News from AllianceQ: May 2023
"Hold on. Hold one another. Hold us.": Reflections from the Executive Director + Minister
On my desk is a painting made by my mother-in-law. It’s a bicycle with a basket full of flowers on the front; a couple bees hovering near the blooms. It’s inscribed with a reference to James 1:2, “Today I choose joy.”
“Siblings, whenever you face various trials, consider it all joy…”
Several folks around me are claiming joy as an act of resistance. Siblings, joy is an act of resistance. And today, amidst the terrible, terror-inducing anti-LGBTQ legislation and the alarming number of deaths by firearms and mass shootings and…and…
I choose joy.
Also inscribed on the painting, in small print above the pedals, my daughter’s name: Josie. I never asked my mother-in-law why she added Josie’s name to the bicycle…
My kids bring me joy. And they give me hope. I’m also tired most of the time.
Our work, the ministry of AllianceQ, brings me joy. And I am hopeful for the Church and world. I’m also tired a lot of the time.
Worn out at times, sometimes worn down. Disheartened. Depressed.
When I can’t choose joy, people around me choose joy (and I hold on for the ride — I like bicycles for lots of symbolic reasons). When I lament anti-trans legislation, Minnesota votes to protect the rights of LGBTQ people from Minnesota and other states to receive gender affirming health care. There’s a strong Disciples Public Presence in Minnesota!
It’s Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI says, “Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the U.S. since 1949… Together, we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the U.S. affected by mental illness.”
Because so many of us fight stigma and need support all year long, I wanted to lift up the good work of our own National Benevolent Association (NBA) and their Mental Health and Wellness Team. Among many resources, there’s a SoulCare Lunch Break on May 17, and we’re collaborating with NBA for SoulCare sessions tailored for the queer community.
Who brings you joy? What helps you hold on through difficult days and seasons?
In this season, we’ve been challenging the anti-LGBTQ legislation while responding to the needs of LGBTQ+ folk and our allies while continuing to provide education and resources while launching a new community group (These Bodies) while preparing for General Assembly (Ms. Penny Cost!!) while holding ourselves and the Church accountable to being the church we say we are.
I am proud of AllianceQ. Of you. Of myself. You are making a difference. We are making a difference. >>Heads up, I’m going to invite you to help with some things so we can keep making a difference. It won’t cost you any money. Unless you want to share your financial resources with us… 😉 You do? Thank you! Here’s a link to make a gift to the Alliance to help us close a financial gap this year.
I was thinking that AllianceQ has been living into its call, bringing a prophetic witness, like never before. I found myself revisiting our history (related to a June launch of something new, awesome how we often look back and within to look ahead). Anyway, I was revisiting some AllianceQ history and I thought, these people are trailblazers and light bearers, table turners! This early Alliance history can be found here.
Siblings, we are light bearers and table turners. Here are some March-April-May highlights:
In collaboration with more than 15 partners, we hosted the Transgender Day of Visibility Vigil with participants from across the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, India, and Uganda. >>Do you know what’s happening in Uganda? We condemn the passage of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill, “Kill the Gays.” Read this from the Global Interfaith Network and this from the Open and Affirming Coalition of the UCC.
We released a Statement of Solidarity and Call to Action, urging the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to live into our commitment to transgender and gender-expansive individuals as evidenced by the 2019 resolution GA-1929, “An Invitation to Education for Welcoming and Receiving the Gifts of Transgender and Gender-Diverse People.”
We must embody our faith. >>Take action!
Our leaders and general ministries are joining us in solidarity and calling for action. General Minister and President Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens with Rev. LaMarco Cable, President of Division of Overseas Ministries, and Rev. Chis Dorsey, President of Disciples Home Missions, joined their voices with other leaders across the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to denounce the rising violence against LGBTQIA persons, the communities that hold them dear, and any legislation that causes harm to trans youth and LGBTQIA persons across the United States. Read the Pastoral Letter Addressing the Unjust Rise of Anti-LGBTQIA Legislation in the United States here.
Open + Affirming Ministries are joining our movement at a pace that’s difficult to keep up with. What a welcome challenge! We’ll be making several announcements of new(er) O+A ministries.
I hosted quite possibly one of the most meaningful BIC trainings in April and (finally) met in-person with other Welcoming Church Program Leaders. They’re doing some great work and our cohort is reimagining itself so there’s some kick colonialism’s, capitalism’s ass collaboration coming.
Back to that heads up. We need a lot of helping hands, thoughtful minds, and faithful hearts:
- Sign up to help with General Assembly in person or virtually, at the event or now/before the event. There are so many ways you can help — and we need help. Among other things, Ms. Penny Cost needs one or two personal assistants (she’s got a gown that she needs help zipping and, sad sigh, we need a safety team for her and our group).
And (I said this wouldn’t cost you any money):
Help us close a funding gap. At the beginning of the year, in complete transparency, we shared that we need additional support to meet our budget and fulfill our mission.
“Along with your gifts, AllianceQ receives one major grant from the Carpenter Foundation. Due to “unsettled economic conditions and the depressed state of the stock market, the Foundation substantially reduced grant awards and did not fund grants that under different circumstances would have been funded.” We are so very grateful that AllianceQ will receive $20,000 for 2023, but this is only half of our award in 2022. We need to raise $20,000 that was previously contributed by the Carpenter Foundation.”
Tell others about our work and invite them to support AllianceQ with a financial gift. Here are some specific ways you can help us raise funds to “make up the difference.” We welcome your gifts but want to suggest ways to collect donations from others because, you/we have limited funds and you/we have people who care about us and care about the issues affecting us.
What are we doing/what does the money pay for? Start with the paragraph above that links to our work challenging legislation, providing education and resources, hosting community groups, equipping Open + Affirming ministries…
Hold a Facebook or Instagram fundraiser. Here’s a link to my personal fundraiser for AllianceQ. You’ll see that I’m encouraging people to “donate a coffee, beer, or meal” to AllianceQ. How much would they spend this week or month on some of these ‘extras’? Set up your own fundraiser so people in your circles can give. No fees!
Encourage people in your church/org/social circle to become a member with AllianceQ (suggested $45) AND give them this link to do it: https://disciplesallianceq.org/main/contribute/ They are partnering with us in this work.
Ask someone to make a general donation to our “Make a Difference by Making Up the Difference” special appeal. Use words like “give” and “support”. Ask in person. Send texts. Make phone calls. <<Do people answer their phones?
Sell something or several things. Spring cleaning? Think yard sale or online marketplace.
Bake sale? Is this a thing anymore? I like cookies. I would buy even more cookies if the sale supported AllianceQ.
Host a small dinner or house party (okay, this will cost you more money). Let people know you’re going to share about AllianceQ and raise funds to support LGBTQ+ people and equip Open + Affirming ministries. Want a virtual guest speaker? Want some AllianceQ stickers to give out? Let us know!
Participate in our activities!
This is a lot. We’re doing a lot of good work. It’s Thursday late afternoon, and it’s my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday. There is always more work to do, but I’m going to assemble a tower water table and we’re going to eat dinner together as a family. Because joy.
Today I choose joy.
Hold on. Hold one another. Hold us.