John Gustav-Wrathall Elected as 2016 Affirmation President
The Election Committee of Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends has reviewed the electronic reports for the election of 2016 President of Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends and certify that John Gustav-Wrathall has been elected President for a one-year term beginning January 1, 2016. A summary of the votes for each candidate is listed below.
Total Ballots Returned: 232
Votes for John Gustav-Wrathall: 123 (53%)
Votes for Kathy Carlston: 88 (38%)
Votes for Fred Bowers: 21 (9%)
The president-elect was then asked to confirm his choices for Senior Vice President and Vice President. The Affirmation Board of Directors has ratified the election of John Gustav-Wrathall as President, and his selection of Sara Jade Woodhouse as Senior Vice President and Adrián Sanchez Román as Vice President. These three individuals will constitute the 2016 Executive Committee beginning on January 1, 2016. This is the first Affirmation Executive Committee to include a transgender person and a Latino and non-U.S. citizen.
The current Executive Committee – Randall Thacker, Todd Richardson, and Kathy Carlston – were nominated and voted on by the current Board of Directors to become 3-year term members of the Affirmation Board of Directors. Fred Bowers will also continue in his current role as a member of the Board of Directors. They will all play a vital and continuing role in shaping the direction of Affirmation along with all other Board members and the new Executive Committee.
Message from President-Elect, John Gustav-Wrathall:
For members of the LGBTQ+/SSA Mormon community, Thursday, November 5, 2015 will be one of those dates that we always remember. Decades from now, those of us who were there will remember where we were when we heard the news, and how it made us feel. It will be one of those dates in our collective memory that marks a “before” and an “after,” because it irrevocably changed things for us.
It was surreal to have to hold an election for a new leader of Affirmation in the midst of the turmoil so many of us felt and have continued to feel in the weeks since. It was humbling, overwhelming actually, to have to imagine being a leader in a community where so many were experiencing so much pain and confusion, and where some of the fault lines within our community were under such intense pressure. Communities do split apart under those kinds of pressure… Fault lines can become chasms that divide those who should be caring for one another into rival factions.
And yet, I saw us caring for one another. I saw each of us doing what each of us does best. I saw Kathy and Berta, with their vast compassion reaching out to the injured, fiercely going out like the good shepherd in search of the lost. I saw Fred put his logistical and organizational skill and his idea spinning ability to work. I reached out to church leaders and allies. Behind the scenes, Fred and Kathy and I were working together, and it gave me hope to see ourselves not as rivals in an election, but as workers in a community that desperately needed all its members with all of their unique talents and skills more than ever before.
The LGBTQ+/SSA Mormon community worldwide needs you now more than ever. Your skills, your passions, your personal history and the richness of experience and empathy it gives you are desperately needed. Affirmation can be a vehicle for your service, for our service, but the field is much wider than Affirmation, and I feel that if we are to do what we need to do our minds and hearts need to be fixed on that larger picture.
Things changed after November 5. Church policy changed. Our awareness changed. But what did not change, what cannot change, is the reality of our lives, of our real, lived experience. God’s love and care for us has not changed, even if there are voices telling us otherwise. The truths our heart-wrenching struggles have taught us are still true, though hopefully our awareness and our empathy for others will continually deepen as each trial transforms us more truly into what God would have us be.
What must not change is our bedrock commitment to each other. Some of us have experienced an outpouring of the Spirit, and a renewed commitment to stay grounded in the Gospel and engaged with the Church. If that’s where you are, your faith is needed. Some of us are getting out of the Church, to fields where our labor is needed every bit as much if not more. If that’s where you are, your love is needed. For many of us, things still seem dark, and it’s still a struggle to figure things out and and to know what your calling is. If that’s where you are, your road ahead will teach all of us hope.
If there is something inside you, telling you you need to do something, you are called to this work. Message me or Kathy or Fred or any other of the many leaders of Affirmation and find out what you can do.
Message from candidate Kathy Carlston:
I am grateful that Affirmation is in the hands of a capable and dedicated person. I look forward to seeing how the organization will be shaped under his direction. It is my hope that spiritual support for those for whom remaining in the church is not sustainable will be strengthened, now more than ever. As with those trying to remain within the church – all are deserving of ministry, community and a safe space. I hope that all will be claimed, not as an afterthought, but in real, meaningful, material ways.
I will continue to work as a member of the Affirmation Board of Directors to create and provide support for all, both within and outside of Affirmation. Thank you.
Message from candidate Fred Bowers:
Congratulations to John Gustav-Wrathall, our new Affirmation president! Thank you to everyone who voted in this election. It shows your passion and dedication to Affirmation and its mission to improve the lives of LGBTQ/SSA Mormons. Again, thank you! Based on recent policy changes in the church, we will need even more people engaged in this important work. As a member of the Affirmation board, I look forward to working with John and his leadership team on one of Affirmation’s most important Shared Leadership & Organizational Values, “Supporting all affected by the nexus of homosexuality and Mormonism, the interests of the individual being above the needs of the church.”
No matter where you fit on the spectrum within the nexus, I ask that you continue to support Affirmation and bring a friend and/or ally along with you on the journey. This has been a key value for Affirmation since its beginning and I will continue to be passionate about this value since it affects the people of Affirmation and their everyday lives. Many thanks to John and Kathy for their commitment to Affirmation. It was a pleasure to work with both of them as part of the candidacy team. During our long days in the candidate journey, serving Affirmation proved to be the common bond between the three of us.
I look forward to the upcoming year as the Affirmation board sits down to renew our strategy going forward for Affirmation. Please message me or any Affirmation board member with any ideas you might have about the strategic direction of Affirmation. Thank you for supporting Affirmation and thank you for the opportunity to serve you as a member of the Board of Directors of Affirmation. Best wishes, Fred