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Dear Friends,

Since Kinship was founded, we have often found ourselves struggling to share our narrative, our stories, of what it means to be both gay and Adventist. Misinformation and confusion spread quickly, and the truth is often slower to be shared.

We strive to present the diversity of experiences, voices, and individuals within the LGBTIQ community as authentically as possible. Our mission, always, has been nothing more and nothing less than to affirm that diversity because of this important truth—everyone is created in the image of God.

February was a busy month! There have been several articles or videos released regarding LGBTIQ Adventists. Some embrace understanding and sharing God’s love, some promote harmful stereotypes about the LGBTIQ community, and some are complicated.

The Pure Choices program on 3ABN’s Dare to Dream Network released three episodes discussing sexuality—specifically same-sex attraction. The Coming Out Ministries founders shared their experiences. These videos reinforce the ideology that gay individuals are part of a “homosexual lifestyle” from which they must be rescued. They repeat the stereotype that severe familial dysfunction causes gender dysphoria and same-gender attraction.

An alternative Adventist news source recently reported that the Chico Adventist Church baptized a married lesbian woman and accepted her into membership in 2016. Ginger Harwood, an advocate for women’s ordination, performed the baptism. The news source made a connection between women’s ordination and “the oncoming homosexual tsunami.”

In response to the stir this article caused, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) released a statement. The NAD affirmed that all are called into a lasting relationship with Christ and noted that “as imitators of Jesus we welcome all people, inviting them into our faith communities and sacrificially serving them.” It was also noted that the conference administrators had met with the local church pastor to “work through the situation.”

Additionally, SONset Friday Entertainment also released a three-part video series on being gay in the Adventist Church. In the first video, founder and president Anthony Hackett sat down with Cameron Burrell to hear his story. Cameron vulnerably shared his struggle to come out, describing it as “feeling caged.” The follow-up videos explore balancing faith and sexuality. The intention was to offer another authentic narrative on life as a gay Christian man.

We were encouraged to see that our allies were not silent during February. Loma Linda University president Richard Hart made waves by offering his perspective on relating to the LGBTIQ community. We applaud him for calling health professionals to “understand, treat, and support everyone whom we encounter.” He acknowledged the progress of research in the scientific community regarding human sexuality and identity.

Pastor Todd Leonard spoke out concerning Journey Interrupted, a film by Coming Out Ministries. Troubled by the film’s role in perpetuating harmful stereotypes about the LGBTIQ community, he recommended that it not be presented to teens and young adults. Kinship president Yolanda Elliott sent Pastor Todd a letter thanking him for publicly sharing his review. She noted a serious concern: “Because the church administration only listens to the voices of the Coming Out Ministries folks, they never hear all the other voices that make up most of the SDA LGBTIQ community. And it gets very old being talked about instead of talked with.”

Kinship remains committed to providing a safe spiritual, and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists around the world. We share the value that the journeys of LGBTIQ Adventists matter in the wider narrative of what it means to be LGBTIQ and Adventist.

We are both heartened and challenged by the growing dialogue surrounding LGBTIQ Adventists. Rather than distance ourselves from the conversation, we encourage each one of us to lean in and engage. Our stories are powerful.

If you belong to this community, our pledge is to stand with you, no matter where you are in your journey, because we believe this truth: Your journey is important, your voice should be heard, and you should never be mistreated or discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.

If ever you need someone to talk to, we are here to listen. We are on this journey with you.

SDA Kinship International

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