Center for Theology, Women, and Gender
Making church more queer and more inclusive of queer folks is a project that includes everyone and benefits everyone! Because the work of making churches more inclusive is a group project, this is an event for “church people”—whether you sit in the pews, stand at the front, or maybe a little of both. Whether you’re familiar with the latest lingo and research on religion and gender, or whether you feel a little overwhelmed by it, we want you to come!
When the student organizers of the Gender and Sexuality Association for Seminarians sat down together to discuss this event, something exciting happened. Every student had a story (or two or three!) about a church space that was great for them as a queer person. The churches they mentioned were from all different denominations and in all different areas of the country. Sometimes they talked about pastoral leadership, and often they talked about how people in the church community as a whole made it a loving space of spiritual growth for them.
We hope to provide a space to get people thinking and dreaming about what they can do to help make their own churches more queer and more inclusive of queer folks. Hopefully, this event will help people see the ways that making churches more queer affirming is a project that involves a whole church. It’s also an ongoing process, no matter where your church is at. Denominations have policies and traditions on issues like marriage, ordination, and family, and these are undeniably important. Still, the work of making churches more queer and more welcoming doesn’t start or end with national policies. It also happens in individual congregations, in bible studies and Sunday morning coffee hours. It happens when queer folks are given leadership roles, and also when folks who don’t identify as queer choose to use their leadership to learn from and be in community with queer folks.
Why “Queering” Church?
There is no doubt that the word “queer” has been used against the LGBTQIA+ community to cause harm and pain. We recognize and honor that for some, it will always be a harmful word.
We also recognize that “queer” has a long history of reclamation by the LGBTQIA+ community. Many people self-identify as queer as a way to include different gender identities and sexualities. It is also often used as a unifying or umbrella term to encompass the range of identities that make up our community.
Queer has been used in academic discourse to describe practices and approaches that question the structures around which identities of gender and sexuality have been built. In this context, we use it to describe our approach to questioning our assumptions about what church looks like.
GSAS Members on Queerness
Jozeppi Angelo Morelli, aka Joey, is a Transgender Queer Man with an indigenous spirit who is a retired Law Enforcement Officer and 911 World Trade Center First Responder. While he was Law Enforcement Officer being transgender was still considered a psychological disorder so he had to wait to physically transition until he was 54 years old. In his retirement he found a second career of being a writer, activist, public speaker and gender educator. It has became his passion to help employers, church leaders and congregations, group facilitators and families to understand the importance of intersectionality and creating safe space for him and his siblings. He currently works with the Gjelina group in California and New York to train all their employers on how to create safe space in the workplace for the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Recently he was interviewed by Peggy Gillispie of the Family Diversity Project to write his transition journey for both a nationwide exhibit and a book called Authentic Selves being published by Skinner House.
Wesley has ministered at Middle Church and has interned at Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton. He is currently discerning ordination in The Episcopal Church. Wesley also served on the search committee to help select Dr Jonathan Walton as the new president of Princeton Theological Seminary.
Wesley’s writing has been published in the New York Times, and he has been profiled by The Guardian newspaper. He has been a professional musician and opera singer. Wesley's interests in the intersections of race, justice, gender, sexuality, and Christianity led him to Princeton Seminary and Princeton, NJ, where he quite happily and gaily studies and resides.
Gender and Sexuality Association for Seminarians (GSAS) Members
All times are Eastern Time
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Cooper Conference Room, Erdman Center
Round Table Discussions
Center for Theology, Women, and Gender
Princeton Theological Seminary’s Center for Theology, Women, and Gender is a visible, active agent in promoting the flourishing of all persons. To that end, the CTWG advocates for those who find themselves marginalized, in both church and society, due to their gender identity, particularly women and sexual minorities who struggle for equality and inclusion at all levels of society.
The Center advocates for change so that the church might better reflect the body of Christ, and witness more faithfully to the transforming power of Christ in the world.