It was an evening of building connections and beginning conversations about faith and same-sex sexuality. On October 17, Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Waterdown, Ontario, hosted an evening called ‘Relevant Engagement,’ a social and fund-raising event organized by New Direction Ministries.
New Direction Ministries of Canada works to build connections with those in LGBTQ communities who are seeking a relationship with Jesus and to facilitate conversations in churches about ministering to sexual minorities. The event was attended by members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) community, pastors, and members of various area churches.
Throughout the event, members and staff of New Directions shared their experiences. The evening incorporated music and video montages featuring various artists, a poetry reading, and a dramatic presentation highlighting themes of alienation, brokenness, humanity, and grace.
“Art is one of the gifts given to allow us to get into conversation,” said Wendy Vanderwal-Gritter, member of Meadowvale Community CRC in Mississauga, Ontario, and executive director of New Direction Ministries. Rather than emphasizing theology or doctrine, New Direction focuses on love and hospitality in reaching out to those on the margins, a relational posture of ‘Generous Spaciousness,’ as outlined in Gritter’s recent book.
Laura Ouwehand of Immanuel CRC in Hamilton, Ontario, appreciated the evening at Bethel CRC. “‘Revelant Engagement’ and the ministry of New Direction are invaluable for building bridges among faith-based and LGBTQ communities. A straight Christian ally offers a powerful voice of love and grace in the conversations surrounding faith and sexuality,” commented Ouwehand. “Events like this give me hope that one day the distinction between these communities will be eradicated and that our focus as Christians will be to love just as Jesus loved.”
New Direction Ministries is now beginning a West Coast tour of Canada to promote the concepts of ‘Generous Spaciousness.’ Many of these events will be hosted at various CRC churches. “We are a thinking and engaging denomination,” said Gritter, admiring the CRC’s willingness to open doors for dialogue.