News from AllianceQ: October 2019
Press Release: Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance welcomes Melissa Guthrie Loy as new Executive Director and Minister
Following its commitment to building a just and inclusive Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where all are welcome, the Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance has called Rev. Melissa Guthrie Loy as Executive Director and Minister. AllianceQ is excited to announce this expanded leadership role and to introduce Rev. Guthrie Loy. Melissa follows the long-term leadership of Rev. Dr. Mark Johnston who has retired from the position of Executive Director of the Open & Affirming Ministry Program and remains involved as the Open & Affirming Ministries Trainer. Melissa steps into the new role on October 1.
In the expanded role of Executive Director and Minister, Melissa will maintain the Alliance’s relationships with congregations and organizations within the Christian Church and with ecumenical partners and increase and deepen the Alliance’s long-standing commitment to anti-racism/pro-reconciliation and intersectional justice work. She will also guide the Alliance as it seeks to improve its ability and the church’s ability to respond to the pastoral needs of those who are LGBTQ+.
Robin Knauerhase, Moderator of the AllianceQ Council, notes that, “We conducted a thorough nationwide search for this next phase of the Alliance. There were several excellent candidates but Melissa’s experience, abilities, and personality clearly stood out. The Council is confident that we’ve discerned God’s will for this call.”
Melissa joins AllianceQ after serving as the Director of Congregational Life at First Christian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and serving as the Founding Director of Salvage Garden, a faith-based nonprofit which strives to reclaim the value of all individuals. She facilitates conversations with faith communities and partner organizations about inclusion and provides context-specific tools to meet the needs of individuals who have been “othered.” She is creator of “The Banquet: A Sensory Worship Experience” which emphasizes that all are welcome at God’s banquet table. “The Banquet” has received national recognition and is tailored by many churches to meet the unique needs of those of us with disabilities. Melissa is trained in faith-based nonprofit management by Wake Forest University School of Business and School of Divinity. She is a lecturer and adjunct professor in the area of disability and theology at Wake Forest.
“I’m eager to join the leadership and members of the Alliance so that we can loudly and lovingly proclaim the welcome of people who are LGBTQ+. A loud proclamation can be a loving gesture, one that is heard not by what we speak but rather by what we do,” Melissa says. “Setting a place at the table for all has always been a part of my call. Perhaps because I was asked to leave a leadership position in a church when I came out as gay. Perhaps because my son and I were unwelcome in a different church because of his disabilities. Perhaps because I understand God as an embodied God whose image is in every body. I didn’t spell ‘everybody’ wrong; I am intentional about affirming every single body.”
Melissa offers a greeting in a letter titled “Bridges.” She speaks of building and repairing bridges so that AllianceQ can work in intersection with other justice-seeking and anti-racist organizations within and beyond the Christian Church. “Sooner than later we will be facilitating conversation about building a bigger table, not just making room at the table.”
The Mission of the Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance is:
We, the Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance, are members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), called to join in God’s work of transforming the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) into a just and inclusive church that welcomes persons of all gender expressions and sexual identities into the full life and leadership of the church.
With a 40-year history, the Alliance has been and continues to be a prophetic presence in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Under Dr. Johnston’s leadership, the Alliance has trained hundreds of pastors and lay leaders in building inclusive congregations and has grown its Open & Affirming Ministry Program to include 200 churches, ministries, seminaries, and regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Alliance worked for the adoption of two resolutions at the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) calling for explicit welcome to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming people (GA-1327: Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All and GA-1929: An Invitation to Education for Welcoming and Receiving the Gifts of Transgender and Gender-Diverse People.” ].
“Along with members of our council, I have made a personal donation above and beyond my membership contribution to demonstrate my confidence in our new Executive Director and Minister and to invest in our organization’s future,” says Knauerhase. “We invite you to make a donation to the AllianceQ to show your support of and excitement for our future as we build a more just and inclusive church.” One-time or recurring gifts can be made online here or mailed to:
Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance
P.O. Box 44400
Indianapolis, IN 46244