The Church Within A Church invites you to attend the Second “Ecumenical Ordination in a Methodist Tradition Minus the Closet!” national weekend event October 21-23, 2011 in Tucson. Please pass this invite to your friends.

You may be especially interested in the workshop on October 22 at the Church Within A Church National Conference “Living Justice in the Wilderness” to be held in Tucson at St Mark’s Presbyterian Church. CWAC is committed to act in support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning youth and young adults so that they have a stronger reason to believe “it gets better!” In that light, Saturday’s workshop from 9:00 to 11:30 am will be presented by Micheal Weakly, Director of Programs for 1n10 (www.1n10.org). A Phoenix based organization, 1n10 is dedicated to serving the valley youth and working toward safer environments for LGBTQ youth. 1n10 serves LGBTQA youth and young adults, as described in their mission statement, to “enhance their lives by providing empowering social and service programs that promote self-expression, self-acceptance, leadership development and healthy life choices.” Micheal has worked in LGBTQ nonprofit for 10 years, six of which have been as Director of Programs for 1n10. Micheal’s goal for the workshop is that attendees go away with a better understanding of LGBTQ youth issues and how organizations like 1n10 are empowering the current youth movement.

CWAC is dedicated to equipping our members and allies for living in love and justice, and see Micheal’s workshop as an opportunity to learn how to enhance the work of youth and young adults in their involvement as agents of change toward improving community wellbeing and realizing the blessing of diversity.

Workshop Title: Rebel YELL

Workshop Description:

An interactive and engaging workshop about the work with 1n10 and how we empower LGBTQ youth to live fulfilling lives. The workshop will engage the audience regarding the issues facing LGBTQ today, how they are empowering themselves, how they are reacting to these issues and ways that the youth are utilizing social media as an outlet of expression, outreach and engagement. Statistics will be shared along with data reinforcing the need for LGBTQ youth specific programs. Much time will be spent exploring the relationship between spirituality and sexual orientation and how this process is unique for LGBTQ youth.

To learn more about the workshop and/or other events at the conference, go to www.cwac.us

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender partners and their families are categorically denied full engagement in the communities in which they live, all in the name of religious “morality,” while the heart and essence of the source of life and love upon which religion is derived remains ever present ready to break through the oppressor’s blindness and let the captives go free.  In naming and claiming the spirituality that is inherent in our lives and written on our hearts, we are enthused to love ourselves and live in care of neighbor as self.  The Spirituality Training PowerPoint that follows was worked out during three workshops with LGBTQ participants.

The culture in which we live is undergirded by a socialized religion granting heterosexual couples’s status in the way of financial, legal, psychological and spiritual supports denied gay and lesbian relationships.  Those persons who vary from the “moral” norms of sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, established in the same discriminatory manner by the dominant minority, are denied the safeguards that protect their full rights, as well.

Leaders in our nation will sometimes define social practices as “moral,” and therefore “acceptable,” based on dominant religious biases irrespective of the reality of the diversity of relationships lived in community. Heterosexual coupling has been legally identified as meriting “moral” status with the entitlements that go along with it, while discrimination against other relationships is sanctioned. The burden of proof that relationships other than heterosexual coupling are “moral” is placed on the community in a system where the leaders refuse to recognize the “acceptable” existence of diverse relationships. There is no legitimate place allowed for justice in this system. Blindness to the diversity of relationships in community creates an unjust living environment resulting in the denial of civil rights, inequality, oppression, and strife in the name of “morality.”

Practicing Safe Spirituality  –  PowerPoint presentation

Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing by Dennis A. Jacobsen

The message in this book brings a wake-up call challenging the drowsy complacency in heart and soul. It is a call to rally with other church members to remember the value of our own lives well lived, to realize the ability to live in the power of the Spirit more freely and fully in care of neighbor as self. This book is about faith-based organizing and how church communities through grace can consciously choose to live into the professed Christian identity “called to be holy, catholic, apostolic, and confessional.” Jacobsen recognizes the tendency of the well to do churches to be underwhelmed by issues, partly because of the pervasiveness on the part of the church, following the model of society as a whole, of the complacent acceptance of the suffering of the oppressed. The author wrote about the significance of being reflective regarding the mutuality in meaningful relationships in the work of community organizing. Having the passion to be engaged in the work of ministry of love and justice, need be fully accompanied with reexamining how that passion can be used in ways that can make a difference in how to live in community.  It is about more than being do gooder’s offering charity and prayers for the oppressed.  It is about seeing the struggle for justice and realizing how our specific skills and expertise can serve as reinforcement in that work with others, expanding the power base in the community as a way of broadening the accessibility of the resources in community, and living into God’s salvation and call of justice for all.

Two weeks ago I learned about a form of ministry that has captivated my attention. Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina has a brochure explaining a bit about Faith Ministries that I imagine has possibilities beyond my wildest dreams.  And I do have some wild dreams.

Faith Ministries organizing is a barely tapped resource from which so many communities could benefit. In order for a community to flourish, all participants have to be enabled to access basic services. When people are left out of the loop of community engagement, their needs do not disappear but are met in less efficient and more expensive manner, often to the detriment of the individual and of the community as a whole.

Grocery stores in most communities are not located in neighborhoods for easy access for those without their own transportation, while convenience stores with high prices for items are more readily accessible.  Food pantries only act somewhat as a backup support for people unable to afford to meet their needs because of limited access to a local grocery store.  Someone without the money and/or stamina to take a bus to their medical care provider, may find that the only safe means of transportation to get needed medical care is by ambulance to the hospital emergency room.  And for some of our neighbors, getting someone able to care enough to accompany them for support and assistance to an appointment is not possible. The injustice of the lack of access for some individuals to basic services hurts the life of the community.

Faith Ministries organizing can be used to establish relationships in communities where the wellbeing of every neighbor is considered significant to the community as a whole. No one deserves to be left out.  This ministry can promote an environment where caring for other is realized as in one’s own best interest. To always be on the asking side of a relationship prohibits mutuality and respectful encounters and distorts the meaning of giving.  In a healthy relationship it is easy to recognize how giving and getting are mutually inclusive, and how caring for neighbor as self, is caring for self.

Jenna and Andy, along with dozens more, are proud to have been volunteers at the Say It Loud celebration in Albany, NY. Say It Loud is actually a weekend observation of pride for LGBT People of Color, distinct from but kicking off the week long Albany Gay Pride event. Over three days, LGBT People of color, their friends and allies came together in unity to celebrate and recognize this vibrant community within the Capital region of New York State.

We hope, for this community that is historically estranged from their churches of origin, the presence of two ministers serving in very basic ways was at least a little healing.

We would like to invite you to bring New York LGBT Health Month to your community – whether it is in New York or not!!  (Why should New Yorkers have all the good health practices?) As you may already know, the National Coalition for LGBT Health has named March 28th-April 3rd, 2010 the 8th annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week

Rainbow Access Initiative is a member of the Healthcare Committee of the NYS LGBT Health & Human Services Network (coordinated through the Empire State Pride Agenda), and we know that our community’s health is too fabulous (and important) to fit into just one week!  So we’ve decided to declare March 2010 as the first annual New York LGBT Health Month.

Our theme this year is “31 Ways for 31 Days”…so throughout the month of March, leading up to National LGBT Health Awareness Week, we are encouraging LGBT New Yorkers and the organizations that serve them to educate, advocate and organize around LGBT health and wellness in all its various forms—physical, sexual, spiritual, emotional and social. We’d love it if all LGBT people everywhere would join us in considering March to be LGBT Health Month by implementing good health practices into their daily routines.

We at CWAC believe it is very difficult to have healthy spiritual practices if we do not take care of our physical being as well as we can, and also that it is tough to be physically healthy if we are spiritually hurting. So, following this article, you will find a series of daily posts reminding us that good health care runs the gamut from taking some very simple steps to some exceedingly important, complex ones. I hope you read them all in good physical, spiritual and emotional health.

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.

 Everyone deals with stress in their life. As LGBT people, there are aspects of our experience that can create more stress for us on a daily basis: homophobia, transphobia, discrimination, coming out. Find healthy ways to reduce stress: talk to a friend, go for a walk or bike ride, or engage yourself in a hobby you enjoy.

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.