Minneapolis, MN – As the Loring Park Campus of Wooddale Church ended Sunday worship, a group of Christian activists held interrupted the order of service to drop a banner and hold an worship service of their own. Offering communion and footwashing to all, the activists unveiled a banner during worship that read, “(Y)our Queerness is made in the image of God. #SilenceIsSin”, confronting the way in which many churches have ignored the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness or the growing incidents of violence against transgender women.
“In the first two months of 2017, there have been seven reported murders of trans women–six of them black and one of them Native American. 40% of the homeless youth population are LGBT…many kicked out by parents whose actions are inspired by their religious beliefs. Some churches endorse such suffering. A few speak out. But most churches remain silent and silence is deadly,” said Zed Jensen, a member of the Mennonite Worker community in Minneapolis.
This is the second such action by the group. On March 1st the ecumenical group held an Ash Wednesday vigil at the Cathedral in Saint Paul and unveiled a banner that read, “Speaking up for unborn lives more than black and brown lives is white supremacy #silenceissin”, alluding to the presumption that many of the 60% of voting Catholics who justified casting their ballot for Donald Trump did so because of his “pro-life” campaign promises.
“Lent is a time of reflection and repentance…a perfect time for the Church to grapple with its own silence in the face of continued violence against, and rejection of, LGBTQ+ people in our midst. We don’t engage in these acts to condemn anyone, but in the hope for a moral resurrection within churches. We invite all worshippers of Jesus Christ to create a Church that reflects Jesus’ limitless love,” said Joe Kruse, a member of the Minneapolis Catholic Worker.
“We’re offering communion and footwashing in the spirit of love and unity. We’re gathering at Wooddale Church – Loring Park because, while evangelicals are partly responsible for public attitudes about LGBTQ+ people, Wooddale seems more open to this conversation than most,” said Katie Yanike, a member of the Minneapolis Catholic Worker [The Rye House].
The group promises to continue to challenge Christian churches for their silence over issues of social justice throughout Lent. Mark Van Steenwyk, member of The Mennonite Worker, explains in a recent Sojourners Magazine article that, “Just as Black Lives Matter has employed a politics of disruption to raise the national alarm about racist policing. Just as the water protectors at Standing Rock have created a human barrier against pipeline construction. So too, should we disrupt and confound any and every congregation that fuels militarism, economic exploitation, sexism, racism, Islamaphobia, or transphobia.”
photo credit: Orrin S. Pratt