by Rev. Ellen Guice Sims
Pastor, Open Table UCC, Mobile AL
On Sunday evening Justin Litaker and I welcomed a dozen participants to our General Synod Roundtable to share how Open Table UCC in Mobile has been welcoming over 70 LGBTQ teens into our Free2Be support group since January 2016.
Justin, our Community Outreach leader, explained briefly why and how Open Table created this signature ministry. He described the ways our adult facilitators foster an affirming (and sometimes lifesaving) community for LGBTQ teens every Saturday. Cross-pollinating discussion followed.
Four participants remained for conversation after the session to ask more questions. One pastor in Florida is interested in creating a group for parents of LGBTQ teens. A pastor in Maryland feels called to support LGBTQ young adults. We were excited to hear ways they might modify our Free2Be model, and we suggested resources and will follow up to support them.
We again thank the Southeast Conference for our Transforming Churches-Transforming Lives grants, which supplemented two Neighbor in Need grants. They have made possible a growing ministry to vulnerable youth who need to know they are loved.