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To support Annanda and others, please visit our Indiegogo campaign and donate to the retreat today so that we can bring these amazing people together once again. The Presbyterian Welcome annual retreat has made an enormous positive impact on my life. It was the first time I had ever heard the personal stories of other LGBTQIA people going through the ordination process outside of my own seminary. Given the hurtful history of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. with the non-heterosexual community, it is incredibly difficult as a lesbian to find LGBTQIA friends who feel safe and welcome to attend church. Therefore, going through the ordination process as a lesbian can be very isolating in both hetero and non-hetero communities. Presbyterian Welcome has helped to fill that isolating non-hetero gap for me tremendously. Having a cohort of friends who understand the struggles of being in the church and going through ordination as non-heterosexual people, has given me a renewed sense of strength. This retreat empowers us to have courage as we fulfill our call under the guidance and discernment of the Holy Spirit. I cannot stress enough how essential this retreat is to the restoration of my spirit. Every year, the retreat comes just in time.

One of my fondest moments last year was during a worship service. All in attendance named aloud their hopes for the church. After each petition of hope was stated, more water was poured into the font until it almost overflowed. When I feel anxious about the church's struggle to recognize non-heterosexual people as equal human beings, I recall my memory of the full font and pray such petitions one day come to fruition.

The retreat was also my first time in an all non-hetero Christian environment. It was a safe space to be lesbian and Christian not for a moment, but for a few days. That for me was a sacredness I never had before. The gift of being free to worship God as I am was experiencing heaven on earth. Having a safe space to speak frankly about being non-hetero people going through ordination is vital. What I have taken way from the retreat is fellowship, tears, laughter, tools for coping, learning how to navigate the ordination process and tools for ministry. Gay camp is a transformative experience that has done nothing but enhance my life and further affirm my call to be a Teaching Elder.

555411_10150973304415600_600561527_nAnnanda Barclay currently resides in Austin and looks forward to beginning her ordination process as a Teaching Elder under the care of Mission Presbytery.

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