October 17, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 10/17/09-Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC, Portland, OR)

Creating safety and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth in Oregon since 1998, through youth empowerment, community building, education and direct services.

SMYRC is the only place of its kind in Oregon

It's the place where LGBTQQ youth consistently find a safe and affirming environment, along with the support of their peers, their community, and of course, all the terrific SMYRC staff and volunteers.

SMYRC makes a difference

Each year SMYRC helps more than a thousand LGBTQQ youth and their families. Through individual and family counseling, leadership development, outreach and public speaking, specialized skill building programs, and the recreation center, SMYRC helps young people succeed in their education, cultivates peer and community support, improves personal health, and fosters employment readiness.

SMYRC is the only program in Oregon devoted exclusively to the needs of LGBTQ youth and the people who work with them.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 10/18/09-Called By God

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

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Proper 24), Year B

God, who did you call us to be?" is the prayer we bring to these Scriptures. It’s a prayer about our identity, rather than simply behavior.

This week's lectionary Bible passages: Job 38:1-7, (34-41) and Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c or Isaiah 53:4-12 and Psalm 91:9-16 (not included in this conversation); Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
Click here to read this week's commentary and questions for meditation/discussion.

SNN Recommends 10/17/09-The Way of Grace Fellowship Church, Sutton, NE

We are people of God. We are farmers, ranchers, teachers, businessmen, lawyers, veterinarians, mailmen, office workers, clerks, secretaries, quilters, bakers, candlestick makers, electricians, carpenters, retired, working, able bodied and physically and emotionally challenged. We are young and old (5 to 94), men and women, working and retired. Truly we come from all walks of life. Some of us have been on a journey with God for a lifetime and others are just discovering the Holy Mystery. Our personal religious histories include Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Reformed, Mennonite, Baptist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and a few who were previously excommunicated from a church/denomination. Some of us have always attended a church of some kind, and some of us left the church decades ago, and some of us have never been part of the church. Some of us have lived with our doubts about it all forever and many have been afraid to ever share their deepest thoughts about who God is. But at Way of Grace, we have learned trust and we have learned to agree to disagree and still remain in relationship. We all seem to feel called to something MORE. We all want to learn and grow in the Spirit. We believe that God can transform our lives and make us more than we ever imagined. We believe that caring for each other and for ALL our neighbors is what Jesus calls us to do. We have chosen to be on this spiritual journey together and to embrace being inclusive. And “No matter who you are, or where you are on your journey, you will be welcome at Way of Grace.”

Click here and check them out.

Encouraging Music 10/17/09 "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High" by Canaan Optical

Matthew 25 Resource 10/17/09-Women for Women International

Women for Women International mobilizes women to change their lives through a holistic approach that addresses the unique needs of women in conflict and post-conflict environments.

We begin by working with women who may have lost everything in conflict and often have nowhere else to turn. Participation in our one-year program launches women on a journey from victim to survivor to active citizen. We identify services to support graduates of the program as they continue to strive for greater social, economic and political participation in their communities.

As each woman engages in a multi-phase process of recovery and rehabilitation, she opens a window of opportunity presented by the end of conflict to help improve the rights, freedoms and status of women in her country. As women who go through our program assume leadership positions in their villages, actively participate in the reconstruction of their communities, build civil society, start businesses, train other women and serve as role models, they become active citizens who can help to establish lasting peace and stability.

Women begin in our Sponsorship Program where direct financial aid from a sponsor helps them deal with the immediate effects of war and conflict such as lack of food, water, medicine and other necessities. Exchanging letters with sponsors provides women with an emotional lifeline and a chance to tell their stories —maybe for the first time. As their situations begin to stabilize, women in our program begin building a foundation for their lives as survivors.

While continuing to receive sponsorship support, women embark on the next leg of the journey and participate in the Renewing Women’s Life Skills (ReneWLS) Program that provides them with rights awareness, leadership education and vocational and technical skills training. Women build upon existing skills and learn new ones in order to regain their strength, stability and stature on the path to becoming active citizens.

Women for Women International believes that establishing a means to earn a sustainable living is critical to being fully active in the life of a family, community and country. To help women transform their new skills into financial independence and sustainability, we offer job skills training to strengthen women’s existing skills and to introduce new skills in traditional and non-traditional fields so women can access future employment opportunities.

Building on the skills training program, we offer comprehensive business services designed to help women start and manage their own microenterprises. We give them access to capital and operate microcredit programs in Afghanistan and Bosnia & Herzegovina with an overall repayment rate of 98%. We give women access to markets by facilitating product sales through outside retailers. We provide expertise such as product design, production assistance and business development workshops. We also help women form micro-enterprises such as production facilities and cooperative stores to sell the goods women produce.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S. Office, we’re constantly working to provide technical assistance to our chapters, to support and empower our sponsors and sisters around the world, and to amplify women’s voices through our research, publications and action on current affairs.

Click here to find out more.

So What SHOULD LGBT Strategy Be Going Forward

By any reasonable measure, last Sunday's National Equality March was a success. Now what? Waymon Hudson offered some thoughts at The Bilerico Project. Here's an excerpt:

I'm no pollyanna (well, maybe a little bit). I understand there will always be infighting in any movement. There will always be harsh, passionate debate, especially when it comes to things like basic rights.

What we need to accept is that that debate is okay. There is no one path to equality.

We need the protests in the street and anger from the grassroots to keep pressure on politicians (and our own major organizations) to keep moving forward, even when it isn't convenient or easy. But at the same time, we need politicians and leaders to enact that change- it's the reality of how of government is set up.

The same can be said of the state-by-state vs national strategy debate. I'll admit that as a Floridian, who has little or no hope of getting the rights other progressive states are currently pushing for, I get impatient. Which is why I tend to support national movement. Yet I know that without momentum from states winning victories in employment non-discrimination, relationship recognition, and other issues, national leaders won't have the political will (or courage) to make the change that will effect my home state.

There are legitimate complaints and risks about any strategy people pursue: limited community resources and attention, leaving people behind, setting up bad legal precedent with lost court cases, scaring moderates with sows of anger or frustration, or being too moderate and not moving fast enough. Even within strategies, like the stat-by-state movement, there are disagreements and problems- usually one state gets all the attention and money and others are left to fend for themselves in political cycles (like with California's Prop 8 overshadowing Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas).

That's why we need everyone to balance it out. We'll never get everyone to agree on a "LGBTQ strategy." We aren't a homogenous people. Our strength is our diversity. Let's use it.

Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Daily Devotional 10/17/09 God, the Agressive Lover

From: Every Day Light

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us ..." 1 John 4:10

When we perceive how much God loves us, an amazing effect is produced in our personalities -- we begin to love like Him. We cannot help it. Love -- agape love -- is not the fruit of labor; it is a response. When we stand at the foot of Calvary, the place where the love of God is fully focused and caught up, the scales drop from our eyes and our own love flames in response. We love Him because He first loved us.
Teresa of Avila tells how one day, going into her private room, she noticed a picture of our Lord being scourged before His crucifixion. She must have seen it hundreds of times, but in that moment of revelation she saw it as she had never seen it before. She saw God suffering -- suffering for love and suffering for her. The revelation sent her to her knees sobbing in pain and wonder, and when she arose, she was a changed woman. The revelation of Calvary's love was the great divide in her life. She said that she arose with a sense of "unpayable debt" and went out to share God's realized love with others.

Don't try to manufacture love. Linger in the shadow of the Cross. The love of God finds its most burning expression there. Meditate on it. Contemplate it. Remember that heaven knows no higher strategy for begetting love in mortal hearts than by granting us a vision of how much we are loved, a vision strong enough to evoke a response in our hearts -- and by that answering love begotten in us by the Holy Spirit, we are freed and purged and saved.

October 16, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 10/16/09-The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project was founded by writer James Lecesne, director/producer Peggy Rajski and producer Randy Stone, creators of the 1994 Academy Award®-winning short film, Trevor, a comedy/drama about a gay 13-year-old boy who, when rejected by friends because of his sexuality, makes an attempt to take his life.

When Trevor was scheduled to air on HBO® in 1998, the filmmakers realized that some of the program’s teen viewers might be facing the same kind of crisis as Trevor, and began to search for an appropriate support line to broadcast during the airing. They discovered that no such helpline existed, and decided to dedicate themselves to forming what was, in their view, a much-needed resource: an organization to promote acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group. Thus, The Trevor Project was born, and with seed funding provided by The Colin Higgins Foundation, The Trevor Helpline was established and became the first and only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Today, in addition to operating the crisis and suicide prevention helpline, The Trevor Project provides online support to young people through the organization’s Web site, and also provides lifesaving guidance and vital resources to educators and parents.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 10/16/09-God's Top Ten Promises

This is a wonderful piece from the site "I'm a Gay Christian."

#1. I will be your God when all other gods fail you, hurt you, and leave you. Put me first in all you do and peace is yours – Guaranteed!

#2. I am the only example in Life that you need to follow. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

#3. If you call on my name in a time of need, my name will hold power and comfort. Use my name in a righteous way and victory is yours.

#4. You will have a good work ethic and success will be yours if you work when I tell you and rest when I tell you. Your life will have balance.

#5. If you respect those in authority over you, you will have a long life and you will be respected.

#6. You’ll never be tortured at night with a guilty conscience if you don’t plot to hurt someone.

#7. You’ll never have a broken marriage if you and your spouse honor me in your relationship and home.

#8. You’ll never have to figure out how to hide anything if you don’t take what isn’t yours.

#9. You’ll never be a gossip if you don’t talk badly or falsely about your friends.

#10. You’ll never want for anything if you learn that what I give you is plenty and perfect. My grace is sufficient for YOU!

Recognize these promises? They are from the Ten Commandments. Amazing how much more receptive we are of God’s commands when they seem to be turned into beautiful promises. Many times we tend to hear the negative side of religion, and focus on all the “Thou Shalt Not’s” in the Bible. Did you know that every commandment in the Bible is for a reason and has your best intentions at heart? Remember God is a loving God who wants us to succeed and prosper. He knows our most intimate fears and dreams. Put Him first and your life will surely be blessed!

SNN Recommends 10/16/09 (Just for Fun)-I Can Has Cheezburger

Evereyone loves pictures of cats in funny poses with witty or sarcastic captions, right? Well, if you do, you'll love "I Can Has Cheezburger." This site also features dogs, celebrities, news and sports features, and more stuff people just make up.

For a place to waste some time and get a few laughs, we recommend checking out "I Can Has Cheezburger." Here are a few samples. Don't be surprised if they become a regular Just For Fun feature here.

cute pictures of puppies with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Encouraging Music 10/16/09 "Lord, I'll Lift My Voice" by Darlene Zschech

Matthew 25 Resource 10/16/09-Coalition For The Homeless (New York City)

For more than 25 years, the Coalition for the Homeless has developed and implemented humane, cost-effective strategies to end mass homelessness in New York City. Our model programs represent solutions that can dramatically reduce the homeless population and prevent homelessness among those most at risk.

Every day the Coalition helps over 3,500 clients with the tools and support to reclaim their lives. Through housing, job training, emergency food, crisis intervention, and youth programs, we rescue men, women and children caught in the grips of poverty. We witness firsthand the challenges they face, and shape our services to best meet their needs. We understand what works, what doesn’t, and what makes sense. Our unique position allows us to advocate effectively on behalf of New York’s most vulnerable citizens, and offer hope and opportunity for economic independence and a brighter future.

From our first legal victory in 1981, Callahan v. Carey, which guaranteed the right to decent shelter, the Coalition’s efforts have consistently resulted in compassionate, long-term solutions to the epidemic of homelessness. Since our inception, we have demonstrated that there is indeed an end in sight, and that through the proper and strategic investment of resources we can make homelessness a thing of the past.

The Coalition is a vocal and invaluable city and statewide resource for homeless people, at-risk populations, other advocates and service providers, policymakers and the public at large. We have earned the reputation as the most credible source of information on homelessness, its causes, and solutions. Join us - with your continued support, we will succeed in keeping New York’s most vulnerable citizens safe and off our streets.

Click here to find out more.

Does Homophobia Affect Career Choices? Survey Says...Yes

From Pink News:

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are choosing not to enter professions such as teaching for fear of homophobia, research has found.

According to a study commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), only 51 per cent of lesbians, 52 per cent of gay men, 44 per cent of bisexual women and 10 per cent of bisexual men felt they could be open about their sexuality in schools, colleges or universities.

In higher education, 33 per cent of LGB staff reported negativity about their sexual orientation from colleagues. Eighteen per cent said that students were negative about their sexual orientation.

Respondents said that teaching and working with children was negatively associated with public debate about the teaching of gay issues in schools and parents' reactions to their children being taught by an LGB person.

Other professions which gay and bisexual people were reluctant to enter included the police services, the armed forces and manual trades.

The reasons cited for this were perceptions of homophobia, working culture and organisational policies.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 10/16/09 Wise Fools

From: Every Day Light

"Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you." Prov. 4:6

It is time now to ask ourselves: What exactly is wisdom? How is it to be defined? Some say wisdom is synonymous with knowledge, and use the two words interchangeably. There is, however, a world of difference between knowledge and wisdom, as writers and philosophers down the ages have pointed out. Knowledge is the capacity to comprehend and retain what one is taught; wisdom is the ability to put that knowledge to best effect. If knowledge is the same thing as wisdom, then, as Paul Larsen points out, "There are many 'wise' men who are fools." Our colleges and universities cram information into the minds of thousands of people, so that they come out knowing a good deal about such things as the solar system, microbiology, bacteriology, psychology, the laws of physics, art and so on, but knowledge by itself does not stop them from making a mess of their lives. In the United States, a second year university or high school student is called a "sophomore," which is the Greek word for "a wise fool." How revealing. When we get into the higher stages of education, we think that we know it all, but if this attitude is not changed, then we will soon demonstrate what it means to be a fool. A "fool" in Proverbs is not someone who can't pass a simple literacy or numeracy test; he is someone who thinks he knows what life is all about but doesn't. Those whom the world recognizes as "wise" may, from heaven's standpoint, be the biggest fools.

October 15, 2009

SNN Recommends 10/15/09: Stuff Queer People Should Know

Jamie Royce has a blog titled "Stuff Queer People Need to Know," one of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (UK) Best 100 LGBT Blogs:

I am Jamie Royce, wordsmith. I am the freethinker of freethinkers. I can usually be found huddled over some sort of publication or writing, absorbing its content and scrutinizing it, of course. I hate people that automatically assume the elevator is empty and rush onto it as the door is opening. I loved watching the cartoon about BeetleJuice when I was kid, as well as climbing the bee-filled crab apple tree in my mother’s front lawn. Collecting free plastic cups that are given away at various events, I practically refuse to drink out of anything else.

Currently I am an award-wining journalism student at the University of Cincinnati and the opinion editor of The News Record. This summer I am an editorial intern at Family Tree Magazine; to see what I have been doing for them, click here. Alternating Currents, the region’s only LGBT-focused radio program, is my latest venture. Listen on Cincinnati’s WAIF 88.3 every fourth Saturday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., or live stream from anywhere by clicking here.

Click here to check it out.

Have You Ever Wondered Why We Feature So Much Music?

We post a lot of Christian music here, most of it "Contemporary Christian." We're sure, just like any genre of music, that it's not for every taste, but this Q&A with Billy Graham gets to the heart of why we post music here every single day.

From the Christian Post:

Q: I really like contemporary Christian music, but I spent a couple of weeks with my aunt this summer and she really came down on me and said I shouldn't be listening to such "noise" (I'm 16). I wonder what you think. - K.M.

A: I always hesitate to answer questions like this because no matter what I say, someone is going to disagree! Musical tastes differ from one generation to the next, and I wouldn't be surprised if 20 or 30 years from now you say the same thing about your own son's musical tastes.

This past summer, our organization sponsored a series of concerts in several major cities along the Mississippi River. A number of Christian bands and musicians participated, and my son Franklin spoke several times during each event. Tens of thousands of young people came, and thousands made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ in response to the preaching of the Gospel.

Would your aunt have liked the music? Probably not; it was very high energy and contemporary, and geared toward young people. But God used its message to focus attention on Jesus Christ and His love for us - and countless lives were changed as a result. When King David was making plans for the Temple, he ordered that "Four thousand (musicians) are to praise the Lord with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose" (1 Chronicles 23:5).

Ask yourself this question: Does the music I listen to bring me closer to God - or is it only entertaining me? Make sure of your commitment to Christ. Then make it your goal to grow closer to Him every day, not only through your music but through prayer, the Bible, and your fellowship with other believers.


LGBT Helping Hands 10/15/09-Youth Outlook (Naperville, IL)

We're happy to share our first user-recommended resource today. We continue to encourage our readers to suggest organizations that you are familiar wtih that could be of benefit to others. Please send the suggestion to straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com

We had our beginnings in 1996 when a group of community members in DuPage County, Illinois met to discuss their concerns over the lack of area resources for LGBTQ youth. Two years later, Youth Outlook was up and running with our first drop-in center, our first grant, and our first executive director. Since that ime, Youth Outlook (formerly Questioning Youth Center (QYC))has been committed to providing a safe, supportive, and respectful environment for adolescents, whether they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). We also celebrated our tenth anniversary in 2008, and we are happy to report that we’ve served more that 1,400 youth in that time, resilient young people that we have been proud to know.

Youth Outlook is the only agency in the DuPage Kane, and DeKalb counties of Illinois dedicated solely to serving LGBTQ youth. In order to accomplish our mission, we provide wellness education on a variety of topics, leadership development, and social space. We also conduct community education programs in order to change the social atmosphere that imperils LGBTQ youth in the first place.

Since our begininng, Youth Outlook has expanded dramatically, now offering four drop-in centers in three separate counties, as well as a youth leadership program, a group for transgender youth, and a group for young women. We have five staff members and over 40 volunteers.

In 2002, in recognition of its ongoing work, Youth Outlook received an award for Excellence in Service to LGBTQ youth from the Human Rights Campaign Illinois Chapter.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music 10/15/09 "Take My Life" by Jeremy Camp

Matthew 25 Resource 10/15/09-Community Food Banks of South Dakota

In January of 2004, the Boards of Directors of The Food Service Center, Inc. in Sioux Falls, SD, and The Black Hills Regional Food Bank, Inc. in Rapid City, SD, unanimously voted to merge the two largest charitable food distribution organizations in the state. The decision to merge the two organizations came as the result of a joint twelve-month study into the feasibility of such an endeavor. The results of the merger analysis concluded that the two organizations could combine their common missions to more effectively address hunger issues all across South Dakota. Additionally, by collaborating on product solicitation and transportation partnerships greater quantities of food could be procured to meet the increasing demand for assistance.

A new name, Community Food Banks of South Dakota, was selected to reflect the statewide mission of meeting hunger needs. This merger brought together a combined 45 years of experience in providing hunger relief across South Dakota. Additionally, the talents and resources of these two organizations expands the reach and depth of the fight against hunger in our state.

At the Food Banks we distribute donated, purchased and reclaimed food to over 500 nonprofit charitable organizations, in all 66 counties of South Dakota, who provide meals and emergency food boxes to those in need. In 2008, the Community Food Banks of South Dakota as a whole distributed over 8.3 million pounds of food in this fight against hunger. Through our food reclamation program, we were able to handle, sort and box over 750,000 pounds of wholesome and edible food product. Our partnership with Feeding America provides us with access to millions of pounds of food product that is donated by corporations all across America. It is through this affiliation that we are able to provide a wider variety of store shelf quality food to our organizations.

Both Food Banks also operate the "BackPack Program." This program is focused at providing food to children who would otherwise be at risk of going hungry. Currently in Rapid City there are 1,147 backpacks of food being delivered to 15 schools every Friday afternoon. At the same time, on the other side of the state, Sioux Falls is packing 2,450 backpacks and being distributed to 34 schools. This program is in place for the entire school year from September through May.

Our community pantries in Sioux Falls and Rapid City provide emergency food to individuals and families throughout the local community who are in need of food assistance. Citywide networks of referral agencies direct needy clients to the pantry.

At the Community Food Banks of South Dakota our goal has and always will be to do all that we can to help in the fight against hunger in South Dakota.

Click here to find out more.

Jon Stewart Exposes Blatant Hypocrysy In Coverage of Equality March

No one, simply no one, is better in today's media at researching and exposing hypocrysy than.... a comedy show. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show scores yet again with his review of Fox News' coverage (actually lack thereof) of the National Equality and compares that to what they believe IS worth their time.

What does is say about today's network news coverage that the hardest hitting features come from a comedy broadcast? Actually, we think that pretty well says it all.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Queer and Loathing in D.C. - Radical Gay Agenda
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Daily Devotional 10/15/09 Transferring the Ownership

From: Every Day Light

"... because you ... have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you ..." Gen. 22: 16,17

We referred yesterday to the man who was broken by a financial disaster, but came out of it enabled to say, "Never again will I be broken by material loss." And why? Because he built for himself a biblical framework which enabled him to see the whole issue of finances from God's point of view. Here are the steps my friend took in moving from financial bondage to financial freedom. (1) In a definite act of commitment, transfer the ownership of all your possessions to God. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we do not in reality own our possessions. We are stewards, not proprietors, of the assets which God puts into our hands. After reading the story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son, my friend got alone with God and offered every single one of his possessions to the Lord. He said, "I continued in prayer until every single item I had was laid on God's altar, and when it was over I was a transformed man. That act of dedication became the transformation point in my finances." If, in reality, we do not own our possessions, then the obvious thing to do is to have the sense to say to God: "Lord, I'm not the owner, but the ower. Teach me how to work out that relationship for as long as I live." When you let go of your possessions and let God have full control, the whole issue of stewardship becomes meaningful. You are handling something on behalf of Another. Money is no longer your master - it becomes instead your messenger.

October 14, 2009

Welcome to Midweek Worship 10/14/09

SNN Recommends 10/14/09-The Gay Christian Network

Our mission:
"Sharing Christ's light and love for all."

This short, simple phrase encapsulates GCN's ultimate purpose. We believe that the truth, or "light," of Christ, and His unconditional love are for everyone, not just the straight community, and that our job as Christians is to share that light and love with one another and with the world. We accomplish this not just through our words, but through our actions.

In particular, GCN seeks to accomplish this mission through five core components, or "missional directions."

1. Promoting spiritual growth.
Our mission begins with the individual. GCN works to strengthen each individual's relationship with God, first through helping people reconcile their faith and sexuality when necessary, but then moving beyond that to promote ongoing spiritual growth as they continue their walk with Christ. A person who is growing in Christ is better able to live out His light and love with others.
Click here to see some of the ways we're doing this!
- The annual GCN conference
- GCN Radio
- Online and local Bible studies
- Audio sermons
- The Great Debate

2. Cultivating safe community.
The Christian life is meant to be lived out in fellowship with others, not on our own. So the second component of GCN's mission is cultivating safe community for fellowship among LGBT Christians. We seek to create and nurture these communities both online and offline, ensuring that they remain safe spaces to be vulnerable and find friendship and support.
Click here to see some of the ways we're doing this!
- Online community (message board, chat, PMs, small groups)
- Annual conference
- Local groups around the world
- Special retreats

3. Supporting family and friends.
Many LGBT Christians have strained relationships with family and friends after coming out or coming to Christ. Our goal is not to replace these relationships, but to strengthen them. The third component of our mission, therefore, is providing needed support to the friends and families of LGBT Christians, to answer their questions and help them learn how to better relate to their loved ones even when there may be disagreement.
Click here to see some of the ways we're doing this!
- GCN toll-free hotline
- Web resources for families (family stories, GCN Radio, online forum, etc.)
- Coming soon: Special CD resource for families/friends
- Future project: New resource deveopment (brochures, videos, etc.)

4. Educating and encouraging the church.
We also believe strongly in the importance of the Body of Christ as a major force for good in the world and an important component of Christians' lives. Our mission to educate and encourage the church, then, is a two-pronged mission. For churches that have yet to fully welcome LGBT individuals, we seek to educate them about LGBT issues and encourage them to become more welcoming. For those that already do welcome LGBT individuals, we want to educate them about ways to be more effective, and encourage them to keep going, even when they may feel like they're alone.
Click here to see some of the ways we're doing this!
- WelcomingChurches.com message board for ministry leaders
- GCN collaboration with welcoming denomination groups and leaders
- Welcoming church database
- 2008 GCN Pastors Banquet
- Through My Eyes Youth DVD resource for churches

5. Engaging the wider LGBT community and the world.
And finally, we want to share Christ's light and love everywhere, not to hide in a gay Christian bubble somewhere. The final component of our mission is engaging with those outside of the church, serving them as Christ would and demonstrating to them what it looks like to fully share in the light and love of Jesus.

Click here to find out more and consider joining their vibrant community.

Encouraging Music 10/14/09 "Testify to Love" by Avalon

Matthew 25 Resource 10/14/09-Interfaith Works (Montgomery County, MD)

At Interfaith Works (formerly Community Ministry of Montgomery County) we are focused on helping our neighbors: people who live in poverty in one of the most affluent communities in the country. Our programs include homeless services, housing, family services, clothing centers, and emergency support programs that provide - assistance to individuals and families who have a hard time making ends meet in our high cost community. We also educate and bring together thousands of youth, seniors, and members of congregations and civic groups to give voice and seek solutions to the issues of poverty in our community.

Click here to find out more.

Obama Has Work Cut Out For Him to Move LGBT Rights Issues Forward

From CNN:

As thousands gathered Sunday in Washington for a march and rally focused on gay rights issues, lawmakers showed that some of the demonstrators' key goals face major obstacles ahead.

Even with President Obama pushing Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act -- a stance he highlighted to one of the nation's leading gay-rights groups Saturday night, to huge applause -- members of his own party told CNN they're not in lockstep.

"I've said in the past I don't think that's the way to go," Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, told CNN's John King.

He added, "We can move forward on a lot of measures, but I'm not sure there's the support yet for that."

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, noted that her state is one of many that has a law prohibiting same-sex marriage. "So I think, for a number of us, that becomes a challenge," she said.

Stabenow would not say whether she would vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Click here to read the rest of the CNN analysis, including the parts that could move quickly through Congress.

Daily Devotional 10/14/09 Do Your Emotions Take Over?

From: Every Day Light

..."the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him ..." Ps. 103:17

We continue exploring ways in which we can become strong at the broken places caused by deep and disturbing doubts. Another point we should keep in mind in relation to this question of doubt is that some doubts are rooted more in the emotions than in the intellect. Our emotions are an important part of our being, and they can do much to make our lives either miserable or meaningful. When emotions take over, they cause our thinking to waver, so that we can come to faulty conclusions about life. Ask yourself this question now: am I a person who is ruled more by my emotions than by my intellect? If you are, then it is likely that your doubts are rooted more in your feelings than in your mind. Many years ago, a Christian university student came to me complaining that he had serious doubts about the inspiration and reliability of Scripture. As I counseled him, I heard the Spirit say, "This is not an intellectual doubt, but an emotional one." I explored with him the area of his feelings, and he confessed to me that he could never remember a time in his life when he ever felt that he was loved. When the emotional problem was resolved, his doubts vanished of their own accord. His problem was not intellectual, but emotional. Reason and emotion are both important in life, but decisions, especially decisions about the Christian life, must be built not on what we feel to be true but on what we know to be true.

October 13, 2009

SNN Helping Hands 10/13/09-The Community Center (Garden City, ID)

The Community Center’s mission is to provide an inviting and safe facility for the use of all LGBT and allied community organizations and individuals.

Founded in December 1983, The Community Center (TCC) is the only SW Idaho lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and allied community center. TCC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Center, located only a few blocks off Chinden Blvd at 305 E 37th Street in Garden City, is just minutes from downtown Boise.

We at TCC are proud of publishing for 25 years the Diversity newspaper, which is distributed throughout Idaho on a monthly basis; this makes Diversity one of the longest-running LGBT-focused newspapers in the Western United States. You will find at our facility an ever-growing library containing books, CD's, and videos that focus on the issues, lives, history, and concerns of our community. We also have a comfortable TV lounge and meeting area that is available for use by both individuals and groups.

TCC is committed to uniting the community through educational and developmental programs with the express intent of not duplicating activities of other organizations. TCC also acts to provide much needed services, resources, referrals and support that would otherwise not be available to the LGBT community.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 10/13/09-BCF Praise Report

Romans 12:1, 2 Amplified Bible

1I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy devoted, consecrated and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable, rational, intelligent service and spiritual worship.
2Do not be conformed to this world-this age, fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed-changed by the entire renewal of your mind by its new ideals and its new attitude, so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect Will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.

Greetings BCF Family & Friends!

I hear the Spirit of the Lord saying to us, "Come up higher! Come up higher! Take your position next to Me, consecrate yourself to Me so that I may do even greater things through YOU!"

I was watching Joyce Meyer this morning and the Holy Spirit is really emphasizing to all of us right now, that to make Jesus LORD of your life means to surrender to His purposes, goals and objectives for your life! What does Jesus want you and I to be doing? He wants us to be loving people like He does! He wants us to be HELPING people like He does! We are His hands and feet, His mouthpiece, the representative of His Kingdom and righteousness!! It's not enough just to tell people "Jesus loves you!" Of course we want to do that, but it is more needful for us to start SHOWING people that Jesus loves them by helping them out! How about giving someone some encouragement, a warm hug, slip them some cash when you know they are struggling financially, how about DOING the works of Jesus!

It says in Acts that Jesus of Nazareth was anointed of God and went about doing GOOD to all people! THAT is what He wants you and I to be doing!

Yesterday, worship was powerful, we got our love tank refilled and had a sweet time in the Lord together. Sister Melissa walker then shared an awesome teaching about what it takes to be called a "Friend of God." Not every one in the Bible was called a friend of God- Abraham was, but not Moses- why? Because Abraham trusted God and just DID what God asked of him; Moses himmed and hawed, made excuses for why he couldn't- and didn't always DO what God told him to do! Even though God used Moses mightily- without a doubt, but Moses held back. King David was called a man after God's own heart because He knew the heart of the Father and what God desired, and even though he sinned, he was quick to acknowledge he had sinned and repented. He valued the anointing of God on his life more than anything else. DO YOU?!? Are you sold out to Jesus as the King and LORD of your life, or are you satisfied just to have your ticket to heaven?

I know that I'm not satisfied just to have a ticket to heaven. I want MORE of God and I want to PLEASE my Heavenly Father by doing what He has asked of me to do. I believe that God is calling us to a higher dimension in Him, a higher level of yielding and submission to His purposes and Will than we are currently walking in. What would happen if EVERY Christian on the planet would take this serious and start living to please God and serve others rather than to selfishly live for their own fleshly desires? I imagine that world hunger would end quickly, that the homeless would have a place to live and support to get back on their feet, that the orphan and widow would no longer be lonely and destitute- but would have a family and a place that they knew they belonged in and were wanted.

LOVE demands a sacrifice. God made the ultimate sacrifice when He gave Himself, His one and only Son to live and die for our disobediance. It only takes one lie to be a liar, it only takes one sin to be a sinner, and Jesus sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for our sins. The scripture says that no greater love has anyone, than to lay down his life for his friends. Today and from now until Jesus calls us home- it's time for US to sacrifice and lay down our lives for each other, for the poor, for the lonely, for the rejected and outcast- it's time for US to BE God's hands and feet! This is the hour for which we were born, so that the power and glory of God could be revealed to all people- through YOU and I!

I'm praying for you today and that the Holy Spirit will show you how you can help someone else today. Get your mind off of YOU, quit worrying or prioritizing YOURSELF, and start looking out- find a need and meet it. THAT's what Jesus is doing and would be doing, THAT kind of obedience to God will cause you to become a real "Friend of God", too!

Renewal is just three and a half weeks away. We are all praying, believing, preparing our selves, for an incredible outpouring of His love, grace and GLORY! Please continue to pray for us and the weekend. We have confirmed 61 people outside of our congregation who are attending. If you've ever been to our ministry facility- you know we are going to pack the house!
Praise God- He's going to blow the roof off!! :-)

Also, if you'd like to share information about Fall Renewal/Outpouring with others, you can send them to our website for more information.
www.bcfchurch.us or www.believerscovenant.org.

Last of all, I want to remind everyone of our leadership training course on Saturday, October 24th, 10 AM-2 PM on "Healing for Damaged Emotions" led by Brenda Johnson. It's going to be an awesome workshop. Lunch will be served. Please let me know if you are coming for sure.

God BLESS you, we love you and we're praying for you. Have a great week in the Lord and START HELPING OTHERS! That's what Jesus would do!

Shalom and much love in Christ our Lord,
Ap Dale

SNN Recommends 10/13/09-Washington Blade

For local coverage of the upcoming same-sex marriage battle in DC and the aftermath of the National Equality March, the Washington Blade is the place we recommend as the paper/website of record.

First published in 1969, The Washington Blade has grown impressively becoming the weekly news source for Washington’s lar ge and visible Gay community. We have been recognized by The Society of Professional Journalists, The American Bar Association, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and others, as a highly professional news organization.

We also recognize our success is due in part to the Blade’s loyal readership. And, we work hard to give them a quality source of news and information they won’t get elsewhere.

Click here to check it out.

Encouraging Music 10/13/09 "Days of Elijah" by Twila Paris

Matthew 25 Resource 10/13/09-Shelter Care (Rockford, IL)

Shelter Care was established in 1984 as a response to the growing population of homeless in the Rockford metropolitan area and in 1985 was honoured with the designation as a Jubilee Ministry Center by the National Episcopal Church. Episcopal charities and United Way affiliations followed in 1986 and 1988 respectively.

In 1995 Shelter Care expanded by creating an Emergency and Transitional Housing Program for families in homelessness; this program has expanded to 20 furnished apartments made available specifically to serve families with minor children and keep families together as they move to stabilize their situation.

Most recently, Shelter Care became the managing partner of MAYA’S House (founded by the Junior League of Rockford in 2003), a day time Drop-In Day Center for homeless children. MAYA'S House gives parents a safe, structured, educational environment for their children while allowing them to look for a job or obtain the training or education they need.

Shelter Care has continued to focus on the critical needs of homeless families and adults living with mental illness and has strengthened programs and filled gaps in the community advocating for those in need and assisting them in their journey to self sufficiency.

Click here to find out more.

What Did Obama Say About Transgender Rights?

Not much directly, but transgender writer and activist Rebecca Juno was still encouraged. Here is an excerpt from her essay at The Bilerico Project:

Was there any real news to gleaned here? Well, maybe if you squint and look at it kinda sideways. Obama did use the word "transgender" once, the first time a sitting President has done so with major media coverage as far as I know. It may seem like a little thing to some, but Obama's use of the word may signal to Congressional Democrats that he wants a fully inclusive ENDA.

Obama's repeated use of the word "inclusive" was a signal to us, the LGBT community, and to transpeople in particular. He and his people know what LGB and especially T people understand the word "inclusive" to mean when it's used in the context of LGBT civil rights. Using "inclusive" was Obama's way of communicating his support for transgender inclusion in LGBT civil rights legislation to the community without actually saying it out loud. He even threw in a "gender identity" just for seasoning. It's a hell of a lot more than we ever got from Bill Clinton or any other President, but still a hell of a lot less than we deserve.

Why does it matter? It shows we're on his radar. Obama understands that as President and as an advocate of ENDA's passage, he must take a position on transgender inclusion pro or con and he knows he must communicate that position to us and to Congress. He did both artfully with this speech, but he also demonstrated that he's not quite ready to come out of closet with full-throated support for transgender rights yet.

Click here to read the rest of the essay.

Daily Devotional 10/13/09 Enjoy Yourself

From: Every Day Light

He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy. Ps. 105:43

A minister tells of standing outside his church one Sunday evening, shaking hands with the worshippers as they dispersed. It had been a joyous evening when God had come very close to His people and the awesome hush of His presence was upon them as they made their way home. A crowded motor coach, returning with revellers from the seaside and held up by the traffic, stopped outside the church. Some of the occupants, flushed with drink, put their heads out of the windows and shouted to those who were leaving the church: "Why don't you learn to enjoy yourself?" The preacher said: "Two ways of life met there for an instant. The coach moved on with the question hanging in the air: 'Why don't you enjoy yourself?' "Little did the men who shouted that question realize that it is those who think they are artists in enjoying themselves who signally fail. The Christian has more joy to the square inch than others have to the square mile. And it is pure, unalloyed joy without a kick-back in it. No Christian who has spent time in the presence of God in a church or among his fellow Christians the night before ever gets up in the morning and says: "Oh dear, I wish I hadn't been a Christian last night. My head is aching from the effects of spending time in the presence of God and among my fellow Christians. Why ever did I do it?" Christian joy is the kind that gives enjoyment without a hangover. It is a kick without a kick-back. Bliss, perfect bliss is the prerogative only of the people of God.

October 12, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 10/12/09-Arkansas AIDS Foundation

The AAF provides case management, payment assistance for HIV/AIDS prescription medication, payment assistance for dental bills, and referrals for other services.

The AAF is in the forefront in conducting innovative programs for people with AIDS. AAF provides services to over 330 active clients and nearly 500 overall in Pulaski, Lonoke, and Prairie counties. Our district (District 1 of 5) makes up 35% of all diagnosed HIV cases and 35% of all AIDS cases in Arkansas. The AAF has been providing services since 1992 and is the lead agency of the Unity Consortium of Central Arkansas (UCCA). Support is provided and networking is done with all major hospitals, other HIV/AIDS service organizations, and all social service organizations involved in HIV/AIDS related activities.

Complete Case Management
Medication Services
Dental Services
Nutrition Services
Counseling and Emotional Support

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 10/12/09-"A Step In Faith"

Brent Childers is a straight ally who is Executive Director of Faith In America, an organization working to end "religion-based bigotry and prejudice."

He wasn't always so supportive of the LGBT community--far from it. He spoke to Newsweek about his journey prior to the National Equality March. Here is an excerpt:

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans are a diverse, extraordinary, resilient, and passionate group of forgiving men and women. I wouldn't be standing beside them demanding full and equal treatment under the law and speaking out against the harm caused by religion-based bigotry at the National Equality March in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11 if I thought they were not created in God's image the same as myself, same as my family, as we all are—we are all God's children.

And I know better than anyone, since six years ago I was one of those bigots. At that time it would have seemed abominable to even consider attending a "gay-rights" event. To me, these would have been the people tearing apart the very seams of our culture and our country.

Today, it is a natural expression of who I am. Some might call that a miracle.

So what it is that would bring someone from a place where he once declared himself a "Jesse Helms Republican," a man who condemned homosexuality as a threat to children and society, told his own son that being gay is a ticket to hell, to travel from Hickory, N.C., to the West Lawn of the Capitol building on Oct. 11, 2009? How can one travel from the seemingly impossible road of bigotry to one of acceptance and love for our LGBT brothers and sisters? The answer is one that I hope religious leaders such as Pat Robertson and James Dobson (and most importantly, their followers) will hear.

It's because something deep inside told me that I needed to step out in faith onto a bridge of knowledge and understanding. I didn't know where this bridge would take me but something was telling me it was a path I needed to walk. My own mother challenged me in 2003 to look at my beliefs and the true intent behind the teachings I held in blind faith. "Do you think your views are Christ-like?" she asked me. Her question was dead on: once I walked away from the Church's teachings of rejection and condemnation, my relationship with God transcended to a higher spiritual plateau. I realized an unparalleled sense of spiritual clarity when I opened my heart and mind to a genuine expression of love, compassion, and acceptance of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

This new voice—Christ's voice—became the core principles of my faith: love, compassion, and respect. That voice I now realize was desperately wanting to be heard, a voice no longer comfortable with the place in which I had chose to confine it for so long—a place of bigotry, prejudice, fear, and misunderstanding.

Amen! That sure sounds like the voice of Christ we hear and that is at the foundation of our faith. Click here to read the rest of the Newsweek piece.

SNN Recommends 10/12/09-The Matthew Shepard Foundation

The story of Matthew Shepard began on December 1, 1976 when he was born to Judy and Dennis Shepard in Casper, Wyoming. He went to public school in Casper until his junior year of high school when he moved with his family to Saudi Arabia. Matt had to finish his high school education at The American School in Switzerland because there were no American high schools in Saudi Arabia at the time. In both high schools, he was elected by his peers to be a peer counselor. He was easy to talk to, made friends easily and actively fought for the acceptance of all people. Matt had a great passion for equality. His experiences abroad fueled his love for travel and gave him the chance to make many new friends from around the world. Matt’s college career eventually took him back to Wyoming where he studied political science, foreign relations and languages at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

The horrific events that took place shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998 went against everything that Matt embodied. Two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, lead him to a remote area east of Laramie, Wyoming. He was tied to a split-rail fence where the two men severely assaulted him. He was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later, he was found by a bicyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Matt died on October 12 at 12:53 a.m. at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado with his family by his side. His memorial service was attended by friends and family from around the world and garnered immense media attention that brought Matt’s story to the forefront of the fight against bigotry and hate. The life and death of Matthew Shepard changed the way we talk about, and deal with, hate in America. Since his death, Matt’s legacy has challenged and inspired millions of individuals to erase hate in all its forms. Although Matt’s life was short, his story continues to have a great impact on young and old alike. His legacy lives on in thousands of people like you who actively fight to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.


The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998.

Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance" through its varied educational, outreach and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew's story.

To support diversity programs in education and to help youth organizations establish environments where young people can feel safe and be themselves.

To educate and enlighten others on the importance of diversity, understanding, compassion, acceptance and respect. Everyone must participate in developing solutions to problems that are rooted in ignorance and hatred.

To replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music 10/12/09 "Before You" by Vineyard

Matthew 25 Resource 10/12/09: Food Bank of South Jersey

The Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) operates on one simple premise: food should not be wasted when hungry people are in our midst. From this truth, it has built an effective food distribution program that annually links 4 million pounds of food with over 200 charitable food providers, such as, food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters.

Founded in 1985, the FBSJ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help eliminate hunger and malnutrition in four counties of southern New Jersey—Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem. It is a member of Feeding America™, formally named America’s Second Harvest, the Nation’s Food Bank Network™ and the largest domestic hunger relief organization. Food Bank of South Jersey is an affiliate partner of United Way Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

Food Bank of South Jersey is South West New Jersey’s largest source of government and “non-government” food assistance. We are the only major agency in southwestern New Jersey whose mission is to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by ensuring that wholesome surplus food reach people in need. Our centralized food donation and distribution system is a vital community link ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged residents can access free groceries and wholesome meals from a charitable food provider in their neighborhood.

In our 24th year of community service, the FBSJ continues to serve as an agent for effective food rescue and charitable food distribution in southern New Jersey. Since our inception, we has provided nearly 80 million pounds of food—the equivalent of 66 million meals—to thousands of families, seniors, individuals and children in need.

Click here to find out more.

Eleven Years Later, Judy Shepard Keeps Pressing Forward

Today is the 11th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's murder. His mother, Judy Shepard, is still pressing forward trying to prevent other tragedies like the one she endured. Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post article about her.

She makes herself do it.

Judy Shepard doesn't enjoy talking in front of people, living a public life, giving speeches.

"Speech class was my worst nightmare," she said.

If only that were still true.

Eleven years ago, on Oct. 12, 1998, Shepard's first-born son, Matt -- "not Matthew, he was Matt" -- was beaten to death in Laramie, Wyo.

"This is my survival; this is how I deal with losing Matt," she told students this week at South Lakes High School in Reston.

She is the epitome of the grieving, activist parent. They are moms, in their comfortable shoes and wash-and-wear hair, or dads in their chinos and dinners-at-the-Elks-lodge shirts who are suddenly thrust before a microphone and cameras and known across the world.

Stoic and practiced, Shepard described how she went into a hospital room to see a person wrapped in bandages and sprouting tubes, unrecognizable as her son except for "the cute bump on his left ear." She could see through the gauze and the vibrant color of one eye, barely open. She recognized the braces on his teeth.

One of the students asked her whether she cared so much about gay rights before her son died. She said she probably would have been a member of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), but little more.

"I would have been the PFLAG mom in the kitchen, baking cookies," she said. "This is not something I ever aspired to do."

This ties in with the sermon I preached yesterday, about how circumstances can change so suddenly and we are forced into a transition we never would have chosen. Lives are often defined by h0w we respond to those situations, and I dare say that Judy Shepard has stepped up bigtime, looking beyond herself and giving to others. That's a pretty amazing thing to be known for, especially when you've had a child so brutally taken away from you.

Click here to read the rest of the Post article.

Daily Devotional 10/12/09 Chained

From: Reflections

John 8:36, NIV: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The Bible tells us that Jesus came to set us free. Paul writes, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery" (Gal.5:1). In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus encourages, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and by burden is light." Jesus did not free us so that we could remain helplessly bound to the chains of our past. What once held us as chains, no longer has power over us. If we are still enslaved it is due to our learned helplessness and no longer the chains, since Christ has broken the chains and set us free. It is not because we are bound, but because we do not truly believe that we are free.

October 11, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 10/14/09-Camp Rehoboth (DE)

CAMP Rehoboth is a nonprofit community service organization dedicated to creating a more positive environment in Rehoboth Beach and its related communities. We seek to promote cooperation and understanding among all people, as we work to build safe, inclusive communities with room for all.

We seek to promote community well-being on all levels; to foster the development of community groups; to develop community space; to promote human and civil rights; to work against prejudice and discrimination; to lessen tensions among the community at large; and to help foster the economic growth of the area. We work toward these ends through activities such as the following:

* Fundraising for other organizations, such as AIDS service organizations, gay and lesbian community organizations, recycling programs, environmental projects, literacy training, and other ventures for the general betterment of the community.
* Networking resources and information by publishing a newsletter, and functioning as an alternative tourist bureau and information center.
* Promoting artistic expressions and creative thinking, and giving aid to artists and craftspeople with an emphasis on the works of lesbians and gay men.
* Education and outreach to the larger community, including sensitivity training seminars, and printed materials to promote positive images of gay and lesbian people and others.
* Promoting political awareness to build safe and inclusive community through voter information, education, and registration; and analysis of issues and candidates.

Click here to find out more.

Hate Crimes Bill Closer to Becoming Law--Soon!

From the New York Times:

The House voted Thursday to expand the definition of violent federal hate crimes to those committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation, a step that would extend new protection to lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Democrats hailed the vote of 281 to 146, which brought the measure to the brink of becoming law, as the culmination of a long push to curb violent expressions of bias like the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming college student.

“Left unchecked, crimes of this kind threaten to ruin the very fabric of America,” said Representative Susan A. Davis, Democrat of California, a leading supporter of the legislation.

Under current federal law, hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction are defined as those motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.

The new measure would broaden the definition to include those committed because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It was approved by the House right before a weekend when gay rights will be a focus in Washington, with a march to the Capitol and a speech by President Obama to the Human Rights Campaign.

The hate crimes legislation would give the federal government authority to prosecute violent crimes of antigay bias when local authorities failed to act. It would also allocate $5 million a year to the Justice Department to provide assistance to local communities in investigating hate crimes, a process that can sometimes strain police resources. And it would allow the department to assist in the inquiry and local prosecution if requested.

“The problem of crimes motivated by bias,” the measure says, “is sufficiently serious, widespread and interstate in nature as to warrant federal assistance to states, local jurisdictions and Indian tribes.”

Click here to read more of the Times' story.

Updates from the National Equality March Updated 6:40 eastern

Keep checking back through the day and evening for updates on the National Equality March

Added @ 6:40 Skeptic about the march repents at Huffington Post.

Added @ 6:00 Yahoo News photos from the march.
Updated AP report via the New York Times.

Added @ 5:45 Washington Post report their "tens of thousands" estimate looks awfully conservative-when's the last time the Post was accused of that?

Added @ 5:00 More video clips of speakers from Inside, Looking Out

Added @ 4:55 AP video from the march

Added @ 4:05 See video clips of NEM speakers at Out Gay Life.

Early Associated Press report via MSNBC

Lots of pictures from Bilerico

Life Feeds From the National Equality March

We'll be posting reactions and testimonies later this afternoon, but here are some good sources to keep up with events as they are happening:

C-SPAN will stream live coverage of the speakers at the march from 2-5 PM eastern.

365gay-live tweeting and video

Queerty has live tweeting

We're clearing the decks today, deferring our normal posting today to stay focused on the events in DC.

Big Day Today for the LGBT Community

The National Equality March is taking place in our nation's capital today. Looks like the marchers will have good weather and we're praying for a large crowd, words of wisdom from the stage, and hearts and minds to be opened by this great outpouring.

Click here to find out more information from the official website of the march.

BTW, Straight, Not Narrow is an official endorser of the march.

We'll be bringing you analysis and news from the march throughout the afternoon and evening.

Today is also National Coming Out Day. As difficult and painful as it may be, we firmly believe that if you haven't, in the long run you will be more greatly blessed by coming out than not. Our experience with others has taught us that some people you might think will react negatively will surprise you with their support, perhaps even enthusiasm. If you are seeking someone to support you through this process, we are available to pray for you or with you. Please contact us at straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com.

Welcome to Sunday Worship 10/11/09

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
GA-New Covenant Church of 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