Yesterday, I received a message from someone at the Massachusetts Family Institute asking for my church’s help in repealing the new transgender public accommodations law that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed earlier this summer. This law protects transgender people from discrimination in public places, including restrooms.
The call followed two days after a letter. The Institute is “troubled” by the ways church bathrooms will be impacted by this bill, arguing by phone and letter that churches are the “best places” to accomplish their goal of repealing the law by ballot initiative “because this issue challenges God’s very creation of male and female.”
I guess he didn’t know the Baptist church he was calling.
He didn’t know that Old Cambridge Baptist Church has celebrated the gift of LGBTQ lives for over three decades, led by lesbian and gay pastors for the past 33 years. He didn’t know that OCBC joined with many others in working many, many months for this trans rights bill to become law. (Even in a liberal state like Massachusetts, it was a political struggle.)
He didn’t know that at OCBC, our bathrooms already are gender neutral and we’ve not once felt threatened by this.
He never considered that when this Baptist congregation looks into the face of trans and genderqueer people, we don’t see a threat to God’s creation. We see God—the divine image in every face, bespeaking the transformation and complexity and transcendence that is the very evidence of the Divine in our midst.
Years ago, I heard a South African Methodist minister named Trevor Hudson say, “Disorganized good is no match for organized evil.” That quote rings in my ears all the time and never more loudly than today. We must keep organizing for the good and just.
And we cannot now let the good work we’ve done be undone.
Here’s a prayer our congregation prayed week after week until the trans public accommodations bill was passed. Of course, we didn’t just pray with our words, we prayed through our faithful actions: collecting signatures and calling our representatives and writing the governor and hosting trans education and giving our communion offering to our state’s trans rights group.
But as a congregation planted firmly in the gospel of peace rooted in justice, seeing the imago Dei in every face, we also prayed:
Prayer for Transgender Justice from Old Cambridge Baptist Church
For our transgender siblings who embody your divine work of transformation in their own lives, we give you thanks and pray for their protection against violence and for their well-being in our world.
For our intersex siblings who embody the complexity of your creation in ways that sometimes take us by surprise, we give you thanks and pray for their protection against violence and for their well-being in our world.
For our genderqueer siblings who embody your divine transcendence of gender for all to witness, we give you thanks and pray for their protection against violence and for their well-being in our world.
For our state and for our nation, we pray for justice to be realized for our transgender, intersex, and genderqueer siblings and we commit ourselves to bringing about that justice.
May we always revel in the goodness of your creation, O God. Amen.
Let’s keep praying together, with our heartfelt words and with our faithful actions, so that the good work we’ve done is not undone, and the justice still to come is ushered swiftly in.
(Note: Readers are welcomed to use and reprint this prayer liturgically in any way they wish.)
Photo provided by Rev. Dr. Cody Sanders