10 Ways to Serve Lesbians & Gay Congregants

  1. Signal to lesbian and gay congregants and guests that they are welcome. A rainbow flag on your web site or posted near the front door, a statement of welcome in the weekly bulletin, and photos of same-sex couples in the congregational directory are all simple ways of communicating inclusion.
  2. Reach out to lesbian and gay congregants to explore opportunities for raising the visibility of LGBT concerns in the congregation. Create a steering committee with responsibility for this mission.
  3. Integrate lesbian and gay experiences and perspectives in sermons and worship services, as well as youth and adult education. It’s important for congregants to hear the words “lesbian,” “gay,” etc. from the pulpit and other congregational forums. Explore online sources of Biblical commentary, such as “Out in Scripture” from the Human Rights Campaign and “Torah Queeries” from Jewish Mosaic.
  4. Review the congregation’s bylaws and employment policies to ensure that they promote not only nondiscrimination but full inclusion based on sexual orientation.
  5. Create a referral network of local health care providers, counselors, therapists, spiritual directors and other professionals who specialize in serving lesbian and gay clients. (Many of these practitioners could also serve your bisexual and transgender congregants as well.)
  6. Observe important events such as LGBT Pride Month (June) or National Coming Out Day (October) with a sermon, prayer, bulletin insert or special event. An exhibition of the Shower of Stoles – a project honoring the contributions of LGBT persons to Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist life – is one possibility.
  7. Schedule a screening of the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So,” featuring the experiences of lesbian and gay people of faith. Download the accompanying curriculum from the Human Rights Campaign for self-study and use with congregants. Other valuable documentaries are “Trembling Before G-d,” about lesbians and gays in orthodox Jewish communities, “Hineni,” about a young girl coming out in a Jewish high school, and “A Jihad for Love,” about lesbian and gay Muslims.
  8. Put together a reading list on homosexuality and religion that you can share with congregants.  Check out the reading lists at the HRC Religion and Faith program, the Institute for Welcoming Resources and throughout this guide.  Ask yourself: “If I were to recommend just one book to challenge traditional religious views on homosexuality, what would it be?”
  9. Become an advocate for LGBT inclusion in your denomination, and share your experience with your congregation.
  10. Invite guest speakers/preachers or create events to engage congregants in social justice issues affecting lesbian and gay people, such as marriage for same-sex couples, federal discrimination (e.g., immigration law, the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), hate crimes and non-discrimination laws, etc.
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