What I see happening in our future faith of the GLBT community of faith is finding our future by looking to the past. We need to know our faith roots to move to the present. I know that sounds heart-wrenching for some of us, me included when I think of the degradation I lived through at the hands and words of others.
My concern is to be reminded that though I feel I suffered much by the words and deeds of others, I can still recall a healthy respect for my mentors that did teach me the words of the bible. I may have been uncomfortable and certainly abused in that community of faith but I also learned the Christ of the Cross. Those biblical teaching gave me a base for my faith of today. A difficult lesson to learn sometimes but through God love and grace, I have survived to help others.
Helping others may be the key to the future of our community. When we go back into our biblical histories, we find people relied on each other for much more than we can today imagine. Go back to 1st century Jerusalem and the lifestyle then. You certainly didn’t go to the grocery to pick up what you wanted to fix for dinner or go to the local restaurant to eat. You depended on the land and your portion of it to provide you with what was needed. If that failed, you depended on the kindness of others.
And kindness it was. Think of the story Jesus spoke of in the Bible. The one about the person who went to his friend’s house at midnight and ask for food to feed to a visitor he had. Now the friend may not have wanted to open the door because he was asleep but he did because he was a friend. That teaching says a lot to me. If we are truly one in community and one in heart and mind, then we should be willing to help each other without hesitation. We should, without reservation, recognize and appreciate the differences in all of us.
With this aspect of compassion for one another, we can succeed in being a community. The future of our young will be different and they will not face the same challenges we faced in our lives. Theirs will be more accepting in the walk with God. They will not be condemned for being who they are, and who they are will be different from who we are.
The younger generation of today and that includes anyone below the age of 40, stand up more for who they are than we who are older believed we could. Many of us eased ourselves into life. I see the younger generation jumping into life. If what I read about the population of youth is correct, there is a greater number of millennium youth than of the generation X’ers. Seems the baby-boomers were a larger population, the X’ers much smaller by almost half and the upcoming millennium group is larger than the boomers.
With this group of youth comes a community in numbers that we as boomers or as X’ers did not utilize. Different reasons for that but nevertheless not utilized. I see the new generation growing in depth of understanding with a different view of faith. They are the generation of innovation. We can learn from them. We continually try new ways to incorporate old practices of ancient faith into our new culture of community. People want identity, meaning in their life and belonging in community. I call these relational communities. There is discipleship in and through these communities. They are goal oriented and purpose directed in Christ’s mission. The greatest teaching that Jesus left us; the number one feeling was LOVE. I see our future oriented toward concern for individuals in love.
The faith communities may be smaller in number because they serve to enhance growth of the individuals that they are made of. The mega-churches will tell you they serve the un-churched. This shift of social/philosophical values has helped to push the church to the margin of society. I don’t see the GLBT should be un-churched and we should certainly not allow ourselves to be pushed away. We have a varied and unique base of religious experience that we bring to the table.
The community will be intentional in following the practices of Jesus and of the first century prophecies. In striving to be more Christ-like we re-learn values that have been lost in the centuries of striving to be important to our self. The belief and faith in the nearness of God’s kingdom, however we might believe, gathers us to work toward God’s grace on earth and with one another.
My strong belief is that Whosoever is a leader in the future of GLBT Christian culture and learning. It is a place to meet, greet and learn in a technological age of timeless council. It is a place of sharing and caring for one another and ourselves. We learn about each and value that person for who they are and we call them friend knowing that when the time comes to open that door to our friend at midnight we will do so willingly and in God’s grace and love.
Through the Spirit of God all joy and peace is manifested as we grow in hope for a new generation and for the generations today that all peoples will come together in a faith community and care for one another as Jesus cares for us all.
Rev. Suzie Chamness served as Senior Pastor of Spirit of Life MCC of New Port Richey, Fla., beginning in 2009, having been a Volunteer Clergy for the Congregational Care Ministry at King of Peace, St. Petersburg, Florida and worked as Chaplain at Bon Scours Maria Manor Care Facility also in St. Petersburg. She completed her Masters of Divinity at the Florida Center for Theological Studies in June 2006 and ordained in August of that year.