October 03, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 10/3/09-A Loving Spoonful (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

A Loving Spoonful is a volunteer-driven, non-partisan Society that provides free, nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS in Greater Vancouver.

Every week, all year round for over 19 years, our volunteers deliver approximately 1200 frozen meals and over 250 snack packs to men, women and children who are primarily homebound with AIDS. Our average meal cost is only $3.55. A Loving Spoonful is the constant support of over 250 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS throughout the Greater Vancouver area.

Our History

A Loving Spoonful started in 1989, sprung from nothing more than Easter Armas’s determination that no one living with AIDS should live with hunger. She saw an acquaintance of hers, a brilliant lawyer who had lost his job because he was HIV-positive, eating from a dumpster. She was devastated. November 19, 1989 marked the first of many Easter’s Sundays, monthly dinners held at McLaren House for people living with HIV/AIDS. Each meal was lovingly prepared by volunteers, and there was often entertainment. Easter’s Sundays aimed to diminish the isolation felt by people with AIDS by providing food, community, and comfort. From the determination of one woman and her tireless friends, the Vancouver Meals Society was born. It was the first meal program in Canada to provide free meals for people living with HIV/AIDS. They had five clients.

In 1994, the Vancouver Meals Society was re-named A Loving Spoonful. Our clients now include more than 250 adults and children in Greater Vancouver.

Our Mission

Our mission is to make sure that no one living with AIDS lives with hunger. Achieving our mission requires the loving, coordinated effort of a community of volunteers, staff, donors and supporters. It is through this dedicated support that A Loving Spoonful has been able to provide our services free of charge for almost twenty years.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 10/2/09-God Works Among Us

From the HRC's Out In Scripture series, scripture taken from the Common Lectionary:

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Proper 22), Year B

God comes to us in our flesh — on our terms — to draw us into right relation with one another and all of creation.

This week's lectionary Bible passages: Job 1:1, 2:1-10 and Psalm 26 or Genesis 2:18-24 and Psalm 8; Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12; Mark 10:2-16

Click here to read this week's commentary and questions for meditation/discussion.

SNN Recommends 10/3/09-All Saints Community Church, Cortland, OH

All Saints recently voted in our good friend, the Rev. Doug Sewell, as Senior Pastor, removing the interim tag. We know firsthand that you will receive a blessing when you hear him deliver a message or just get the chance to spend time with him.

From the All Saints website:

We are an affirming Christian fellowship, welcoming all to worship with us regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, socioeconomic status, or spiritual background.

We offer the unconditional love of Jesus to all who enter.

We recognize that all of God's children are special, wonderful, and unique.

We use our God-given gifts to promote Christ's love and justice to and for the world.

We believe the salvation of Christ is given to ALL who accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior. We will introduce Christ to all who seek Him.

We offer the Sacraments of Baptism, Anointing, Marriage, and Holy Union to all official members. We offer the sacrament of Eucharist to all of the community of believers.

We celebrate the Eucharist each time we gather for Sunday worship.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music 10/3/09 "Shout to the Lord" By MLC

Matthew 25 Resource 10/2/09-WISH Drop-In Society (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Operated by women for the exclusive use of female survival sex workers, the WISH Drop-In Centre Society is a registered non-profit society that furnishes a variety of services within a nurturing and non-judgemental environment.

In addition to meeting essential needs by serving nutritious, hot meals, providing showering facilities, dispensing make-up, hygiene items, and clothing, WISH offers on-site nursing care, referrals to detoxification centres, rehabilitation houses, and shelters for upwards of 150 women per night. Our programs, including Literacy and a Learning Centre have been hugely successful in providing opportunities to participants to consider alternatives to their present high-risk lifestyles.

Guided by a 15 member volunteer Board of Directors, a cadre of dedicated volunteers, and a committed staff, WISH's underlying philosophy is one of recognizing the innate dignity of every woman and affording her the respect she inherently deserves. We seek to build self-esteem through unconditional acceptance, friendship, empathy, compassion, and humour.

Click here to find out more.

SNN Helping Hands 10/4/09-Gay Men Fight AIDS (New Hampshire)

We are Gay Men Fight AIDS (GMFA), an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that seeks to prevent new HIV infections and reinfections among negative and positive gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. GMFA serves the greater Portsmouth area in New Hampshire and nearby Maine and Massachusetts. GMFA's primary vehicle to achieve this are the sessions that comprise a LifeGuards workshop.

We acknowledge, honor, and respect the diversity of our community: gay, bisexual, transgender, or simply "Men Who Have Sex With Men." Regardless of race, ethnicity, age, or how we choose to identify ourselves, we all have the right to receive HIV prevention education.

Our mission is:

To prevent new HIV infections and reinfections among negative and positive gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM)

To organize a strong community response to all the challenges we face until the pandemic is over

To mobilize as many men in our community as possible to support each other to stay safe and enjoy healthy sex lives

To eliminate the myths and stereotypes about HIV/AIDS

We acknowledge, honor, and respect the diversity of our community: gay, bisexual, transgender, or simply "Men Who Have Sex With Men." Regardless of race, ethnicity, age or how we choose to identify ourselves, we all have the right to receive HIV prevention education.

Click here to find out more.

Dallas Judge Grants Gay Divorce--Is Gay Marriage on the Way in Texas?

More than likely, not anytime soon but this ruling could start that ball rolling. From the Dallas News (hat tip to Pam's House Blend):

In a first for Texas, a judge ruled Thursday that two men married in another state can divorce here and that the state's ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

Both a voter-approved state constitutional amendment and the Texas Family Code prohibit same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Although the case is far from settled, and the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage is a long way from being thrown out, Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan's ruling says the state prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had intervened in the two men's divorce case, arguing that because a gay marriage isn't recognized in Texas, a Texas court can't dissolve one through divorce.

Callahan, a Democrat, denied the attorney general's intervention and said her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction."

"This is huge news. We're ecstatic," said Dallas attorney Peter Schulte, who represents the man who filed the divorce. The man, identified in court documents as J.B., asked that he and his former partner not be identified.

Schulte said that the ruling was a surprise and that he hoped to have a divorce order for the judge to sign in the "next few weeks."

In a prepared statement, Abbott said he would appeal the ruling "to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters."

His statement also said, "The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman. Today's ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition – despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters."

Of course, if we left human rights up to a popular vote, slavery would likely have persisted much longer in the South and there could be areas even today where interracial marriage would still be illegal.

Fortunately we don't do that anymore, except apparently when it comes to LGBT people. That's one of the purposes of our courts, to protect us from the tyrany of the majority.

We'll be keeping a close eye on further developments in this case.

Click here to read the rest of the Dallas News story.

Daily Devotional 10/3/09 "The Initiative Against Despair"

From: My Utmost for His Highest

Rise, let us be going. Matthew 26:46

The disciples went to sleep when they should have kept awake, and when they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of the irreparable is apt to make us despair, and we say - "It is all up now, it is no use trying any more." If we imagine that this kind of despair is exceptional, we are mistaken, it is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize that we have not done that which we had a magnificent opportunity of doing, then we are apt to sink into despair; and Jesus Christ comes and says - "Sleep on now, that opportunity is lost for ever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing." Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.

There are experiences like this in each of our lives. We are in despair, the despair that comes from actualities, and we cannot lift ourselves out of it. The disciples in this instance had done a downright unforgivable thing; they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus, but He came with a spiritual initiative against their despair and said - "Arise and do the next thing." If we are inspired of God, what is the next thing? To trust Him absolutely and to pray on the ground of His Redemption.

Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action.

October 02, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 10/2/09-Iowa Safe Schools

words and harassment are things that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students deal with everyday in our schools and communities. Making schools a safe place for all children, particularly GLBT students, is difficult and an issue that many prefer would go away. Unfortunately, school administrators, teachers, school board members, other school personnel such as nurses, guidance counselors and social workers, as well as parents and students, are hampered by the lack of information and resources for teaching and meeting the educational needs of GLBT students.

The emergence of the GLBT Youth in Iowa Schools Task Force in April 2002 was critical in filling this information gap and in improving the safety and awareness of GLBT students in Iowa. The Task Force was initiated as a partnership with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, and is a broad-based coalition, comprised of representatives from major statewide education organizations and leaders in the civil rights, gay/lesbian and business community.

The Task Force’s mission is to increase understanding in local school districts and communities about GLBT students, increase awareness and address the inequities regarding safety of GLBT students in Iowa, and improve school climate in order to increase the personal safety, mental health, and achievement levels of GLBT students. In our short existence, we have helped create safer schools for GLBT students.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 10/2/09-"A Heart For Worship, Part 2"

Enjoy Part 2 of "A Heart For Worship", a sermon delivered by Pastor Tom Millner of the Church of the Holy SpiritSong in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

SNN Recommends 10/2/09-(Just For Fun) Saturday Night Live

Whether it's the classics from the 1970's with Belushi and Akroyd or more recent clips like Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin, NBC's official Saturday Night Live website has a treasure trove of video clips for your enjoyment. A few of our favorites:

Steve Martin performing his hit "King Tut"

Eddie Murphy in "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood

Wayne's World with guest appearances by Aerosmith and Tom Hanks

Here's the website so you can search for your own favorites. Enjoy!

Encouraging Music 10/2/09 "The Solid Rock" By 4Him

Matthew 25 Resource 10/2/09-Helping Hands, Monkey Helpers for the Disabled

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled is a unique national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that places specially trained capuchin monkeys with people who are paralyzed, or who suffer other severe mobility impairments. Helping Hands monkey helpers offer independence, hope, and connection to individuals with severe disabilities all across the country. No fee is charged to the recipients. All costs are underwritten by donations from individuals, foundation grants, and corporate partnerships.

As a service to the larger community, Helping Hands also conducts public education programs that teach young people how to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to spinal cord injury and how community service can be a powerful way to help others.

Helping Hands trained and placed the first monkey as a helper and a companion to a paralyzed individual in 1979. Since that time, Helping Hands' has developed programs to support the lifespan needs of the monkeys and their human partnerships.

Click here to find out more.
Click here to watch The Today Show's feature on this organization

Cuban Gays Have an Ally Named Castro

From the Advocate:

Mariela Castro Espín is a slender, pale, and elegant mother of three children. Married to an Italian photographer, she is straight, even though some Havana gossips have suggested otherwise. She also happens to be the 47-year-old daughter of President Raúl Castro, who last year officially succeeded his ailing brother, Fidel, as president of Cuba. As director of the government-run National Center for Sex Education, or CENESEX, Castro Espín has used her guile -- and her dynastic clout -- to push for gay rights in a country where hard-labor, “reeducation” camps were once vaunted as an antidote to homosexuality. “Homophobia in Cuba is part of what makes you a ‘man,’” she says. “It’s part of the masculine role. Boys are taught to have violent reactions so they can show their masculinity. Boys are destroyed in this country this way."

...these are not ordinary times, and Mariela Castro Espín is no ordinary president’s daughter. To the Havana police she’s the thorn in their side who shows up at the station on behalf of those arrested and detained on trumped-up loitering or prostitution charges. The transgender community knows her as the woman who turned her offices into a refuge for those who have been expelled from their homes, or worse. Wendy Diaz, a beautiful young trans woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the pop star Shakira -- and who drew admiring glances from the men at the various tables around us when we met for drinks one evening on the terrace of the Hotel Nacional -- told me how Castro Espín once chased a boy for five blocks before collaring him for throwing rocks at “Mariela’s girls” outside the offices of CENESEX.

“I think Mariela’s leadership has been a key factor in the success of the work of CENESEX, and the prestige she carries because of her family name has only helped,” says Margaret Gilpin, a New York–based filmmaker whose award-winning 1996 documentary Butterflies on a Scaffold was the first to explore gay and drag culture in Cuba in the mid '90s. “Her presence, and the fact that [CENESEX] has focused its work on educating the general Cuban population on issues of concern to the LGBT community, to combating homophobia, and to trying to change laws and regulations to conform to current thinking on LGBT issues, has been critical to whatever success has been achieved so far.”

Under Castro Espín’s auspices, 2008 was a pivotal year for LGBT rights in the country. The government passed a resolution allowing transsexuals to undergo sex-reassignment surgeries free of charge. And Cuba stepped onto the stage of international gay rights discourse with its inaugural Day Against Homophobia, sanctioned at the highest levels of the Castro government and attended by thousands of ordinary gay and lesbian Cubans, as well as gay rights activists and government officials. The 2009 Day Against Homophobia numbers surpassed the attendance of the 2008 event, and organizers intend to make it an annual occurrence.

Castro Espín is also carefully but persistently lobbying on behalf of a bill to legalize same-sex civil unions that is proceeding slowly through parliament -- the term “gay marriage” being as problematic for Cubans as it is for many Americans. “Instead of just working with Cuban gays and lesbians so they could fit into the rest of society,” Castro Espín explains, “our strategy [at CENESEX] is to work with the population so that they could accept, and be educated on, sexual diversity. The people who have the problem are not gay people, but the general population.”

Click here to read the rest of the feature on a remarkable woman and LGBT ally.

Daily Devotional 10/2/09 "Are You Exhausted Spiritually?"

From: My Utmost for His Highest

The everlasting God . . . fainteth not, neither is weary. Isaiah 40:28

Exhaustion means that the vital forces are worn right out. Spiritual exhaustion never comes through sin but only through service, and whether or not you are exhausted will depend upon where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter - "Feed My sheep," but He gave him nothing to feed them with. The process of being made broken bread and poured out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you to the dregs. Be careful that you get your supply, or before long you will be utterly exhausted. Before other souls learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus direct, they have to draw on it through you; you have to be literally "sucked," until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and His sheep as well as for Himself.

Has the way in which you have been serving God betrayed you into exhaustion? If so, then rally your affections. Where did you start the service from? From your own sympathy or from the basis of the Redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually go back to the foundation of your affections and recollect where the source of power is. You have no right to say - "O Lord, I am so exhausted." He saved and sanctified you in order to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that your supply comes from Him. "All my fresh springs shall be in Thee."

October 01, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 10/1/09: Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective (CT)

Founded in 1983 by volunteer health professionals and supporters, and incorporated in 1986, The Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, Inc. (HGLHC), has become an organization with full and part-time staff and nearly 70 volunteers contributing thousands of hours annually.

Since its inception, the Hallmark of the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective has been the provision of quality services by professional and highly skilled staff and volunteers in a Safe, and welcoming environment, free of judgmental attitudes or prejudice.

The Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health collective currently provides medical services, support groups, mental health services and health education tailored to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities but serves clients of all genders and gender identities, sexual orientations, ages and ethnicity. The Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective is especially proud of its services to people living with HIV/AIDS. We touch the lives of thousands of people every year.

The Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective is an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and is proud to maintain a prominent presence at meetings, events and venues where issues of relevance to HGLHC's constituency are discussed, decided or celebrated.

Our Mission

"The Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective empowers individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions to lead healthy lives through the provision of health and support services, education and advocacy."

Our Vision

“The Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective will continually address, anticipate, and respond to the comprehensive health needs of people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions in Connecticut, while maintaining a financially stable and viable organization.”

Our Values

The Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective will apply the following values as it carries out its mission:

*We are committed to providing client centered quality services and programs consistent with professionally accepted standards of care.
*We celebrate and embrace the commonalities and differences of all persons touched by our organization.
*We treat all persons with dignity and respect.
*We encourage and support professional growth and development.
*We strive to create and maintain a physically and emotionally safe and inclusive environment that runs seamlessly through all aspects of our programs and services.
*We aspire to be a positive and influential leader in all aspects of our service to the community.
*We are advocates for mental and physical health in our community and encourage and support all in making healthy choices for their lives.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 10/1/09-"A Heart For Worship, Part 1

Enjoy Part 1 of "A Heart For Worship", a sermon delivered by Pastor Leslie Tipton of the Church of the Holy SpiritSong in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

SNN Recommends 10/1/09-Fortunate Families

Grounded in Catholic tradition, Fortunate Families ministers primarily with Catholic parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender daughters and sons—but welcomes families of all faiths. When parents explore and value their personal stories, they are empowered to share that story with their family circle, their faith community and the larger society.

Parents just learning that a son is gay or a daughter is lesbian will find resources—including the Fortunate Families Newsletter—and support to help them understand, accept, and affirm their child who is a child of God. Catholic parents will find information regarding Church teaching and pastoral responses to the gay or lesbian child. Parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender daughters and gay sons who yearn for a more welcoming church and society will find strategies for making their faith communities and their world safer and more just for their children.

Grounded in Catholic tradition, Fortunate Families welcomes families of all faiths.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music 10/1/09 "Healer in the House" By Cathedral of Hope Choir

Matthew 25 Resource 10/1/09-The Illumination Foundation (Irvine, CA)

The Illumination Foundation (IF) is a grassroots organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness in Orange County. IF provides stable housing and comprehensive wrap-around services for the families in the program, so that they might build a future life of independence. IF is a non-denominational organization that combines services from public agencies and private organizations to offer an on-site comprehensive wrap-around approach to homeless families. These wrap-around services include: case management, medical services, mental health counseling, tutoring, and counseling on life skills, job, and financial matters. IF’s vision is to help the homeless families reach self-sufficiency. To do this, IF is anticipating needs and developing comprehensive and effective programs that acknowledge the dignity of those that they serve and focus on breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Click here to find out more.

Iowans-Gay Marriage Has Brought No Real Change

The Des Moines Register has published the results of an extensive survey in Iowa regarding attitudes toward same-sex marriage (hat tip PageOneQ). Here's what really jumped out at us:

The overwhelming majority of Iowans - 92 percent - say gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.

Try to match that up with some of the anti-equality rhetoric that warns of how same-sex marriage will damage the institution of marriage and tear at the very fabric of society. If that has happened, Iowa obviously missed it. Here's more from the survey:

Iowans are almost evenly divided about whether they would vote for or against a constitutional amendment to end marriage for same-sex couples, according to The Des Moines Register's new Iowa Poll.

Forty-one percent say they would vote for a ban, and 40 percent say they would vote to continue gay marriage. The rest either would not vote or say they are not sure.

The most intensity about the issue shows up among opponents. The percentage of Iowans who say they strongly oppose gay marriage (35 percent) is nearly double the percentage who say they strongly favor it (18 percent).

The poll shows that 26 percent of Iowans favor April's unanimous court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, 43 percent oppose it and 31 percent don't care much or are not sure.

Despite the 43 percent opposition to the ruling, 61 percent of Iowans say other issues will influence their decision on whether to vote to retain Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 elections.

We've seen elsewhere around the nation that equality opponents will NOT give up, usually believing that their narrow, out-of-context interpretation of a few bible verses gives them the moral high ground, and giving up would be tantamount to give Satan a victory.

Hopefully more grounded views with a greater depth of understanding and compassion towards the rights of ALL people will prevail in Iowa, and eventually the entire United States.

Click here to read the rest of the Des Moines Register story.

Daily Devotional 10/1/09 "Do You See Your Calling?"

From: My Utmost for His Highest

Separated unto the Gospel. Romans 1:1

Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the Gospel of God. The one thing that is all important is that the Gospel of God should be realized as the abiding Reality. Reality is not human goodness, nor holiness, nor heaven, nor hell; but Redemption; and the need to perceive this is the most vital need of the Christian worker to-day. As workers we have to get used to the revelation that Redemption is the only Reality. Personal holiness is an effect, not a cause, and if we place our faith in human goodness, in the effect of Redemption, we shall go under when the test comes.

Paul did not say he separated himself, but - "when it pleased God who separated me. . ." Paul had not a hypersensitive interest in his own character. As long as our eyes are upon our own personal whiteness we shall never get near the reality of Redemption. Workers break down because their desire is for their own whiteness, and not for God. "Don't ask me to come into contact with the rugged reality of Redemption on behalf of the filth of human life as it is; what I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes." To talk in that way is a sign that the reality of the Gospel of God has not begun to touch me; there is no reckless abandon to God. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul is unconscious of himself, he is recklessly abandoned, separated by God for one purpose - to proclaim the Gospel of God (cf. Rom. 9:3.)

September 30, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/30/09-AFFIRM Youth (South Carolina)

AFFIRM provides safety, support, acceptance, advocacy and encouragement for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning youth in Upstate South Carolina. Through education, group support and volunteer opportunities, we provide affirmation, validation and encouragement for the Upstate's lgbtq youth.

AFFIRM was founded to support the area's lgbtq youth through the difficulties of growing up "different" and to help fight intolerance and homophobia.

AFFIRM's programs and activities include

* a Youth Center
* Weekly group activities
* HIV/AIDS and STD prevention education
* Drug and Alcohol abuse prevention
* Youth leadership development
* Resource information and referral services
* Volunteer Opportunties
* Education and discussion on coming out, health family and dating relationships, embracing diversity, spirituality, and other relevant topics
* Collaboration and networking with local, state and national lgbtq organizations

Click here to find out more.

Welcome to Mid-Week Worship 9/30/09

Enjoy this sermon given by Rev. David Petitt of the New Hope Community Church in Pensacola, FL from Mark 8:27-38.

Click here to listen.

SNN Recommends 9/30/09-Equality Florida

Equality Florida is a statewide education and advocacy organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, gender and class. The organization reaches over 50,000 Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Supportive (GLBTS) households in Florida, making it one of largest civil rights groups working at the state level. Equality Florida stays in constant contact with the public through our quarterly newsmagazine EQUALITY NEWS, regular action alerts, an extensive e-mail news service, news bulletins and town hall meetings. Through a statewide network, the organization brings together local advocacy groups representing nearly every city in Florida. Equality Florida continually works with these groups to develop a unified strategy for Florida’s progressive movement.

Equality Florida is committed to the principle that local organizations are the most important component of statewide and national efforts. Everything must be measured by whether or not it strengthens local groups, respects the work of local activists and builds bridges between communities.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music 9/30/09 "Come On In This House" By MCC DC Gospel Choir

Matthew 25 Resource 9/30/09-Interfaith Community Services, Tuscon, AZ

Since 1985, we have shown what a caring community can do. ICS makes the words "faith in action" a reality.

With a network of 48 member faith communities and more than 600 volunteers, ICS often "fills the gaps" for services in Pima County.

We provide more than 45,000 services a year to over 24,000 disadvantaged people, disabled individuals, and seniors.

We share a common belief that our diverse faiths call us to serve those in need. We are enriched through the diversity of beliefs of our volunteers and recipients. Our services and volunteer opportunities are open and welcoming to all regardless of faith tradition. We remain true to our founding value of helping those in need with "Love, Cooperation and Service."

Our multiple services are often the "safety net" that help our recipients remain or become stabilized, enabling them to lead independent lives. We are providing services for thousands of people in need.

Click here to find out more.

Jamaica's Gays Worship in the Closet

From MinnPost (hat tip to Box Turtle Bulletin):

It takes just 15 minutes to set up an underground church.

Two boxes and a white sheet make up the pulpit. The altar is a card table. Folding chairs constitute the pews. Then Rev. Robert Griffin, a solidly built gay American minister in his mid-40s, unpacks a battered cardboard box; inside is a wooden chalice, two candle holders, a communion plate and a dog-eared copy of the King James Bible. Add a pianist warming up on an electric keyboard and suddenly an empty meeting room is transformed into the Kingston branch of the Sunshine Cathedral, Jamaica's only gay church.

"We call it church in a box," said Griffin, who travels to Jamaica once a month from Florida to hold services for Jamaica's gay community. He helped found this congregation five years ago after reading a Human Rights Watch report about institutionalized anti-gay violence in Jamaica.

"We were asked to come in to create a safe place for people — the gay and lesbian community — to come together and worship," he said, explaining that the Sunshine Cathedral, with 147 active members organized into four branches around the island, is now an affiliate of his home denomination, the Metropolitan Community Churches. This gay-friendly church, founded in Los Angeles in 1968 by an enterprising Pentecostal minister in response to being defrocked for being gay, today serves as a focal point for congregations emerging around the world.

"We have to operate underground because of the hostility towards the gay and lesbian community here in Jamaica," said Griffin, explaining that the location of this meeting is a closely held secret and that every service is arranged through word of mouth. "If it was known publicly where this congregation meets, I'm pretty sure there would be some type of violence toward the congregation." Jamaica is a hostile place for gay men and women and homophobia is woven into the everyday fabric of society. To travel around Jamaica in a long-distance taxi or commuter vans is to be continuously assaulted by the throbbing lyrics of popular dancehall DJs calling for the killing of "battymen," as gay men are known here. Anti-gay attitudes are also embedded into the nation's criminal codes and anyone convicted of the "abominable crime of buggery," as anal sex is defined, can be sentenced to up to 10 years of hard labor. And while firm statistics detailing anti-gay assaults, beatings and murders are difficult to find — mostly because the police are as likely to harass a victim of a gay assault as they are to help — it seems that almost every member of Jamaica's gay community that I encountered had at least one, if not several, personal horror stories to relate.

The next time we complain about something in our church, let's stop and be thankful we can worship openly and our lives are not in danger by doing so.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 9/30/09 "Intimate With Jesus"

From: My Utmost for His Highest

Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me? John 14:9

These words are not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus is leading Philip on. The last One with whom we get intimate is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One Who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18-20). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come - "I have called you friends." Friendship is rare on earth. It means identity in thought and heart and spirit. The whole discipline of life is to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His word, but do we know Him?

Jesus said, "It is expedient for you that I go away" - in that relationship, so that He might lead them on. It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to step more intimately with Him. Fruit bearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus Christ (John 15:1-4).

When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Jesus. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

September 29, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/29/09-Minnesota AIDS Project

The Minnesota AIDS Project envisions a world free of AIDS. Our mission is to lead Minnesota's fight to stop HIV through advocacy, education and service. Founded in 1983, the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) is a statewide, nonprofit agency committed to enhancing the lives of people living with HIV, prevention education for those at risk for HIV, and advocating for the rights of all affected by HIV. From community outreach and legal consultation to emergency financial assistance, MAP is a leader in the fight against HIV.

In partnership with over 1,000 volunteers, we provide compassionate, confidential and non-discriminatory services, including practical, emotional and social support. In 2007, MAP provided services to more than half of the nearly 6,000 Minnesotans living with HIV. MAP also reaches thousands of people with prevention messages through community and outreach efforts.

Click here to find out more.

SNN Recommends 9/29/09-Joe.My.God.

Joe.My.God is a LGBT oriented blog that covers "Gay culture, short stories, politics, and fabulous disco trivia." It was also a 2007 weblog award winner for "Best LGBT Blog" and a finalist in 2008.

Click here to check it out.

Encouraging Music 9/29/09 "You Are Good" By Scott Wallace and group

Matthew 25 Resource 9/29/09: Alabama Child Caring Foundation

The Alabama Child Caring Foundation (ACCF), a non-profit, publicly 501(c)(3) supported foundation, is the funding mechanism for the Alabama Child Caring Program (ACCP). Blue Cross provides all administrative support for the Foundation so that every dollar contributed goes directly to providing healthcare coverage for children. Blue Cross also matches every contribution dollar for dollar.

The first child was enrolled in March 1988. Since then, more than 65,000 children have received assistance from ACCP. Alabama is now the state that leads the nation for having the lowest percentage of medically uninsured children.

The mission of ACCF is to provide immediate medical care and ongoing medical coverage for needy uninsured children who are not eligible for Alabama’s governmental programs.

Click here to find out more.

Gospel Singer Tonex Comes Out

From AOL's Black Voices:

I never thought in a million years that I would find the courage to speak so freely about where I am as a human, a man and a child of God. After much soul searching and Bible reading, I had to come to some decisions about myself that I knew weren't going to be the easiest to confront, especially since I was a prominent figure in the religious community and gospel music at large. How would my family deal with this when it aired? And would the content be congruent with what was actually filmed after post production? I have to say that Lexi kept her word about professional journalism, and if people watch all three parts, they will see the totality of what was covered -- not just the sensationalism.

I scheduled the interview, but I had no idea of the nature of the questions. I mean, I have yet to see faith-based journalists explicitly present these kind of questions to anyone else, but that's why they asked me, because they know I'm going to give them an answer. It was spontaneous, but I had already come to terms with myself and knew that I would be able to answer with clarity, calmness and truth. Why ? Because I was tired of being asked about my sexuality, and I was still on a journey to find the fullness of what that is. To be honest, I'm still on that journey.

I'm studying daily on the subject of same-sex matters. I'm tired of echoing what I've been told. I want to know for myself the true interpretation of scriptures in Biblical text and well as scientific documentation.

Congratulations to Tonex for having the courage to plow new ground, that of an out gospel singer. By doing so, he will make it easier for the next person in his shoes to make that same decision.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 9/29/09 "Worship"

From: My Utmost for His Highest

And he pitched his tent having Bethel on the west and Ai on the east: and there he builded an altar. Genesis 12:8

Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself, it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.

Bethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two. The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him. Rush is wrong every time, there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be. There are not three stages in spiritual life - worship, waiting and work. Some of us go in jumps like spiritual frogs, we jump from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God's idea is that the three should go together. They were always together in the life of Our Lord. He was unhasting and unresting. It is a discipline, we cannot get into it all at once.

September 28, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/28/09: The Seattle LGBT Community Center (WA)


The Seattle LGBT Community Center mission is to provide opportunities and tools for LGBT individuals, organizations and communities that ensure their voices can be heard, included and affirmed; to be a place to engage, organize and effect change.

About the Center:

The Seattle LGBT Center is the visible face of Queen City Community Development, the country’s only LGBT Community Development Corporation. The Center houses over 10 programs, projects, and services that reach out to the LGBTQ and allied communities. The Center utilizes hundreds of community volunteers each year. Incorporated in 1996 as a community-based, non-profit, 501(c)3 agency, The Center has more than 10 years of experience as a health and human services agency. In 2006 The Center provided direct services to more than 40,000 community members through its events, activities and advocacy, and touched the lives of thousands more.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 9/28/09-BCF Priase Report

From our church, Believers Covenant Fellowship.

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one
another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule:
"Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to it's neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)

Greetings BCF Family & Friends!

God is calling us ALL to a greater experience and expression of His LOVE than the world has ever seen! We had another great time in Father's House yesterday for worship and the Word. We are the hands and feet, the very BODY of the Lord Jesus Christ in the earth, and people all around you and I are more empty of any encounter of real LOVE than ever before. People are looking everywhere for love- acceptance, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, a kind word, a hopeful word....and where else are they going to find it if they don't find it in US!

Brother Josh Weiberg preached an awesome sermon yesterday on Biblical Love. I encourage you to go listen on our website or podcast. He hit on some very important truths about what Christ's love actually IS and Isn't!! For example, love is unconditional, without manipulation or coercing control, but it is NOT being a doormat, or taking continual abuse or disrespect, either verbal OR physical! So many of us need to hear this message, so please go check it out when you have the time. But one of the most exciting points that Brother made is this, "GOD IS IN A GOOD MOOD! GOD IS HAPPY! GOD IS NOT ANGRY WITH YOU OR I!" Wow- what a simple, yet profound message that we need to realize- God is truly on your side! Nothing can separate you or I from His love and grace!!! PRAISE GOD!!

I'm starting my week and my day off with the decision to WALK with Jesus all day long, every day and to surrender my will, my emotions, my plans to Him and let Him lead! I'm confident that if you will do the same thing, and together we will seek His face and stay in His presence, that overwhelming, sincere, Christ LOVE will penetrate through us into this lost world of lonely, broken people- and TOUCH THEIR LIVES!!! I pray that you will let God have ALL of you today and everyday this week!!

We are busy preparing for Fall Renewal, if you haven't contacted us yet to let us know you are coming, please do so ASAP. We will be having two ministry training events this coming month. Pastor Doug Sewell (who, praise God, was just asked to take over the pastorate of All Saints Community Church in Ohio!) will be coming to teach and activate Spiritual Gifts October 2 & 3, and Brenda Johnson will be doing the Healing For Damaged Emotions workshop and prophetic prayer counseling training on October 24th....all in preparation for Renewal and beyond! What an exciting time to be serving the Lord and living for the King! Keep us in your prayers, the Saints are rising!

We love YOU and care deeply about your wellness. You are in our prayers and we appreciate you praying for us, too. May the Holy Spirit ABOUND in GRACE with you today and this week. Have a good one!

Shalom and in Christ's love,
Ap Dale

SNN Recommends: Gay & Lesbian Times (San Diego, CA)

There's plenty happening in California of interest to the LGBT community, from severe budget cuts that threaten important AIDS-related services to the ongoing battle to repeal Proposition 8. San Diego's Gay & Lesbian Times has been covering important stories like these along with the social scene for 21 years.

Click here to check them out.

Encouraging Music 9/28/09 Excerpts from the 2007 T.E.N Conference

Matthew 25 Resource 9/28/09: Capital Area Food Bank (DC)

I've (Jim) had the opportunity to pull a volunteer shift there recently, and Brenda is working with our church to get connected with them to help out doing some food distribution. Recently First Lady Michelle Obama and the Vice President's wife Jill Biden led more than 100 congressional spouses in a volunteer effort at the Food Bank.

The Capital Area Food Bank is the largest, public nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resource in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Each year the CAFB distributes 20 million pounds of food, including 6 million pounds of fresh produce, to over 700 partner agencies. The Capital Area Food Bank was founded on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, January 15, 1980.

In addition to food distribution, the CAFB has several community-building initiatives including Kids Cafe, Weekend Bag, Face Hunger, From the Ground Up, Sister Hook-Up, Produce for People, the Brown Bag Program among others.

The mission of the Capital Area Food Bank is to feed those who suffer from hunger in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area by acquiring food and distributing it through our network of member agencies; and to educate, empower and enlighten the community about the issues of hunger and nutrition.

Click here to find out more.

Court Throws Out $5m Verdict Against Fred Phelps and Followers

A federal appeals court has, in effect, ruled that the right of Americans to spew hatred is protected by the U. S. Constitution. From 365gay.com:

A federal appeals court on Thursday tossed out a $5 million verdict against protesters who carried signs with inflammatory messages like “Thank God for dead soldiers” outside the Maryland funeral of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the signs contained “imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric” protected by the First Amendment. Such messages are intended to spark debate and cannot be reasonably read as factual assertions about an individual, the court said.

A jury in Baltimore had awarded Albert Snyder damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The 2006 funeral of Snyder’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Md., was among many military funerals that have been picketed by members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.

Albert Snyder’s attorney, Sean E. Summers, said he and his client were disappointed.

“The most troubling fact is it leaves these grieving families helpless,” Summers said. “If you can’t use the civil process, you have no recourse.”

Now that hate mongers like this have been given the federal seal of approval the need for hate crimes legislation becomes even more urgent.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 9/28/09 "Bow Down; Be Lifted Up"

From: Faith's Checkbook

"Humble yourselves therefore order the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:6).

This is tantamount to a promise: if we will bow down, the LORD will lift us up. Humility leads to honor; submission is the way to exaltation. That same hand of God which presses us down is waiting to raise us up when we are prepared to bear the blessing. We stoop to conquer. Many cringe before men and yet miss the patronage they crave; but he that humbles himself under the hand of God shall not fail to be enriched, uplifted, sustained, and comforted by the ever-gracious One. It is a habit of Jehovah to cast down the proud and lift up the lowly.Yet there is a time for the LORD's working. We ought now to humble ourselves, even at this present moment; and we are bound to keep on doing so whether the LORD lays His afflicting hand upon us or not. When the LORD smites, it is our special duty to accept the chastisement with profound submission. But as for the LORD's exaltation of us, that can only come "in due time," and God is the best judge of that day and hour. Do we cry out impatiently for the blessing? Would we wish for untimely honor? What are we at? Surely we are not truly humbled, or we should wait with quiet submission. So let us do.

September 27, 2009

Matthew 25 Resources

We will be adding to these over time. If you have a resources to recommend, please contact us at straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com

Helping Hands, Monkey Helpers for the Disabled featured 10/2/09
Meals on Wheels
featured 10/8/09

The Alabama Child Caring Foundation featured 9/29/09
United Way Community Food Bank (Birmingham) featured 12/28/09
Bay Area Food Bank (Theodore) featured 3/15/10

Food Bank of Alaska featured 10/25/09

Interfaith Community Services, Tuscon featured 9/30/09
Central Arizona Shelter Services (Phoenix) featured 12/1/09
Gospel Rescue Mission (Tuscon) featured 2/17/10

Arkansas Foodbank Network featured 2/8/10
Harvest Texarcana featured 3/8/10

The Foodbank of Southern California (Long Beach) featured 12/3/09
Los Angeles Regional Foodbank featured 3/23/10
The Illumination Foundation, Irvine featured 10/1/09
San Francisco Food Bank featured 4/13/10

Boulder Shelter for the Homeless featured 12/30/09
Care and Share Foodbank for Southern Colorado (Colorado Springs) featured 2/11/10
Food Bank of the Rockies (Denver) featured 11/24/09

Bridgeport Rescue Mission featured 3/4/10
Foodshare (Bloomfield) featured 1/4/10
Homes With Hope (Wesport) featured 10/26/09

District of Columbia
Capital Area Food Bank featured 9/28/09
DC Central Kitchen featured 12/9/09
Martha's Table featured 4/9/10

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (Orlando) featured 3/18/10
America's Second Harvest of the Big Bend (Tallahasse) featured 2/16/10

Food Bank of Northeast Georgia featured 11/17/09
The Coalition for the Homeless Mentally Ill, Atlanta featured 10/4/09
America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia (Savannah) featured 4/6/10

Hawaii Food Bank (Honolulu) featured 2/19/10
River of Life Mission (Honolulu) featured 2/12/10


Boise Rescue Mission Ministries featured 12/14/09
Sojourers' Alliance (Moscow) featured 3/10/10


Central Illinois Foodbank (Springfield) featured 1/19/10
Peoria Rescue Ministries featured 4/16/10
Shelter Care (Rockford, IL) featured 10/13/09

Community Harvest Foodbank of Northeast Indiana (Fort Wayne) featured 2/23/10

Food Bank of Iowa (Des Moines) featured 2/26/10

My Father's House Community Services (Paola) featured 3/12/10

God's Pantry (Lexington) featured 3/5/10
The Healing Place (Louisville) featured 12/21/09

Hope House of Central Louisiana (Alexandria) featured 3/17/10
Our House (Monroe) featured 1/21/10

Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter (Waterville) featured 3/9/10


Health Care for the Homeless, Inc. (Baltimore) featured 3/18/10
Helping Up Mission (Baltimore) featured 1/6/10
Interfaith Works (Montgomery County) featured 10/14/09


Harvard Square Homeless Shelter featured 10/9/09
The Greater Boston Food Bank featured 1/26/10

Alternatives For Girls (Detroit) featured 10/28/09
Food Gatherers (Ann Arbor) featured 2/1/10

Our Savior's Outreach Ministries featured 10/29/09
YouthLink (Minneapolis) featured 2/5/10

Harvesters: the Community Food Network featured 10/27/09
Kansas City Rescue Mission featured 2/15/10

Montana Rescue Mission Ministries (Billings) featured 3/3/10

Food Bank of Lincoln featured 2/4/10
Siena Francis House (Omaha) featured 10/22/09

Food Bank of Northern Nevada (McCarren) featured 4/27/10
Three Square Food Bank (Las Vegas) featured 10/30/09

New Jersey
Market Street Mission (Morristown) featured 4/30/10
Food Bank of South Jersey featured 10/12/09

New Mexico
Joy Junction (Albuquerque) featured 12/16/09

New York
Coalition For the Homeless (New York City) featured 10/16/09

North Carolina
A Child's Place (Charlotte) featured 11/1/09

North Dakota
Ruth Meiers Hospitality House (Bismark) featured 12/23/09

Freestore Foodbank (Cincinnati, OH) featured 11/26/09
The City Mission (Cleveland) featured 2/24/10

Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center featured 10/23/09
Interfaith Hospitality Network of SW Pennsylvania (Washington) featured 3/16/10

Rhode Island
Amos House (Providence) featured 10/20/09

South Dakota


Mid-South Food Bank (Memphis) featured 12/7/09
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee featured 10/7/09

North Texas Food Bank (Dallas) featured 3/30/10
Houston Food Bank featured 11/10/09

Spectrum Youth & Family Services (Burlington) featured 4/23/10

Carpenter's Shelter (Alexandria) featured 2/9/10
House of Hope (Danville) featured 11/14/09
Hunters for the Hungry featured 10/5/09

Isiah 58 Food Bank and Ministry (Kenmore) featured 10/21/09
YouthCare (Seattle) featured 2/2/10

West Virginia
North Central West Virginia Community Action (Fairmont) featured 4/2/10
The Huntington Area Food Bank featured 10/18/09

Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin (Madison) featured 4/20/10
Food Pantry of Waukesha County featured 10/19/09

Action Against Hunger featured 10/10/09
CARE featured 2/22/10
Church World Service featured 2/10/10
Mercy Corps featured 3/11/10
Stop Child Poverty featured 10/24/09
Stop Hunger Now featured 2/3/10
Women for Women International featured 10/17/09
World Hunger Relief featured 2/18/10

Foodbank, an Australia Without Hunger featured 2/25/10

WISH Drop-In Centre Society (Vancouver) featured 10/3/09

Broadway (London) featured 10/31/09

Scottish Churches Homeless Action featured 3/1/10
Community Food Banks of South Dakota featured 10/15/09

LGBT Helping Hands 9/27/09-Lifelines Rhode Island

The only statewide, multi-service nonprofit organization focused on meeting the needs of transgender, transsexual, gender variant and intersex people in RI and surrounding areas. Advocates, provider and agency trainings, referrals, support group, work shops, social events and other services.

Lifelines Rhode Island believes that all people deserve full equal rights, regardless of their sex designations at birth, gender identities, or anatomical configurations. This includes the fundamental civil right of all people to determine their social and legal gender(s), to access resources for medical transition to align their physical bodies more closely with their body concept or "hardwiring" (sometimes called "neurological sex" or "kinesthetic sex"), and to be free from the unwanted surgical and hormonal alterations often inflicted upon people whose bodies do not fit common definitions of "male" or "female". This includes both people with binary man/woman gender identities and/or male/female body concepts, as well as people whose gender identities and/or body concepts do not fit within a binary model.We understand the diversity of identity and experience among TGI people.

Lifelines is located in Providence, RI. Click here to learn more.

New posting schedule

In light of the new feature we are adding to Straight, Not Narrow, we are making a slight revision to our posting schedule. Starting Monday, it is as follows (all times eastern0;

6:00 AM GLBT News
6:00 AM Daily Devotional
10:00 AM Matthew 25 Ministry
12:00 PM Encouraging Music
2:00 PM SNN Recommends
4:00 PM Encouraging Words
6:00 PM LGBT Helping Hands

6:00 AM Sunday Worship
10:00 AM Matthew 25 Ministry
2:00 PM SNN Recommends
6:00 PM Sequel

BTW, there is not a new chapter of Sequel this week. Click hereto catch up on the story (3 chapters) to date.

Introducing our Matthew 25 Outreach Initiative

Ever since I (Jim) started working in downtown Washington, DC last year, I've become acutely aware of those far less fortunate than Brenda and myself. If one is paying even the slightest bit of attention, you can't help but notice homeless people gathered in the parks scattered throughout the downtown area, several of them with a view of the White House, Capitol, or other significant historical landmarks. As we've studied this scripture from Matthew 25, we've grown to really take it to heart.

Matthew 25:31-40 (NIV)
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
'The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Even though the focus of our Straight, Not Narrow ministry is toward the LGBT people, the Lord has shown us that it is incomplete without including some acknowledgement of and outreach to those who are hungry, thirsty, and need a place to rest their head. We've posted numerous stories about how LGBT teens make up a hugely disproportionate amount of teenage homeless people in this country, but this problem obviously goes beyond them to the community as a whole, especially in these difficult economic times. If only the stereotype of the affluent, jet-setting gay person was true!

This story from the Christian Post emphasizes the point made by the passage from Matthew 25 in regards to the health care debate raging in the United States:

Popular Christian pollster George Barna weighed in on the health care debate this week, asserting that Jesus would support universal coverage.

Looking at the Bible for guidance, Barna wrote that he found stories of a Jesus who healed hundreds of people who were poor and suffering. Whether the people believed in Him or not, Jesus had no condition to healing someone who was sick.

“You can describe Jesus’ health care strategy in four words: whoever, whatever, whenever, wherever,” wrote Barna in an editorial.

Jesus confronted illnesses and problems from paralysis and leprosy to demon possession and death. And he asked his followers to also heal others to put into action their love and compassion for those in need.

“Often, those whom He healed did not thank Him, and He was never paid for his medical care – but He healed them regardless, because it enabled Him to love those who lacked hope,” he said.

Based on the Bible stories, Barna said the health care strategy exemplified by Jesus called for “people to help people.” But if God’s people fail to serve others in need, then he suggested they support the government, which is “acting as a national safety net,” to run programs to help the needy.

But ultimately, it is God’s people, or collectively the Church, who are responsible for caring for the poor and sick, Barna maintained. He applauded Christian efforts to set up medical clinics, pregnancy centers and hospitals in the country.

“Imagine what an impact the Church would have on society if it truly reflected the model Jesus gave us of how to care for one another!”

The Christian pollster said he was prompted to write the editorial because surveys continually show that Americans are struggling to figure out what to think about health care reform. In the editorial, he looked at specific accounts in the New Testament that guides Christians on how to view the poor and deal with people’s medical needs.

Beginning Monday, we will be adding a "Matthew 25 Outreach" feature, highlighting a resource that is helping people (not limted to the LGBT population, but most certainly not discriminating against them either) by meeting their most basic survival needs. We can stand up and proclaim all of the wonderfullness of a loving God, but if someone's stomach is empty and growling, that will be the focus instead of the message. People need to directly experience the love of God through the compassion of His people, even if it isn't through a religious organization.

When I (Jim) see someone asking for money and take them somewhere to buy them a meal, I don't have to do a lot of preaching for them to think that, if at least for a moment, someone cares enough to help them, maybe God hasn't totally abandoned them. Maybe there is still a shred of hope they can cling to.

We pray that, whether it's a one-on-one experience like Jim has or a group project like Brenda is working on with our church, you consider reaching out in some way to those less fortunate. If you are one of those who need to be reached, we hope the information we provide here will point you in the right direction.

If anyone has resources or stories pertaining to this type of ministry you would like to share, please contact us at straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com and God bless you.

SNN Recommends 9/27/09-"Stranger at the Gate" by Mel White

I (Jim) couldn't put this book down when I finally got around to reading it. White's writing style is captivating, and I found the story of his mighty struggle with his sexuality riveting. I challenge anyone with an open mind to read this book and not want to be an activist for equality!

Amazon customer ranking: 41 of 62 gave 5 out of 5 stars
SNN ranking: 5 out of 5 stars

There are plenty of clergymen's coming-out stories (most by Anglican priests) and plenty of gay replies to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other antigay Christian evangelists, but on both counts, this is the one everybody's been waiting for. Raised in the same mold as those religious-right leaders, White was their colleague and collaborator. He ghostwrote two books for Falwell (including Mr. Moral Majority's "autobiography"), one for Robertson, and speeches for nonclerical gay-baiter Ollie North and the less problematic Billy Graham. Before the ghosting, White pursued a hectically successful career as an evangelical filmmaker, conference and retreat organizer, and occasional preacher. All the while, he, a married man with two children, struggled with homosexuality, which he says he felt from his earliest awareness of sexual consciousness. He lasted 25 years as a committed family man before he and long-suffering wife Lyla agreed he had to come out completely and divorced. Although decidedly egotistical (we especially wish White would say more about his heroic wife), this autobiography is moving, inspirational, and not a little spectacular--which makes it all the more readable.

Click here to purchase the book and read the customer reviews.

Welcome to Sunday Worship 9/27/09

If you don't have a welcoming church near you, or you just can't make yourself step into one, we're bringing worship to you. Here are links to some worship music and services from open and affirming ministries (all times eastern). I hope you are blessed and take time out of your busy schedule to enter into the Lord's day.

Don't forget to click on the tab on the upper right of this blog and leave your prayer requests in the comment section so we can petition the Lord for your needs.

If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with us.

Live Sunday Services (all times Eastern)
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren, 10:00 AM
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM
VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AM
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 11:45 AM
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem, 12:00 PM
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, 1:00 PM
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach, 1:00 PM
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, 1:30 PM

Canada, Vancouver-Christ Alive Community Church, 10:15 PM
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program) 4:30 PM

Video Archive

AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach
FL-Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Ft. Lauderdale
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa
GA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta
MI-Christ Community Church, Spring Lake
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem

OK-Expressions Community Fellowship, Oklahoma City
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa
TX-The One Church, Garland
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore

Audio Archive
AZ-Community Church of Hope, Phoenix
AK-Open Door Community Church, Sherwood
CA-Christ Chapel of Long Beach
CA-Christ Chapel of the Valley, North Hollywood
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program)
FL-New Hope Christian Center, Pensecola
GA-New Covenant Church of Atlanta
MD-Kittamaqundi Community, Columbia
NC-Revolution Charlotte
OH-Emmanuel Fellowship Church, Akron
OH-All Saints Community Church, Cortland
TN-Covenant of the Cross-Madison
TX-New Hope Fellowship Church-Dallas
TX-White Rock Community Church-Dallas
TX-Community Gospel Church-Houston
TX-Through Him Fellowship-Houston
South Africa-Deo Gloria Family Church

Can we pray for you? E-mail straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com