For every LGBTQ person who has been on the receiving end of religious bigotry or has felt unwelcome in the church, there are affirming ministries throughout the U.S. and online waiting to welcome you back with open arms. Rev. Darrell Goodwin, the first Black and openly gay Associate Conference Minister (Iowa-Nebraska-South Dakota Conferences) in The United Church of Christ leads such a ministry, but it's his new Facebook Live interview series, "God Talks," that he hopes will invite viewers into an intimate conversation about the divine with LGBTQ faith leaders and allies.
Goodwin says he was inspired to create "God Talks" due to the increase of worship services being streamed online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"People are truly seeking a place to make meaning out of the world around them and I want to ensure that they are hearing voices of welcome and inclusion," said Goodwin. "As an openly gay denominational leader, I have selected guests ranging from RuPaul Drag Race contestants, State Senators to the General Minister and President of one of our most progressive Christian Denominations,"he added.
Bishop Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor of The City of Refuge United Church of Christ and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, will be the first to be in conversation with Goodwin on May 4. The highly respected faith leader—who is also a lesbian—has been serving the LGBTQ community for decades as a preacher, organizer, HIV/AIDS activist and singer, most notably with the late Walter Hawkins.
"I want to remind those who are in the know and welcome those who have no idea that there are open and affirming faith leaders that are accessible and transparent, "Goodwin tells Living Out Loud 2.0. "Each leader is either a part of the LGBTQIA community or is an ally. The series is focusing on each person's individual relationship with the divine and I hope this provides a lens for folks to reflect on their own faith experiences."
And for LGBTQ people who may have experienced deep emotional and spiritual wounds as a result of harmful theology, Goodwin offers this: "No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome Here. The UCC is not the only mainline denomination that has changed their previously erroneous stances and realized the true gospel revelation that we are all God’s children created in her image. LGBT folks are critical to truly have a holistic community of faith. Our voices, resilience, creativity and spiritual gifts are absolutely necessary for faith communities to truly be effective."
"God Talks with Rev. Goodwin" kicks off tonight with special guest Bishop Yvette Flunder at 8pm EST/ 7pm CST on Facebook.