11 January 2023 |
More than 1,000 participants gathered at this year’s Q Christian Fellowship Conference (QCF) in Washington, D.C., from January 5–8 to worship, fellowship, attend workshops, and listen to prominent Christian keynote speakers in the LGBTQ community, under the theme “Liberated to Love.”
Representatives were welcomed from all Christian denominations, including SDA Kinship, which attended QCF for the fourth year and represented the Adventist LGBTQ community with a booth at the conference. SDA Kinship, established in 1976, continues to be a group that provides a safe spiritual and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists around the world, their families, and those who support them.
SDA Kinship president Floyd Poenitz shared that his goal for the booth was to “create a place for Adventists to meet and talk in order to raise awareness in the Christian community that there is a safe space for queer Adventists.”
“It was wonderful to talk to Adventist members and ministry leaders who want to make the church a better place for LGBTQ people and who are open to learning about the subject and want to understand it better,” said Alicia Johnston, Adventist minister, public speaker, and author. “There’s a growing sense among Adventist leaders that this issue isn’t going away and it’s only becoming increasingly relevant to their church members as more and more, especially, young people come out, impacting their families, schools, and churches. There is more of a desire to understand, and it’s refreshing.”
Johnston was able to share her newly released book at QCF, entitled: The Bible and LGBTQ Adventists. Many who bought her book originally discovered her through her YouTube Channel and were excited to see her publish this theological conversation about same-sex marriage, gender, and identity.
SDA Kinship’s Director of Church Relations Stephen Chavez attended QCF for the first time this year. “This being my first conference, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Chavez. “But the biggest take-away was the presence of hundreds of queer young adults (including many pastors and seminary students) who are working to build safe, inclusive, and affirming spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It made me wish that more Adventist congregations could model Christ’s example and teachings regarding this issue.”
At the conclusion of the conference, Chavez organized a Q&A session for pastors and local members about what it means to be an inclusive congregation. The meeting was hosted at a local Adventist church and attendees were able to dialogue, share questions, and become more educated about the LGBTQ community.
“It’s important to just start the conversation,” said Poenitz. “Not that we are all on the same page necessarily, but it’s important that we actually dialogue respectfully with each other. The church needs to know that it is hurting the LGBTQ community with its rhetoric…people are committing suicide because of what the church is saying. They don’t need to agree with us, but if SDA Kinship can even save one life because someone knew about us as a resource, it will have been worth it.”