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Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
When we asunder part it gives us inward pain,
But we shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.
With Family & Friends Day coming up at Imani, I have necessarily been giving a lot of thought to those concepts and to ways that they intersect with things related to church life. One thing that stands out, immediately, is that I serve a population a relatively large percentage of which has had the heartbreaking experiences of being disowned by, or distanced from, family and of losing friends. The LGBT community - and LGBT’s from “mainstream” church backgrounds in particular - know the pain and trauma of broken connections, loss of community, and rejection by those we thought would be friends and family for life.
If there is a bright side to that experience, it is that it teaches us that family is not exclusively determined by blood ties, any more than friendship is limited to those with whom we have long histories. That, in turn, opens our hearts to receive the gifts of de facto family relationships, truly unconditional love, and friendships in which differences are embraced, not deal-breakers. At our best, we learn to give those gifts as well.
Sunday, August 25th, will be Imani’s annual Family and Friends Day. As it approaches, I want to talk about a specific concern that has been in my heart for a while. And let me say that, though I will only speak for myself, I have had conversations with the Board of Directors and with others which assure me that my feelings are shared by others at Imani.
Many wonderful people have passed through Imani in its 15-year history. By “passed through,” I mean they are no longer here. Some moved away. Some were divinely led to other places to fulfill their ministry destinies. We miss those folks and would love to have them come back to visit on the 25th, if they can.