Editor’s note: Have you heard it’s the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation this year? During the months of October and November, ELM’s blog will feature reflections on how the church continues to re-form and the role of LGBTQ+ ministries and leaders. This week’s post comes from Rev. Maria Anderson-Lippert, founder of the mission start Arise Portland.
A few months ago at a gathering for Mission Developers in the ECLA, I admitted that Arise Portland’s largest growing edge is our ministry is lacking straight cis-men. When I moved to Portland to “facilitate an experimental ministry to gather young adults who don’t find a home in the church,” I never imagined it would become the queer, re-forming ministry it is today. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
It has always been difficult to describe Arise Portland* to others.
Are you a church? No.
Are you religious? Kind of.
Are you Christian? Some of us are.
Once a month as we’re preparing for Holy Potluck on a Saturday morning, people trickle in the front door, brunch-y dish in hand. They then wander up the stairs and find themselves congregating in the kitchen with others, checking out what is on the menu for today. When the doorbell rings, whoever isn’t in the middle of food prep or setting the table runs down the stairs to greet the person at the door. We all do our part to feed and welcome one another. Once everyone has arrived and all is ready for eating, we parade out of the kitchen and into the dining room. Gathered around the table, we preach to one another through our stories, and we share in our holy communion of brunch foods and coffee or tea. After brunch is finished, a few of us linger, washing dishes, wiping down countertops, and sharing our reflections on our time together.
About two-thirds of the people who are integral to and participate in Arise Portland identify as queer. And although I didn’t set out to create a queer ministry, I’m not surprised it has become a place where queer folks have found a spiritual home. What we do together at Arise Portland doesn’t resemble church in very obvious ways – there are no robes, pews, or hymn books. Our liturgy is completely organic. You might even say it’s queer. But what we do together – gather in community, tell stories about the good news of belovedness, share food, and send each other out into our lives refreshed, connected, and renewed – feels an awful lot like liturgy to me.
Stretching the boundaries and creating new definitions of sacred space, our community is continuing to be formed. In the process, we are re-forming the way God’s love is shared in community and in the world. Most importantly, the folks in our community continue to re-form me, and the church, to be able to share God’s love even more honestly.
Our ministry may always lack in straight cis-men. And, although that’s not the goal, it would be okay. What we’re not lacking is genuine connection, fun, and the sacred, holy moments that can only occur when you gather people together.
*Arise Portland is a new, experimental ministry bringing people together to celebrate and foster wholeness in Portland, ME. What does that mean? It means we trust that everyone is already whole, just as they are. We also trust that when we come together in community, we discover even greater wholeness. To learn more about Arise Portland check out our website at www.ariseportland.org or our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ariseportland.
Maria is constantly surprised by the way that poetry connects her to the Divine. This summer, her husband has been encouraging her to get out on her bike more often and she’s learning that she’s more capable of biking up hills than she realized. (But she is not sure she is glad to have learned that.) If you follow her on Instagram, you’ll discover that she really does have the most adorable cats.