Have you ever had the Spirit move you when you least expected it?
I am a candidate for ministry in Word and Sacrament in my final semester of seminary. I’ve been assigned to a synod, but have not yet been called to a parish. And I’ve been wondering what my life might look like after all this pandemic business ends (if it ever ends.)
Will churches be able to afford a full-time pastor?
Will churches want to call a queer, transgender pastor?
These are questions I’ve asked myself already prior to COVID-19, but find myself asking them more nervously as we shelter in place on a global level.
I was having a cup of coffee with my partner one afternoon. She has three kids, two of which identify as queer. We were talking about how hard life would be if, during this time of lockdown, you were surrounded by folks that didn’t understand you, or, worse yet, did not accept you. This was a reality for some of her kids’ peers.
I asked colleagues and friends if they knew of any spaces online for youth that intersected faith and queerness.
They did not.
I felt the Spirit calling me in the way she does sometimes when we least expect her to. Urgent. Poking your side. Loud.
Watching the youth around me try to seek meaningful community in a pandemic is hard to watch. I knew I needed to answer the Spirit’s call.
We began to dream about creating a safe place for LGBTQ+ youth to foster community, hear from LGBTQ+ leaders, and have some fun.
One verse in the Hebrew texts that’s stuck out to me in the last few months is הנה אנ׳, “Here am I.”
I think this is a way of saying, “Okay, Lord. I believe you are limitless. Give me the strength to do this and I will go and do your work.”
Queeranteen Camp was born. It was born in community conversations with the youth that surrounded me.
Queeranteen Camp is a free, online, interfaith camp for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-19. Originally we thought we’d make a fun flier and maybe 20 youth would sign up.
As of April 22nd, there are 153 campers, cabin counselors, and helpers registered from around the world!
I recognized immediately that this would require a community to work.
I was reminded that God is a God of community and that possibilities are realized among all of us working together.
People from all over the country have reached out to me, offering their help and resources. I asked in the Proclaim Facebook page and was immediately met with a handful of emails from friends and colleagues offering assistance.
Proclaim! A word of declaration. A place where new things are breathed into being, a place where community gathers to embrace the way the Spirit is moving.
How am I handling COVID-19? I’m scared. I’m tired. I’m uncertain.
How am I handling a rapidly growing response to a new ministry? I’m scared. I’m tired. I’m uncertain.
Yet, in both, I am sure of one thing. That God has not left me, that God’s Spirit is moving, and I am being called to a new time and space.
It is now, perhaps more than in the last month, that I am seeing that I am not alone.
I am relying heavily on people I have recently met online, folks who have been doing this work for years, and those I have known for years.
I am relying heavily, vulnerably on my community.
At the end of the day, that’s all we really have, right?
I have my community. I have God. Through both of those, we can do amazing, shocking, beautiful things.
Drew Stever (they/he) is in his final semester of his Master of Divinity studies at Luther Seminary. Originally from St. Paul, MN, he is currently located in Southern California. Two of the greatest purchases he has ever made in an attempt to deal with COVID-19 is rice pudding and a pink onesie.