“God has created us in myriad diversity, and no one sort or condition of human being can fully reflect the divine. Only the whole human race begins to be an adequate mirror of the divine.” Katherine Jefferts Schori
Since 2013, St Elisabeth’s has sought to embody the idea expressed above. We started with a strategic plan to “become THE place on the North Shore for interfaith and intercultural understanding brought to life by a caring and active presence in our world”. Out of that grew the LGBTQ+ initiative with our quest to love God and serve our neighbor by welcoming all.
The LGBTQ+ team works relentlessly to educate and build understanding of LGBTQ+ as we hope to bring to life our Welcome Statement:
“This faith community invites all persons to all levels of participation, leadership and decision-making within the church regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, physical or mental capacity, education, socioeconomic and marital status. We seek to establish meaningful connections with one another through work and play and worship as we strive to understand God’s purpose for us in the church and in the world.”
In our efforts to accomplish this, we started out small. We asked people in our parish to tell stories about themselves or their loved ones in order to put a face on an abstract idea. From there, we started to grow our team, whilst flying the rainbow flag by our front doors, hosting a lesbian wedding, and seeking speakers to educate ourselves about the challenges faced by LGBTQ+. Over the years, we’ve shown the movie “For the Bible Tells Me So” as a counterpoint to biblical literalism, the movie Voices of Witness about Episcopal transgender priests, plus we joined the Coalition of Welcoming Churches in the Chicago Pride parade and celebrated Pride Month with a picnic on our front lawn. Our team made a field trip to the Center on Halsted and invited their director of gender equity to our church for a sermon and workshop that was inspiring and informative. Our next step is hosting a licensed clinical social worker to lead us through a discussion of pronouns, the next frontier on our journey of understanding.
There have been enormous changes in our nation since we started our work, yet so much remains to be done to promote welcome and understanding. We hope you will join us in this effort.
Pride Picnic on front lawn, presentation of rainbow stole to the rector
Chicago Pride Parade with Coalition of Welcoming Congregations
Visit the Center on Halsted and meet with Vanessa Sheridan, Director of Gender Equity and Inclusion
St Elisabeth’s flies our new rainbow flag!
Vestry chooses Big Hairy Audacious Goal: “St E’s will become THE place on the North Shore for interfaith and intercultural understanding brought to life by a caring and active presence in our world”. LGBT understanding is identified as one of five initiatives to undertake to achieve BHAG; over the course of the year, we had several E Reflects, Voice articles plus sermons devoted to personal LGBT stories