Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work with an incredible organization who have made a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of lives. Their work centers around those who have been working through their theology, faith, and sexuality. It is similar work to ours and is in alignment with our mission and vision.
Throughout our discussions we explored ways in which we might work more closely, and I am delighted to let you know that, after many conversations and with the approval of the Board of Stewards, Believe Out Loud, a global, digital project providing resources and community for LGBTQIA people of faith and their allies, has become a program of COH that will expand the church’s community and increase tailored content.
A press release was issued on Tuesday of this week, and I wanted to share it with you today.
DALLAS, Texas (September 14, 2020) – Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, known as the largest predominantly LGBTQ+ church in the world, is pleased to announce the acquisition of, and partnership with, Believe Out Loud. Believe Out Loud will become a program of the Cathedral that will promote the message of God’s love for all, regardless of faith tradition.
As a new program of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud’s mission is to meet the needs for spiritual content tailored to the LGBTQIA community. These resources will go beyond tolerance and acceptance and use the LGBTQIA experience as a framework for understanding the divine.
“In the face of constant efforts to squeeze people who are different out of public space, it is critical to remain grounded in the deep faith that all people are worthy of God’s love,” said Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Hope. “We are excited to partner with Believe Out Loud to spread that message and be an affirming space for all people of faith and our allies.”
Started in 2007 as the Religious Voices Project, the original mission of Believe Out Loud was to determine where mainline Protestant clergy stand on gay and lesbian equality and assess methods to move more clergy toward LGBT acceptance. Believe Out Loud has since expanded its campaign from reaching exclusively mainline Protestant clergy to reaching Christians of all kinds, regardless of denomination, affiliation, or role.
Believe Out Loud now works internationally and digitally, having evolved to become an online community for LGBTQIA people of faith and allies. The organization provides access to affirming worship services and livestreams, LGBT and faith-related events, connections to justice and inclusion organizations, mental health resources, and original content.
Now operating under the leadership of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud aspires to be a more diverse space, specifically working to unite people of various faiths and religious experiences to find hope and reclaim their own experience of the Divine.
Victoria Anderson, former digital and creative content associate for Believe Out Loud, has now joined the staff of the Cathedral of Hope as Director of Content Development. “The Board and Staff of Believe Out Loud conducted a thorough and national search, including most major national LGBTQ nonprofits, to find the perfect home for our future. We are thrilled that the new home proved to be Cathedral of Hope, and I’m excited to join the Reverend Neil and the incredible staff of Cathedral.”
Believe Out Loud is a global digital community working to move all people toward an expansive, transformative understanding of divine love. We center and sanctify queer spirituality across our programs, from our online worship services led by LGBTQIA faith leaders to our grantmaking program supporting faith-driven LGBTQIA peacebuilders around the world. On our social media platforms, hundreds of thousands of queer people of faith and allies gather to experience affirmation of their divinity—and to heal from damaging societal messages that alienate the LGBTQIA community from spiritual resources.
One of our goals in our new mission and vision statement is to “connect the unconnected” and to increase our digital footprint locally, nationally, and internationally. Our alliance with Believe Out Loud will make this goal a reality and I am excited to watch and guide this new program as it integrates with the 51-year history of Cathedral of Hope.