March 4, 2018

Journey of Empathy and LGBTQ Diversity

The following Journey Description is a living document that will continue to be shaped by our community as we continue on this journey together.

Similar to Vox’s Values, it is not part of our culture to craft statements top down and vote on it. Rather, we lived life together for 10 years and then put into words our journey to articulate God’s work and our hopes. In this sense the words are still a living document and can be shaped. Our LGBTQ Journey Description captures our story around these conversations over 5 years and we’d like the community to continue to shape it. This is not a fixed vision or aspiration, rather a description of ourselves and our journey together, born out of our listening circles.


Journey Description

One of our values at Vox is Empathy within diversity. This means modeling Christ’s life of standing with those that are different than us, especially those who have been marginalized by society and religious institutions. In this way, we practice transcending polarization, and enter into what is made possible by God’s spirit: the rich benefits of a body of Christ, with many diverse members, committed to one another in love.

Therefore, we at Vox are committed to the following practices regarding conversations about gender and sexual diversity:

  • 1) We welcome and invite LGBTQ persons and families to participate at all levels of community, partaking in sacraments (including marriage), serving in ministry, joining as members, and holding leadership roles as you are called.
  • 2) We practice spiritual discernment and empathetic conversations together.
  • 3) We welcome diversity of theological views and scripture interpretations, and do not strive for agreement or certainty.
  • 4) We use tools of listening, empathy, and nonviolent communication to refrain from trying to change anyone’s mind on matters of discussion; rather, we practice listening, learning, and discerning God’s spirit together.

Since 2015, Vox Covenant Members have been in the process of learning about gender and sexual diversity through engaging the scriptures and listening to God, our LGBTQ members, ourselves, and each other. We encourage those in the Vox community to practice empathy and posture of humility when it comes to matters of diversity. We value mystery over certainty, and practice deferring to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all areas of our lives, and we will support and trust LGBTQ persons and families to discern God’s guidance in their own lives.

We affirm broad historical orthodoxy as outlined in the consensual creeds of Christianity, notably the centrality of the Word of God, freedom in Christ, and a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit. We refuse to allow theological differences to divide a community, while at the same time advocating for the marginalized. We realize that not all Vox Covenant Members will arrive at the same conclusions about the Bible’s teaching on same-sex relationships and gender identity. We believe that the beauty of the body of Christ comes from our shared faith in Christ, not from total agreement about every matter. If we are committed to the practices above, rooted in our core values and the love of Christ, we believe our differences and diversity will deepen and enrich our spiritual life together.


Pride Liturgy 2022 Resources

Pride is historically celebrated in June, to mark the Stonewall Riots in 1969. An explosive point in the history of LGBTQ+ resistance in the US, trans and gender nonconforming people led the charge. Austin celebrates Pride in mid-August, because everything’s hotter in Texas. But you can also celebrate in June with the volunteer-led Queerbomb march and celebration. 

Some research to ponder 

40% of LGBT adults ages 18 to 34 are religious. 

65% of LGBT adults over the age of 65 are religious. 

The first time the word “homosexual” appeared in a bible translation was 1946.

LGBTQ youth whose families affirm their gender identity and sexual orientation are almost 50 percent less likely to make a suicide attempt compared to those whose families are unsupportive. 

Resources

This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources in central Texas, but is meant as a way to show the variety of community and support in our area. 

Queertopia: A community by and for LGBTQ+ folks & allies in ATX who have experienced homelessness. Members have been operating emergency transitional shelters for 2+ years and are fundraising to purchase land for intentional community. 

Little Petal Alliance: a non-profit organization that assists BIPOC and trans individuals by providing a comprehensive mental wellness package including therapy, employment connections, and resources to help combat dysphoria for those experiencing it, such as hair removal, make up kits and tutorials, clothing, wigs, voice training, etc. We feel a more holistic approach tailored to the individual can help make a real impact on someone’s ability to find employment and maintain their mental health. 

Out Youth: Out Youth serves Central Texas LGBTQIA+ (lesbian/gay/bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, and asexual) youth and their allies with programs and services to ensure these promising young people develop into happy, healthy, successful adults. Founded in 1990. 

ASHwell: Empowering central Texans by providing sexual health and wellness services that serve the body, mind and spirit. Founded in 1988 by a group of individuals living with AIDS.

Austin Black Pride: Our mission is to cultivate a culture of inclusion and celebration, and transform the lives of our community through education, advocacy, and activism. We are the home for social change, and our network empowers our family with the resources for a stronger, healthier, and more prosperous future. 

Embrace Austin: Embrace Austin is a coalition of LGBTQIA2+ individuals, organizations, and businesses in Austin. We aim to build bridges between queer people and queer initiatives, boost Austin’s queer economy, and set a new standard for cultural competency in LGBTQIA2+ Austin.

The Human Empathy ProjectExists to foster empathetic connection around matters of Christian faith, gender, and sexual diversity through free confidential consultations and resources. Services for LGBTQ+ people, their families, pastors and faith leaders. 

Q Christian Fellowship: QCF prophetically models a world where all LGBTQ+ people are fully loved by family, church, and community, and Christians worldwide live up to their calling to be instruments of grace and defenders of the outcasts. Includes conferences, parent summits, and weekly groups. 

Church Clarity: a crowd-sourced database of Christian congregations scored by our team of volunteers based on how easy it is to find a church’s Actively Enforced Policy online. We currently evaluate church websites for policies that impact LGBTQ+ people and Women in Leadership. 

Equality Texas Legislative Bill Tracker: find a list of current anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the Texas State Legislature, and how Equality Texas is challenging them. Find ways to take action in the legislative process. The Texas Legislative Session begins January 10, 2023!

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