by Lynne Baab, previous associate pastor at Bethany (1997-2001)
Some thoughts about the group from Lynne Baab:
In January 2004, our younger son Mike told us he is gay. For several months, I had been praying that if he were gay, he would tell us. A couple of small things had happened in the fall of 2003 that made me wonder about his sexual orientation, and I felt I would rather know than not know.
That evening in 2004 began a journey of discovery for my husband, Dave, and me. We’ve learned a lot in the past 14 years, and I am excited to help lead this new Bethany support group with Sprague Minger and Margui Rutherford.
We named the group after Isaiah 43:1: “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” We hope the group will be a place where people who identify as LGBTQ+ will experience God’s love for them. We also hope that the group will provide encouragement for those who want to support people they know and love who identify as LGBTQ+.
The initial focus of the group will be on sharing stories. In our first session, Sprague, Margui and I will share our stories, and we will allow time for others to share as well. No one will be required to share, and for at least our first few sessions, no advice will be offered. We will make a commitment to confidentiality at every gathering.
Our son Mike is a journalist with the Huffington Post, and he writes using the pen name Michael Hobbes. If you do an online search for “gay loneliness Michael Hobbes,” you’ll find a long and powerful article he wrote last year that I think should be required reading for all Christians who want to extend love to people in need. The article explores the patterns of loneliness experienced by many gay men and the impact on their emotional and physical health.
In the article, Mike is not speaking for people who identify as lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual. However, with respect to gay men, the article is clear that loneliness is often a profound reality. We want the Isaiah 43:1 group to be a place where some of that loneliness could be lifted, and a place where those of us who do not identify as LGBTQ+ might learn how to extend care in a loving way.
Feel free to contact Sprague, Margui or me if you have questions. Or simply come along on October 7 to our first gathering. Click here or more information about the group.
Lynne Baab has authored numerous books and blogs weekly at lynnebaab.com.