As a school we participated as a Seminary Sponsor in Rolling the Stone Away,”a conference for LGBTQIA saints and prophets—generations past and present—to honor our history and empower our future.”We sponsor two seminarians with airfare and hotel accommodations. Read the experience of our seminarian, Alexandra Heeter, from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.
Rolling the Stone Away – St. Louis, October 31 – November 2, 2017
by Alexandra Heeter – Bexley Seabury – MDiv Student
The experience of this conferences is something that I doubt I could have gotten the chance to be a part of before this, and that will be difficult if even possible to replicate in the future. Spending three days and two nights with the multitude of generations who have worked and fought for one common goal, the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals, was awesome in the truest AWE inspiring form of the word. To have these individuals speak on the topic of these rights within the context of the church was even more powerful. I got to hear from people who had been working for recognition before the Stonewall riots up to individuals who are of my generation still fighting. We have created new identifiers, new terms which better describe the people who we feel we are, but the idea is the same. God created us. God loves us. No exceptions.
I have a bumper sticker on my car with one of the ‘tag-lines’ from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, my home, which says this: God loves you. No Exceptions.
This bumper sticker has been the topic of many discussions with friends, coworkers, and random passersby because it is not the “norm” of what is heard in the secular world. Yet in those hotel conference rooms and ballrooms, that tagline was exactly what you felt. There was a multitude of ages, nationalities, denominations, even outright faiths. I got to sit and have drinks with a fellow seminarian, a Jewish person, an activist with BLM as well as other groups, and a gospel singer. I got to listen to how sexuality has helped people feel closer to and more connected with God. I attended a service run by a Catholic Priest and a Catholic woman where I was able to receive full communion from a man wearing a knitted rainbow stole. I heard God prayed to as mother, father, sister, brother, and simply as God. I was able to hear myself, my friends, and my family validated and stood up for on stage, on a microphone, and have people clap and cheer in response. I got to speak with a woman who returned to the Catholic church because “If all of the gay people leave who will make them change?” These are experiences which I could not have at just any church, or with just any group of people. These are not experiences which happen on every Sunday at church or in just any class of Seminary. These are individual.
I think that woman’s sentiment can be felt in all denominations, not just the Catholic church. The Episcopal church has changed because those who care continue to call out injustices, those who feel called to do so speak out about the things that are wrong, and because of that we work, we develop, we change. I cannot speak for how amazing this experience was because I do not have the words. I can only say that I knew from the moment I walked in, that I was acting not only on my own desires but that I was listening to God. I cannot say enough how vital I believe it was for me to have been there. And I cannot say that you enough to Bexley Seabury for making it possible.