Friends (and friends) have impressed me lately with their faithfulness and commitment.
Ex-Gay Survivors Christine Bakke (along with Darlene Bogle) headed to Nashville this week and stood in front of the Southern Baptist headquarters to share some of their experiences as ex-gay survivors.
The Baptists recently appointed “a Texas pastor to become its “national strategist for gender issues” — a position designed to promote “ex-gay” ministries to SBC congregations.” In other words they will be welcoming, but not affirming. Soulforce sponsored Christine and Darlene as part of the Survivor Initiative. These two spoke up as witnesses to the harm that can come as a result of seeking to suppress and change one’s sexuality.
In Portland, Oregon this weekend, PFlAG, The Community of Welcoming Congregations, GLADD and some Quakers offered a positive response to the Focus on the Family Love Won Out Conference that rolled into town on Saturday. The Salem Press reported about the event.
As part of their interfaith prayer vigil, Jonmarc Ross, an ex-gay survivor, a birthright Quaker (and a dear friend I have gotten to know this year) shared some about his 14 year quest to turn away from homosexuality, the devastating results that ensued, and how he reclaimed his life,
“I was having a complete mental breakdown and seriously contemplating ways to end my life,” said Portland resident and survivor of the ex-gay movement Jonmarc Ross. “It wasn’t being gay and holding on to my faith that nearly killed me; it was misguided faith in the belief that I had to change.”
He continued, “Today I celebrate that I left that scared self loathing boy behind and began a very long and painful journey to a place where I can finally see a man that God loves.”
And here in Rhode Island, I am witnessing something amazing among the Young Friends (high school) gathered for New England Yearly Meeting. I volunteered to be one of the adults to sit in with them during their Nominations Committee (NomCom) deliberations. Each summer the Young Friends form a committee to create a slate of possible young Friends who will be leaders throughout the coming year at retreats. They take this task on as a sacred charge and all togerther spend five or six hours throughout the week in meetings (often while their peers are off playing or napping).
Yet again I felt amazed at these young people’s depth of spirituality and commitment. (They blew me away two years ago with their response to the less than centered worship time by adults at gathering) They gather for each NomCom meeting and sit in silence. They then speak thoughtfully, lovingly and carefully about their fellow Friends as prospects for the Ministry and Council (M&C) board. Often throughout the meetings these young people ages 14-17 stop and settle into silence, seeking direction and insight with every step they take. They consider the needs of the community as well as the needs of the possible M&C members. They ponder what each brings to the community and how the experience of being on M&C will affect each one, and with tremendous care, they discuss their Friends’ strengths and weaknesses.
I cannot adequately express the wonder of these meetings and how each time they floor me with their depth and compassion and insight. I feel honored to be part of their deliberations. During these time with these Young Friends I learn to listen to the Spirit and how to speak the truth in love.
I feel so encouraged by the love and good works I see going on in the world this week.