I love the Restoration Movement. I would say I’m even passionate about it. It is so rich in history and is such a rich story to share. So that is one reason I throw my hat into this ring of fellow Restoration voices. I have never been able to fully turn my back on the voices like Stone and Campbell. It could be that I was raised by a Church of Christ minister and learned a deep love for the Restoration movement, but it is also about a deep love for His followers that draws me here. However, the Restoration Movement through both its victories and it embarrassments, has the potential to communicate an ancient story in bold new ways. And I cannot help but to be here at this moment.
So let us get one elephant out of the way. I am queer. I am a lesbian. I am gay. Pick your label—I am part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/LGBTQ (and the rest of the alphabet) community. In our times, the voice of strong, committed, believers who are queer must be heard. The community of Christ needs to know those of us who are strongly committed to the gathering, to fellowship with the Holy Trinity, and who happen to be LGBTQ. With the polarization that characterizes our times the LGBTQ community has taken on many stereotypes. And one that I feel deeply about challenging, is the LGBTQ has no commitment to our faith. If you do not know of a LGBTQ person, I hope my voice will open a door for you.
My hope is that my voice as a queer woman will give you insight to a lot of avenues each may choose on their personal journey. I hope we travel a long this road together finding that we are no different from one another. But I also hope that the LGBTQ community offers something rich to the gathering of believers. I hope my journey also inspires someone out there who has left the faith for fear of not being accepted.
I want to also share something else that is important to my background. One a day I sat with my parents and heard words I was not expecting: “Julie, we were called and were told you are gay.” In that moment a lot of things changed for me. I share this with you because it is important for readers to know that this is my first public forum where I’m not hiding under cover. This place is the first public forum I’ve entered where I’m being open about who I am. Why is this important? It is important for many reasons, but here are a few. I am free to be who I am without wondering who will read this. I am open to you, the reader and the community, to be here fully as myself. This is exciting for me. To open up to a community for the purposes of building something without limitations is huge for someone like me. I want to be a voice for those who have questions and to be able to offer answers for you. As I said above I was raised in the churches of Christ, and from that have become a lover of the Restoration Movement. It can be argued that one of our foundational beliefs is the priesthood of all believers. We are called to be a community bound by one thing—the fellowship of our Lord and Savior.
So [D]mergent represents to me that very thing. And it is by this belief I pray we will journey on together and come to a fuller understanding of what it is for all believers to fellowship in our Lord and Savior. If anything, I take on my job here with love for our heritage and with full knowledge that you and I will learn from one another. Are the churches of Christ, the Independent Christian Churches, and the Disciples of Christ ready for the true fullness of the body of Christ? I hope we are all are. And may it be here that we challenge our faith and embrace the beginnings of a new generation.