A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. LINDSEY ALTVATER CLIFTON:
May Pride bring you joy and connection
This weekend, our congregation will resume its tradition of celebrating Lehigh Valley Pride with a booth at the LGBTQ+ festival sponsored by the Bradbury-Sullivan Center. Needless to say, I’m excited!
I’ve also been feeling a bit reflective. Last October, National Coming Out Day coincided with Clergy Appreciation Day. That coincidence led me to acknowledge that the intersections of these two parts of who I am in the world continue to be a bit like oil and water at times. I feel most myself in my clergy collar and rainbow suspenders at Pride sharing in the sparkly, uninhibited joy of queer community and embodying God’s expansive love for all. (My heart definitely missed that experience last fall when most festivals moved online due to the pandemic.)
Truth be told, I feel more myself there than I do in the church where there are still those who insist that I don’t belong at all, much less in the pulpit. But somehow I can’t escape the Christian commitment to the widest welcome and most crowded, diverse communion table, so I keep striving and serving in the way of Jesus despite my questions about and struggles with the institution.
All of that to say, my experience of being a queer clergyperson is complicated. But what isn’t complicated is my sense of calling to a ministry of affirmation for LGBTQ+ folks of all ages and a ministry of support for their families. I know some of you have beloved children or grandchildren, siblings, dear friends, and neighbors who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Know that I am ready to celebrate them alongside you anytime – to officiate their weddings, to help them create rituals to take on new names as they embrace their gender Identity, to offer resources for spiritual growth or connections for mental health. Whatever the need may be, I am committed to being a companion on the journey.
If much of what I’ve written is new or confusing or even challenging for you, I invite you to spend some time with a few online resources to learn more:
- Bradbury-Sullivan Center, our local LGBTQ Community Center
- More Light Presbyterians
- An online encyclopedia for LGBTQ and Christian life
For my LGBTQ+ family in the Lehigh Valley, whether you are out or not, may Pride bring you joy and connection. May it be a reminder that you are beloved not in spite of your queerness, but because of it. Our spirits contain depths of divine compassion and holy fires of justice to be shared, and the world needs our most whole, loving selves. I am with you and for you all the way.
And for those of you who are allies of the LGBTQ+ community, bless you. Keep advocating with and for us; keep loving us unconditionally; keep challenging injustice of all kinds; keep learning and making your own welcome wider. We need your support.
Christ’s Peace and Happy Pride, dear ones.