It’s almost time to celebrate National Coming Out Day with a special service at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach. On the whole, especially in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, GLBTQ members of churches know they are cherished, and are recognized as full and equal members of the body of Christ. So, if that’s the case, why continue to put together a special service for people no longer suffer from institutional oppression?

When the institutional church is at its prophetic best, its people not only think of themselves, but its relationship with the rest of the world; the world within the circumference of a singular church,  and the rest of the population encircling the city in which it resides. The world outside the halls of a sacred space might present a need to spread words of comfort; a bright shining voice offering welcome to others who continue to hear that they are less than human, that their love for one another is less than natural, and that their spiritual well being is hampered by disgust.

Recently Pope Benedict XVI has said gay people are not fully developed humans as they do not obey Catholic law. Still, in many other Evangelical Christian communities, GLBT people continue to hear a message of hate. With continued judgements perpetuated by religious leaders throughout the United States, and many parts of the world, it is no wonder recent poles support the notion that Christianity produces people who are overtly judgmental. A recent USA Today poll of teenagers produced this data:

“The vast majority of non-Christians — 91% — said Christianity had an anti-gay image, followed by 87% who said it was judgmental and 85% who said it was hypocritical.”

There is still a need for a bright and shinning voice.

In its own way, each year’s presentation celebrating National Coming Out Day is a non-violent protest speaking loudly against those who think the Kingdom of God was established by those who wish to promulgate doctrine over and above God’s justice. A mode of justice which calls each and every person into one peaceful embrace.

Each year this service brings people together who are active in church with those who have been shunned and rejected by their own faith tradition. Why do we continue to put all this energy and creativity into this celebration? The answer can be found in what someone said after one year’s service, “This was the first time I’d felt my soul in over 30 years.” It makes one wonder how many more lost coins there are out there waiting to be found.