While I appreciate the sentiment, a part of me cringes when churches proclaim they’re welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ people. It’s a step in the right direction, no question. But, for me, it isn’t a matter of being welcomed or affirmed. That should go without saying. It’s a matter of being.
And what I love about Grace is that I’m Grace along with all the rest of Grace. Whoever we are, wherever we happen to be, or feel, or find ourselves, we’re Grace. And there’s something about how we come together and are together that makes Grace home for all of us.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot because October 11 is the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, a day created to encourage the LGBTQ community to make ourselves visible. The founders’ goals were to help dispel fears and stereotypes by enabling the broader community to see who we are.
There’s been a lot of progress in the past three decades, thanks to places like Grace and events like National Coming Out Day. LGBTQ people are more visible at work, in the arts and entertainment, in government, and in the church. We have the right to marry and, in some states, to adopt children. But we’re still a long way from full equality, especially in areas like Western Michigan where the fear and reality of discrimination in employment, housing, and everyday living are real.
Which makes Grace as home all the more important.
One of my favorite parts of Grace’s 150-year history is that we provided space for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to meet in the early 2000s. That was – and still is – a big deal in Holland. We’ve also been instrumental in Holland is Ready and the opening of Out on the Lakeshore, an LGBTQ resource center. Grace is a place where all of us can be. We call it Being Grace, and it’s a tradition I know will continue in the coming years and decades.
Submitted by: Holly Anderson