Metropolitan Community Church launches Gilead Sabbaths after International Day Against Homophobia,Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) to help projects around the globe!
Leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) announced the launch of a communion-wide effort to hold prayer services in local churches between today and the end of June to support global outreach to LGBTQ people living in hostile countries.
With this launch, MCC marked IDAHOTB, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and began observing the Religious Institute‘s call for congregations nationwide to observe a Gilead Sabbath.
The Gilead Sabbath initiative works to end the violence and persecution faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people around the world by identifying worthy projects and asking congregations to take up an offering for one of these projects. This includes MCC’s Global Justice Institute.
MCC Hartford (Connecticut, USA) observed the first MCC Gilead Sabbath with Marie Alford-Harkey, deputy director of the Religious Institute (5th from left), and their pastor Rev. Aaron Miller (rainbow stole).
“MCC Hartford joined faith congregations across the country in hosting a Gilead Sabbath,” said Rev. Aaron Miller. “LGBTQI folk are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ and deeply and unconditionally loved by God. At MCC Hartford, we bow in prayer and then stand together for justice. Not just this day of observance, but every day.”
“Easter offerings at many MCC churches went to support the Global Justice Institute. We are so honored that Gilead Sabbath is featuring the Global Justice Institute among so many international groups. This service will give more MCC churches, and churches from all denominations, a chance to support MCC’s work with LGBTQ people around the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global moderator of MCC. “These are challenging times, and the Global Justice Institute is committed to work for the dignity of all our brothers and sisters.”
“In many places around the world, MCC is known as ‘The Human Rights Church,'” said the Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, executive director of the Global Justice Institute. “IDAHOTB and local church participation in the Gilead Sabbath will move our support of global outreach to a new level. Right now, we have partners in Eastern Europe where LGBTQ people are being assaulted at Pride marches and in Uganda and Kenya where Christians too often spew hatred in the name of Jesus. These are just a few of the many countries where MCC is working with partners on the ground to bring a word of hope.”
Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, executive director of the Global Justice Institute, celebrating at MCC New York where she is the senior pastor.
Marie Alford-Harkey, deputy director of the Religious Institute, said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with MCC. As a leading denomination in the LGBTQ faith world, MCC can mobilize people of faith across the globe. As MCC pastors plan a Gilead Sabbath for global LGBTQ justice, the Religious Institute will be available by phone or email to offer worship resources or information.”
The Gilead Sabbath Initiative works with congregations as they host worship services to pray for LGBTQ people facing hostility. Offerings are taken and sent to specific programs, such as MCC’s Global Justice Institute.
What MCCers Can Do
Conceived in 2004 by French activist Louis-Georges Tin to commemorate the decision of the World Health Organization (1990) to de-pathologize homosexuality by removing it from the International Classification of Diseases, May 17th has become a globally recognized day to raise awareness of LGBTQI lives and call attention to efforts to end discrimination and violence and promote equality.
This year, from China to the Congo and Canada, LGBTQI peoples and our allies in over 170 nations will sponsor conversations, festivities and events, as well as demonstrations and marches for an end to the criminalization of Queer life and the implementation of policies that recognize and respect the diversity of God’s creation.
In Botswana, activists will showcase the first short theater production focusing on original works with Queer themes. In Iran, the Iranian Queer Organization will make sure that IDAHOBiT artwork is available in Farsi. The United Nations Human Rights Office in New York City will highlight Queer lives worldwide on screens in Times Square.
Everyone can do something to highlight LGBTQI life and our victories or address the challenges that remain before us.
The Global Justice Institute and the Moderator’s Public Policy Team invites MCC congregations around the world to make May 17th INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA, BIPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA SUNDAY!
Here are some suggestions for you, your congregation, or your ministry:
Every word offered, every event celebrated, every step taken, every prayer lifted up can and will make a difference for God’s LGBTQI peoples and a world at peace with its own diversity. You can inspire others around the world by sharing what you do. Send your stories and photos to The Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt of the Public Policy Team at revdrjimmerrit@holycrossmcc.
Thank you for making this world a better place.
This action alert was prepared by the Global Justice Institute and the Public Policy Team of
Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute, Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner-Chair.
International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia: A global celebration of sexual and gender diversities,
May 17 was first known as the “International Day against Homophobia” and mainstreamed through its acronym “I.DA.HO” In 2009, Transphobia was added explicitly in the title of the name, in the recognition of the very different issues at stake between sexual orientation and gender expression. “IDAHOT” became another popular acronym used alongside the initial one. Since 2015, biphobia is added to the title, to acknowledge the specific issues faced by bisexual people.
DAY OF ACTION – MAY 17
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human beings of all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights . . . Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone is entitled to equality before the law and the equal protection of the law without any such discrimination whether or not the enjoyment of another human right is also affected. The law shall prohibit any such discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against any such discrimination.” — The Yogyakarta Principles, 2006
In the past year, several nations have passed new laws to enshrine into their legal and cultural institutions discrimination and criminalization against their citizens on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Uganda and Nigeria have passed anti-homosexuality laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity with life imprisonment and impose harsh penalties for those who advocate for civil and human rights for LGBTI persons or who fail to report same-sex behavior. The Russian duma passed a “gay propaganda” law, which makes it illegal to talk to children about “non-traditional sexual relationships,” creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression and leading to increased persecution of the nation’s LGBTI community. Now, more than ever, people all over the world who suffer from violence, hatred, discrimination, and exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity need the support and solidarity of allies who are free to bear witness to the need for civil and human rights protections for all people.
Since 2005, millions of concerned people worldwide have joined together each year for a day of action against anti-gay prejudice and gender-based discrimination, highlighting personal stories and direct action to bring equal rights to LGBTI persons in every corner of the world. Now understood to be the “international LGBT solidarity day,”
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) has inspired more than 100 countries to engage their citizens and institutions in intentional conversations around the rights and quality of life issues for sexual minorities within their borders. As a result, a global movement for civil and human rights for LGBTI people is fomenting unprecedented momentum for change. But more needs to be done.
On May 17th, join others from all over the world in raising your voice in your church, school, and/or community against homophobia and transphobia. This is our opportunity to bring a message of equal rights and non-discrimination to regions and countries where civil and human rights have been stifled and to build alliances with those who are willing and able to mobilize for action in a comprehensive campaign for equal rights. Further, all of our actions against homophobia and transphobia forecast to political leaders and social and religious institutions that the demand for civil and human rights for LGBTI people will not be silenced.
MCC’s Public Policy Team joins in solidarity with LGBTI persons and allies in observance of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and urges all members of MCC to raise their voices against anti-gay prejudice and discrimination.
There are many ways that you can participate:
The resources below can help you make the most of your observance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia:
This statement was prepared by Rev. DeWayne Davis and Angel Collie for the Public Policy Team of
Metropolitan Community Churches/The Global Justice Institute, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.
For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support the Global Justice Institute.
The Global Justice Institute is the non-profit advocacy and resourcing arm of Metropolitan Community Churches. We “do justice, show kindness, and live humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). From helping LGBT activists in Uganda to resourcing communities of women in Pakistan to fighting for marriage equality in the U.S.A. and beyond, the Global Justice Institute is effecting change and making a difference throughout the world. Please consider making a generous contribution in support of this work. Donate now.