by Julie Hoke, pastor of Circle of Hope in Germantown
A note from the Julie to the body:
National Coming Out Day was this week and I want to acknowledge and celebrate LGBTQIA+ folks who have come out. Making that decision and living into it is a brave thing to do. For those who are able to live openly and authentically in this way, we celebrate you! The gift of who you are enriches this community and expresses more fully who Jesus is to the world. I also want to acknowledge that the decision to come out is deeply personal and to honor those who choose not to come out at this time. You are also valid and beautiful.
Circle of Hope has not always been a place where people can live openly and fully in their identities. In the past we have failed to acknowledge and embrace the full humanity of our LGBTQIA+ siblings and have caused spiritual and psychological harm in doing so. Creating an environment where people had to shrink and deny parts of themselves, we effectively cut off parts of our own body and rejected the beautiful diversity of the Body of Christ. Even as we have become clearer as a church in our full affirmation, we still have a culture of heteronormativity and our dialogue process has sometimes failed to protect the most vulnerable. There is more work to do.
May we continue to become a community that honors the unique journey of each LGBTQIA+ person and where people can navigate coming out in a way that is most comfortable for them. Only in doing this together will we be able to live into the fullness of who God desires us to be.
With gratitude and love for you,