Live Authentic...Whatever It Takes
Inspiring the Power of ONE in each of us
to access and impact the Power in ALL of Us
as we transform ourselves and our world, one person at a time!
You can't hate someone whose story you know.
The tiniest story in your life can deeply touch another.
You cannot know the effect your story might have.”--Sark
Tax day in the USA rolled around again just a few weeks ago. As usual, it was difficult… not because of doing taxes (even though we don't enjoy that), but because the IRS does not recognize our marriage. We cannot share any of the benefits that most in our family and society take for granted. Although it doesn’t change our commitment to one another, it is painful to check "single" every time we fill out some type of form in our everyday life, realizing that we have "taxation without representation" and that 1200+ civil rights are denied to us. Given that invisibility and discrimination, we sometimes struggle with feeling alienated from our family and our country. However, we believe that every citizen can help the United States "live out the true meaning of its creed."
Our wedding vow (at all three of our weddings to one another) was, “We vow to create change the world through the expression of our love.” We feel that love, in any kind of family, is cause for celebration – and it’s the antidote to fear, misunderstanding, and discrimination. That’s why we're participating in the American Family Outing, a collaborative project between Soulforce, COLAGE, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.
Between Mother's Day and Father's Day 2008, diverse families from around the country will share meals and initiate meaningful conversations about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people with families at six of America's leading mega-churches. There are nearly fifty families so far to join us, and more are signing up each day. We're writing because our family needs your help for this undertaking.
We will be one of the lead families at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL (just outside of Chicago). Pastor Bill Hybels, some of the staff and families from the congregation have agreed to meet with us, acknowledging that this conversation is an important one. Our dear friends, Mary Lou and Bob Wallner, and Pastor Jay Bakker (son of Tammy Faye & Jim Bakker) will be working closely with us there as well. Our dear friend and ally, Peggy Campolo, has also been working closely with us on this endeavor, since, as the wife of author, speaker, teacher, Bible scholar & preacher, Tony Campolo, she has "connections."
We specifically chose to be involved with Willow Creek because Mary Lou and Bob Wallner used to attend there, and we've both visited Willow Creek Church on several occasions. Additionally, Dotti has had some interaction with Pastor Bill Hybels in the past. Mary Lou and Bob lost their lesbian daughter, Anna, to suicide in 1997. They also introduced us to each other in 2001. :)
You may be wondering why we would visit mega-churches if we seek civil equality. The answer is twofold: first, in addition to their massive congregations, mega-church leaders like Rev. Joel Osteen reach millions of Americans through best-selling books, television programs, and radio ministries. They also wield enormous political influence. When Americans were outraged over the administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina crisis, President Bush was photographed with Bishop T.D. Jakes (Pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, TX) to show his concern for African American communities. Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have both made appearances at Rev. Rick Warren's (Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA) Global AIDS Summit. If even one of these congregations will sit down with us, family-to-family, and engage in respectful dialogue about faith and parenting, it will send a very powerful cultural message to politicians and voters alike.
This leads to the second reason for focusing on mega-churches: we believe that religious justifications are at the heart of most civil discrimination. Often these justifications are unexamined and uninformed. The American Family Outing is an opportunity to educate Americans about what the Bible really says (and doesn't say) about homosexuality. It's also a chance to use the media to educate the public about our loving families. One great national story has already appeared, and many others are in the works.
In order to do this important work, we need your financial support. We have pledged to raise $2,000 to cover the travel costs for our families as we travel to these mega-churches between Mother's Day and Father's Day 2008. We would like to raise even more, to help other families do this work. Your tax-deductible contribution will really help. Click here to view our statement. If you would like to contribute, use the secure form that appears after our photo and statement.
Thank you for supporting us in whatever manner you can!
Robynne Sapp & Dotti Berry (and Rylee Joy)
Live Authentic...Whatever It Takes!