Sunday, January 07, 2018

Sunday-go-to-meeting when you're LGBTQ ...

I happened to be the one on hand a while back to answer a query from an out-of-state same-sex couple who had relocated recently to the south of Iowa --- Does St. Andrew's affirm LGBTQ people? The answer, unequivocally, is "yes" and I was happy to be able to share that information.

Most if not all Episcopal parishes in Iowa would have provided the same answer. Although Unitarian Universalists and the United Church of Christ led the way, the Episcopal Church --- and the Diocese of Iowa --- have been at the forefront of the movement toward full inclusion of LGBTQ people.

Since I've always enjoyed attending church, I'm grateful to have a welcoming church to attend.

It has not always been thus, however, and back in the good old days --- when few churches mainline or otherwise would have us --- I used to drive down from north Iowa sometimes on Sunday to Des Moines where a limited number of welcoming congregations could be found. And as a rule ran into a few folks from Chariton there in similar predicaments.

To be frank, which of course I am, I'm not entirely sure what the situation elsewhere in Chariton is these days. In addition to St. Andrew's, we have four other congregations affiliated with denominations that, as a whole, are fully affirming: First Lutheran (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), First Christian (Disciples of Christ), First Presbyterian (Presbyterian Church USA) and Community of Christ.

But each of these denominations allows its individual congregations considerable discretion, so local politics and local culture will influence just how welcoming an individual congregation is --- or isn't. I know First Lutheran well enough to know that I'd feel welcome there; the others, I really can't speak to.

Which is why, as odd as it seems, it generally seems safer to many LGBTQ people to call ahead --- as that couple did a few weeks ago --- or just stay at home. Or drive into Des Moines or to another nearby city where there's less beating around the bush.

There just isn't a comprehensive resource online for LGBTQ folks who wish to maintain their ties with church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship. The Human Rights Campaign does maintain a fairly good, although limited, directory of general denominational "Faith Positions" that may be accessed here.

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