Somos un grupo de personas que estamos aquí en una diversidad de creencias y prácticas espirituales. En esta liturgia les reflejamos de vuelta lo maravilloso y la alegría en sus corazones y les estamos agradecidos.

 

Hoy nos reunimos para celebrar la fe, la esperanza y el amor de la comunidad transexual, bisexual, de Lesbianas, de gays y queers, de nuestra familias, amigos y de todos nuestros aliados.  Honramos la memoria de aquellos que crearon para nosotros una herencia de coraje popular de bases, la sabiduría y la resistencia ante la opresión: el movimiento de mujeres, Gandhi, los derechos civiles, Stonewall, los años 80 y el SIDA, la lucha transgénero y sus muchas víctimas, “Occupy”, los actuales ataques contra las mujeres …

 

Afirmamos la energía con la que apoyamos el bien común. Reivindicamos el espíritu del deseo de amar y cuidar de nosotros mismos y mutuamente. Esta es la pasión y el poder en que confiamos todos los días. Sabemos que lo que hacemos realmente hace una diferencia.  Esto es importante para nuestras vidas como individuos, y abarca la vida de nuestras familias y amigos, vecinos y comunidad. Y esta creencia _practicada_ nos anima a actuar, viendo como nuestros sueños y visiones se vuelven  realidad.

 

Hoy nos unimos como comunidad de denunciar una vez más la realidad del “nosotros” y “ellos”. Recordemos el mensaje permanente sobre el 1 y el 99%, la presencia de aquellos quienes con miedo y odio están tratando de imponer sus puntos de vista religiosos sobre la Constitución del Estado. Actúa, sé poderoso: vota en contra de la enmienda este martes!

 

Como comunidad, queremos llegar a ser “nosotros” para nuestros sueños de justicia y de convivencia pacífica. Nosotros, como individuos estamos conectando más allá de las diferencias de género, raza y clase, buscando el bien común. Llenamos la necesidad de ser justos y amables unos con otros, mientras definimos lo que somos como familia.

 

Somos una comunidad de personas donde la acción por el bien común define nuestras decisiones. Optamos por abrir nuestras vidas al cuidado de otros. Estamos juntos des-haciendo la inhumanidad de la intolerancia y la indiferencia, presentes incluso entre y dentro de nosotros mismos. Estamos donde el espíritu inspira a la gente a actuar con respeto a la dignidad humana de todos los demás, porque “todos importamos, todas las familias importan”.

 

Vamos en paz. Diviértanse, disfruten del día y sepan que todos son bienvenidos! Sientan el amor! (Es lo que necesitamos, todos nosotros) … En verdad, háganlo!

composed by Lea Salas Cordova

We are a group of people who stand before you in a diversity of beliefs and spiritual

practices. In this liturgy we reflect back to you the wonder and joy in your hearts and we are thankful.

Today we gather to celebrate the faith, hope and love of the Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay and Queer community, our family, friends, and all of our allies. We honor the memory of those who created for us a heritage of grassroots courage, wisdom and resilience in the face of oppression: the women’s movement, Ghandi, civil rights, Stonewall, the 80’s and AIDS, the transgender struggles and its many victims, occupy, the current attacks on women …

We affirm the energy with which we support the common good. We claim the spirit of the desire to love and care for ourselves and each other. This is the passion and power that we rely upon every day. We know that what we do does make a difference. It matters to our lives as individuals, and embraces the lives of our family and friends, neighbors and community. And this practiced belief encourages us to act, our dreams and visions becoming reality.

Today we join together as a community denouncing once more the reality of “us” and “them.” Remember the lasting message about the 1 and the 99 %, the presence of those who in fear and hate are trying to impose their views on the State’s Constitution.  Act, be powerful: vote against the amendment this Tuesday!

As a community, we want to become “we” for our dreams of justice and peaceful coexistence. We as individuals are reaching across differences in class, race and gender to connect in the common good.  We fill the need to be fair and kind to each other while we define who we are as family.

We are a community of people where wish and action for the common good define our decisions. We choose to open our lives by caring. We stand together un-doing the inhumanity of bigotry and indifference, present even among and within ourselves. We stand where spirit inspires people to act with respect for the human dignity of all others because “all of us matter, all families matter.”

Let’s go in peace.  Have fun, enjoy the day and know that all are welcome! Feel the love! ( It’s what we need, all of us) … Truly do!

written by Jenna Zirbel and edited by Lea Salas Cordova

It is exciting to think how far Rainbow Community Cares (RCCares) has come in the last year since the organization’s official incorporation, and now with 501(c)(3) status. Due largely to the Board’s kind attention and dedicated gift of time, Rainbow Community Cares begins its second year of service to the queer, questioning, transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay community on July 13, 2012. The commitment of the board in guiding Rainbow Community Cares’ ministry allowed the formative work of seeing our mission take shape: “Serving as a resource with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people to promote community reconciliation and enlarge the scope of spiritual expression within organized communities, as the Source of Life is experienced daily and in connection while caring for neighbor as self.”

In many ways our efforts at community gatherings co creating safe places as a haven from racism, heterosexism and gender identity biases has led us with other marginalized folks in the exploration of self determination in a multiplicity of venues.  We continue to be informed by the real experiences individually in our lives and collectively through our reflection on this work. As an organization, RCCares has been involved in gatherings in Raleigh, across the state of North Carolina and across the country: at the LGBT Center of Raleigh in monthly forums, in North Carolina in summits on Harm Reduction concerning sex work, drug safety, law enforcement safety, drug policy development and HIV health care, in Georgia and New York at conferences on LGBTQH health and human service issues, and in Arizona and across the country organizing trainings for faith based advocacy in response to anti-LGBTQ hate violence. In every gathering self exploration in a supportive, affirming environment was encouraged, and discussion led to plans of action addressing the mutuality of needs of the participants and the community always leaning toward community reconciliation.  The work of RCCares has brought our vision to life: “Participation in communities celebrating the creative spirit from within each heart and honoring the blessings of diversity in gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity and race.

As the minister of RCCares I gain access to wonderful and awesome ways of engaging in queer ministry with LGBTQ communities and service providers with particular concern for people of ethnic and racial minorities, while improving my cultural diversity competency. We, the people of Rainbow Community Cares, stretch across the country touching the heart of each other, listening to the other in hope, reaching out to care for neighbors as self.

Written by Rev Jenna Zirbel

Minister/Executive Director for RCCares

A critical part of RCCares’ ministry involves community reconciliation. We co-lead a forum that addresses the need for working toward being a loving and just community following the desire to care for neighbor as self. The work of the forum participants is about co-creating safe space while living in the reality of community. It’s about having the space to be able to think about what a person values, to hear what others are thinking, and coming to better understand the comfort of making informed choices. Automatic responses providing protection in turmoil and conflict present in life create barriers.  In a safe space, taking down those defenses put up for protection can provide  opportunity for calm reflection. The safe space is especially significant now when anti LGBTQ hate based religious rhetoric threatens our lives and well being. We meet in the strength and love of community, attesting to how shame and guilt are disarmed.

Our goal is to be a place of radical hospitality acting for community healing and reconciliation. Affirming Faith Forum is held every fourth Friday of the month at the LGBT Center of Raleigh from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The most recent forum, “Empowering Action for the Common Good,” is described in this article.

Pathways to power was the main topic of discussion at the “Empowering Action for the Common Good: Affirming Faith Forum” at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Friday, March 23, at 6:30 pm. The goal to work for the common good extends to and beyond the vote on May 8th. The forum generated more ideas on how to join with others in improving relationships in the community while working to defeat the proposed amendment to the state constitution.    (more…)

RCCares’ work this past week provided a scope of snap shots of the many different parts Being church incorporates. There are many more faces to ministry as you surely could attest.  We enliven the praxis of living into the kindom of love’s reign in many bits and pieces. Our life is a lively kaleidoscope of how we love in sorrow and joy every day.  Thank Goodness that we do not stand alone.

On Saturday we were engaged via phone conference with other Rainbow Access Initiative board members in the Capital District in New York as we designed the next steps for establishing the program format for RAI’s Art of Health Expo 2012. Focus on breakout sessions included discussion on the content of the presentations and the support needed for proposed sessions. The aim of the Expo event is to bring the artistic skills of LGBTQ people to the foreground for the purpose of enhancing healthy living amid creative exchange. (more…)

Andy and I are in conversation with ministry leaders throughout the country who are working in diverse and challenging endeavors  Being the emerging face of ‘church’ as the body of Christ. As co leaders of the Ministry Development work area for Church Within A Church, we explore the celebratory actions and the struggles of Being the church we want to see. Whether any of us feels that we are the outside other or the inside ministry leader seems to depend on the energy of the Spirit at that moment.  Evangelism truly is a queer triangle.

As the ordained minister for Rainbow Community Cares (RCCares), my work is deeply rooted in ministry development and church revitalization. Rainbow Community Cares has emerged from the praxis of neighborhood ministry begun in Schenectady, New York, and now is informed by participation in LGBTQ community organizations in Raleigh, North Carolina. An integral part of RCCares’ vision is to help heal the rift in our communities and co-create a safe place for community to grow.  The scriptural imperative to love your neighbor leads the way to the gatherings in which RCCares participates. The 2011 Equality Conference was one such gathering. (more…)

Andy and I have been deeply involved with and heavily invested in the passage of the Marriage Act in New York. Our ministry in community has reached out from within the neighborhood into city wide efforts to create loving and justice-seeking actions. And today we celebrate with all those who are making their covenants legal, renewing their promises and/or enlarging the scope of the marriage rite. Our gift to you who are looking for just the right words to express love and care for each other is the Marriage Service/Covenant Renewal Service we performed with friends.   (more…)

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.

My life’s call is about the development of ministry in areas that are not being cared for with recognized sacred space or with leaders who can help people recognize how the people are in prayer.

Where sacred sanctuary space can be recovered is one of the biggest concerns that we have encountered in our work with ministry development.  And the next concern that begs to be addressed is how one defines sanctuary.  We have watched churches drop one ministry after another that had served the local community in addressing basic living needs. Take care of the widows and the orphans, we have been admonished in the Hebrew Testament. Maybe we take “feed my sheep” from the New Testament too literally, but I don’t think so. If the worry for keeping the building repaired takes precedence over caring for neighbor, what is the use of the church building? And then again, where can people gather that is safe and accepting if there is no open neighborhood sanctuary?

The issues above are not so much erudite as they are practical concerns for those of us in ministry outside the established church walls. We walk the streets in our neighborhoods where there is not a safe place to name what is sacred in our lives, nor to claim a space to share the experience with others. If we have no one to reflect with, we are missing an opportunity to grow to wholeness and improve the well being of the community.

I talked with a person who had been looking for a way to gather with others to celebrate the loving child that we all are, in a safe place. This person had been looking for a way to organize other friends who shared the desire to practice their spirituality in community in a home church. Developing liturgy had been one of her concerns that we had discussed around the work of a home church gathering. Since then, she has found a group that had been organized around the premise of listening for God to speak and has decided that this group of Quakers is a safe sanctuary for her.

Finding a place and finding the words to express what is sacred in life is for me a daily task. Quite naturally, some days are more open to community gatherings than others.  On the first day of spring, I led a spirituality workshop I developed for that day at our first Rainbow Access Initiative LGBTQ Mind, Body, Spirit Expo. What an awesome day of celebration of renewed life. The spring equinox is a sacred time for many faith practices and it surely was a diverse and blessed group that gathered in the room where the workshop was held.  We honored the sacred in each of us that was named and claimed by us as congregants. We created sacred space for that hour, which was built upon trust and the willingness to respect the other while each of us lifted up what was uniquely our own expression.

Just this past Saturday we got together with a new acquaintance from the Expo to see how we could expand the common ground we shared spiritually, honoring what is sacred in our lives. We talked about our experiences looking for a way to put into spiritual practice with others that which has been put in our hearts to share. We had felt a strong connection in how we view what is of sacred worth in each of our lives, and how the earth is to be cherished as home for us and those who have gone before us. The person with whom we met spoke about his desire to be in ministry using the healing skills that he has nurtured. He is prepared to share his healing power with others in need, but he wonders where he will find a viable place from which to work.

The engagement point of ministry is changing – molding into shapes that fit the corners and gaps of individual lives; corners where loss  lies quietly waiting for healing; gaps where sorrow and joy may meet. We who gather intend to live the love of God, care for neighbor as self, exposing both need and fulfillment.

We sit at the table together, exploring how it is that our lives have needs, some satisfied and some still longing; we are grateful that the food is good and affordable and that we have a place of belonging here. I suppose that we who gather are at times conscious of the mutual acceptance, shared out of trust and in a sense of self-worth. What had been desperation for a safe place has developed into a need for a space of recollection of friends who share common goals and insights, who enjoy some of the same social activities and who want the opportunity to give to others – to be part of the common good.

Zeke (Ezekiel Zirbel Thiessen) is in some ways not much different than many other young twenty-somethings. In others, he is exceptional – although maybe I’m biased. Zeke was honored recently by the University YMCA (University of Minnesota) with the William Teeter Leadership Award. The award recognizes “a student leader who exemplifies the quiet, behind the scenes leadership qualities that focus on relationships and ensuring that the values and spirit of the UY are reflected in day-to-day activities.” Zeke participated in Y Buddies and was instrumental in organizing immersion experiences.

As a member of the Ministry Development Team, Zeke has brought much needed insight into what church is and what church does in the world. Zeke and many of his friends are Christian and, while they talk openly about their faith, they have little time for the church as it exists in this time and space. Rather than doctrine and orthodoxy, Zeke believes the measure of church is what it does in the world – specifically the relationships that are built and nurtured while actively being in the world. No fanfare – not needing to be constantly stroked – just being in God’s good creation with God’s children.

It strikes me that we all could stand deep discussion about what “BEing” church entails.

I met with my son the day after his graduation from college to discuss ministry development – more specifically, church revitalization. He has had no interest or involvement with church orthodoxy in it’s current “popular” state. However, he has remained deeply connected to the body of Christ, enlivening hope where he sees the opportunity through this connection. He continues to inspire the CWAC work area efforts as it’s youngest member.

Ezekiel graduated this May from the University of Minnesota with a degree in international business and finance with a minor in accounting (the latter being his move towards accommodating the current job market). I hear him say he sees the need to recognize people’s labor/handiwork as more than a commodity for trade. He has a sense for the global nature of community. And even more, Ezekiel values the worth of participating in community. With compassion and the sense of enjoyment, Ezekiel has been involved with the University YMCA since his arrival at the UofM.

 In a 2009 study, 60% of LGBT adults described faith as “very important” in their lives. However, many LGBT adults have a shared history of spiritual disillusionment due to discrimination at the hands of religious communities and leaders. If faith is part of what keeps you healthy, begin the process of reconnecting with your spirituality by seeking out an LGBT religious community or affirming congregation in your area.

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.