Christ Episcopal Church is participating in The Missing Voices Project, an ambitious effort led by Flagler College Youth Ministry which has been made possible by funding from the Lilly Endowment. This project has engaged 12 churches throughout the state of Florida to develop new expressions of ministry to youth on the margins – those who are not reached by traditional youth ministry programs, and who we are called to serve in the example of Jesus.

At Christ Church, our work is focused on LGBTQ youth. We know that LGBTQ young people are often fearful of expressing themselves in their families, schools, and social circles, and that the dangers of emotional and spiritual trauma inflicted by those communities are very real. We envision a ministry where all youth find a sanctuary at Christ Church, where they will find love and acceptance, community, spiritual care, and support for the unique challenges they face. Our approach is wholeheartedly affirming, rooted in our belief that a person’s orientation and identity are not in conflict with their identity as a beloved child of God.

This work will require us to live into our baptismal covenant – especially our promises to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. At Christ Church, we have a legacy of engaging in transformational civil dialogue across difference. We know this effort will challenge us, and will call us out of complacency. It is into this tension that Jesus calls us. Through relationships built on unconditional love and a desire to understand the experiences of God’s people in all their wonderful diversity, we are drawing nearer to the abundant life that God intends for us all.

The Lighthouse Youth Community is an affirming space for LGBTQIA+ teens, led by Catherine Montgomery, Director of Family Ministries, Assistant Director of Youth and Family Ministries Landon Leiker, and counselor Kelly Minter, RMHCI. We are pleased to occasionally welcome guests from community partners such as JASMYN, whose guidance has been foundational. Ms. Minter specializes in working with LGBTQ adolescents and their families.

Lighthouse participants have the opportunity to share experiences of identity and connect with others in friendship. Our gatherings are open to everyone in Jacksonville and the Beaches area, including people of all faiths and no faith. The Lighthouse does not provide therapy or counseling, but we are able to recommend resources for those who may need additional care. The Lighthouse is currently meeting on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month in-person (with an online option) at the Youth House (27 Solana Road, Ponte Vedra Beach). For information on meetings please contact us.

The Lighthouse Parent Community is open to all parents/guardians of LGBTQIA+ children (of any age). Like the youth gatherings, parent gatherings provide an important opportunity to connect with others who share similar experiences. The parent community also provides education, support, and encouragement with the goal of supporting parents as they seek to fully affirm their child’s identity. Parents at all stages in this journey are welcome. The Parent Community meets on the first Monday of every month in the Formation and Arts Building on the Christ Church campus. For more information on our family meetings, please contact Catherine.

Follow The Missing Voices Project on Facebook: @mvpatcec
Follow The Lighthouse on Instagram: @ceclighthouse

For more information about The Missing Voices Project or The Lighthouse, contact Family Ministries Director Catherine Montgomery.

The Lighthouse is proud to offer an adult book study that will begin in early April 2021, with in-person and online options. We’ll be reading Kathy Baldock’s Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach Between the Church and the LGBT Community. All are welcome. Learn more and register here.

Additional Resources:

NEED HELP RIGHT NOW? Call the Trevor Project Lifeline: 866-488-7386

Christ Church Youth Ministry Guide to Supporting LGBTQ Youth
Includes basic definitions and expectations for all who work with youth at Christ Church.

JASMYN
JASMYN supports and empowers LGBTQ young people in Jacksonville by creating safe space, providing health and wholeness services and offering youth development opportunities, while bringing people and resources together to promote equality and human rights.

PFLAG Jacksonville
PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays) is a national organization with state and local chapters that provide education, information, and support for parents and families with LGBTQ family members.

The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. The site includes results of a National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health and a Support Center where LGBTQ youth and their allies can find answers to frequently asked questions.  The Trevor Project’s Help Line is available 24/7 by phone, text, or online chat (866-488-7386).

Beloved Arise
This resource celebrates the life, creativity and gifts of LGBTQ+ teens of faith. The site includes a library of resources for developing an affirming theology that may be especially helpful. Beloved Arise also hosts an online youth group which is open to youth all over the world.

Q Christian Fellowship 
Q Christian Fellowship is cultivating radical belonging for LGBTQ+ Christians and allies. Q Christian’s resource page is especially robust, with extensive offerings for individuals, families, and all who desire to explore affirming theology. The annual conference gathers hundreds of LGBTQ+ Christians and allies for worship, fellowship, workshops, and keynote speakers.

Gender Spectrum
Gender Spectrum works to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens, providing a wealth of online programs, resources and information for young people, parents, and professionals who need support in navigating rapidly changing gender understandings.

LGBTQ in The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church has a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being. Learn more at the link.

The Genderbread Person
A teaching tool for breaking the big concept of gender down into bite-sized, digestible pieces.

Reading Recommendations:
Queerfully and Wonderfully Made: A Guide for LGBTQ+ Christian Teens by Leigh Finke
Unconditional: A Guide to Loving and Supporting Your LGBTQ Child (Book for Parents of a Gay or Transgender Child) by Telaina Eriksen
Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach between the Church and the LGBT community by Kathy Baldock
Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon