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Blankets made by the Building Bridges Ministry at St. George Catholic Church, ready to be gifted to homeless LGBTQ youth. (Photo courtesy of the Building Bridges Ministry )
A special ministry at St. George Catholic Church is working to reach out to LGBTQ people, aiming to create healing and understanding in a relationship that members said has long been defined by judgment and discrimination.
This year, the Building Bridges Ministry hand-made more than 30 blankets to be sent to the Trinity Place Shelter in New York City, a refuge for homeless LGBTQ youth associated with the Lutheran church that offers educational and practical resources to help these young people, who have often been rejected by families and loved ones.
The Building Bridges Ministry was founded three years ago by Diana Harris and Margot Burkle, who were inspired by their own LGBTQ children to work within their Catholic faith toward making connections between the church and the LGBTQ community. The ministry’s mission, Harris said, is finding ways to show “true Christian love and support” to LGBTQ people, who have often been rejected or experienced discrimination at the hands of church officials because of their identities, as well as educating community members about LGBTQ issues.
Harris said making blankets was a special and heartwarming way she and the other members of Building Bridges felt they could directly reach out to LGBTQ folks in a personal, loving way.
“And this is a special situation because not only do they use the blankets there but...the people get to take the blankets with them as they start their lives out on their own,” Harris said.
Building Bridges Ministry is also currently reaching out to LGBTQ people and their families who are practicing Catholics or former Catholics, hoping to document their stories and publish them for the broader community, a strategy she said she hopes will help other Catholics understand the humanity and struggles of their LGBTQ neighbors.
“It’s not just, ‘Oh it’s one of them.’ They start to put faces to stories and names with stories and really see that we’re really more similar then we are different. And we all need to be welcomed and reached out to,” Harris said.
The Catholic Church’s official stance on homosexuality is that it is “inherently disordered,” and “homosexual acts” are broadly considered sinful, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Building Bridges Ministry is part of a larger, grassroots movement by many Catholic organizations particularly in the United States that want to pass over these dogmas and focus instead on love and acceptance.
That inclusiveness, Harris said, is what she and the other members of the ministry want to emphasize to LGBTQ people who might be struggling with their Catholic faith.
“They were baptized into the church and have just as much right to be there as we do,” she said.
Harris said in the past, Building Bridges has screened documentaries focusing on LGBTQ experiences and tracing the history of the Catholic Church’s teachings and treatment of non-heterosexual relationships and identities.
More than anything, she said the ministry is made up of people who want to see love and acceptance shown to everyone.
“Just people who feel this is an important cause, and want everyone to feel welcome,” she said.
Harris invited anyone who wanted to share their stories about their own or loved one’s experience of being LGBTQ and Catholic to reach out to Building Bridges at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesse Williams covers Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email at .