Greater NW Pride: Moving the Needle
Moving the Needle
When I was first hired to be the LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Coordinator of the OR-ID UMC Conference, Paul, one of my close friends, said that my job was “to move the needle.” What needle? On the “gauge” of LGBTQIA+ justice and equality in life, on one end of the gauge it might read “empty” or “few,” as in separation or segregation and exclusion of LGBTQIA+ people, and on the other side of the dial is “full” as in all The United Methodist Church congregations in the OR-ID UMC Conference, are all open, welcoming, and affirming of LGBTQIA+ with more congregations being Reconciling than not being Reconciling.
Moving the needle.
As I leave the position of LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Coordinator in the OR-ID UMC Conference, I, along with a great team of people around the Conference, Western Jurisdiction, this part of the country and world, across denominations, people of faith, and other LGBTQIA+ people who care about justice in all parts of life, have moved this needle slightly. This is still a Conference in which the majority of churches are not Reconciling, nor do they have statements or mission statements that are welcoming, open, and affirming of LGBTQIA+ people. But there are more churches that are open, welcoming, and affirming, than when I took the position in February 2018. Others are re-engaged in this goal. We moved and are moving the needle. And I am grateful, thankful for our great work, led by God, modeled after the ways of the Christ (the Pilgrim God), and inspired, comforted, challenged, and embraced by the Spirit. It takes not only a “village,” but specifically the body of Christ to make such change in moving this needle.
Thank you, all!
I will continue the work of moving the needle not only in the UMC from afar, but also in the Presbyterian Church (USA), as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, United Church of Christ, with the Episcopalians, Disciples of Christ, and other progressive denominations, as well as other faiths. This is universal work. Or as we used to say, "think globally, act locally." After all, I’m still the only out gay Presbyterian pastor in the state of Oregon, so there is much work to be done in my home denomination. Join us some day with my small Presbyterian fellowship, The Community of Pilgrims Presbyterian Fellowship, in which I am the organizing pastor, www.communityofpilgrim.com as we continue to Zoom at 4 pm every Sunday.
We are moving the needle.
I will also continue to work with other LGBTQIA+ religious leaders in the Portland-Vancouver metro area as we begin to create a new gathering, calling ourselves “The Queer Clergy Bunch.”
Moving the needle.
While this is the last blog I will post on umoi.org, join me on my new site. I’m going to continue to blog weekly on www.aqueerpilgrim.blogspot.com. You have all been great in following, commenting, responding, challenging, loving, affirming, worried, and keeping in touch with me about what I write with this blog. You read me carefully, and I thank you. Please keep in touch and keep reading and responding. Let’s move the needle forward. We need to keep speaking out on LGBTQIA+ issues of faith as LGBTQIA+ people of faith and non-LGBTQIA+ allies.
Feel the needle moving?
And I’m setting up an LGBTQIA+ advocacy program, just like this one I am leaving, as part of my continued work in this area of life through my non-profit, School of the Pilgrim (www.schoolofthepilgrim.org). We are already a 501c3 non-profit since 2008, and I will continue to be available to work with churches and church groups on LGBTQIA+ issues and faith communities through this non-profit. I love church coach work, and am becoming certified to be a church coach through the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the 1001 New Worshiping Communities. I'll also gladly show up for a benefit for the good of LGBTQIA+ people, preach, teach, lead workshops, and am available for one to one meetings. Please contact me at The Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell at email@example.com for more information and ways to contribute to this important work. Or let's be a friend on Instagram or Facebook. I'm working on that website, so give me a little more time before referencing it and sending it to others. Meanwhile, contact me.
Let's move the needle together some more.
Why am I going to keep on doing this? It is a calling. Because I am created in the image of God as a gay man and called to be a justice advocate for and with LGBTQIA+ people in communities of faith. Justice work and love is never ending. And as a teacher in the body of Christ, I know that I am called to keep on teaching and moving the needle on this topic of LGBTQIA+ issues, just as I was called earlier in life to being an advocate with people with disabilities in the Church. Everyone of you have affirmed this calling, talent, and service in the Body. Thank you. Again, I could use some support as I get this new work up and going. Contacts and networking will help.
Moving the needle, one day at a time. One church at a time. One person at a time.
In my faith walk, I continue to live on this pilgrimage of life with certain road maps: Micah 6:8, doing justice, practicing kindness and compassion and charity towards all, and walking humbly with God is a daily guide. And I embody John 13:34-35, in which Jesus calls us to love one another. Mark 12:30-31 reminds us to love God and love neighbor. Finally, 1 Cor. 12 reminds me that this is all a work of the risen body of Christ.
Thanks, again, all of you, in helping as we all move the needle. Led by the Spirit, let’s keep pushing that needle towards full equality, justice, and love for all of God’s people, including LGBTQIA+ people.
By the grace of God, let’s keep moving the needle towards full equality of all LGBTQIA+ people.
May it be so.