This is a repost from one of our previous Ripples entry. We thought it is well worth a revisit to this beautiful moving story from Gregg Taylor–a member of our church as well as the founder of SpiritPride Conference– on the origins of this profound and unique conference. Since the first SpiritPride, Gregg and his supporting team had been able to generate some stellar keynote/special guest speakers and this year’s line up (SpiritPride2018-Celebrating Our Gifts) is no exception.
We are so proud to be supporting this spiritually-enlightening conference from the beginning and we hope that you and friends and loved ones that you know could join Gregg and the rest of us in growing together to embrace, love and support the LGBTQ2 community’s spiritual lives, and beyond.
Please refer at bottom of the post the information of this year’s conference.
Register for the conference HERE and we hope to meet you there!
From July 24th, 2017
Special Guest post by
THE STORY OF SPIRITPRIDE
It was 2007, and I was ready to explore what I believed after leaving my church and an active faith behind a couple of years earlier. I had to leave because I’d finally come to acknowledge that I was a gay man, after years of living under my own internalized homophobia, the teachings of my conservative church, and involvement in several ‘ex-gay’/conversion therapy groups.
At that time, I’d told people that I’d come to hate the God of my understanding with His expectations and unattainable requirements, but somehow also trusted deep down that God was beyond and much more than my current understanding.
And so, after a couple years apart from church, I sought safe ways to tiptoe back towards a faith; to determine whether I could find a way to reconcile myself as an openly gay man to Jesus and the Christian way – to see if the personal God I had known was actually ‘safe’ to return to.
There were several ‘doorways’ that led to my healing and the journey back to my faith and church. One was a wise and kind Spiritual Director who led me in prayer, readings, and contemplation, allowing me to hear from God for myself. I also attended sessions of Living the Questions, that presents the thoughts and teachings of a variety of progressive theologians and contemporary Christian teachers. And then I found the Word is Out, the LGBTQ Spirituality Group lead by Curt here at St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, which provided a safe and non-judgemental space to just be me.
Each of these doorways provided environments that allowed me to truly question God and what I had been told and taught before, and to finally take off the evangelical lens through which I had read the Bible and the passages that I’d been told condemned me.
And so I grew. I grew in faith & trust, as God revealed he was and is with and for me; grew in belonging, as I found a group of authentic people who were on the same journey as me; and I grew in community, as I was welcomed into the full life of this church.
And then three years ago, when a question was raise about what else we could do for Pride that would bring people to the church, I was prompted – I can confidently say by God – to say “a conference called Spiritpride”. You see, in this environment of safety and love, I’d stopped focusing so much on my own ‘coming out’ and ‘joining in’ and began to see the huge need in the communities around us. I knew there were a lot more people, just like me, and some very different from me, who were all ‘out there’, wondering if there was a safe way back to God and a community of faith.
And so Spiritpride was born. Our first year we had 70 people, one keynote speaker, and a few workshops; the second year we had 100 people, two renowned speakers and a benefit concert; and now this year (coming up July 28-30, 2017) Spiritpride will also include the annual national conference of Affirm United (the United Church affiliated group that supports affirming ministries & churches), we are expecting 150 delegates, and have scheduled 10 breakout workshops and a second annual Sanctuary benefit concert featuring Marcus Mosely and the Universal Gospel Choir.
It’s been an amazing blessing for me and everyone who has worked so hard on the Spiritpride Committee to see the lives that have been encouraged and touched by the conference. We’ve had attendees who are just coming out, to themselves and to others; families looking to be a support to their children; ministers seeking understanding and support as their views change on what the bible really says; and many LGBTQ+ people of faith who have been overwhelmed with joy as they experience a safe and welcoming environment to learn, share, grow, worship….. and simply be their authentic selves.
This Sunday, I’ve asked for the Hymn For Everyone Born, a Place at the Table* to be sung as conference attendees join with us for our morning worship. The words convey both what I have experienced as I ‘came home’ to my faith and my church, and the ongoing need and challenge that remains for so many others.
For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free,
For gay and for straight, a place at the table,
a covenant shared, a welcoming space,
a rainbow of race and gender and colour,
for gay and for straight, the chalice of grace,
and God will delight when we are creators
of justice and joy, compassion and peace:
yes, God will delight when we are creators
of justice, justice and joy!
Please join us this weekend for the conference or the ‘by-donation’ concert Saturday evening at 7:30pm, as we become creators of justice, compassion, peace, and joy. Everyone is welcome –not only from the LGBTQ+ community but our straight-ally friends too!
*Shirley Erena Murray ©Hope Publishing Company
SPIRITPRIDE 2018 – CELEBRATING OUR GIFTS
July 27 – 29, 2018
@ St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver BC
SpiritPride is a spirituality conference for members of the LGBT Community and their allies to celebrate LGBT Spirituality and to explore their identity & spiritual growth. This year’s theme is Celebrating our Gifts, an opportunity to move beyond seeking acceptance and affirmation, to actively embracing and enacting the spiritual and social gifts we bring to our spiritual and social communities. SpiritPride welcomes the LGBTQ2 community, as well as LGBTQ allies, friends and family, and members of churches and spiritual groups seeking to be affirming and inclusive. The conference will be held on the first weekend of Vancouver’s Pride Week, July 27 – 29, 2018, and is open to the public. The conference will include keynote speakers, concurrent workshops, a concert evening, a joint Sunday morning Worship Service and evening Meditative Service at St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, and time for fellowship including a SpiritPride Pride picnic in Stanley Park.