By: Ann Marie Do
April 28, 2016
Like many young people, I took a break from the church during college, seeking to acquire spiritual fulfillment in other ways. Though I knew deep in my bones I could never stray too far away from faith ...
As a Filipino-Vietnamese woman, my culture claims God first, family second, and everything else after. It was straightforward.
Until it wasn’t.
Like many young people, I took a break from the church during college, seeking to acquire spiritual fulfillment in other ways. Though I knew deep in my bones I could never stray too far away from faith, I understood that there were parts of myself not yet fully realized.
That “until it wasn’t” moment came towards the end of college when I decided it was time to face the tectonic plates of my reality: I was queer. My current faith tradition would never approve and so I knew that it was time for me acknowledge the jagged edges of my congregation and to root myself in a different tradition that was radically different.
I spent the better half of this year in service in an internal struggle, trying to deconstruct the ways in which the church conditioned me to believe that there was something wrong with me and that the expectations of my culture perpetuated that narrative. When I wasn’t working or sojourning with my fellow interns, I was swallowed in reconciliation work within myself, trying to bridge the wrongfully created disconnects between my faith, my culture, and my queer identity.
I knew that the FTE retreat would be the place for me to start that bridge building. What does my queer faith look like? How does that shape my ministry? I asked those questions and the answers were these:
Listen to the sound of the genuine in you.
Tell your story or someone else will tell it for you.
The church is in need of a new narrative.
And it was in this time, in my conversation with God, and in the reflections of Spirit that I found in the people around me, that I came to embrace that bridge building is my calling; that my struggle is integral in my ministry, not separate from it.
“I want to deconstruct the cultural taboos around queer faith in my ethnic community.” The sound of the genuine couldn’t have been sweeter.
It is this conviction that has stirred me to delve into the application process for my masters in divinity; it is this faith that has urged me to claim my identity of intersectionality without apology, to tell the story about the corner I occupy and use that as the foundation to change a part in the church’s narrative.
As Bishop Yvette Flunder praised at the beginning of the retreat, “A great shaking is coming.”
Caption: Bishop Yvette Flunder preaching during the closing worship at FTE’s 2013 Leaders in Ministry Conference.