Please join us in celebrating our 22nd Supporting Congregation: Leonia Presbyterian Church in New Jersey! They join our twenty-one other member congregations by supporting our local and national ministries to create open and healing spaces for LGBTQ future pastors, youth, and all adults.
We're thrilled to have Leonia join the Presbyterian Welcome family! What is most exciting to you about partnering with us?
Elder Susan Shanno: I'm looking forward to being able to disseminate your well thought out information to our congregation and to the teens in our non-denominational youth group. Especially the latter!
Rev. Debra Given: I've been wanting this to happen for a long time, to publicly acknowledge our stance as a congregation by aligning ourselves with a local organization. Personally, I have been a member of More Light Presbyterians since the early '80's, and I'm looking forward to our congregation being more involved and intentional in welcoming others. Presbyterian Welcome is local and active and I look forward the support and encouragement you offer, as well as sharing ideas.
Many churches believe that they are "beyond the LGBTQ issue," but you've chosen to name your commitment to sharing good news with LGBTQ people. Why is that?
Susan: I'm so glad that we have decided to publicly acknowledge what we have felt in our hearts for a very long time. In becoming a partnering congregation, we are standing up to homophobia and are providing our members and community an avenue for open and honest discussion.
Debra: A church may think they are "beyond the LGBTQ issue," but the world certainly isn't, as was so dramatically illustrated by the recent Daniel Pierce video. The church needs to be more clear about what we believe and help educate others.
What do you want LGBTQ youth who feel rejected from the church to know?
Susan: I want the young people to know that they are loved and will always be accepted in our midst. I also want them to know that our church and the youth group are safe havens for them, where they can speak honestly and frankly about what they are going through. I want them to be aware of other places they can go for help, such as PFLAG. I especially want them to know that they are not alone.
Debra: I want anyone who feels rejected by the church to know that the true message of the gospel is love. God made all different kinds of people and we need all different kinds of people to reflect God's glory. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, we all are growing and learning, and we are called to support each other and help each other, not to change our basic identity, but to use our unique gifts and perspective to glorify God.