The LGBT Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark
The OASIS is among the Episcopal Church sponsors of Believe Out Loud, a multi-denominational effort to identify, promote and equip congregations that are intentionally welcoming of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Launched in 2010 by Intersections International, Believe Out Loud is an unprecedented cooperative effort between secular and religious LGBT organizations to pursue a common goal… connecting people with church communities where their orientation will not prevent their full participation in the life of the church. The LGBT ministries of eleven different denominations are participating in various ways, as well as well-known secular groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
Realizing that a community does not all come to one understanding on potentially sensitive issues at once, the program provides a wide variety of educational materials so that individuals or groups can explore what it means to be welcoming and work through any concerns that come to light. There is no cost to participate in the program and use the downloadable study guides. The campaign may recommend additional texts or resources
BELIEVE OUT LOUD IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Within the Episcopal Church, Believe Out Loud has been adopted by Integrity, the OASIS ministries in four dioceses, and TransEpiscopal. Unlike its mainline protestant peers, the Episcopal Church has never had an official designation for a LGBT-welcoming parish. The working name for these communities is “Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregations”.
Some congregations which were already visibly welcoming were identified by Intersections as such. Our goal is to connect more congregations with the program and encourage them to identify themselves as a “Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation” on their website, printed material and buildings.
Congregations who have completed the program can register themselves and be included in on-line and published lists of LGBT-welcoming communities of faith for newcomers and travelers who are in need of a house of prayer.
BELIEVE OUT LOUD IN THE DIOCESE OF NEWARK
Many of our congregations can be proud of a long heritage of welcoming, but our work is far from over, and there are many who have not yet come to know our churches are places where they are safe and valued. The single largest reason people visit our website is to locate a LGBT-friendly church. How does your congregation let people know they are welcome?
The OASIS and Integrity are working in partnership to introduce the Believe Out Loud program to our area, tailored to keep in mind our own history in the vanguard of this issue, and our focus on mission to all those on the margins. We are offering parish visits and half-day workshops to answer your questions and develop an action plan. If your congregation is interested in learning more please contact us to arrange a conversation and seek a way forward.