Your pledge to Westminster supports our pastors who preach the Word of God, lead, teach and empower us to serve Christ. This stimulates us to grow as disciples and share God’s love. In response to the recent pandemic, your support has allowed us to provide regular worship services online and reach new worshippers seeking spiritual guidance during these challenging times. The church continues to welcome visitors and new members, while many church members assist with the worship services. Your generosity will enable us to return to worshipping in a well-maintained and welcoming sanctuary once it is safe to do so.
Christian faith is being used to persecute and marginalize transgender and nonbinary people across this country. We recognize the systemic harm that is being done in the name of Christianity, and we are actively seeking to improve our practice of faith and not contribute to the dysphoria for our transgender siblings.
As a church community, we welcome all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. We believe that trans women and girls are female and trans men and boys are male, and that God loves them as such. We aspire to create an affirming space where transgender and nonbinary people feel welcome and loved and where intersectional diversity is normalized and embraced.
We recognize that the mental health and well-being of our transgender and nonbinary siblings is negatively affected by the rejection and bias of other Christian faith communities. There is an urgency to take action now to establish physical and emotional safety as well as safety within the Christian faith.
Our goal is to create a space that will not burden or add to dysphoria but will be accepting and affirming — a space where transgender and nonbinary people can thrive and flourish as an integral part of the beautiful, diverse, whole body of Christ.
Our family is pretty queer! That is to say, we have three young people in our immediate and extended family that identify as LGBTQIA. Talk of global injustices had pretty much always been part of our conversations at home and we tried ‘to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God,’ at least most of the time. The continued targeting of LGBTQIA persons in our country causes me great concern. Shootings, attacks, and even political wrangling over where a person can go to the restroom fill the daily lives of queer people. Marriage equality is wonderful, but serious issues still remain for further equality. Healthcare for spouses and housing discrimination are just two. Our presence at Cville PRIDE is one of the ways Westminster shows up in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. It celebrates an openness and support for our gay, trans, and nonbinary friends. It shows our community that as a place of faith, we can support marginalized persons. It helps us to get to know our siblings and is just plain fun! This church has provided our family with a church home for more than 15 years. Love and comfort both come from here. And acceptance. My hope is that all people can know this kind of comfort.”
— Laura Young, Westminster Peace, Justice, and Inclusion Division member
“The only dependable test for gender is the truth of a person’s life, the lives we live each day. Surely the best judge of a person’s gender is not a degrading, questionable, examination. The best judge of a person’s gender is what lies within his or her heart. How do we test for the gender of the heart. . . ?” Quote by Jennifer Finney Boylan in Becoming Nicole
This morning, before heading off to Westminster Pres., I finished reading Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt. A few months ago, this book was recommended to me as an educational resource to understand the growing interest and issues related to transgender people. Becoming Nicole provides a clinical, sociological and psychological perspective on what it means to be a transgender man or woman growing up in America. And yet, Nutt’s book is so much more than these words imply.
In essence, this is a book about family. It’s about the people who are touched and transformed by a son or daughter’s personal struggle to come to terms with his/her/their identity.
It’s a book about a father who, in the beginning, resisted and reacted poorly to his son’s realization that he could no longer continue to live in the body from his birth. It’s a story about how, despite his own personal struggles, this same father never stopped loving his child. Indeed, Nicole’s father now travels across the country speaking out on Nicole’s behalf. He has become his daughter’s strongest advocate and admirer. He is, and always will be, Nicole’s dad.
It’s about a mother who fought for her child’s right to be herself in the public schools. Over the years, while others thought she was somehow mistaken or used poor parenting judgment, Nicole’s mother was convinced that, from an early age, Nicole was unique and deserving of dignity and respect. To me, her commitment to her daughter demonstrates, once again, that a mother’s unconditional love is stronger than another person’s lack of understanding.
It’s also a story about Nicole’s twin brother, Jonas. It’s about a brother’s steadfast love and support through good times and bad. “I never had a brother,” Jonas once said to Nicole, “You were always a sister to me.”
This book is as informative as it is simply beautiful. In some chapters, the reader will find him/her/themself immersed in pronouns, medical realities, and transgender politics. But in other chapters, a tear will come to the reader’s eye.
As Nicole once said, “Stories move the walls that need to be moved.” I wholeheartedly agree. If this issue has become a “wall” in your family or you want to know more about families facing this particular situation, put Becoming Nicole on your summer reading list. My prayer for all of us is that such earthy and personal stories will “move the walls that need to be moved” whether they exist in a cultural context or in our hearts.
FYI, Westminster Presbyterian Church will be hosting a pastoral care conference for pastors, chaplains, and spiritual caregivers, October 21-23. The conference will focus on how churches and pastors care for transgender persons and their families.
Last Friday, I was contacted by Rev. Gay Lee Einstein (Presbyterian Pastor) to see if Westminster Presbyterian Church would be willing to host the high school students from Parkland, Florida as they tour the country registering young people to vote and sharing their first-hand experiences of gun violence. Yes, this is the same group of students who spoke at the rally in Washington DC on March 24th of this year. And so, I am happy to announce that the Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church has approved the usage of our Fellowship Hall for this event.
On Friday, August 3rd from 6:00-7:30, The March For Our Lives: Road to Change tour will be having a rally at Westminster Presbyterian Church. This event is open to the public and I’m sure there will be a flurry of media exposure. What an exciting opportunity for us and Charlottesville. Please check out the link below for more details.
Let us continue to believe and pray that gun violence is not an unsolvable issue. Ken