What I learned as a Soulforce Delegate

A few years ago I discovered Soulforce through the pamphlet, “What the Bible Says and Doesn’t Say About Homosexuality,” and as a person coming out of a Baptist background, this pamphlet was, in my mind, a godsend. So when I was poking around on their website last year and noticed a call for delegate volunteers, I immediately applied and was accepted as a delegate for the Northern California area (Sacramento). Conference phone calls began and I was introduced to other like minded LGBTQ folks from all over the US. I was also introduced to “preferred gender pronouns, intersectional justice and non violent methods of resisting and challenging discrimination to LGBTQ folks, and other oppressed peoples.

As a delegate we were assigned to plan, promote and facilitate a project in our areas. I chose to collaborate with the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, St. Marks United Methodist and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (two supportive and affirming churches in Sacramento) to sponsor the new film about Bishop Gene Robinson entitled “Love Free or Die.” I organized a steering committee of people from these entities which met several times to coordinate dates, times, a venue and to create promotional materials for the event. It was planned and held in September 2012 at the beautiful Crocker Art Museum Auditorium in Sacramento, CA. Q & A session with a panel of affirming clergy from the area followed the film. It was an evening of challenging film and excellent discussion! Over 200 attended the event. Brochures, and Soulforce materials were given out.

As a follow up to that event, I formed a collaborative with California Faith for Equality and St. Marks UMC to sponsor the CFE workshop entitled “Breakthrough Conversations” in March 2013. Over 50 people attended this 2 hour luncheon training facilitated by the director of CFE, Rabbi Eleanor Steinman. The curriculum included discussion about how to be aware of language and messages when communicating about LGBTQ issues, tracking our conversations for a national study which will provide information about how we can better promote acceptance and improve our methods of communicating our message of equality.

On March 16th, I travelled to Los Angeles to assist Soulforce delegate Ellie Ash Bala with her SoCal Soulforce event at Claremont College; a one day seminar including guest speakers and workshops geared towards LGBTQ Christian college students. As a licensed MFT, I provided free consultations for interested students. It was awesome to collaborate with other Soulforce people and to meet the great Mel White, and other board members who were present.

I also represented Soulforce at the Light the Way rallies at the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento for two days in March (25-26). It was awesome to be on the frontlines of the demonstration and to be interviewed by local media (my first time!).

I have learned a great deal through Soulforce and it has been an honor to serve with this great organization. I have been challenged to have a bigger heart for oppressed people and to understand that the heart of Jesus was and continues to be for the sick, wounded, outcast and “unacceptables” of society. When I initially signed on with Soulforce, my heart was, and continues to be to confront oppression of LGBTQ people within the context of religious organizations, but I have been challenged to become more aware of global oppression, and to have a bigger picture of God’s goal for all people to have equal access to his/her riches, and to feel and know his/her unconditional love.