We asked One TWU members about their experience in our Queer Faith Study (QFS) and this is one of their responses:
“The first time I went to a QFS meeting, I was skeptical. I was cautious, I kept myself on guard. I trusted the person who invited me to join, but I didn’t know anyone else. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know the views of the person leading, I didn’t know who would be there. I didn’t know if I was getting invited to a safe space or not.
I had been in so many religious spaces that had claimed they were safe but were the opposite. I had so many conversations with people who said they lived by the love of God but who turned around and condemned, persecuted, and ostracized me.
Through years of being hurt by the Church I had learned that the only way I would be safe, is if I kept a hard shell around my heart. So, on the first QFS meeting I went to, I had my guard up. I wasn’t afraid to tell the parish I didn’t like church. I wasn’t afraid to come across hardened, or rough because that is how I had learned to keep myself safe in ‘typical’ religious settings.
I walked into QFS and told David I didn’t support church. I told him that I am against organized religion. I told the group that I think church is more harmful than helpful. I said these things out of the pain and trauma the church had caused me. I told them all these things to test the type of place QFS was. I told them all these things expecting to be shut down, asked to leave and to be told I'm wrong.
But this space was not typical, so instead I was met with a simple “yeah, that makes perfect sense.” I was met with nods of affirmation from the group which told me that my feelings were valid.
There was kinship to my pain. They all knew I wasn’t coming from hate but I was coming from hurt: and I was met with love. Many of them have experienced the same hurt. When I was met with this reaction from David and the members, I knew I was safe. I knew I was home. Since then, QFS has given me a space to be raw. A space to give honesty and be met with truth. David has helped me understand scripture through a queer, loving, and true lens.
This lens has helped me deepen my relationship with God in a way that I hadn’t felt I could do before. David meets all of the members with love. He does his best to see each member and recognize the experiences that each one of us has gone through. Each member is on their own journey. Some identify as Christian and others do not, but we all recognize we are on a path of discovery and growth.
I genuinely have never felt so safe when reading the Bible, talking about God and sharing my vulnerabilities. It is not a perfect space, and sometimes I feel critical or hardened to the conversations we are having, but I have learned to breathe in and out love, and then actually share what I am feeling with the group.
David always acknowledges my ideas and is excited to talk about them further just with me or in a group discussion. This is not a place of condemnation, but a place of exploration, not a place of hate, but a place of unconditional love. In QFS, you get out of the passage and conversation what you are willing to put in. But you will always get love if you just show up and listen.
There is grace for those with religious trauma. There is patience for those with neurodivergence. There is grace for those struggling with mental health. We embrace queerness and questions. You are all welcome and you will be welcomed with love.”