|In Minneapolis, volunteers performed a deep cleaning of a homeless shelter that serves LGBT youth and wrote letters for care packages distributed by Utah-based Safe and Sound.|
In Washington, DC volunteers helped to sort through donated clothes at Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center.
Affirmation Days of Gratitude and Service
LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends Shared Service Projects, Meals
by John Gustav-Wrathall
Building on a tradition started by the Washington DC Chapter of Affirmation, over 250 LGBT Mormons, their families, and friends gathered in eight U.S. cities throughout the month of November to participate in service projects followed by a Thanksgiving meal and each person sharing what they were grateful for in 2013. The gatherings took place in the San Francisco Bay area (on November 10), in the Washington, DC area (November 16 & 17), and in Las Vegas, New York/Connecticut, Salt Lake, Minneapolis, Raleigh and Phoenix/Gilbert (on November 23).
Gatherings ranged in size from eight participants in Raleigh, NC to larger gatherings of 30 and 60 participants in Minneapolis, Washington, DC, and over 70 in Salt Lake City. Even when numbers were relatively small, the gatherings felt significant. After the Raleigh gathering, where participants collected donations for a local youth homeless shelter and then met for a meal, host Jan Martin wrote, “Our numbers were few… but the love was great. We each shared a little bit about ourselves over a traditional Thanksgiving feast. There was an abundance of laughter and a good time had by all.”
Service projects included gathering donations for food shelves, homeless shelters and hospitals, and volunteering time and energy at LGBT community service organizations and youth homeless shelters. For instance, in Washington, DC volunteers helped to sort through donated clothes at Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center. In New York and western Connecticut, a canned food drive was held for a local food shelf. In the Bay area, Christmas toys were donated to a children’s hospital. In Minneapolis, volunteers performed a deep cleaning of a homeless shelter that serves LGBT youth and wrote letters for care packages distributed by Utah-based Safe and Sound.
LDS families served as meal hosts and participated in service projects as families. LDS bishops and stake presidents were invited to attend and participate. For some LDS Church members who participated, this was their first time getting involved in projects specifically organized to serve and support the LGBT community. For some LGBT participants, this was their first experience interacting with active LDS Church members in a setting where they felt comfortable being out. At the Minneapolis gathering, for instance, some of the sharing was quite emotional, and individuals spoke of how grateful they were for a gathering of Latter-day Saints where they felt completely safe, accepted and welcome. Others commented on how they never could have imagined such a strong showing of support for the LGBT community from the LDS community.
The service projects helped to raise awareness about urgent community needs, and also helped build relationships between the LDS community and the larger community. Service project participants who volunteered at organizations serving homeless LGBT youth learned, for instance, how disproportionate numbers of homeless youth are LGBT – often becoming homeless as a result of family rejection. They also learned how inadequately current needs are being met by available services, with fewer than 5% of homeless youth having access to safe shelter at night. Shelter staff expressed deep appreciation to LDS volunteers for their willingness to help, and hoped to continue to build a relationship between the shelters and local LDS wards.
These gatherings were ultimately about building relationships and caring communities, where service is offered and received, and where love and gratitude is expressed.
“We decided to meet together quarterly,” wrote Jan Martin of Raleigh, “and look forward to [gatherings] to come!”
“Beautiful experience!” said Judy Finch from Oakland. “Delicious food, great, loving and affirming conversation; and between dinner and dessert, sharing of gratitudes.”
“We had a wonderful event for the New York group,” wrote Tom Christofferson. “We had twenty-one people for dinner and collected a sizable donation for the New Canaan Food Bank, which will be especially appreciated this time of year.”
Winter Solstice Christmas Party in Highland, UT
February 8, 2014
May 2-4, 2014
September 12-14, 2014
by Randall Thacker
Christmas is a season of giving. We remember Mary, who gave birth to Jesus; the Wise Men, who brought gifts to the Child; Joseph, who worked as a carpenter and, as Jesus’s step-father, provided for his non-traditional family. Above all, we remember Christ as God’s gift to the world (John 3:16).
Affirmation and its services are possible because of people like you. We invite you to give the Gift of Affirmation to others by giving a year-end tax-deductible donation. Click on the “Donate” tab or complete the form included here and return to Affirmation: P.O. Box 898, Anoka, MN 55303. If you would like to donate appreciated securities (e.g. stocks and bonds), please contact Chuck Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends
||A plea to families: one of the best gifts you can give your LGBTQ child/sibling/parent is the gift of affirmation. I know what it’s like to live in fear of rejection from family. For years this fear nearly paralyzed me and severely limited my ability to have open communication. What an incredible relief it was to sit down recently with my parents and two brothers, to share with them my personal journey, and to have them tell me that they loved me and supported me in whatever life decisions I make. I plead with you, tell the LGBTQ people in your life how much you love them. Tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them that your love and support is unconditional. Tell them often. There is no greater thing you can do to create a safe space within your family!—Justin Keyes|
||Earlier today my friend Doug and I were talking about Affirmation and our positive experiences with it. We reminisced about the September conference, each of us describing specific interactions and overall impressions. We were grateful to have been there, receiving all that love and acceptance. At this time of year when we give gifts, I am pleased to send a gift to Affirmation. It’s been such a gift to me. Merry Christmas to all!—Judy Finch||
Clarke and I donate to Affirmation because we think the math is simple: LGBT + Mormon = Happy Families and Joyful Individuals! Merry Christmas! —Tom Christofferson
Registration for the Nauvoo Retreat Open
Cost Set at $55.00
by Hugo Salinas
Registration for the Nauvoo retreat is now open! Sponsored by Affirmation, this retreat is not just for LGBT people, but for all those who desire to serve in the LGBT Mormon community. The event will be held in historic Nauvoo the weekend of May 2-4, 2014. Stays can be extended from Thursday, May 1, to Monday, May 5.
Rather than a full-fledged conference, this Nauvoo gathering will be a spiritual/leadership retreat. In addition to regular workshops, the program will include time to explore Nauvoo together, cook, eat, and share experiences.
A focal point of the retreat will be the Nauvoo House. Located in the center of Historic Nauvoo and mere yards away from the Mississippi River, this is the home where Emma Smith lived til her death in 1879. The upstairs bedrooms and attic of this old house have been converted into simple, dorm-style rooms. Downstairs, we will cook in Emma’s kitchen and share meals in her parlor.
Nauvoo is located 3 hours north of the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL). Attendees flying in will need to share the cost of renting cars. Nauvoo is 4½ hours from Chicago and 6 hours from Minneapolis.
For more information and updates, check out nauvoo.affirmation.org.
The Douglas Ballroom, at the University of Utah Guesthouse & Conference Center, will be one of the venues for the 2014 conference
2014 Affirmation Conference Dates and Theme Announced
“This Is The Place” Conference to Be Held September 12-14, 2014
The 2014 Annual International Affirmation Conference will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 12-14 in Salt Lake City.
“Our 2013 conference was attended by over 400 people, many of whom said it was a transformational experience in their lives,” says Affirmation President Randall Thacker. “ We look forward to another gathering as LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends at the University of Utah Guesthouse & Conference Center this coming September.”
“This Is The Place for celebrating our lives, our spirituality, the place to be authentic as a LGBT and Mormon, a place of joy, healing, and celebration. It’s also The Place for families, parents, and friends of LGBT Mormons to come together and support their loved ones in their journeys.” Randall added. “Look for future information about registration in the coming months.”
Take Survey, Volunteer to Help
Help us make conference even better by taking this 10-minute survey about the 2013 New Frontiers Affirmation conference. The survey also provides a place for you to sign up if you would like to be part of the planning committee and/or serve as a volunteer at the 2014 conference.
Affirmation Launches Podcast
Co-Host Kathy Carlston: “This podcast is for anyone and everyone interested in walking an affirming spiritual path”
by Hugo Salinas
Peter van der Walt (Johannesburg, South Africa) and Kathy Carlston (Salt Lake City) have just launched an LGBT Mormon podcast that informs, entertains, and inspires. “This podcast is for anyone and everyone interested in walking an affirming spiritual path,” explains Kathy, “whoever they are and wherever they find themselves.”
Taped in an amiable and relaxed atmosphere, the first episode includes information by Daniel Parkinson on the LGBT Mormon Facebook scene, Affirmation upcoming events, and LGBT news from the U.S. and around the world. The episode ends with “Tiny Lower Case,” a terrific song produced by the Tiptons Sax Quartet http://thetiptonssaxquartet.com/ (which happens to feature Affirmation member Tina Richerson).
Co-hosts Peter and Kathy met at a service project during the Affirmation conference last September. The next episode, which is scheduled to go live on January 11, will include interviews with the leaders of the Safe and Sound program, which is helping LGBT youth in Utah.
In Washington DC, LGBT Mormons, families and friends gathered on December 9
LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends to Hold Christmas Events
December Events Held Across the Country
Several LGBT Mormon-related groups will be hosting holiday-related events during December. Other Christmas-related events have already been held in Portland, Boise, Washington DC, and Phoenix. The events on the right are listed chronologically.
Date: Saturday, December 14, 2013. Time: Check the Facebook event as the exact time is being adjusted. Address: 7802 11th Ave NE, Seattle, Washington, 98115.
Dave Schefcik and Justin Keyes will prepare a fabulous main course! Get ready to have your taste buds dazzled! Please RSVP so we know how much to prepare! The rest of the meal is potluck! If you’re able, please bring a contribution as follows (if you’re unable to contribute, don’t worry! Come anyway!). First name starts with: A-G – bring a side dish; H-N – bring a dessert; O-Z – bring a beverage.
December 14: The One Voice Choir The One Voice Choir is proud to present their 2013 Christmas concert, “Silent Night, Holy Night” on December 14, 2013 at 7:00 PM at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City.
December 21: Winter Solstice Christmas Party Please come to our December LGBT/SSA social. Bring family and friends! There will be music, bonfire, and sparklers to light up the dark night, and of course delicious food and good company! Where: 6433 Bull River Rd. Highland UT. Time: 7:00 PM.
Please bring a side dish, hors d’oeuvre, or dessert to share. Sponsored by Affirmation, Mormons Building Bridges, and Family Fellowship. For more information, please contact Yvette Zobel.
Come spread some Christmas cheer and join us to go caroling on Sunday Dec 15th at 5:30 pm. Meet at Anita Stephens’, 6460 Glen River Cir, Las Vegas, NV 89131. Hot chocolate afterwards.
The monthly gathering of the ALL Phoenix – Friends & Family Group will take place December 16 at 7:00 PM in Phoenix. Contact Bryan for more details.
Making Spirits Bright: Please join us for a holiday sing-along. Monday, Dec 16 at 7:00 PM at Steve Smith’s Apartment. Please bring a snack or dessert to share.
El 21 de diciembre en Quilpué, a las 8:00 de la tarde. Una tarde-noche especial con motivo de la Navidad, en que compartiremos como en familia. Para más información, favor de visitar el evento en Facebook o contactar a Brus.
Posted on the Affirmation Website and Blog:
|World AIDS Day: Raising Awareness of a Global Pandemic||“Light Up the Dark Night:” A Winter Solstice Christmas Party!|
Posted on the No More Strangers Blog:
|Response||Staying in the Church as an LGBT Mormon–In Spite of the Pain|