Mormon LGBT Outreach: Part I

In November of 2013, my stake president, Thomas Fairbanks, asked me to spearhead “gay and lesbian outreach” in the Seattle North Stake.  Seattle is the new San Francisco – our city has a large gay population, both inside and outside the Church.  But very few openly gay or lesbian church members attend services in our wards.  In President Fairbanks’ mind, this wasn’t an ideal state of affairs.  If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is what it claims to be, if it contains a religious message and provides a spiritual environment that everyone can benefit from – regardless of their individual life paths and circumstances – then we should be a community that welcomes everyone into the communal life of the church.  “Everyone” includes our LGBT brothers and sisters.

LGBT outreach was a good fit with our stake theme, Ezekiel 34:16, which reads:

 “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up       that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick…”

If you look up this scripture, you’ll see it doesn’t end there:  “… but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.”  However, our stake theme DID end there – at the word “sick”.  And in applying the theme to LGBT Saints, we weren’t intending to portray them as “sick” or “broken”, but as “lost” to the Church (by virtue of their absence), and/or “driven away” by the unfriendly – even hostile – environments many had endured as part of their earlier church experiences.

Our approach

My role was to strategize an approach, to implement activities that operationalized LGBT outreach in the stake. Our efforts were not without precedent – I spoke with one former Bishop who had fellowshipped gay members locally two decades earlier, and I knew a stake leadership training on the topic of homosexuality had occurred here in more recent years. I got wind of the recent Beaverton, Oregon firesides and I was an online acquaintance of Mitch Mayne, who I figured would be a source of good ideas (given his highly-publicized role in LGBT outreach as the executive secretary in his ward in San Francisco). So I solicited advice from various sources.

Upon reflection, it became clear to me a two-pronged approach to “outreach” was necessary, that two different initiatives were needed that would ideally complement each other:

  • Actual outreach to LGBT Saints who are no longer connected to the LDS Church, but who might benefit from a rekindling of the relationship; and
  • Internal education of the general LDS membership, many of whom suffer from misconceptions about homosexuality generally and some of the LDS Church’s current positions with respect to it specifically.

However, in practice, my stake focused almost entirely on the outreach component (#1), given the sheer size of the local LGBT community.

In addition, I made a decision early on to heavily promote our activities on social media.  While I knew  our stake president or bishops would want to focus primarily on the needs of church members within their respective jurisdictions – and rightly so – I believed it was important to broadcast our efforts much more widely, so that LGBT Saints outside our stake would hear about them, and LDS leaders outside our stake would hear about (and possibly emulate) them.  In my view, broad publication was a crucial element of what we were doing.

Finally, I knew the terminology we used to refer to the targets of our outreach would be important.  Many LDS members and leaders have historically been reluctant to use terms like “gay” and “lesbian”, preferring instead the more cumbersome “same-sex attracted.”  Meanwhile, gays, lesbians and others are put-off by euphemistic terminology, very sensitive to the nomenclature employed to describe them.  Therefore, from the very beginning I elected to use the “LGBT” acronym in our published outreach efforts (though I admit I often slipped back into saying “gay and lesbian,” as if the terms were synonymous).  In my mind, its advantages were several:  (1) it was a term that LGBT Mormons would likely be comfortable with; (2) it was a term that some Mormons might be less resistant to; and (3) it technically broadened the scope of our outreach beyond gays and lesbians, made it more inclusive of other marginalized Mormons (i.e., transgender, etc.).

What we did

What were the products of our efforts?  During 2014, four different LGBT-themed events took place in the Seattle North Stake:

  1. an LGBT ward social – One of our units, the Washington Park ward, encompasses the neighborhood with the highest concentration of LGBT people in Seattle. So the ward leadership decided to hold an LGBT “social” to reach out specifically to less active members within its boundaries.  I advertized the event on social media –  with a particular focus on Seattle-area gay Mormon networks – and others promoted it through word-of-mouth in the ward and stake.  The Bishopric decided to hold the social at a private home, believing some attendees might not be comfortable entering an LDS church building.  The meeting had no religious agenda, just an effort to befriend LGBT members within the ward who had never been on its radar before.  In the end, 25-30 people attended – in addition to the Bishopric, two Relief Society Presidents and myself.  Various gay ward members attended, as well as other gay Saints from adjacent wards and stakes.  One LDS lesbian couple attended with their children.  Most attendees seemed grateful for the outreach, though a few voiced suspicions about our motivations.  But all in all, the evening seemed to be a resounding success, insofar as it was well-attended, appreciated, and accomplished exactly what the ward leadership set out to do:  To issue heartfelt, one-on-one expressions of love and welcome to estranged LGBT Saints, no matter their individual circumstances.
  2.  an LGBT private stake fireside with Mitch Mayne – Later in the year, a local Relief Society President hosted a larger stake fireside at her home, specifically for LGBT church members. (We opted not to use the stake center, as before, in favor of the intimacy and privacy of a private residence).  Mitch Mayne came up from San Francisco to speak at the event, and to screen the award-winning film short, “Families are Forever” – about an LDS family in California whose gay teenage son came out, and who experienced negative fallout in their local LDS congregation as a result.  Mitch then spoke about his own experience growing up LDS and gay, about the epidemic of suicides among gay youth, and about the importance of love and acceptance for LGBT young people.  More than 50 people attended the fireside – a good mix of gay and straight members, as well as stake insiders and outsiders.  A stake presidency counselor and a local LDS Public Affairs representative were in attendance.  The entire evening was very well-received, and was followed by a robust Q&A around the general subject of Mormonism and homosexuality.
  3.  a stake leadership training around LGBT issues – What was initially conceived as an LGBT-focused discussion with a small handful of stake leaders eventually morphed into something much larger. Mitch Mayne and his former Bishop, Don Fletcher, gave a lengthy sensitivity training around LGBT issues.  Mitch plugged the Family Acceptance Project and its brochure designed to help parents of gay youth appreciate how treatment of their children is closely tied to crucial health outcomes.  In addition, Mitch shared instructional materials for holding an outreach sacrament meeting that targets less active LGBT members, just as he and Bishop Fletcher did in their ward in San Francisco.  As the date approached for the event, I figured we’d see a turnout of 25-50 people – if we were lucky.  The actual attendance was pushing 90 (including a few local leaders from outside the stake).  The training’s presentations – including the comments by our stake president – were uniformly excellent, and the engaged, caring energy in the chapel was palpable.
  4.  an LGBT-themed Sacrament Meeting. After listening to Mitch Mayne describe how outreach had been done in San Francisco and how other wards might follow suit, the Bishopric of the Washington Park ward decided to do exactly that.  Closely following the California model, they drafted a letter to all their less active members, inviting them to return to the ward for a special sacrament meeting.  The letter was addressed to less actives and their concerns quite broadly, but a special focus was placed on LGBT issues, given the demographics of the ward.  Meanwhile, I aggressively circulated an excerpt of the invitation on social media, and someone else posted a copy of the entire letter online.  Mitch himself was scheduled to speak at the event, but at the last minute he became ill and cancelled.  The sacrament meeting nevertheless proceeded as planned, with a 3-speaker line up – Bishop Michael Hatch, Relief Society President Molly Bennion and Celeste Carolin, an active, out lesbian church member from an adjacent ward.  It was followed by your typical LDS linger-longer, so that ward leadership could get to know any visitors.

I’ve attended a lot of sacrament meetings over the years, and I’ve experienced many kinds of services – from the dreadfully dull to the incredibly inspirational, and everything in between.  I can honestly say this was one of the most spiritually powerful and uplifting meetings I’ve ever attended – simply a phenomenal experience from start to finish.  And everyone else I talked with agreed.  (A handful of ward members were apparently uncomfortable, but their privately-expressed comments were measured and respectful).  All three talks were pitch-perfect, but the         comments by Sister Carolin were without question the highlight of the meeting.

Typically, the Washington Park ward sees 100 to 150 attendees on any given Sunday.  This time attendance was pushing 300.  Both the Bishopric letter and the social media promotion clearly helped generate the turnout (though it’s hard to say in what proportions).  Numerous individuals drove long distances to attend, including some from out-of-state.  Probably the highlight of the day was the attendance of a gay African American couple whose LDS member hadn’t entered an LDS church building in 46 years.  He had received the Bishopric’s letter, and decided to give the   ward a try.

Ward attendance has dropped back down since the special sacrament meeting, of course.  But I’m told some new attendees – some gay, some straight – were attending consistently in the subsequent weeks.  At least one of these members travels about an hour each Sunday from a far-flung stake.  Bishopric counselor Cory Funk recently described to me the aftermath of the event:

 “I can’t even count the number of conversations I’ve had with ward members about our outreach… I do feel like our sacrament service caused an enormous amount of reflection on the issue and helped to create a positive experience that has been educational for them.  Many of our ward members went into that meeting with a lot of trepidation, not knowing what to expect.  Many of them came away also saying it was one of the most spiritual sacrament meetings they ever attended. People who came anticipating to be offended were not. The spirit of that meeting has reverberated in our conversations with each other in diverse and unexpected ways. Those conversations continue and feel like they have progressed significantly.”

III.  What’s next?

The Seattle North Stake’s formal program of LGBT outreach was a one-year initiative, and 2014 has come to an end. But our attempts to reach out to our LGBT brothers and sisters have not. We think of outreach as a perpetual feature of our stake activities going forward. Our hope is that the climate of love and acceptance we tried to generate will infuse and inform our congregations more broadly, and permanently. We will surely be less than perfect in this regard, but we have to start somewhere. At present, I anticipate putting on at least one – possibly two – LGBT-related stake firesides over the next year or so. Despite four successful events last year, not one of them was technically open to the ENTIRE stake, which in retrospect I find regrettable. The “educational” piece of our efforts is important (even if less so than the “outreach” piece in this stake). I envision a fireside composed of local LGBT members talking about the gay Mormon experience and local LDS leaders talking about their pastoral interactions with LGBT Saints. I also anticipate a fireside devoted to the LDS Church’s official mormonsandgays.org website, an incredibly useful but underutilized and relatively unknown resource. Given the recent announcement that the site will be revamped and better promoted in the Fall, a fireside devoted to its contents couldn’t be more timely.

So there you go.  I hope this overview has been useful.  And I hope other wards and stakes will notice our efforts and try to implement outreach programs of their own.  Every stake is different; not all should balance external outreach and internal education in the very lopsided way ours did.  Not all will make the exact same decisions we did.  But I’m confident virtually every LDS stake has work to do in reaching out to its marginalized LGBT membership.  The time to start that outreach is now.

This is the first of two posts on this subject.  In Part 2, I will discuss concerns raised about our efforts from both the “left” and the “right,” and talk about lessons learned.

Comments

  1. I consider myself “right”, but I am in awe of this. All of us should do more of this, although it would be very hard. I’m working with a young man who has come out about his desire to transition. I’ve known him for years and it is a reach for me personally to encourage him to bring God on his journey and not abandon the Church all together.

  2. Catherine S says:

    Thanks for sharing what you did in such detail–I can’t wait for part 2!

  3. This is wonderful. What is the carry-through, however? Is the goal to get attendance? Obviously not priesthood advancement, RS callings, or temple recommendations. I suppose attendance is sufficient for most other churches, too. How do LGBT people get socialized in the Mormon Church?

  4. Because I know you’re trying to educate and be sensitive–FYI–“transgender” or simply “trans” are preferred terms to “transsexual” when referring to the T in LGBT. The distinction is subtle and not everyone cares, but it is not unlike the difference between “gay” and “homosexual” in that one refers to identity and the other comes from the medical community and is laden with more negative baggage.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the great report.

  6. I’m curious why the approach was focused on the first goal (actual outreach to LGBT population), rather than the second goal (education of members). It’s not that I don’t think the first could be important, I’m just kind of confused by what the goal of it is. Is it to get LGBT members back to church? Is it supposed to get them to not have bitter feelings toward the church? Is it to give them some kind of connection to their former community?

    That’s not to say that I don’t think that this is a great effort to do something that is very important. I’m glad to hear of any wards/stakes doing more to address LGBT issues. I’m sure Part 2 will address this somewhat, and I look forward to reading it.

  7. Brad Hawkins says:

    Really great article and nice approach. Great job, Aaron!

  8. Megan, I can’t speak for Aaron — but as an out gay man in my ward and stake, I can share my own perspective. NOTHING educates members faster than having real, live gay people in the pews. If the stake was successful in the first then they’d effectively accomplish the second over time. If the stake was only successful in the second, the effects would likely have a shorter lifespan.

  9. Awesome. Looking forward to Part 2.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing this, Aaron. I love that you promoted your events far and wide, because I share your hope that it sent a message to many Church members about the importance of including LGBT people.

  11. Great to hear the report, Aaron. I am no longer in a stake calling, but this is useful information that I will share with our ward council (I am in the Bellevue Stake on the Eastside). I really like how this grew out of your stake theme, and look forward to hearing more about your stake’s experience.

  12. I attended the sacrament meeting that reached out to the LGBTQ community as well as less active members. It was the most remarkable, spiritual meeting I have ever attended. This is the model for all wards, regardless of their diversity. The message was please join us, you are welcome here, we will love and accept you unconditionally. The chapel was a holy place that day. Good work Aaron.

  13. Molly Bennion says:

    Speaking only for Washington Park Ward, I can address the subject of one of our goals by paraphrasing our bishop in “the meeting.” He told our guests they would be welcome once a year or every week. He wanted them to know we stood ready to be of service to them in their spiritual journey. We hoped it might be with us but we would love to help them come to Christ in their own way, their own time. Attendance would be great, but it’s not the first goal.

    We also wanted to help those who were angry let go of it. Anger is such a soul destroying cankor. We hoped expressing our love would help toward that end.

    I personally have another goal, which I think many in my ward’s leadership share: to help each and all of us better learn to love everyone. I agree with the comment above that nothing will soften the heart of those on either “side” faster than getting to know fine individuals. I have seen it happen in my ward since our meeting.

  14. Aaron Brown says:

    Thanks for your comments and questions, everyone. I will have to respond later when I have a bit more time….

    Aaron B

  15. Wow, this has such a different tone from some of the author’s other online correspondence.

  16. RW. I seriously question your statement “Obviously not priesthood advancement, RS callings, or temple recommendations.” Exactly why wouldn’t these things happen? As the GA have clearly stated same sex attraction is not a sin, it is acting upon those attractions that is the sin, and it is no more of a sin than a heterosexual individual who is having sex when not married. Both break the law of Chastity. If an LGBT individual is keeping the law of chastity, not having sexual relations out side of legal and lawful marriage between a man and women, why wouldn’t they be able to advance in the priesthood, receive RS callings and carry a current temple recommend? In fact there are many active faithful members of the Church who are “out” that live the commandments and participate in all of these things. It would be like saying a heterosexual brother or sister who is currently single but following all the commandments could not do these same things.
    Statements like these are the reason that while outreach to our estranged LBGT brothers and sisters is important but education of the active membership is equally if not more important. We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and as such all have equal access to the blessing of the restored Gospel if our actions are in line with the commandments.

  17. I think RW posed a legitimate question. My assumption (maybe it was faulty) in reading Aaron’s post was that most of the LGBT individuals ARE involved in relationships. It kind of goes without saying, in my mind at least, that if they have same-sex attraction but aren’t acting on it they are no different than a single heterosexual person who isn’t involved in a relationship. The question as I see it is are we inviting our LGBT brothers and sisters to come to church only to still be told that unless they deny themselves of sexual relationships for the rest of their lives they will be going to hell? I don’t see what the attraction would be. I love the idea of the outreach and it sounds like the meeting was wonderful, but if I were LGBT I don’t think it would be enough.

  18. Thanks for the write up. I’ve been following these efforts on social media and am glad to get some color on how they were received.

  19. This stake must be very different from any other stake in the church? This would cause a mighty uproar if this idea was suggested in a high council meeting or ward leadership meetings in these parts. If actually carried out there would be all kinds of trouble similar to what happens in the protestant churches over this issue. I am curious as to why an lds unit would seek to do this? Are those attending in sinful relationships being asked to repent? Where does faith repentence and baptism play into this?

    I have often wondered if we are headed towards a schism? At least we know in our case who controls the buildings.

  20. Thanks so much for this report, Aaron. I hope it’s widely read.

  21. Aaron Brown says:

    bbell, if the idea of outreach would create the uproar you’re suggesting, I point to that as Exhibit A in the argument for why outreach is so badly needed.

    Our efforts were not designed to relax the Church’s doctrinal stands; we couldn’t do that locally even if we wanted to. But most gay members know what the Church’s stands on marriage, sexual morality and repentance are (as you might imagine). Our outreach absolutely is predicated on the idea that haranguing LGBT Saints with intrusive inquiries into their sexual activities or overt calls for repentance whenever we see them is counterproductive and unnecessary. We want all individuals to know — whether LGBT or anything else — that their presence is desirable and beneficial, both for them and for us. Whether they choose to comport themselves with church standards in every respect is their business, and doesn’t Impact whether they’re welcomed and valued at church. To be sure, it becomes their church leaders’ business also if they want to accept certain callings, attend the temple, etc. But we’re not conducting a witch hunt to weed out the sinners and make their fellowshipping experiences unpleasant, no matter how exciting that might seem to some.

    AB

  22. Aaron Brown says:

    Daniel,

    I take your point. I’ve asked the PTBs to change the trans terminology in my post. May not happen instantaneously, but hopefully shortly.

    Megan,

    Christian makes a good point, but to further answer your question, we didn’t really intend to be so lopsided in our outreach-to-education ratio from the get-go; it just kind of happened. We wanted to start with community outreach, for the reasons I said (highly concentrated LGBT population locally), and then things just started rolling from there. Later in the year, we ran into calendar hurdles, and as a result couldn’t hold a full stake fireside in 2014 like we had wanted to. Also, my sense was that by typical LDS standards, our stake didn’t have a sizable contingent of members making awful, ignorant comments about The Gays. So it seemed less immediately pressing to focus as much attention there.

    AB

  23. Aaron, this is wonderful. I envy your stake, though I can comfortably imagine something similar happening here. Thank you for sharing your stake’s experience with the rest of us.

  24. I am coming to this unfortunately late, but I wanted to share one fruit of the Seattle North Stake’s outreach efforts.

    I am part of the ward mission in a neighboring ward to Aaron’s. In that capacity, I met and befriended a gay man about a year and a half ago who feels that the Book of Mormon saved his life. For over two years, he assiduously studied and annotated a copy he had obtained during a time in his life when he was feeling very low. Without ever attending church or having any Mormon friends, he started to feel God re-enter his life through his reading of the Book of Mormon. This re-connection to God helped him return to university studies after having dropped out earlier due to a somewhat traumatic faith crisis precipitated by him coming to terms with his sexuality.

    When I met him, he had just begun using the online scripture study tool at lds.org, and he had bought himself a new quad. At the time, he was in a relationship with another man (so he couldn’t be baptized), but he needed someone to talk to about his Mormon scripture study. I began to meet with him regularly – sometimes with our Bishop – just to chat and talk scripture. Thanks in large part to the tone that had been established by the stake, the Bishop and I could confidently assure him that, even if he couldn’t be baptized due to his relationship status, he was absolutely welcome to come and participate fully in church services. He did come a few times. And then, when his relationship ended a few months ago, he felt very strongly that he should be baptized.

    After his baptism, he was invited to speak at a stake-wide missionary fireside intended to introduce recent converts to the stake. In bearing his testimony, he mentioned that he was gay. After the meeting, several members of the stake, including the stake presidency, went out of their way to be supportive and loving towards him. Although I still think it is a very tough ask for us to require LGBT members to be celibate, he – so far at least – has found the blessings of membership and fellowship with the saints to be worth it. I am so, so grateful for the loving, charitable members and leaders who have helped my friend feel truly at home in the church I love.

  25. Thanks for this report, Aaron. Very inspiring.

  26. As an LGBT Mormon, it often feels like no one really gets it. You try your best to explain how complicated and deep the conflict is, to address mistaken assumptions, to trace the influence of culture, to suggest potential areas for flexibility. But so much of the time it feels like there’s no getting through to so many people. It baffles me. We baffle each other. Then I hear about stuff like this and I’m like, “Wait…what?” It’s a miracle to me that anything happens. Looking forward to Part 2!

  27. Is the need for repentance ever discussed with those who are clearly engaged in behavior that is contrary to gospel standards? To the extent we avoid repentance out of fear or a false notion of love we avoid the atonement and deny Christ. Not saying seeking out the injured or lost is bad in this case but where true love its shown and goodwill built it would be a shame back away from our faith in the atonement to change hearts and sanctify souls.

  28. Hi I just read your article about welcoming less active people back to church. My first thought is to push back against this and ask when these sinners are going to repent, because I am literally the worst.

  29. I assume that when DQ speaks of “repentance [being] discussed with those who are clearly engaged in behavior that is contrary to gospel standards” he (or she) is referring to those of us within the church who – to borrow a line from Elder Uchtdorf – judge others for sinning differently than we do. If so, then I totally agree that we need to rely more on the atonement to call each other to repentance; to change our hearts and sanctify our souls.

    On the other hand, if DQ is asserting that we should – in ministering to the injured or lost among our LGBT brothers and sisters – not forget to try to change their hearts so they can become straight, then that seems misguided for several reasons. First, I don’t think Christ’s top priority in eating with prostitutes and sinners was to chastise them; that’s not usually a successful strategy for ministering to the marginalized. Second, it seems to me that most of us in the church feel extremely comfortable (as did the pharisees) pointing out what sort of behavior is right or wrong for others to be engaged in. What we tend to be much less comfortable doing is walking with, talking with, and showing our love toward those who look or act (or have romantic feelings) differently than we do. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we are all – quite belatedly – beginning to understand much better than we did in the past that there are many people for whom homosexual feelings are just not changeable. It is core to who they are. And if they have been in the church for any period of time, they have likely spent years of their lives trying unsuccessful to change their orientation. No matter how well-intentioned our reminder to them that being gay is contrary to God’s will, that is neither Christlike nor likely to effectuate any change whatsoever. That is why church authorities no longer teach that gay folks should try to change their orientation or that they should enter straight marriages.

    There is no easy or immediate answer to how our LGBT sisters and brothers can fit neatly within our church and gospel. But unless we want to cast them out entirely, we need to seek to change our own hearts and sanctify our own souls first and foremost.

  30. Walker F,
    You’re missing the point of the atonement. Am I judging some actions as wrong? Sure, of course. Am I fixated on it to the point of being unwilling to befriend someone? Of course not.

    I do not excuse the many mistake I have made in my life. But the point is, if you believe the atonement is real, that God so loved the world he sent his Son to perform this infinite act of love, which required immeasurable suffering on his part; then you are making a mockery of it if you try to cover it up and refuse to point others to Christ.

    Preach nothing but repentance, the Lord says. Don’t be so argumentative as to turn my words around and point out the accused beams in my eye. I’m the one saying teaching repentance is important (for all of us). But the point of bringing people to Christ is specifically so they can repent and become more like him! That’s the point people. Get off your high horses where you assume everyone is foaming at the mouth about Teh Gays.

  31. Dear DQ: Tone is very hard to communicate online. I hope you don’t think I am trying to be argumentative. I really am not. I’m sure we would get along swell in real life if we were to meet in person, and conversations like this would be much easier. :-)

    Nevertheless, I am not sure I understand your point exactly. Are you saying we should make sure to tell gay people that God doesn’t like them being gay or that they should strive to apply the atonement in such a way that they become straight? If so, I don’t think that comports with what church leaders teach us about homosexuality or about how to minister to our LGBT brothers and sisters.

    Are you saying we need to remind LGBT members that in order for them to receive a temple recommend they can’t be in a relationship with someone of the same sex? I don’t think anybody has lost sight of that. However, if I visit with a less active member who has a drinking problem, my top priority is not to remind them that they are a sinner (as we all are) but rather to remind them that they are a beloved child of God, who loves them unconditionally and invites them into the fellowship of his church.

    Are you saying something else? If so, I would be sincerely interested in understanding what that is. I agree we can’t forget repentance and we can’t forget Christ. On this issue, though, I find it important to be especially humble and charitable because it is too easy for me – a straight guy who goes home to his wife every night – to tell someone who doesn’t enjoy the luxury of having romantic feelings towards someone of the opposite sex that they need to either change their feelings or live a life of celibacy. In this situation, I think the best way to invite people to Christ is through showing them the same unconditional, Christlike love that Elder Christofferson and his family have shown towards his openly gay brother. I can’t change the church’s doctrine. I can’t change anyone’s sexual orientation. I can’t chose a path for someone else. I can only change the extent to which I love and care for others through my words, thoughts, and actions.

    Much love to you DQ.

  32. Point everyone to Christ, teach of Christ through his words and the words of his prophets. Teach the plan of salvation and our Fathers ultimate goal for his children to become like Him through the infinite and eternal Atonement. Repent of every ungodly deed and characteristic, and be willing to forgive yourself as God readily does with sincere repentance.

    If we aren’t teaching these things we aren’t the salt of the earth who are to be the saviors of men. I think it’s fantastic to show love in reaching out to the afflicted and it would be great to continue with pointing to Christ if there is a foundation of sincere friendship.

    If you’re telling me repentance, to what ever degree, is impossible, I’d say again we’re missing the big picture.

  33. In my personal experience, the only people who have been able to effectively “call me to repentance” (and the only context in which I have been able to successfully repent) are ones who show deep and loyal and longstanding and long-suffering love. That relationship and trust has to be there first. I have to feel loved and accepted as-is before I feel safe and confident enough to embark on the messy and awkward and vulnerable process of change. Others may be better at repenting than me, but that’s my process. That’s why initiatives to express sincere love to those who are at the margins of our community are so important.

  34. Hook 'em Horns says:

    I’m so glad that education for the members is part of this process. I live in a ward, deep in suburban SLC. We have emeritus GA’s, former Mission Presidents, retirees of the CES system, etc. as members of our ward. I’m AMAZED at how many of them have LGBT children. And the varying degree of acceptance for their children among this population is astounding. More education, more tolerance, and more love is needed among all parties.