Monday, October 4, 2010

The church responds to challenge to "Believe Out Loud" for at-risk youth

Last week, Walking With Integrity addressed the heartbreaking reports of the increase of LGBT youth suicides with this challenge:
  • We challenge our clergy in the Episcopal Church to take to their pulpits this Sunday to speak out against all forms of bullying and the systemic homophobia behind it.
  • We challenge the people in our church pews and in our communities to speak out whenever our young gay brothers and sisters are attacked.
Today we want to share a few of the responses to that challenge as we encourage the whole church to continue to "go and do likewise" until no child is ever driven to end a life-barely-begun because of homophobia inspired bullying, harassment and violence.

From Wyoming and Ann Fontaine's Mustard Seeds of Hope at "what the tide brings in:"

In baptism we are asked, "Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?" and we answer with a loud, "AMEN." We can be communities of support and care for all people, we can teach one another to walking in Christ's loving footsteps. We can offer hope to those who feel alone and isolated.

Last week our church camp, that you support through the diocesan assessment and through sending kids to camp in the summer, was the site for a weekend with the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in Casper. High school students who care and support for each other, especially for those who are gay or lesbian. They spent the weekend using the ropes course for team building and learning more about how to be community who is there for each other. You, Holy Communion, Rock Springs, have become a welcoming church for all who might come seeking hope. We can continue this work and exercise our faith together - so when a moment comes to stand up - we will not fear but step out in faith.

This is being the mustard seed of the gospel. We can be a small seed of faith and hope that grows to a large protective place of respite and renewal -- scattering our mustard seeds of hope to all who need a word of encouragement and knowledge that they are beloved of God, that life is worth living.

From the pulpit at Integrity Partner Parish All Saints Church, Pasadena:

And from Maria Evans in Kirksville, Missouri in this litany for children at risk from bullying:

O God of justice and mercy, we pray that no more daughters and sons in this world die as the result of bullying simply because of who they are; be it race, religion, sexual orientation, or social awkwardness.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That our schools become places of nurturing and hope rather than shame and derision.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That our teachers instill values of charity and acceptance in all children so there is no need for one child to feel superior over another.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That parents can put aside what they were sometimes taught, in order to promote tolerance and diversity at home.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That our communities support children who feel “different from the others” and show them lives that are theirs to claim, lives they cannot begin to imagine to see at home.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

That all children can grow up feeling self-empowered and truly loved simply as themselves, and not suffer beatings and psychological abuse at home or school.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Lord, you understand this above all others, for your only Son hung among thieves on a rough wooden cross on a barren hill, just as Matthew Shepard hung from a rail fence on a lonely road. Be our light in the darkness, Lord; protect our children and fill them with the love of your Holy Spirit; hold them in your Son’s loving arms in their most fearful hours, and be with them always. Amen.
This is what it means to "Believe Out Loud" -- to put our faith into action to be the change we want to see in the world! We would love to highlight other examples of those throughout the church stepping up to speak out for our children at risk. Send links or quotes to Integrity's Director of Communications for inclusion in future updates.

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