Invocation and Dance

invocationanddanceIn last week’s post recognizing and reflecting on the 15th anniversary of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, I promised to create a page of resources devoted to ministry with LGBTQ youth.

You will notice that page in the navigation at the top of this blog site. The direct link is HERE.

The usefulness of this page will directly depend upon YOU, the reader and the active youth minister, continuing to forward news, information, and resources you use in your ministry or that you find compelling.

Along these lines, Drew Helstosky, who coordinates Public Information and Social Media Ministry for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, was kind enough to send a press release about Invocation and Dance, a free public concert on October 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm at St. Paul’s commemorating the 15th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death. The concert is part of The Brooklyn Sounds Concert Series and Choral Chameleon.

Works to be performed include:

  • David Conte: Elegy For Matthew (text by John Stirling Walker)
  • David Conte: Invocation and Dance (text by Walt Whitman)
  • Michael Hennagin: Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun (text by Walt Whitman)

This sounds like a meaningful opportunity to reflect upon the life of one young man and the potentially horrific consequences of violence and discrimination. I am confident other events like this are occurring across the country.

As we approach the anniversary of Matthew’s murder, I encourage you to reflect on your ministry with LGBTQ youth and with all youth in breaking down the barriers we create between ourselves.

And, as you gather resources, please share them here in the comments, on the EpiscoYouth Facebook page, or by emailing me at

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine: Honoring and Supporting LGBTQ Youth

Matthew ShepardFifteen years ago this October, 21-year old Matthew Shepard was abducted, tied to a fence, and left to die in what is now one of the most notorious hate crimes in our nation’s recent history.

Several Episcopal Youth Event participants in Laramie, Wyoming, the summer of 2002 traveled to the site of his death. This sparked a conversation amongst youth and the adults who work with them around inclusion, hatred, defending those who cannot defend themselves, and what it means to forgive and be reconciled with God.

Sadly, as we all know, hate crime did not end as a result of this horrific event. On the contrary, LGBTQ individuals continue to suffer violence and bullying in communities ranging from schools to churches.

As we approach the anniversary of Matthew’s brutal murder, and as we reflect on how this conversation continues to take shape in our own church, I encourage you to engage these issues with your young people in the manner most appropriate to your community. Here are some resources that you may find useful:

Additionally, the Washington National Cathedral is hosting a weekend of events in October to honor and remember LGBTQ youth who have suffered hate-inspired bullying, discrimination, and violence. The event will kick-off with the East Coast premiere of the new documentary film, Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, including a post-screening conversation with Matthew’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard.

For more about this powerful weekend, read the moving recent article by Richard Weinberg, Director of Communications at Washington National Cathedral, on the Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s blog.

Undoubtedly, many of us are in ministry with and for LGBTQ youth who are feeling isolated, unwelcomed, or worse. 

Please share resources you know of that are geared specifically for teenagers in the comments for this post and we will create a page of these resources on this blog.

St. Aelred, the Patron Saint of Integrity USA, a monk whose teachings on “spiritual friendship” have been revered for centuries, is widely considered to have been gay, although the modern concept of homosexuality did not exist at the time. The Prayer for St. Aelred:

Sweet Lord, sweet Lord release wisdom from the seat of your greatness that it might be with us, toil with us, work with us, speak in us; may it according to your good pleasure direct our thoughts, words, and all our works and counsels, to the honor of your Name, the profit of the community and our salvation; through our friend Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.



Have You Answered The Riddle?

As a child of the 60’s who spent time as a teenager campaigning to gain passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, I was more than thrilled this week as my residential home state of Minnesota legislated marriage equality.

I am painfully aware of the theological and faithful differences of opinion on this subject, yet I stand in the place of love and inclusion.

I believe that Jesus calls us to welcome all to the Cross.

As a youth minister from the 90’s to the present, I have too often been witness to the devastating and sometimes deadly effects of cultural non-tolerance of LGBTQ teens. The Gospel calls us to ministry with the disenfranchised, and the Anglican Marks of Mission call us to “Change unjust structures.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council created the powerful video above to help promote tolerance, acceptance, advocacy, solidarity, love, and peace.

Please join me in thinking and praying about what we can do together to combat discrimination and bring bullying to an end in our communities and around the world.