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Standing Up for Safe Spaces in Churches, Even When It Costs You Everything

In an age of #MeToo and #ChurchToo, it’s easy to become discouraged by some of the ways the church seems to be failing to lead the charge on issues that critically affect its members. The church is a place where all people should feel safe. But we know that often there is no room in churches for these topics to be addressed, and sometimes it is the churches and their leaders who are causing harm.That’s why I find it hopeful to read the story of a Christian who chose integrity and authenticity and was willing to say “no” to the church machine, and in doing so, has been instrumental in creating more safe spaces in churches for the LGBTQ+ community.

That person is Vicky Beeching. Vicky was a well-known and much-loved singer, songwriter, and worship leader. She led worship in some of the largest churches in America, she shared the stage with Christian artists like Hillsong, Michael W. Smith, and Chris Tomlin, and her songs were sung by tens of thousands of people around the globe. What nobody knew was that locked away deep inside her was a secret that she knew would ruin her career if she ever made it public—she was gay.

And yet, the more she prayed that this burden would be taken away from her, and the more she learned about what the Bible had to say about homosexuality and the heart of God, the more she realized God had uniquely and wonderfully created her in her entirety. Her sexual identity was an innate part of her and a part that she should accept and celebrate as loved by God.

As she made the difficult decision to come out as gay in a very public manner, it started her on a trajectory she couldn’t have anticipated. Yes, as feared, she was ostracized from her evangelical community. Yes, she was dropped from her label, meaning her career as a Christian musician was over. Yes, she watched as former friends and pastors denounced her in hurtful and public ways. But as she vulnerably shared her story, she found that not only was she encouraging other Christians who found themselves in similar situations, but that she became a spokesperson for how the church could create these safe places for their LGBTQ+ members. She became a speaker and advisor for a variety of organizations, such as the United Nations, on the intersection of LGBTQ+ equality and religion. And in a stunning display of generosity from the Church of England, in 2017 she received an award from the Archbishop of Canterbury for her outstanding contribution to contemporary worship music.

We need people like Vicky to do the difficult and brave work of speaking up for the voiceless, of challenging the church to accept populations like LGBTQ+ people, and to create safe spaces in the church. We are grateful she is leading the charge.

Read Vicky’s powerful, moving new memoir, Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole, and Living Free from Shame.

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