Greater NW Pride: A Busy Year Ahead!


A Busy Year Ahead

As many of us do at the end of the year, we post all the accomplishments of the past year. This being “2020,” what some people decided that it was the end of not only one year but one decade, and the beginning of a new decade, so they posted on Facebook and Instagram photos of all that they did in ten years time. It is always powerful to "look back" and see where we've been.
And now it is time to look at the days and weeks and months and year before us!
This began for me last Saturday, in gathering with members of the OR-ID Reconciling group in First UMC Albany. It was a great time of telling stories and checking in with good friends. The meeting included story-telling, in which people talked about how their respective church became a Reconciling church! Sadly, Bonnie Parr Philipson and Karen Nelson, the co-leaders, will be stepping down from their role in the next few months, and new leadership is given a chance to rise.Thank you, Bonnie and Karen! Well done! This group meets quarterly, and our next gathering is in April 2020.
On Tue., there was a great Zoom meeting with Denyse Barnes and Adam Marhshall-Lopez from CalPac Conference, Todd Bartlett of Camps and Retreats for OR-ID Conference, and Troy Taylor of Camp Magruder, and we set plans ahead for Q Camp: High School. The theme? Sacred Roads. Where? Camp Magruder. When? Aug. 7-9, 2020.  The cost? $75. Open to all LGBTQI+ high schoolers in the Western Jurisdiction and beyond!
That afternoon, I had a great chat via text with Chris Smith, aka Chaise Manhattan, who lives in Twin Falls, ID, and attends First UMC Twin Falls. Last year, I was part of a panelist of ministers and Chris, who answered questions posed by the audience who was there to see some amazing drag queens perform at Drag Queen Theology. This year, we are going to bring Chris back to his home in Portland-Vancouver for Drag Queens and God in the Portland metro area! Watch this page for more news about this fabulous event!
The office of LGBTQ+ Advocacy is also looking at working with Cascades AIDS Project in identifying high schoolers who are LGBTQ+ and persons of faith, who have been recently diagnosed as HIV poz, and ways that our churches can be safe places and sanctuaries for these young people who are often rejected from their homes. This work will contribute to the work done with Strength for the Journey, a group of HIV poz people who meet annually at Suttle Lake Camp. 

Later in the fall, we will host a weekend retreat for self-identified and those who are hidden and LGBTQ+ clergy, lay leaders, and members of UMC churches for a time of checking in with each other and finding ways we can support one another, and welcome others who are hidden in the UMC.
There is also work afoot in finishing a short video, “Called to Love One Another,” based on John 13:34. This will be a video project of pastors and lay people from rural, urban, and suburban churches who will tell the story of their moving from being closed to LGBTQ+ people to being Reconciling, and the story of closeted LGBTQ+ people who move from the closet to being out, open, and affirming of the UMC. I will use this film as a catalyst for conversations with folks in the UMC I work with, as we explore the dynamic of opening our lives to one another.
Ongoing will be work with congregations and individuals on being a Reconciling congregation or individual or Sunday school group, or being a more friendly congregation towards LGBTQ+ folk, having preached a week ago at Montavilla UMC, meeting with folks with the South East Parish/Trinity UMC Project this coming Sunday, Jan. 19,  talks with folks in Lake Oswego UMC in March, and preaching at Tigard UMC in May. I’m looking forward to time with the churches in southern Idaho later this year. Blogs will continue. Work with other denomination’s LGBTQ+ group in the Portland, OR is ramping up with a new group, Queer Clergy Bunch, replacing the now defunct-Community of Welcoming Congregations. Of course, there is the Pride Parade in Portland in June, 2020.
Next big gathering before me? The Reconciling National Conference in Nashville, TN at the end of February 2020! Then, in June, 2020, Annual Conference in Puyallup, WA!

All this is made possible because of the generous contribution of the Collins Foundation, which gave the OR-ID UMC Conference $70,000 for LGBTQ+ initiative! Many thanks!
At the end of the year, my hope is that the General Conference in 2020 will present an opportunity of the UMC welcoming more LGBTQ+ people in all areas of church life. My goal is to continue to be an advocate for change, supporting LGBTQ+ clergy, lay leaders, and lay members, as we become a church with more LGBTQ+ people finding a home at their nearest UMC church, and that new LGBRTQ+ leaders will lead the way into the future as we continue to grow in loving one another. Feel free to contact me and let me know how to support your work in being a more welcoming, affirming, and loving congregation with LGBTQ+ folks! 

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!