Dear Kinship Friends,
As the focus on Kinship Awareness Month comes to a close, let’s continue to promote and talk about SDA Kinship and look for opportunities to tell others about SDA Kinship every month. If you have any stories to share about how you spread the good news of Kinship with others during the month, I would love to hear about it.
We feel every month is Kinship Awareness Month, but during October we take extra steps to let others know we exist and what we are about. I feel that SDA Kinship truly is Adventism’s best-kept secret. And it is high time we came out of the closet and let everyone know God loves unconditionally and that LGBTQIA+ does not indicate brokenness. The church needs us more than we need the church to demonstrate this unconditional love from God.
The theme of this year’s Kinship Awareness Month is COMMUNITY. And that is what Kinship really is all about. Whether it is creating safe spaces within the social media confines of Kinship, gathering together in local small groups to share and gather strength in our lives, attending Kampmeetings, or reaching out to church leaders to give them resources to better understand us, it all boils down to creating COMMUNITY for us and by us. This applies equally to those of us who are “rainbow” members, those of us who are families of “rainbow” loved ones, and the supportive allies who can’t comprehend anything less than equality for all of us. Sadly, very few of these folks can stand up Sabbath morning in front of their churches and openly proclaim their support without feeling discrimination and ostracism. One voice, or even a dozen voices, will get drowned out in the crowd. If we, within Kinship, unite all of our voices, it is more difficult to drown out our message.
Over the last few years—more than at any other time in human history—society has had to grapple with the complex subject of human sexuality. As individuals and institutions try to create a climate in which individuals have intrinsic value regardless of their sexual orientation, Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International has sought to be a voice of inclusion, acceptance, and affirmation, especially for those who don't conform to the rigid proscriptions of the past.
While most medical, psychological, religious, and scientific professionals have rejected so-called "conversion therapies" for LBGTQ people, Coming Out Ministries, with the tacit approval of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, continues to peddle the harmful theory that sexual identity can be changed as a result of spiritual exercise; that God's ideal for human sexuality allows for no deviation for the model established at Creation.
Hi, Kinship Family! In the midst of so many challenges, I hope you are doing well.
I am recently back from our 21st European Kinship Meeting. Switzerland is breathtaking, and the kindness of our hosts filled my heart. I am writing about them for our Building Safe Places newsletter that will be sent out later this month.
Christianity has often centered on togetherness—the privilege of worshipping and fellowshipping with other believers. For LGBTQIA+ Adventists it isn't always easy to be genuine and true to one's self while feeling welcome in Adventist churches. Kinship Kampmeeting has been an annual highlight for SDA Kinship International for 43 years now. This is an event where all attendees can be themselves just as God sees them without feeling the need to pretend to be something they aren't.
Kinship Europe picked up this tradition a couple of decades ago to make this annual fellowship more accessible for all members. So with much anticipation, I looked forward to the 21st annual European Kinship Meeting (EKM) being held this year high above Lake Thun near Bern, Switzerland.
Have you noticed? If you watch network TV or streaming video services, the underlying theme of nearly every program (especially the commercials) is diversity.
I'm old enough to have grown up when every TV program and commercial featured White people in traditional settings—father, mother, a couple kids (usually a boy and a girl). Then Black characters started appearing in television sitcoms, and eventually, Asians and Hispanics played major roles in television and movies.
Welcome to August! Similar to the past months, July seems to have flown by quickly.
Kinship Kampmeeting 43 is now a pleasant memory. I am impressed at the great job the Kampmeeting team did in organizing this special event with inspirational speakers and pertinent topics. We had a variety of subjects presented, but the one that sticks out for me is the theme of “self-care.” Learning to flow with the punches and take care of ourselves so we can better take care of others is an important lesson in life. Just turning on the TV or opening any social media platform blasts us with a lot of confusing messages. It is a daily process of not letting them get under our skin. Together as a community, we can keep ourselves in a healthy space. If you want someone to talk with, pray with, or just to listen to you as you verbalize your concerns, the Kinship board is available to share with you. In particular, our chaplain, Kumar Dixit, would like the opportunity to know more about your spiritual and self-care needs. You can reach him at
Hello all! (This includes those of us who are edging closer to the end of winter and those of us who are sweltering in the heat.)
Between Kampmeeting last month and our European Kinship Meeting (EKM) that will begin on the first day of next month, there have been and are great options to gather with a group. I am glad there are in-person options available for us.
Pride Month is now officially over, and I hope everyone could acknowledge their journey and celebrate what God has created you to be. Whether that was attending or even taking part in a pride parade or event, or just being able to reflect on your personal journey in learning to understand yourself better. Whether you are part of the LGBTQIA+ Rainbow community, a parent or loved one or an ally who loves unconditionally, it has been a journey to get to where you are at this moment. It is never easy to go against the flow of family and society, but you are not alone on this journey. We have a rich history of those who came before us to pave the way for the road we are traveling on. Together, we can work to widen and make the road more solid ahead of us.
For Kinship, this has been a busy month. For me, this culminated in the CALLED conference in Lexington, Kentucky. Although Kinship was not allowed to have an official presence inside the convention, we had a wonderful location in the beautiful park just across the street, where we had a resource and info table set up near a busy crosswalk. This gave us the opportunity to have lots of positive conversations and to share with those pastors and families walking from their hotel to the convention center. We used a nearby Presbyterian church to have two evening presentations on being LGBTQ and Adventist and a panel discussion on how pastors can be more affirming. This conference really gave me hope that a change in attitudes is possible.
Kampmeeting is under TWO weeks away. As we are planning to meet in person, the theme is "Together Again". The Kampmeeting team has worked hard to find diverse speakers and create an inspiring program. We are looking forward to seeing our members again, in person. Please visit the the Kampmeeting site at bit.ly/kampmeeting to get more information about speakers.
Registration is $200, and scholarships are still available. Saturday is Families and Friends day and registration for the day is FREE. Lodging information and other details are available on the website.
How often do you see news flashes, read articles, or are encouraged to reject Pride activities? Too often, those news flashes, articles, and personal encouragements flow from “Christian” sources. They may be news flashes on a church website; maybe an email or instant message from your faith, sharing negative comments regarding a Pride event; and, most blatantly, many groups of Christians physically gather and protest violently and loudly with their own flags and negative signs.
It’s very disappointing to see folks who believe they are Christians behave this way. We remember and believe Jesus never condemned nor rejected anyone because of their differences from others. We are all different from each other, taller, shorter, different skin and hair colors, shaped differently, maybe born missing a body part, autistic. No one is a perfect copy of someone else.
I was in Lexington, Kentucky, recently with Floyd Poenitz and several other Kinship members to create awareness about Kinship at the CALLED Convention for Adventist pastors in North America. On the whole, it was a positive experience with lots of wonderful interactions.
I came away from the experience with the impression that most of the people we met support Kinship’s goals of making the church more inclusive and accepting of LBGTQ+ individuals, their families, and friends. We met a few people who voiced their opposition to the issue of homosexuality, based on a misunderstanding of Scripture, but most people affirmed Kinship’s ministry of inclusion.
WRITE YOUR OWN SCRIPT
Growing up, we are all given a script. We rarely realize it, but it is a part of our upbringing from our parents and our church “family.” Scripts give us security and a sense of direction. Mostly, life scripts are a good thing and keep us safe. They are necessary.
SDA Kinship Int., Inc. stands for freedom and peace for all people to live their lives without fear. There are many places in the world that are experiencing war and unrest, places where people cannot experience equality and freedom. SDA Kinship prays for and is concerned about members and LGBTQIA+ related issues around the world.
At the time of this writing, we are especially praying for the people of Ukraine; and we condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. I have contacted as many of our Kinship members in Ukraine as I could reach. Those who responded have asked us to please pray for them and their safety. They have either fled temporarily to neighboring countries or have gone to the western part of Ukraine to be safe. The invading Russians will not be kind to queer Ukrainians.