The ELCA has a beautiful tapestry of cultures and identities that make up the church. We want to celebrate June and Pride Month with a focus on our LGTBQIA+ Lutherans. We are excited to amplify the voices of our ELCA siblings who are proud to be a part of the LQBTQIA+ community and work to affirm and embrace everyone in the church. Today we speak with speaking with Reverend Kelsey Brown.
How are you connected to the ELCA?
I’m a lifelong Lutheran of African descent, hailing from Long Island, N.Y. I’ve been a camper in and now serve on the volunteer staff of Pinecrest Lutheran Leadership Ministries, the oldest camping ministry in the Lutheran church. I was blessed to grow vocationally and personally as a staff member of Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center in Port Murray, N.J., as well as a pastoral intern in sunny Santa Monica, Calif. I now serve as pastor developer of a mission redevelopment called Jehu’s Table in the Brooklyn neighborhood known as East New York.
How does your faith shape and affirm your person/identity?
My faith in Christ Jesus is one rooted in deep liberation, community care and unshakable love. Christ, the breaker of chains, seeks repentant hearts and offers freedom from sin and doubt. I find reassurance and a deep peace in the reality that God created me and all people exactly how we were meant to be. For my LGBTQIA+ siblings especially, that means any and all iterations of our identities—not only did God create them but God called them good … all of them.
What are your hopes and expectations for the way the church can support and affirm you?
I would love fewer social statements and a lot more social and institutional supports put in place. The repeal of bound conscience and the investment in LGBTQIA+ church leaders could radically transform our church and simultaneously our world. I would hope that the ELCA continues to speak out and pay activists/leaders to speak out against the rampant deaths of Black trans people as well as the political upheaval around trans/LGBTQIA+ lives and personhood.
How can the ELCA support and uplift the LGBTQIA+ community?
The ELCA can hold churches, church leaders and synods accountable for acts of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, etc. It can reevaluate its relationship with its global partners, particularly those countries/nations where being part of the LGBTQIA+ community is illegal/punishable. It can invest in congregations committed to doing the work of allyship in the world and divest in churches that are exclusionary (to anyone).
What gives you hope?
The future generation gives me hope. The promise of a God who makes all things new gives me hope. The church asking questions and hopefully making space to listen to the answers gives me hope. Transgender activists Qween Jean and Rebekah Bruesehoff give me hope. My impending gay wedding. The new community garden at Jehu’s Table. Fellowship time after church and little helpers during communion. There is still so much hope to be found.
What do you pray for?
I pray for reconciliation. I pray for a fuller future for Black trans women. I pray for East New York—for a safer city. I pray for an end to gun violence and for more good days than bad. I pray for my grandma and for her continued health. I pray for the houseless and for those without hope. I pray for you.