We live and work in the reality of everyday struggle and celebration. Life on our street is in touch with people wondering how we will pay our bills, especially the utilities. We wonder if we can get employment before we fall too far behind in debt. Jobs are hard to find; even harder is keeping the car repaired. The on street parking is an altogether different challenge with every-other-day restrictions dedicated to the 9:00 o’clock hour. A lot of the time we spend our physical energy on transportation. Our homes belong to landlords many of whom are slow or even unresponsive to our requests, quite like the police when we call about an altercation. And the density of families and neighbors living close together brings relationship issues through the walls with easy flow to the street.

It might be easiest just to ignore the neighbors for pseudo privacy, a way to focus attention on my own issues. I may dress up and leave my street – get miles away – leaving the problems of the day behind for a moment, possibly to go worship. But more easily I can shut my door, turn up my noise and drown out the disappointments, fears of failure; my hopes exhausted just like my body by too much exercise in reaching for opportunities just beyond my grasp. (more…)


 This one is a no-brainer for anyone, but even more so for LGBTQ. Studies show that LGBT people are 40-70% more likely to smoke than non-LGBT people. This is one of the highest smoking rates—even compared to other disproportionately affected communities. LGBT-specific smoking cessation groups are increasingly available – find a group in your community to help you quit, or encourage and support loved ones in their efforts to quit.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on tobacco use found under the category of “Infections and Diseases”.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me.

 LGBT people come in all ages…and our community’s seniors are an important part of who we are, but services for them are often lacking. 

Around 75% of LGBT seniors live alone, compared to 33% of their straight neighbors. Unlike heterosexual elders, 4 out of 5 of whom have children, 90% of LGBT seniors have no children. When 40% of straight seniors have no life partner, that figure jumps to 80% for LGBT. Add to that the fact that 50% of LGBT seniors do not feel welcome at senior centers when they are open about their sexuality, and it becomes easy to see why senior LGBT health outcomes are so negatively affected by isolation and loneliness.

Find a group for LGBT seniors in your area or a program that serves them and donate your time, money and/or support.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. In particular, the tap for “Aging Issues” may be eye-opening.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me

Vitamins & minerals can impact many health issues. 

Especially with busy, active lifestyles, it can become easy to miss meals or lack balance in your diet. Stress, abundant for many people who are LGBTQ, saps the body of essential nutrients.

Pregnant women especially should take folic acid and iron as an important part of prenatal care.  Many lesbian & bisexual women today are deciding to become pregnant and start families.  If you are one of them, consider this tip for your health and the health of your baby.

Find and consult a LGBT-friendly pharmacist, nutritionist or other medical professional about your particular needs.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me

Regular doctors visits or the use of health screening clinics enable all of us to keep an eye on some significant markers of general health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S, and checking your cholesterol and blood pressure is an important part of your healthcare. Many cancers, e.g. colorectal, prostate and others, can be screened for by health care professionals. Get your levels of these and other important indicators checked regularly by an LGBT-friendly healthcare provider. 

Learn to understand what these levels are and how to manage them through diet, exercise and, if necessary, medication(s).

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

Rainbow Access Initiative, Inc., last year initiated an award for professionals/companies who have advanced the availability or quality of health care or human service delivery in the Capital Region of New York. The award will be repeated this year and is set to become an annual event.

Falling within Pride week, the award dinner draws together people from many vocations and walks of life to raise awareness of the difficulties that some people who are LGBT  face in accessing basic care, as well as recognize those in our community who help dismantle the barriers that exist. Those in attendance at the awards dinner and those who access RAI resources represent a cross-section of the Capital District LGBT community and their allies, which is virtually identical to those reached by CWAC.

The awards are funded in part by selling sponsorships in the event. The sponsorships are offered at various levels, up to $5,000. The $250 sponsorship level is what we recognize as most helpful in making a connection – a connection between CWAC as a body of people working as Being the church and RAI as a group of dedicated people looking for a way to flourish.

Honorary committee sponsor ($100)

  • Business or Individual will be listed as Honorary Committee member on invitation, program and event signage
  • 1 event ticket

Bronze sponsor ($250)  As above plus:

  • Identified as Bronze Sponsor on all event advertising, invitations, posters and program
  • Company listed on all signage at the event
  • Online listing in Capital Region Health Resources Directory
  • 2 event tickets

This year we celebrated Christmas at the Damien Center on December 19. The gathering reminded us of the Magnificat.

God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts …

We gathered as the Damien Center comfortable in our intent to share.

God has brought down the powerful from their thrones

For weeks and even until the very night before, people brought from what they had.

and lifted up the lowly

There were tables set with room enough for all to sit face to face.

filled the hungry with good things

The food served was creatively prepared to satisfy and nourish.

and sent the rich away empty

Every guest, even those unexpected, left with gifts.

in fulfillment of God’s promise.

On Sunday, Sept 20, Rev Jenna Zirbel tabled for The Trevor Project and participated in the annual walk to benefit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Almost a thousand people gathered and walked in memory of friends/family who were victims of suicide. Over $76,000 was raised for research and education.

RITA Walk 2

RITA Walk 1

In Our Own Voices, Inc., the Harm Reduction Coalition, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the Mocha Project, along with the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute will host

“Unity Through Diversity: New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People of Color Health Summit”

at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center

in Albany, New York on October 15-18, 2009.

Over 150 scholars, administrators, activists and students are expected to gather for this important event to reflect on the current status of health and wellness, substance abuse, spirituality and political advocacy within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People of Color (LGBT POC) community. The Summit will feature presentations, workshops, and panel discussions on the importance of meaningful involvement of LGBT POC and vulnerable subpopulations in our communities in policy development and implementation, physical and mental health issues, and on innovative and/or effective interventions and research that address and educate people about the health and well-being of LGBT POC in New York State.

Rev Jenna Zirbel, under the auspices of the Church Within A Church Movement, has submitted two abstracts for consideration. The first, “Everyday Sacred in Unity in Diversity”, is a continuation of last year’s workshop. The goal is to find ways in which LGBT, especially POC, can recognize fulfilling and inspiring spirituality in their faiths of origin and reconstruct spiritual practices in their daily lives lived in the presence of the divine. The second, “The Trevor Project – preventing suicide 24/7”, is to facilitate discussion about young LGBTQ suicide rates and tools available to combat it.

More information can be found at

Statewide Marriage Call-In Day TODAY – It’s Time to Act!

Today, Monday, June 8, is the New York Statewide Marriage Call-In Day. You need to make contact because the New York  State marriage equality bill has been passed by the Assembly, and it’s now time for the State Senate to vote on the bill. 

You need to get on the phone today to call your NY State Senator and tell them that you want them to support and pass the marriage bill NOW.  Tomorrow, anti-marriage forces from the religious right will be lobbying in Albany against our rights. We need to make sure that your Senator hears from you so that opposition voices aren’t the only ones being heard—we’re in the final stretch and it is vital that they hear from you TODAY. 

To read talking points and to find a link to your senator’s phone number, click here.

“The community of faith and struggle, then, is the community that makes use of its critically reflected experience of struggle in the process of traditioning by which it selects from the still living and evolving past of scriptural and church tradition as a means of shaping an alternate future. Its appeal to Tradition in no way is a denial of its own process and experience but rather a faith affirmation that God is present in and through their struggle for justice and discernment of the meaning of the gospel message. Nor is it a denial of the need for careful critical thought as the community uses the theological  spiral to make connections between its  ongoing life and its continuing work of advocacy and welcome for those on the margins of church and society.”

Then, the “measure of faithfulness” is demonstrated in how the most vulnerable participate in church community over and against a non-reflective tradition.

Trevor banner

Recently, I underwent facilitator training for the Lifeguard Workshop Program of the Trevor Project, in which I was trained to give presentations and lead programs in schools. This school workshop program was developed to help young people become more aware of the myriad issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity, and to promote acceptance of LGBTQ youth nationwide.

StaticLatinGirl300x250The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth. Staffed by trained volunteer counselors, the helpline provides support and crisis intervention services for young people.

In addition to operating the crisis and suicide prevention helpline, The Trevor Project also provides online support to young people through the organization’s website and provides lifesaving guidance and vital statistics to educators and parents.

The Trveor Project also conducts outreach programs accross the country to educate young people about suicide prevention and to help build acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in classrooms and communities around the country.

We have already seen that table talk as both action and reflection is not disconnected from scripture and tradition. Rather, round table talk is designed to talk back to tradition … In a positive sense, talking back is a constant movement around the spiral, bringing scripture and tradition into connection with context, critical analysis, and action by those at the margins of church and society. This dialogue finds its conversation partners among communities of faith and struggle, who in turn become the prism for the feminist self-understanding of what it means to be church.

Opportunities continue to present themselves, more so now since my participation in E&J Day at the capital on 4/28. It is a practice that helped me remember my worth as a minister and my ability to nurture my passion in engaging with a community in servant leadership. Andy and I represented the church as a body living in the community of love, nurturing each other.


On April 28, I participated in a rally for equality and justice at the New York state capital with 2000 people. We were an incredibly diverse crowd, including constituents from the far reaches of the state. We spoke with those who have been voted into office to represent us. We spoke so that those representatives would recognize the common interests and the needs of the people of New York state. We know the stories of our lives shed light on why passing into law GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), Dignity (Dignity for all Students Act) and same-sex marriage is the way to opening civil rights to LGBT in order that we all might flourish.