Why I Believe In, Support, and Advocate for Church Clarity


A few years ago, my wife and I tried an experiment. We went to visit a sister church of the church I grew up in. On our first Sunday there, the pastor preached a sermon about their doors being open to everyone in the community. Everyone was welcome. He went to extensive lengths to explain that no matter what your background or financial status, no matter where you lived or what “sin” you committed; whether you were a single mother, or had been incarcerated, or lived on the streets, you were welcome and belonged here.

My wife and I sat listening carefully to that list, but (not to our surprise) heard no mention of the LGBT community among the items listed. I knew this pastor and his wife from the parent church we had all previously been a part of. So following the service, I decided to challenge him on it.

I wrote him a letter, mentioning my background, my long involvement at our parent church, and my recent marriage to my wife.

I asked him if he truly meant all were welcome, or if his statement meant everyone…except me.

I don’t think he remembered me at first. But upon agreeing to meet us both for coffee to discuss the matter, he remembered both me and my family very well. Our mutual connection to a former church world and memories we both shared seemed to softened his heart toward us a bit, and the door seemed to open a little as we sat and dialogued about the journey my wife and I had been on. He asked questions with a fairly open mind. He seemed open to learning. He admitted that he didn’t necessarily feel “called” to minister to the LGBT community (whatever that means), but that his church was rather neutral on the subject and that we would never hear him preach about it from the pulpit one way or the other. He wanted us to feel welcome in his church.

So then the real question came.

“So if I wanted to join the worship team, or lead a small group, would I be allowed to do that?” I asked. He paused, and admitted he wasn’t sure. No one had been gutsy enough to ask him that point blank before. He said he would pray about it and talk to the church leadership and let us know.

Any of you who have been through a similar process know what the answer was. Like many other churches, we were “welcome” to attend, to give our money, to volunteer our time, but not to lead. Leading as a gay Christian woman wasn’t a risk they were willing to take or theologically support.

For some reason (perhaps longing, perhaps nostalgia…perhaps stupidity) my wife and I decided to visit just one more time. The day we decided to go, we just so happened to end up in the middle of a two weeks sex series. The first sermon (which we had missed the previous week) had been on “Good Sex” and the week we showed up, was the discussion of “Bad Sex.”

A knot began forming in my stomach from the moment I heard the title and continued to church with every passing minute. I waited, in fear and anticipation of what may come.

To my shock (but not my surprise), when listing out all the examples of bad sex (among which were pedophilia, pornography, incest, and others), this pastor – the same pastor we’d just had coffee with only weeks prior – also listed homosexuality.

I wanted to stand up and walk out right then and there.

But, attempting to give him the benefit of the doubt and the chance for some caveat that would redeem his statement, I stayed glued to my seat. But that statement never came.

I left feeling so deeply hurt that day.

I was hurt because he told me to my face that we’d never hear him talk about this from the pulpit, yet only weeks later, he’d done just that. I was hurt because I felt like we had established some kind of repoire and respect for one another, yet he still listed my beautiful and pure marriage to my wife as defiled. I was hurt because I felt betrayed yet again by someone that knew my history, my family, and with whom I shared years of mutual memories. We never again went back to that church.

Yet I marinated on that service for weeks, and finally, felt like I needed to tell this pastor how his words affected me. After pouring our my pain and heartache, his response was short and simple: he wasn’t going to apologize or alter what the Bible clearly stated as truth. We never spoke again.

So I am excited about the launch of this new project of Church Clarity that is advocating for transparency regarding church policies relating to LGBTQ inclusion in the church. It is so very needed.

It’s needed because the difference between “welcoming” and “affirming” matters. I matters a lot.

It marks the difference between “you are equal here” and “you are welcome even though you are damaged and flawed.” It marks the difference between “we celebrate who you are” and “we want to fix who you are”. And it marks the different between “we embrace you” and “we love the sinner but hate the sin.”

Church Clarity is needed for so many reasons:

It’s needed so the LGBT person knows what to expect before they walk through the door.

It’s needed so that we feel safe.

It’s needed so that we know where we belong and where we will feel sub-human.

It’s needed because we don’t need any more spiritual trauma than we’ve already experienced.

It’s needed because we need to feel equal, and included.

For these reasons, I stand with Church Clarity. And I encourage you to do the same.

 

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

For Parents of LGBTQ Kids

Hey Friends,

This last week I had the honor of speaking to a group of over 1,200 parents of LGBTQ kids online through a Facebook LIVE event. They were gracious enough to let me share the recording with you in hopes that it may help you along your own journey as well.

If you are the parent of an LGBTQ child and are looking for support and community, please consider joining the Parents of LGBTQ Kids Support Group on Facebook. To join, send a private message to the group administrator, or email Susan Berland directly at: susan@susanhopeberland.com.

Because Love Makes ALL the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

Believe Out Loud: When Coming Out Costs You Everything, by Amber Cantorna

Hey Friends,

I had the privilege to write for Believe Out Loud this week in honor of National Coming Out day and share my story as well as give some advice to those who are considering coming out. You can read about it here:

When Coming Out Costs You Everything, by Amber Cantorna

Also, if you or your friends live in Albuquerque, please come see me tonight (10/12) at Bookworks at 6pm or on Saturday (10/14) at Church of the Good Shepherd at 1pm!

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber

Note: This post was originally published at Believe Out Loud, a program of Intersections.

An Article I Wrote for the Huffington Post

Hey Friends,

I was honored to write a piece for the Huffington Post that released today in honor of National Coming Out Week. Please check it out!

Here’s What Happened When The Daughter Of An Anti-LGBTQ ‘Family’ Group Exec Came Out

Also, if you live in Albuquerque (or if you know someone that does!) that is officially our first stop on the Refocusing My Family Book Tour and I will be there this weekend! I will be at Bookworks this Thursday (10/12) at 6:00pm and at Church of the Good Shepherd this Saturday (10/14) at 1:00pm. Come out and join us if you can!

You can view more events and event details by visiting my website. Hope to see you there!

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

Refocusing My Family Releases TODAY!!!

Hey Friends!

The day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived! Refocusing My Family officially releases today and is now available (almost!) everywhere books are sold! You can go into your local bookstore, or place your order on Amazon today.

I’m so excited to finally share my journey with you in the form of this memoir. It’s been a labor of love and I’m so glad that it has finally turned into something tangible you can now hold in your hands and share with your friends.

If you have a moment, there are 4 ways you can help spread the word about Refocusing My Family:

  1. Take a photo of yourself holding the book, or a photo of you and your family (or family of choice) with the book, and post online-tagging me (@AmberNCantorna) and including the hashtags #RefocusingMyFamily and #RMFtour.
  2.  Write and post a review on Amazon (and if you have time, copy and paste it in Barnes and Noble too!) as soon as you finished the book. The review doesn’t have to be long, a couple sentences is just fine!) but it goes a long way in helping the book gain traction.
  3. Share a quote from the book or encouraging shout-out on social media, tagging me (@AmberNCantorna) and including the hashtag #RefocusingMyFamily and #RMFtour.
  4. Encourage your friends to attend one of the 20+ Refocusing My Family events nation-wide coming up! The tour schedule is below and we are continuing to add new dates and locations. Almost all of these events are completely free, so come when you can and encourage your friends to do the same!

Thank you again so much for all your support and encouragement! I read each review, each shout-out on social media, and each note of encouragement I receive and they all mean so much. I can’t wait to see where God is going to take us on this journey. Together we can make our world a more loving and safe place for us all to live.

 

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna