As 2016 Ends: Seeking Justice and Hope in 2017

Executive Director Brian Ellison’s year-end message:

This is a different note than I thought I would write as 2016 draws to a close.

Because of your support, the Covenant Network—and our beloved Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—have had much to celebrate this year: A strengthening of our mission to work for the inclusion of affirmation of all God’s people in church society. A General Assembly that continued and extended the gains made for LGBTQ inclusion. High-profile events and panel discussions that unpacked the reality of privilege and the hope of justice. A church where diverse leadership of congregations and national bodies emerged and made us proud.

But as the year has worn on, and especially since last month’s elections, 2016 has also given cause for grave concern.  After we posted our statement expressing our fears and hopes for the future, I heard from many of you. You are concerned for the plight of LGBTQ people and people of color (and many other groups, too) in society and in many of our churches. There are still places where dialogue is strained, opportunities are unequal, information is incomplete. You told me, amid the anger and fear, how grateful you are for CovNet’s work and how committed you are to supporting it however you can.

The Covenant Network is bringing hope and light to those places in church and society where there remains work to do. Here are a few of the ways:

  • We are developing substantial new projects to offer resources for reflection, education and discussion by church leaders and congregations, beginning in 2017. These will include new online materials, digital elements, an updating of our extensive resource collection, and the translation of resources into new languages and cultural contexts.
  • We are planning a major national conference for November 8-10, 2017, in Baltimore, focusing on how across lines of race and orientation we can move from division to beloved community.  We’ll draw on the experience of racially diverse and LGBTQ-affirming churches and leaders who are doing this successfully in Baltimore and elsewhere, and we’ll bring together theological, and biblical perspectives in transformative conversation. (Save the dates!)
  • We are expanding our board of directors to enhance its diversity and experience.

But we are doing all of this at a time of reduced church budgets and financial uncertainty. Some who made much of our work possible turned their attention elsewhere after the successful votes on ordination and marriage. We are only able to continue in our work with your help—and we need to know by the end of 2016 that we can count on you.

No one is more grateful than I am for the historic work of the Covenant Network since 1997. As a gay man and Presbyterian minister—one who has always cared about sustaining my relationships and common mission with people across the theological spectrum—the Covenant Network has been my advocate and my example. I am ordained and serving today because of the past work of this great organization.

But I have never been more convicted that our work is still needed—maybe now more than ever. Many in our nation and our church are pushing back against gains that have been made. As diverse communities of all kinds experience continuing and intensifying attacks on their freedoms and opportunities, the Covenant Network occupies a unique and essential place in facilitating progress in our church—which will transform society, as well.

Would you please help us with a financial contribution? If you’ve given in the past, might you consider a deeper and renewed commitment to this work? If you’ve never contributed financially, could you make this the year? By visiting www.covnetpres.org/donate, you can make a 100% tax-deductible contribution. (Be sure to postmark or submit online before midnight on December 31 to get 2016 credit.) You can also choose to set up regular monthly giving in any amount. As always, please don’t hesitate to email or call to learn more of how you can participate in our work, financially and otherwise.

It is a privilege and a joy to serve with you. And thank you in advance for your generous support. May God bless you—and all work for unity, justice and reconciliation in our church and in our world—in 2017.

 

 

Brian Ellison
Executive Director

Last-minute addition: If you contribute $100 or more before the end of the year, a generous group of donors will match your gift (up to $2500); so let me invite you to double the impact of your gift by giving today.

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