On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people who are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) are protected from job discrimination. This historic 6 - 3 decision was the result of decades of advocacy for the rights of LGBTQ people. Just a few days earlier, June 12 marked the 4 year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where 49 people were killed. And all of this is happening during Pride month amidst a rule change that threatens health care for transgender people and news of killings of trans women. While there is progress being made, our LGBTQ siblings continue to face discrimination and violence because of who they are or who they love.
Historically, and to this day in many cases, the church has not been welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Earlier this month, APC members Derek Scheidt and Kevin Isom led the adult Sunday School class and shared what it was like to be excluded by the faith community (but not, clearly, by APC) and to live in fear of discrimination for having a same gender relationship. Too often the words of Scripture and the teachings of the church are used to exclude and harm rather than welcome and love.
But Psalm 139 reflects the core of what we as Christians believe about God and humanity: that each and every person is fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God, that each and every person is made in the image of God as Genesis 1 tells us. Too often we fail to recognize this, but as Christians we are called to love and appreciate each person for who they are and to respect the identity and dignity of all people.
There is more work to be done, in the church and outside of it, to make sure that no person faces hate, discrimination, or violence because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This work starts with each of us and extends to the communities that we are part of, including APC, that we would all be part of creating spaces that are inclusive, affirming, and truly reflective of the belief that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made by God.