In early 2022, ECSMC began an LGBTQ+ Inclusion Work Group to listen and understand how to become a space where all can truly belong. Our small group began by hearing each other’s stories and learning about the experiences that have profoundly shaped our understanding of faith and sexuality, including LancPride’s Trans Day of Visibility at Southern Market, Embrace’s Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Youth Panel at Wheatland Middle School, and more. We have learned about and participated in gatherings of other churches and faith-based community groups to be informed by their experiences. We have generated a wide variety of ideas that might be incorporated into all aspects of our congregational life. Our conversations are lively and lifegiving!
Our ongoing goals are:
1. Listening & Learning: to be our congregation’s “eyes & ears,” bringing to light an awareness of our own church culture and what makes a safe and life-giving faith space for LGBTQ persons.
2. Visibility: to assist in making our church’s welcome more widely known to LGBTQ persons looking for a faith community, to bring to light the life stories of LGBTQ persons, & to notice where LGBTQ gifts/voices in our congregational life and decision-making need to be included.
3. Resourcing: to find and share resources with our church commissions that may strengthen belonging in all aspects of congregational life and culture.
East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church’s central orientation is toward following Jesus together. We believe that in both Jesus’ life and on the cross, Jesus reached out to embrace all humans. Our church fully welcomes LGBTQ+ persons to join us as Jesus’ disciples and to participate in every aspect of church life, including becoming members, having our pastors officiate at their weddings, and being called to pastoral ministry. As followers of Christ, we value integrity and fidelity in all of our relationships.
Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests – The mission of BMC is to cultivate an inclusive church and society and to care for the Mennonite and Brethren lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied community.
Embrace – An interfaith group from Lancaster, PA, who’s goal is to assist individuals, faith communities, and organizations in their growth to affirm and welcome lesbian, gay, bi-, trans-, and other queer and questioning folk.
Lancaster Pride – Lancaster Pride was created to celebrate LGBTQ+ individuals in Lancaster County. Over time, they have grown as a premier festival in Central PA with 5,000 (and growing) attendees each year! As a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, they seek to engage and enrich our community, while raising awareness of issues affecting LGBTQ+ individuals in our county.
Lititz Chooses Love – Lititz Chooses Love is a grassroots, trans-led organization seeking to unite community in love. Their mission is to advocate for LGBTQ+ individuals, create safe social spaces, and connect LGBTQ+ community members with resources including access to food, mental health resources, gender affirming clothing, and programming and events.