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GALA members and friends,
GALA has served the LGBTQIA+ community in Community of Christ for over 30 years. In this time, we have looked to the future with hopes and dreams to expand education in congregations about issues relating to the LGBTQIA+ community. Our defining goal has been inclusion and understanding, love and acceptance for all.
The theme for the 2017 retreat was introduced with those hopes and dreams still intact. The GALA board recognizes the need to include the next generation of our community in leadership and decision making. In recent decades, Queer Theory has taken off in various fields of the social sciences. Sociologists and theologians have looked at our history and how our community has fit into both secular and religious societies. This is exciting to many in the LGBTQIA+ community, and reclaiming spaces that we have historically been kept out of can be empowering. For these persons, queer has become a word that rejects strict binaries and gender roles while also providing space for those who do not consider themselves strictly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The word queer is used heavily in academia and has been culturally reclaimed by many – though not all – in the community. When deciding on the theme for the retreat, this sparked both interest and hesitation within the GALA board.
Pairing the word queer with Jesus’ beatitudes was intentional. Jesus, at his core, was riddled in reclaiming labels, tearing down walls that divide, and breaking through binary veins of thought. His ministry, especially as highlighted in the Sermon on The Mount, took traditionally-dismissive labels and showed how the poor, the mourning, the hungry, etc. would be blessed. Through conversation and prayer, the GALA board felt that by combining these two elements, we would be flipping the script on a word and label that has been used to harm, and reclaim it as part of the gospel story that we have historically been isolated from.
We recognize that some found this year's retreat theme, “Blessed Are the Queer in Spirit,” hurtful. We knew the theme would push comfort zones, but we underestimated the magnitude of pain it would cause among some of our members and friends. We truly do apologize for that pain and our part in it. Our hope is that our annual retreat will continue to build bridges and empower our community. We pray for reconciliation as we move forward and explore these topics together. We will continue to promote understanding and healing while remaining faithful to our Enduring Principle of the Worth of All People.
GALA’s future is bright, and as we build that future together we find hope in Doctrine and Covenants 165: “Oneness and equality in Christ do not mean uniformity. They mean Unity in Diversity and relating in Christ-like love to the circumstances of others as if they were one’s own… And, always remember, the way of suffering love that leads to the cross also leads to resurrection and everlasting life in Christ’s eternal community of oneness and peace. Trust in this promise.”
With love and peace,
The GALA Board
The JULY newsletter is now available. It has quite a bit of information about the fall retreat.
Thanks to those who were able to help with the planting of the Temple flowers in April!
The first newsletter for 2017 is now available. We apologize for the lateness of this update but encourage you to enjoy the early information about the 2017 retreat, a note from our new president Jerry Dale, and other information.
Videos from the retreat:
The July newsletter is now available. It has a lot of information about the upcoming retreat and board elections.
Please join or renew your membership today! The membership form can be found in the current newsletter or you can fill out the online membership form and submit payment by check or through PayPal. Thanks for your support!
GALA Statement on Orlando Shooting
Many in the LGBT community woke up to terrifying news on Sunday. The worst mass shooting on American soil had occurred in Orlando. As the news cycle began to catch up to the night's events, it became more and more clear that this shooting that occurred in a gay bar had a very specific target demographic. The investigation had barely begun when another story hit the news cycle—one of a man intercepted by law enforcement on his way to Los Angeles Pride with multiple weapons and makings of bombs. Then came the responses, of all kinds. Some were supportive. Some were denigrating. Some felt sincere, but others felt hypocritical.
It certainly appears at this point that this act of domestic terrorism was completed by a religious extremist, perhaps even one who was so homophobic that he could not accept himself and his own sexual orientation. It is easy to blame one group or another. Unfortunately, blaming is what we do best. Blaming is easy. Blaming means we don't have to take on any responsibility ourselves. Some people are blaming the victims. Some people are blaming the religion. Others still are blaming a nationality, an ethnicity, or a gender.
GALA would like to remind everyone that being LGBT and being religious are not mutually exclusive. Some Christians do not represent ALL Christians, just as some Muslims do not represent ALL Muslims. As an organization that values the worth of ALL persons, it is essential that we mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters who were killed. It is also essential that we mourn the loss of safety and security that has occurred within the LGBT community. But it is not essential for us to blame a religion for the events of this past weekend.
It IS essential that we accept the challenge of representing true Christianity to our communities. It IS essential that we take on the responsibility of reminding our brothers and sisters that God loves everyone. God has created each and every person, and God loves each of us as if there were only one of us on the earth. Christ's example did not include hatred. Jesus loved everyone. That love was countercultural in Jesus' day, and it is countercultural now. If we are to follow Christ, we must follow Christ's example, and love, welcome, and value all of God's children.
When you think about Orlando, think about the victims, the wounded, and their aching families. Think about Christ mourning each one of the dead and each one of the wounded. Remember that God longs to wrap us in the loving arms of the Holy Spirit. We are called, not to condemn or blame, but to make this world better than it is, and to love people into who they are capable of becoming.
The May newsletter is now available. Lots of information about World Conference, the retreat, people...
Were you unable to join us for the conference call discussing GALA's Five-year Strategic Plan? You can listen here!