Sung’s top programmatic priority has been directing the Believe Out Loud campaign. He has invested thousands of hours these past three and a half years in the cause of justice and inclusion for the LGBT community. He will be missed, both here at Intersections and among our Believe Out Loud constituents. The good news is that Sung is embarking on a new and exciting path. Responding to God’s call to ministry, Sung will become a full time student at Union Theological Seminary here in New York this fall.
Under Sung’s leadership, Believe Out Loud transitioned from idea to reality. Initially, Believe Out Loud was based on the premise that if mainline Protestant clergy and congregational leaders shifted in their perspective on full inclusion of queer people in their congregations, then society as a whole would shift as well. This idea has given rise to a movement that grows each day—a robust web site with 60,000 page views this year; an effort to build a movement of progressive Christians that affirm LGBT inclusion which has more than 20,000 members; a vibrant Facebook community; 13 videos that together have had more than 56,000 views and a twitter feed of more than 500 users. The shift in the church—notably among Lutherans and Presbyterians—has been striking, as has the expansion of public support for LGBT rights and justice.
The particular gift that Sung brought to this work lies in his ability to build relationships with partners who have been doing this work for decades. Empathetic listening is his hallmark. He gave voice to the struggles who sought to achieve acceptance for LGBT persons within the church; and he also listened to those who were not yet engaged in this dialogue, so that many perspectives could share their thoughts within a safe space. Sung also always kept in the forefront of his work the importance of reaching out to communities of color. Because of his ability to empathize with others, irrespective of race, culture, lifestyle or socioeconomic status, the Believe Out Loud net was cast in a very diverse sea.
Sung has said that his work at Intersections, and with Believe Out Loud in particular, demonstrated to him for the first time how his religious life and his commitment to social justice could converge—and this reconciliation is, in large part, what led him to seminary. We are grateful for that convergence.
With change comes loss, but also opportunity. We will miss Sung, but the work will continue and, we expect, expand, as we see some new and exciting possibilities on the horizon. Intersections is in the process of identifying a new campaign director and we look forward to discovering fresh voices and new leadership in the weeks and months to come. There is much still to do; but, now is the time to pause and offer a word of thanks to Sung for all he has done, and a word of thanksgiving to God for bringing Sung into our midst.
Image Believe Out Loud