Dear Dallas LGBTQ Community:
Sanctuary is one of the core values at Union, the little non-profit coffee shop I lead that serves as a church for many. Because we value sanctuary so much, I mourn all the more when sanctuary is broken for any people. For sure, sanctuary was broken on Saturday night, but it is not the first time. The terror of June 12th is indicative of smaller, but consistent terrors that chip away at our Dallas sanctuary for the LGBTQ community. Gay men have been targeted for assault. LGBTQ Texans are denied fair protection under the law. These are problems our society must address collectively and as individuals.
I wish I could promise that Union will always be a sanctuary for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer members of our community. Orlando revealed that none of us can make that much-desired promise. There will always be those outside of our control who choose violence over love in pursuit of their broken dream for the world. As the pastor for an organization that values sanctuary, I must to my level best to advocate for sanctuary so I can promise the following:
I, as a pastor in the United Methodist Church, will do my level best to affirm your sacred worth. I promise to value you and share with the world my opinion that you are not incompatible with Christian teaching. I hope to offer hospitality and whatever measure of sanctuary that I can.
I, as a citizen, will call the sin of hate crimes the sin that it is. We, as a society, cannot repent of our sins until we are willing to name them. I hope that we will speak truthfully about what has been lost.
I, as a small business leader, will listen for what Union can do to offer sanctuary to members of the LGBTQ community. One of the great pains in the wake of overwhelming tragedy is helplessness. I confess feeling helpless. I don’t know how to help, but stand ready to do what I can. I hope that you will teach me.
I, as a preacher, will describe Orlando’s mass shooting with appropriately offensive language. What happened at Pulse is shit. Offensive realities call for offensive language.
I, as a child of God, will do my level best to love you, bear witness to pain, struggle to find hope and walk with you. You are not alone.
Last night (Tuesday, June 14th) at 8:00pm, one of our Union worshipping communities lit candles for the victims, shared in conversation about how we respond to tragedy, share our fears, and look together for hope. You are always welcome. I pray you will join us sometime and will invite us to be a part of your acts of remembrance, hope and healing
I hope that, in Union, you will always find a generous friend, a welcome atmosphere, a great cup of coffee and an authentic community who loves who you are and cultivates the divine spark in everyone.
Rev. Mike Baughman