through our process towards ordination. The programming, encouragement, and fellowship available at the retreat give us the tools and the courage with which to navigate our processes. We come to realize that we are not alone. We come to realize that we are indeed part of the body of Christ.

The leadership, friendship, and care provided by Rev. Mieke Vandersall are invaluable to all of us. She is “mother-bear,” “sister-confessor,” guidance counselor, and friend. We are able to ask her the hard questions, and share the secret concerns surrounding how to live into our ministerial call with honesty, integrity, and hope.

The important work of Presbyterian Welcome can not be done without the financial, emotional, and spiritual support of those who join us in the work of helping the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) live into its ethics of hospitality, unity, forbearance, and love. We confess that God’s love through the examples and teachings of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is for all of us. Please join us with your support.

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Eric Thomas has attended our retreat for future LGBTQ pastors for many years. We congratulate him on his recent graduation from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA. 

To support Eric and others, please visit our Indiegogo campaign and donate to the retreat today so that we can bring these amazing people together once again.