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Devoted with PRIDE Week 2

This page will list each day's scripture, devotion, question(s) to ponder, and a short bio of each author for the first week of the Mountain Sky Conference Devoted with PRIDE. Participants on the journey will receive a daily email with this same content. 


 

Devoted with PRIDE

June 6

Celebrate pride this year through daily devotions created by clergy and laity throughout the Mountain Sky Conference and beyond!


Scripture: 

 “Talk to people you know.

Talk to people you don’t know.

Talk to people you never talk to.

Real listening always brings people closer together.

Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.”

-        Excerpt from “Turning to One Another” from Margaret Wheatley

 

 

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 

-        Luke 19:5 

 


Devotion:

Deep breath. I humbly confess I was wrong. I was that person who believed marriage was only between a man and a woman. I was that person who “hated the sin and not the sinner.” It hurts to even write it. I was wrong. I am so sorry.

 

I am deeply grateful for 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings who have taught me, journeyed with me, and have generously shared their stories.

 

I was wrong. I still have much to learn and I am thankful for transformative relationships and communities.

 

The story of Zacchaeus has been my anchor. Found in Luke 19:1-10, the story is quite brief, so I like to use my imagination to ‘fill in the blanks’. I assumed that Zacchaeus hosted an extravagant meal for Jesus. I imagine that there was more food than could be consumed and that the delicious aromas of spices, bread, and ripe fruit filled the air. In my mind, I see a somewhat chaotic scene as Zacchaeus was not expecting a guest, not to mention Jesus! The most exciting part for me is imagining the conversation Jesus was having with Zacchaeus. What were they talking about? Who was sitting in? Who was peering from outside? Who was crossing their arms in discontent, and who, along with Zacchaeus was transformed by the encounter with Jesus?

 

A community organizer once told me, “Change happens at the rate of relationships.” This both inspiring and frustrating. Relationships take time, time that often we cannot afford because our siblings are in pain, are literally dying. There is tension between ‘being right’ and ‘being in right relationship’.  I am still holding that tension and navigating this space. Still learning.

 

Zacchaeus was transformed by his time with Jesus. I am so thankful for those who have called me to come down from the tree and shared a visit together, for those moments, I have been transformed. So now, I am still learning and I hope that I can be a better ally to 2SLGBTQIP+ siblings.

Question: How are you listening and centering the voices of 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings? How have you been transformed by the conversations and relationships? 

 


Bio:

Bich Thy (Betty) Nguyen (she/her/hers) Denver, Colorado

Betty currently serves as the Multicultural and Advocacy Ministries Developer of the Mountain Sky Conference. She feels that God has been calling her to do her own decolonizing work and through her role, seeks where and how systems need to be transformed, and create space to amplify marginalized voices. Her passion is to create safe and brave spaces for deep listening and learning. Her soul is nurtured through cooking and baking for others. Betty lives with her husband, son and twin girls.


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “Devoted with PRIDE June 2021” Workshop!


Devoted with PRIDE

June 7

Celebrate pride this year through daily devotions created by clergy and laity throughout the Mountain Sky Conference and beyond!


Scripture: 

 1 John 4:19-21

"We love because God first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a sibling is a liar. For whoever does not love their sibling, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And God has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their sibling."


Devotion:

Dear Queerly Beloveds,

Confession: When I was in 11th grade, my best friend - let’s call him Tim - came out to me as gay in a Facebook message. I opened another chatbox to get input from our other best friend. We agreed: We can love Tim, but not his choices. We made sure Tim knew.

I have since apologized to Tim. We often hate things - and people - that remind us of ourselves.

I thought I was loving God, but my “love for God” rendered me incapable of loving the people around me. I called it “loving God,” but I hated my queer neighbors.
And I didn’t see the queerness in myself for a long time, because if I did, I’d have to hate that, too.

The prompt I’m supposed to follow in this devotional is, “how has your faith informed your identity as an 2SLGBTQIAP+ person?” But if I’m honest, it wasn’t until I embraced my queerness that my faith even became real. My queerness made my faith...not the other way around. 

Because it wasn’t until I embraced the queerness in myself that I could embrace the fullness of others. It wasn’t until I embraced the hiddenness in myself that I could embrace the hidden things in others. 

It wasn’t until I fully embraced my own queerness - loved my own queerness - that I could even begin to love my siblings for who they were without seeing them through some made-up, White-cis-hetero-abled-grandpa-God filter. 

And it was only through really loving my siblings that I began to know God. 

Because how can we expect to love a holy other God we’ve not seen…
...if we can’t love the flesh-and-blood holy other in front of us?
...if we can’t love the holy other in ourselves?

 

May we love.
Queerly yours,
Spencer (a fellow holy other)


Bio:

 

Spencer LaJoye (they/them) is a singer/songwriter in Denver, CO, who believes everyone is made of the good stuff. They’re passionate about creating sacred space for inspiring empathy through the arts.


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “Devoted with PRIDE June 2021” Workshop!


Devoted with PRIDE

June 8

Celebrate pride this year through daily devotions created by clergy and laity throughout the Mountain Sky Conference and beyond!


Scripture: 

Jeremiah 29:11, NRSV

 

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

 


Devotion:

As a young person exploring a call to ministry when I was 16 years old, I had not encountered any set of rules or requirements for who receives a call to ministry. My calling was very personal, just me hearing God's voice. It was more transformative than anything else I had ever experienced ... and no one else heard it. Just me. 

 

Knowing this was the way God worked, I eagerly went to work in youth ministry as I pursued undergraduate and graduate education, checking every box along the way on the path to ordination. And then I started exploring identity and faith with young people. And I realized some of them were receiving a call to ministry from God while figuring out their own sexuality and gender identities. And all signs pointed to God affirming their individuality. It was only when a young person tried to claim their calling before their family or church, that they started to hear about rules and requirements. Somehow, the "shoulds" took precedence over their unique calling by God. I've watched as so many young people have left the church with scars on their hearts because they were told they were not worthy. 

 

How can adults advocate for young people so that God's voice is amplified and affirmed in their callings?

 


Bio:

 

My name is Annie Arnoldy (she/her) and I am an ordained Elder serving the Mountain Sky Conference as the Director of Connectional Ministry and the Superintendent of Leadership Development. I am honored to work alongside the Leadership Development areas, including: Young People, NextGen/Inclusiveness, Laity Ministry, the Board of Ordained Ministry, and the Leadership Development Team. 

 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “Devoted with PRIDE June 2021” Workshop!


Devoted with PRIDE

June 9

Celebrate pride this year through daily devotions created by clergy and laity throughout the Mountain Sky Conference and beyond!


Scripture: 

Hebrews 11: 13b-16

 

“They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.”


Devotion:

 

A recent author warned about the dangers of women’s ordination by claiming it led to “the feminization of liberal Protestantism. “

It got me thinking on how important women were in my faith journey. 

The youth group and Sunday school at First Methodist in Miles City, then church camps, and then later women pastors in campus ministry. As a gay man, they provided a context of love and acceptance, a certainty that I was at home in the church.

I’m grateful for the “feminization of liberal Protestantism.” because I didn’t fit any standard of masculinity growing up. I was a gay awkward kid on the Autism spectrum, though I didn’t have that language back then. All I knew is, I didn’t fit in at school. But I did fit in at church. 

I was struck by the passage from the Book of Hebrews because autistic folks often speak of being born on the “wrong planet”, one where they are not at home. 

That certainty of love and acceptance in all my weirdness, of being home at church, is what led me to go to my pastor when I was coming out of the closet. My prayer is that LGBTQ+ kids could always feel safe coming out to their pastor and church. 

Women campus ministers helped me as I sought to negotiate my faith and sexuality. And ultimately it led me to seminary and campus ministry work. 

Today I am privileged to work as the campus pastor at United Campus Ministry at Montana State University Billings, where we build communities of support and safety as we explore faith. 

I get to advise Out at MSUB, the student LGBT group. And our ministry started an Autism club, where students on the Autism spectrum can find community and support.

Some students have told me that UCM is their church because they feel at home there. That strikes me as a good definition of church, where you feel at home.

 

 So where do you feel at home? Where do you experience that love and acceptance?  

 

 


Bio:

 

Rev. Dwight Welch he/him/his is an ordained United Church of Christ minister and serves at United Campus Ministry, an ecumenical ministry at Montana State University Billings.

 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “Devoted with PRIDE June 2021” Workshop!


Devoted with PRIDE

June 10

Celebrate pride this year through daily devotions created by clergy and laity throughout the Mountain Sky Conference and beyond!


Scripture: 

John 13:34-35, NRSV

 

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 


Devotion:

 

In the Gospel of John Chapter 13:34-35 Jesus is quite clear about the new commandment that he has given us: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  That piece of scripture reminds me of the hymn written in the 1960’s by Peter Scholtes, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love”.  I love the words in the hymn; walking, working, and praising God with one another side by side in unity. Guarding one another’s dignity and saving one another’s pride. No divisions. No exceptions! This hymn represents how I feel about my calling to be an Ally of the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community, and love that community well. Because Jesus has commanded me to love one another, I must work in unity with my 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings to create a community where all people matter, and are loved perfectly as a beloved child of God.  As a Youth Director, I am keenly aware of the needs and desires of the youth that are our future.  The Youth of today want to know that they are loved for exactly who God created them to be. They want to walk as persons who identify as, and/or are full allies for their 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings; working together without divisions or exceptions, in full unity. They are passionate about guarding one another’s dignity and saving one another’s pride as a whole perfect being; created in the image of God.  These youth know it is important to accept each other for exactly who they know themselves to be as a Beloved Child Of God. So, in following Jesus’ commandment I make the choice to walk, work, and praise God in full unity with my 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings and allies as they move towards creating a beloved community. 

As we watch the youth of today prepare the future of tomorrow to be a beautiful community that doesn’t hesitate to fully accept and value our 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings as beloved members of God’s Kin-dom, who am I to not follow their lead?  

 


Bio:

 

Darcy Wood (She/Her/Hers) Youth Director, Phillips UMC Lakewood, Colorado.  I am a wife, mother, and active community member in the Lakewood and surrounding Jefferson County areas. 

 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “Devoted with PRIDE June 2021” Workshop!


Devoted with PRIDE

June 11

Celebrate pride this year through daily devotions created by clergy and laity throughout the Mountain Sky Conference and beyond!


Scripture: 

John 15:16, NRSV:

 

“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” 

 


Devotion:

 

During the challenging course of coming out, I wanted to scream “I didn’t choose this!” over and over at people who turned my identity into a simple “do” or “don’t do” decision. If only it had been that easy, I wouldn’t have chosen a life of challenges and barriers as a queer Christian in the South. LQBTQIA+ folx call our sexuality and/or gender an identity—because it is just that. It is an essential part of ourselves. It is part of our essence, or our very being. To label an identity as a choice belittles our very nature. It took me many years to embrace my own sexuality, and even longer before I realized that it comes directly from God.

This passage from the Gospel of John reminds us that God intentionally chooses us as God’s beloved and then empowers us to bear fruit in the world around us. I think of my sexuality as a tool that God utilizes in order to “bear fruit that will last.” More and more, I think that “fruit” is our rich love for God and our neighbors. This scripture reminds us that we’ve been appointed to go and bear fruit, or show God’s love, to everyone we meet.

So, let’s be boldly empowered by our queer identities. Despite us not choosing God, God chose us for our appointed work. Our queer identities are gifts from God to bear abundant fruit in the world. Thanks be to God.

How do you think your sexuality and/or gender identity helps you show God’s love to those around you? How does that identity help you “bear fruit” in your “appointed” work?

 

 


Bio:

 

 

Rev. Seth O’Kegley-Gibson, OSL (he/him/his) is a Pastor of Worship & Music at First UMC of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he lives with his husband, Jared.

 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “Devoted with PRIDE June 2021” Workshop!


 

Devoted with PRIDE

June 12

Celebrate pride this year through daily devotions created by clergy and laity throughout the Mountain Sky Conference and beyond!


Scripture: 

Exodus 3:5 (The VOICE): 

 

Eternal One: Don’t come any closer. Take off your sandals and stand barefoot on the ground in My presence, for this ground is holy ground.”


Devotion:

 

During Gathering Days at Iliff School of Theology, the Queer Coalition was hosting a brand new event. They were creating a Drag Show to be hosted in the Iliff Chapel. As an ally, I immediately thought this was a wonderful idea and was going to attend. I was excited to see all my friends perform. The event was opened up to more than just students, so word got out fast that there was a drag show in the chapel. On one of the advertisements on Facebook, words started to get hateful and exclusive. Those performing were very eager to respond to these comments, trying to help those understand why doing this show in the chapel is important. I was angry about these hateful things being said, but, honestly, I didn't know why until a day before the event started. The Chapel is a sacred space, holy ground. Saying you cannot do what you love in a sacred space can give the meaning that you are not sacred, you are not a child of God. You are not worthy to be on this holy ground. God did not tell Moses to turn around, that he was not worthy. God told Moses that anyone can be in God’s presence and be on holy ground. Therefore, I thought I was being a "good ally" by attending the event; however there is more to it. I cannot just attend and give myself a pat on the back. I needed to be intentional with my words and actions to show my love and that my friends are sacred. I asked those leading the event how I can help and they put me right to work. Although helping with pizzas, setting up tables, and taking pictures did not feel like a lot at the time, it was something in that moment I could do as an ally to help my friends have the event they always wanted and feel sacred in that holy space. As an ally, I know I will fail when ensuring my 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings will have a sacred space. However, I cannot let those failures prohibit me from doing the work that I can do to ensure all can be their authentic selves in sacred spaces, and on holy ground. 

 

How can you help to ensure your 2SLGBTQIAP+ siblings will have sacred space in your faith communities? 

 

 


Bio:

 

Hello! My name is Alison Skillman and my pronouns are she/her. I live in Bozeman, Montana and serve the wonderful people at Living Waters UMC in Belgrade. I graduated with my MDiv from Iliff School of Theology on June 3rd, 2021!


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “Devoted with PRIDE June 2021” Workshop!