At our 2014 Faithful Servant Awards, our new Executive Director the Rev. John Russell Stanger revealed our new name and direction for the future. Here's what he said:
Thank you all for the multitude of ways you’ve journeyed with this organization up to this historic day. As you have no doubt heard, in a few moments we will reveal the new name for your beloved Presbyterian Welcome.
Scripture shows us—from Sarah and Abraham to Jesus and Paul —naming and renaming is a sacred process, one we have not undertaken lightly. What I will soon share with you is the beauty of over a year of discernment among the staff, board, and many others, including our incredibly generous friends at Interbrand.
Presbyterian Welcome has become a vibrant ministry and so we are bold to pause and ask, “What have we learned? Where are we going?”
The Church has a history of treating LGBTQ people as unworthy. Since our birth in 1997, Presbyterian Welcome has held the conviction that nothing should stand between you and God—certainly not your sexuality and gender identity. For nearly two decades we’ve been working to create spaces of healing for LGBTQ people; spaces where identities we have been told can’t coexist are fully welcomed, embraced, and celebrated.
We will forever be shaped by our Presbyterian heritage and we are deeply proud of the incredible progress in marriage and ordination equality that we have helped spur. Yet, through our work with LGBTQ youth, future pastors, and others hurt by the church, we have seen first hand that policy changes are only the beginning of healing this damage.
Jesus, the Great Table Flipper, fought structural injustice and spoke truth to power, but even more of his time was spent healing those who had been cast out. More loudly and clearly than ever, we hear the call to follow Christ out of our sanctuaries and share the good news in the streets.
We are called to create:Parity, our new name, is the foundation for our expansive new vision:
- Creating more open spaces where all of a person’s identity—race, sexuality, class, gender, nationality, and faith—can find harmony and healing.
- Building bridges across denominational lines by partnering with a broader diversity of Christian communities.
- Creating connections between the sacred and secular by partnering with more non-faith-based community organizations.
Parity helps us answer the question that many organizations like ours are asking, “What next?”
Anti-LGBTQ theology did not disappear with Presbyterian policy changes. Misunderstanding and hate continues to take root nationally and globally; the needs have evolved, not evaporated. Parity is our way to be recommitted. We are sticking it out, healing not just our church structures, but providing spaces of healing and harmony for those left in the wake of struggle. Parity is our bridge to the world.
Parity captures a sense of wholeness that builds on equality. Your sexual and gender identities are created by God and therefore good and integral to your spirituality and when these identities are put on par with one another, true healing and reconciliation can happen.
- Achieving parity is the pastoral work of sitting with a homeless young person and helping them collect the pieces of their faith after it is used to kick them out.
- Parity is the work of wrestling as a Not So Churchy community with the lingering doubts about a church that has failed them.
- Parity is the work of reminding future pastors daily of their call to ministry when few churches will hire them.
This is Parity, reconciling identity and faith. This is the difficult, healing work of the gospel… and we are in it for the long haul. We need you as partners to see it through. Please come and share with us what excites you about this new direction. And tell us where you see the emerging need for reconciling identity and faith. Together we will create Parity.
I am honored and thrilled to be your next Executive Director and I cannot wait to see where we will go together. Thank you!