News from AllianceQ: December 2019
"Focus on love": A Story of Welcome
*contributed by Jefri Franks, Crossroads Church, Kansas City, Missouri
I probably should have known when we were both teenagers that my cousin Joe was gay. He was devastatingly handsome and had many girlfriends – but that is literally who they were, girls who were just friends.
When my family moved to a different state, Joe and I lost touch over the years. In my early twenties I learned that he and his family were in treatment at the famed Meninger Foundation due to Joe’s two suicide attempts. With that came the information that he was gay. This was my first personal experience of someone I knew and loved being gay.
When I found out in my thirties that Joe had AIDS, I called him several times and we struggled to find something to laugh about as we always had when we were young. Two weeks before his death I visited him in his home and we reminisced for hours. Joe died without the love and acceptance of his father. No one should die that way.
I’ll never forget reading in the paper many years ago that the Catholic Church, in response to rising suicide rates, had decided that parents of gay children should stop kicking them out of the house and love them instead. Really? You have to wait for your church to give you permission to love your gay child so they won’t kill themselves???
What do I think the church can do differently? Focus on love. Focus on inclusion. Focus on being a real sanctuary where the door is open to the LGBTQIA community, the disabled community and all other individuals and communities who want to come in.
If your church is interested in learning more about welcome of persons of all gender expressions and sexual orientations, contact us. If you or someone you know needs information on suicide prevention, click here.
Do you have a “story of welcome” that illustrates how you have found welcome and belonging? How did a person or congregation extend its welcome and how can others help widen the welcome?
How can churches work to replace stories of unwelcome with stories of welcome?