INTRODUCING GA-1929, DES MOINES, JULY 2019
I’m Katie Hays, lead evangelist of Galileo Christian Church, Fort Worth, Texas. My pronouns are she/her/hers.
Galileo authored GA-1929 because we want to invite the wider church to see what we have seen.
That is, we have seen and can testify that the presence of transgender and gender-diverse people on this path of faith, traveling in community toward the just and generous world of God’s imagining, is a gracious gift to the church.
But that invitation necessitates a confession: the first several times a transgender or gender-diverse person came into the life of my church, I didn’t know [how] to extend the welcome we had promised to everyone in Jesus’s name. The logistics of love, I’ve heard it called.
I was clumsy. I stumbled over names and pronouns. I didn’t know how to appropriately answer questions from other people in the church.
I didn’t know how to counsel parents whose kids were coming out with a gender identity other than the one they had been assigned at birth, or how to help our Youngster Czar offer welcome to those kids.
I didn’t know how to make sure that our space was safe for persons who are endangered in many places they go.
I couldn’t connect, which, for a pastor who relies heavily on empathy for her discernment, is disastrous. And I couldn’t articulate a biblical-theological argument for transgender identity and gender-diversity, which, for a church that abides in the Word, is a serious deficit.
Here’s what I could do. I could live up to the promise that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is built on: whoever you are, whatever you’re working out in your life with our Parent who art in Heaven, whether I [get it] or not, whether I “agree” or not, You Get A Church.
You get a church that receives you with open arms, because Jesus has received the world with open arms.
You get a church where your gifts can shine, because the Holy Spirit of the living Christ inhabits without discrimination.
You get a church where we call you by your name, and get your pronouns right, because the God who made you has called you by name and loves you as you are.
You get a church. Y’all taught me that. So Glenna got a church. Finn Jones got a church. Wanda, Esi, Finn Spicer, Jodi, Kit, Nathan, Remi, Heather, Corina, and Harley, the Wikoff family, the Grogan family, got a church. Many more beloved children of God got Galileo Church, as if it was ever ours to give.
And here’s what happened: they changed us. They poured out grace and transformed our clumsiness into beauty, our curiosity into learning, our anxiety into joy.
I no longer imagine myself as a welcomer of transgender and gender-diverse people in the church; I see now that I have been made welcome in the hearts of people who are so steadfast in their faith, so rock-solid certain of God’s love for them, that they are still willing to try and connect with Jesus’s people, long past the point that they could have given up on us.
Siblings in Christ, this resolution is not intended to be dogmatic or combative; we do not wish division in this body and we know the potential for it is here. We’ve written carefully to reflect Galileo Church’s hope that you can feel it with us: that the gospel compels us to make ready for the blessings God wants to give us.
More than once Jesus sent disciples into the towns ahead of him, saying, “Wherever they welcome you, there you can preach the reign of God.” May our churches become places where all God’s transgender and gender-diverse children can find gracious space for the sharing of their grace-filled lives.