Dear friends, colleagues, church family, neighbors, and students:
You are invited to a private screening of Seventh-Gay Adventists: A film about faith on the margins at the Celebration Cinema in Benton Harbor, MI on Thursday evening, November 15th that I'm helping to coordinate. I've seen this film, and I feel it's a film that can do much to improve our understanding, compassion, and awareness about what it's like to be a gay or lesbian member of our church, and, most importantly, it makes us all ask reflect about how we are to treat each other, even if we have differences.
The film is a documentary about faith and identity set in the context of the Adventist church. The film follows three gay and lesbian Seventh-day Adventists as they wrestle with how to reconcile their sexual orientation and their deeply held faith, and if, like me, you've worked closely with LGBT students and others, you know that these are both core identities. When a young person realizes---usually with great dread--that they are going to have to navigate the minefield that is being both Adventist and gay, it's often more than they can bear.
My own life changed a couple of years ago when I had 25 Andrews University students who also identified as LGBT over to my house for a worship. The conversation came around to thoughts of suicide, and I was astounded and horrified to realize that of the 25 students present, 23 had attempted suicide in the past. That's 92 percent of that group of students, and, sadly, that's not an anomaly. As I prayed with those students that night, I knew that I had to help bear witness to their struggle. I had to help our church discuss this difficult topic because something about the status quo was not working. I feel that the stories in this film can help us engage in a new type of conversation, one that is framed by stories of real people, all of whom grew up Adventist, were baptized in our churches, wore the Pathfinder uniforms, and still love their faith deeply.
This film isn't an advocacy piece; it's just a chance to enter into the stories of people whose spiritual journeys most of us know very little about. It's a chance for us to listen, even if we don't change any of our beliefs. It's a chance to engage in a conversation that is desperately needed, and I invite you to be a part of that.
Although this is a topic that is often highly charged in the church (any church), this film's approach to simply share stories is being affirmed by thought leaders in the Adventist church. Here are just a few endorsements:
- "Whatever one's position regarding homosexuals and the church may be, this film is worth seeing because it candidly probes issues with real human faces and stories." - Dr. Roy Gane, professor, Andrews Seminary
- "The movie, which simply tells stories rather than taking an advocacy stance, is powerful. It can, I believe, do much to make Adventists more compassionate in this controversial area of lifestyle." - Dr. William Johnsson, retired editor The Adventist Review
- "The film is superb--a poignant and profound experience beyond any I've seen on the subject." - Chris Blake, author and professor, Union College
- "It is a movie every Seventh-day Adventist ought to see." Spectrum
- "It's a very powerful film. Gentle in its way. Only tree stumps could get through the film without tears or sobs; yet it ends with joy." - Dr. Charles Scriven, president of Kettering College of Medical Arts
- And a Ft. Lauderdale paper which reviewed the film for its premiere in Miami called the film "powerful" and "inspirational" and applauded the intimate, simple style of the film's pure story approach.
There will be a discussion following the film, and the filmmakers (and one of the people featured in the film who is an Andrews alum) will be present for a Q & A after the screening. The screening is free of charge. (Donations will be accepted.) Please feel free to share this invitation with others you think would be interested in attending.
Looking forward to meeting you at this special screening event,
Dr. Nancy Carbonell