Why Launch This Book in a Church?

Book Launch

a family by any other name: EXPLORING QUEER RELATIONSHIPS

 Saturday April 26th 2:00 PM

Lutheran Church of the Cross

10620 Elbow Dr. S.W.  Calgary

 

I think, in fact I know, from several comments I’ve received, that the venue for this book launch is a bit of a puzzle to many who’ve seen the promotion or received invitations. Why hold this celebration at a mainstream Protestant church when so many Lutheran congregations are still rejecting, or conflicted over the Human Sexuality Resolutions passed by the National Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in 2011?

Why on earth include a statement of welcome on the invitation that says:  Come as you are, with an open mind and heart. God will stretch and renew us, for we already know storytelling transforms us.

Has the shunning and the pain inflicted by churches – in the name of God – on the LGBT community not been enough to render such an invitation and the venue offensive?

In fact, that welcoming statement is part of the invitation Church of the Cross has extended to all the other Lutheran Churches in the city (none of which are affirming,) other churches within our southwest community, and to affirming Anglican and United churches in Calgary.

But again, back to — why the church? The short answer (the long answer is in my essay) is that my story ends in this place.  A selfish motive, and a suggestion that was initially questioned by my friend and reading partner for this launch, Dale Lee Kwong.  But Dale, gracious and accepting woman that she is, handed this over to me and I am grateful both to her, and to Touchwood Press and Bruce Gillespie who, if they had reservations held them back.

The open arms with which Pastors Laura and Phil Holck responded to my request to hold the launch in the sanctuary at our/my church sealed my conviction that this was the place we needed to be.

I contemplated removing the mention of God’s renewal on the promotion that will go out to other communities for fear of offending potential audience members who are atheists, agnostics, non-Christians.  But then I remembered that the secular world is far ahead of the Christian church on many issues of acceptance and inclusiveness.  Respect, do not judge, accept one another as we are, are some of the basic tenets that keep my faith alive.

The readings and the Q&A moderated by Jonathan Brower will be held in the sanctuary and I am praying for a Saturday when the stained glass windows are streaming with light.  There will be refreshments – basic requirements of both launches and all Lutheran events. There will be books for sale. An anonymous donor has offered to contribute $2 for every book sold to the church’s Families in Need fund or whatever other cause our pastors can suggest that speaks to inclusiveness.

I feel so honoured to have my story, a mother’s story, included in this anthology that at times I’ve felt that I should just be grateful and quiet. Quiet does not come naturally to me. And I have been reminded by the wise and comforting Dale, that the acronym is frequently LGBTA, the A standing for allies.  I am an ally and so is my church. We will welcome you with open arms.

I suggested to Dale that maybe opening with a prayer for peace and justice would be appropriate and maybe a song that I love on that same theme could close the event. Here, she finally asserted herself and in retrospect, I know she was right on this call.

But this is my own page, we are not in a church and I do want to share a verse from that hymn, “Light Dawns on a Weary World”: “The trees shall clap their hands/the dry lands, gush with springs/the hills and mountains shall break forth with singing/ We shall go out in joy/and be led forth in peace, as all the world in wonder echoes shalom.”

Shalom,

Betty Jane

 

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7 thoughts on “Why Launch This Book in a Church?

  1. I received the formal invitation today at advent lutheran church. As you know i am church secretary here and i will post the invite in the church bulletin and newsletter. No reservations here. We are affirming the reading.

    • Hi, Vivian. I knew you were a member at Advent, but didn’t know you were the church secretary. Thank you for spreading the word! We’re hoping to have a wonderful meeting of communities — LGBT community, churches, writers, friends. I’ve read half of the book since it arrived this morning, and it is a wonderful compilation of personal stories.

  2. I had to reach for a tissue to wipe the corners of my eyes as I read this, Betty Jane. I know and love your deep and abiding spirituality and admire your growing ability to express it. But did you really have to reduce me to tears? 😉

    Seriously, I am so happy for you and your congregation. For Lutherans to take such a step gives me hope for a better world! I hope you have a wonderful launch! I wish I’d’ve booked my flight to Calgary a few days sooner so I could attend… xoxo

    • Bernadette, I would so love to see your beautiful face at this launch. This growing ability to express my faith comes from having a crisis of faith in the midst of a storm of anxiety and depression, and from the wonderful counsel of our two pastors who have come to us from San Antonio and have breathed such new life to our church that I can feel the Spirit blowing through. The light is comiing back, the periods of dread are subsiding, but when they do ambush me I have learned to whisper,” I’m so frightened, God. Walk beside me.” For the first time in my life, I feel as though I don’t need to worry about my ineptitude in finding the right things to ask in prayer. This is all I need. The anthology is gorgeous. I wish there were SK contributors to this anthology so that there would be a celebration in Regina or Saskatoon, but mostly the authors are from eastern Canada (many Torontonians), the west coast, and the US. Dale Kwong and I are the lone voices from this big stretch of prairie in the middle. Must mean there aren’t are gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transgendered folks in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, right? 😉 Which is why it’s not necessary for our churches to accept the national church’s Human Sexuality resolutions. Nothing to do with us. I’m pleased to say that in this city there is a healthy, active LGBT community, theatre, writers, and even some churches who shoot an arrow through the heart of that belief.

      big warm hug crossing the grasslands to you as I type, Betty Jane

      On Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 11:53 AM, Betty Jane Hegerat wrote:

      >

      • I considered changing my flight when I first heard about the launch. But I can’t be away for that long that close to the Arts Festival, so I will celebrate with you from a distance. And I’ll hope to have time for tea with you when I’m there for the CNFC conference.

        I am so happy to hear you say there is light again! And that you’re able to share the news. Reading about it made me reach for another tissue. That said, it may be because I’m in a particularly tender place right now having called the police to report a domestic situation in the apartment next to Kate’s, something I know you know all too much about.

        I look forward to seeing the anthology! I don’t recall seeing the call for submissions come through the SWG but then I may have been otherwise occupied.

        Taking that hug and stretching it to meet me in Ottawa!

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