|Affirmation President Randall Thacker|
Dear LGBT Mormons, family members and friends – Happy Pioneer Day!
One hundred and sixty-six years ago the Mormon pioneers rolled into the valley of the Great Salt Lake and pioneered the building of a spiritual refuge for their misunderstood faith. Over time their community blossomed like a rose to become the home of an international religion and culture that has produced great people and leaders worldwide.
Today many LGBT Mormons, their family members, friends, and even some church leaders are pioneers in working to build a spiritual refuge for those whose sexual orientation or gender identity is misunderstood. This work is not easy and sometimes extremely exhausting. Yet, it is also a work that is inspiring, motivating and without doubt led by someone greater than all of us.
In 2007 I was in a state of tremendous doubt about even the existence of God and not active in the LDS Church as I am today. A gay couple, dear friends, invited me to attend a service with them at their All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Washington, DC. It was there that I found spiritual refuge for the first time in years. I attended for a period of time and while doing so became familiar with what has become one of my favorite hymns and which I believe so perfectly describes our work as LGBT Mormon Pioneers:
We’ll build a land where we’ll bind up the broken
We’ll build a land where the captives go free
Where the oil of gladness dissolves all mourning.
Oh, we’ll build a promised land that can be.
Come build a land where sisters and brothers,
Anointed by God, may then create peace:
Where justice shall roll down like waters,
And peace like an ever flowing stream.
We’ll build a land where we bring the good tidings
To all the afflicted and all those who mourn.
And we’ll give them garlands instead of ashes.
Oh, we’ll build a land where peace is born.
We’ll be a land building up ancient cities,
Raising up devastations from old;
Restoring ruins of generations.
Oh we’ll build a land of people so bold.
Come, build a land where the mantles of praises
Resound from spirits once faint and once weak;
Where like oaks of righteousness stand her people.
Oh, come build the land, my people we seek.
May we be blessed with the strength, faith, and endurance of those early Mormon pioneers as we seek to build a spiritual refuge within Mormonism for those whose spirits are faint or weak and are searching for peace. May we unite together to build everlasting bridges of understanding, acceptance and love for all of God’s children.
P.S. Join us September 13-15 in Salt Lake City for New Frontiers, our annual International Affirmation Conference where we will explore the unknown possibilities for LGBT Mormons. The conference will feature Steve and Barb Youngand a host of other great speakers and workshop presenters:newfrontiers.affirmation.org.