We know that our churches are places of welcome, justice and love. It is a decades old message we are called to share in our local communities and the world. The extravagant welcome of the United Church of Christ has been a beacon of light for the LGBTQIA+ community for years. People have found a church home where they can bring their whole self into the worship community and to God. Loomis Basin hangs a banner with a version that represents the ministry in their community:
“Whoever You are, Whomever You Love, Wherever You find Yourself on Life’s Journey, You’re Welcome Here.”
The recent events in the news, the story of Rev. Casey Tinnin-Martinez, and Loomis Basin Congregational Church are bigger than the school board cancelling the drag show planned for the youth of that community. (Read the SF Gate story) The LGBTQIA+ community, especially the transgender community, are used to attacks happening against their rights. It doesn’t take away the pain, nor excuse those who would do harm, but it is expected. The community expects the anti-gay protests. The legislation to take away rights and privileges is expected. Sadly, and most disturbing, the violence against the LGBTQIA+ community is expected as well.
On Sunday, March 5th, a Proud Boy attended worship at Loomis Basin. Pastor Casey wrote about his interaction with and the Proud Boy’s experience of the faith community, “… [he] admitted that he had come to do us harm but after hearing our message found us to be the most peaceful place he had ever been, he stayed for potluck and left in peace.” We aren’t surprised by his experience either. He left with a new vision of God and Christ because of the love and welcome expressed by the church. It is my prayer that after his encounter with God, he lays down his weapons of violence and hatred to love and serve the Lord with more passion than he has for the Proud Boys. Holy and loving God, you know this man. You have known him since he was in his mama’s womb. Be with him. May he be healed from any childhood trauma that causes him to rise up against innocent people. Surround him with your loving presence. In Christ’s name. Amen.
We serve the God of love, forgiveness, presence, redemption, and newness of life! The local community surrounding Loomis Basin UCC and the church have experienced a revival birthed out of hatred. Pastor Casey wrote that it was a Sunday miracle! A community partner, The Landing Spot for LGBTQIA+ teens and their adults have raised more than $20,000 for the drag show event, which was cancelled. The original goal was $12,000. On Sunday, “Worship was full to the brim with folks looking for a safe place.” During worship Pastor Casey shared that 20 people have expressed interest in becoming members. As Joseph said to his brothers who tried to kill him,
“Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people.” — The Message
The Loomis Basin UCC and the community should be filled with anger, and they should be afraid of potential violence. Pastor Casey has had his life threatened. They have lost connection in the school district. The LGBTQIA+ youth are experiencing violence in a hateful message regarding their very existence. But Pastor said to the gathered community, “We are not here to be angry. We are here to love our neighbor…to do the work of loving your neighbor when it’s really hard.”
My friends, a threat against this community is a threat against us all. Bishop Yvette Flunder sent a message to Pastor Casey and Loomis Basin UCC community, “If God is with you, who can be against you.” Amen!
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” — The “prayer” of a Loomis Basin UCC child