LGBTQIA+ Affirming

Sophia Inclusive Community affirms all people in their journey and encourages them to share their experiences and rich diversity with us.

We strive to be a safe space for individuals to share their life, love, hopes, and dreams.

Both founding members and long-standing members of the Sophia are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We lovingly support children and grandchildren who are also members of the the LGBTQIA+ community.

Each June we celebrate Pride Month in our liturgy by songs, prayers and homilies that highlight LGBTQIA+ issues.

On March 21, 2024 and April 4, 2024 our Social Justice Committee arranged presentations by a transman and a transwoman to better help us understand their experiences and increase our awareness of how we are to interact with transgender people.

Members of Sophia at Morris County Coming Out Day Celebration.

Pride Progress Flag which added brown, black, light blue, pink and white triangle stripes to advocate for progress while highlighting inclusion of transgender and LGBTQI+ people of color.

An example of our Pride Liturgy

Pride Sunday June 27, 2021 / Grateful, Proud, and Connected!

We pray for others


June is LGBTQIA Pride Month and most major cities in the United States and throughout the world celebrate a Pride Day. So welcome to our Pride Day Liturgy: Grateful, Proud, and Connected!

This day and this month we recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, queer people and allies have had on local, national, and international history. Remember the White House, along with other prominent buildings and monuments, lit up in rainbow colors in 2015 in tribute to marriage equality!.   

We gather not simply to celebrate the rights and achievements of same-sex loving people, and especially not to capitulate to corporate interests that simply see these rights as a way to expand their markets. We gather to rejoice that LGBTQIA people and allies are working on and bringing together many struggles for justice—especially for immigrants’ rights, against racism, in support of Muslims, to protect the environment, and many more. While we will focus this morning on the same-sex love aspect this day honors, it is also important to be grateful, proud, and connected.

By Diann Neu, Stirring Waters, page 213

Opening Song                                                                                          

“Singing for Our Lives” Holly Near, on Singer in the Storm, ©1990 URIw            

We are a gentle, angry people

And we are singing, singing for our lives x 2

We are a land of many colors 

And we are singing, singing for our lives x 2

We are gay and straight together

And we are singing, singing for our lives x 2

We are a peaceful loving people

And we are singing, singing for our lives x 2


Wisdom Bowl                                                                                        

Opening Prayer                                                                                                                     

Leader:  When your people were held captive in Egypt, you called out Moses to lead them to the Promised Land.

Response:          A simple matter of justice.

Leader: When African Americans were held as slaves and in the bonds of racism, you called out Harriet Truman and Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead them to freedom.

Response:          A simple matter of justice.

Leader:  When women had no voice and were bound by a society of men, you called out Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to proclaim their equality and worth.                                                       

Response:          A simple matter of justice.

Leader:  Now as LGBTQIA people struggle for equal rights and consideration under the law, you have called out a whole generation of new leaders to keep the closet door open and to lead us into liberation. Response:          A simple matter of justice.

Leader: To act in the cause of human rights is a simple matter of justice.  With all people everywhere, who are told they are not “good enough” simply because of the way they were created, we stand in solidarity, naming oppression and hearing the call of the Holy One to overcome it.                      

from Redeemer’s A Simple Matter of Justice Annual Liturgy

First Reading                                   Voice 1, Voice 2, Voice 3, Voice 4, Voice 5,

A Call for Solidarity     

Voice 1: Listen to LGBTQIA people who call for our solidarity. Think of the ones you know.         

I am your friend. For a very long time I have been reaching out to you, listening to your dreams, talking with you about my life. I work for Black Lives Matter. I am right here with you.

 Voice 5:       Response: You are not alone. We are with you too.

 Voice 2: I am your co-worker. I work next to you in so many places. I am the doctor who comforted your dying mother. I teach your daughters and sons. I am your therapist. I am your waitress and bus driver. I am your pastor, rabbi, cardinal, priest. I am right here with you.

Voice 5:       Response: You are not alone. We are with you too.

Voice 3: I am your colleague. I stand beside you in so many places. I am the campus minister who marched next to you as we advocated for LGBTQIA rights and marriage equality. I am the nun by your side at the women’s shelter where you volunteer. I am the social worker who supports your sister at the mental health center. I am the immigrant worker who meets you at the food pantry. I am right here with you.

 Voice 5:        Response: You are not alone. We are with you too.  

 Voice 4: I am your family member. I am your neighbor. As you support my coming out, you give me courage. As you support LGBTIQ+ people and inter-connected issues, you give me strength to say I am right here with you.

Voice 5:        Response:  You are not alone. We are with you too.

By Diann Neu, Stirring Waters, page 215

Psalm: Litany of Pride                                        

Let us name LGBTQIA people who have been working for change.

         Our response: Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate Sappho, poet from the Isle of Lesbo, whose words inspire us.

         Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate Ruth and Naomi whose love models women’s commitment to one another.

         Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate Gertrude Stein whose writings influence generations.

         Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate Alan Turing who cracked the infamous enigma code that the Nazis used to communicate all their war related secret operations which saved countless Allied lives and shortened the war in Europe.  He died in 1954 of suicide as he was imprisoned for being gay.

          Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate Audre Lorde, lesbian womanist poet, who challenges us to expand justice struggles.                

         Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, and Edie Windsor who started the ball rolling for marriage equality.

         Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate Larry Kramer whose angry but focused advocacy got the medical establishment to acknowledge and focus on AIDS and ultimately saved countless lives.

         Proudly, we claim you.

We celebrate all LGBTQIA and straight sisters, brothers, friends, and allies, named and unnamed, known and unknown, who put their lives on the line for justice.

         Proudly, we claim you. 

Adapted from Stirring Waters,by Diann Neu, page 214

Second Reading                                                                                   

You Are A Masterpiece in the Making

From “The Book of Joy” with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

We were starting our second day of dialogues and were turning to the obstacles to joy.  The subject of the dialogues was how to discover joy in the face of suffering.  “Basically”, the Archbishop continued “I think we’ve got to accept ourselves as we are”.  The Archbishop said many times that we should not berate ourselves for our negative thoughts and emotions, that they are natural and unavoidable.  They are only made more intense, he argued, by the glue of guilt and shame when we think we should not have them.  The Archbishop said: “we get very angry with ourselves.  We think we ought to be supermen and superwomen from the start.  The Dalai Lama’s serenity didn’t come fully formed.  It was through the practice of prayer and meditation that the gentleness, the compassion grew, his being patient and accepting – within reasonable limits.  Accepting circumstances as they are, because if there are circumstances that you cannot change, then it’s no use beating your head against a brick wall; that just gives you a headache.  And so I would say to everyone: you are made for perfection, you are not yet perfect. You are a masterpiece in the making.”

Gospel Acclamation                                                                          

Pride Festival Alleluia – courtesy of Dignity Women

Gospel: Matthew 5: 14-16                                                                  

“You are the light of the world.  You don’t build a city on a hill, then try to hide it, do you?  You don’t light a lamp, then put it under a bushel basket, do you?  No, you set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, your light must shine before others so that they may see your good acts and give praise to your Abba in heaven.”

Translation from The Inclusive New Testament, page 7


Pride Day Homily

“You are the light of the world”.  Words of empowerment and encouragement of Jesus to all those assembled for what Matthew describes and we have come to call the Sermon on the Mount.  You don’t put your lamp under a bushel basket…or in a closet.  Today we celebrate Pride Sunday remembering the events of late June 1969 when patrons at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village Manhattan, having suffered many experiences of being harassed and handcuffed and arrested and jailed by the NYPD, decided they had had enough and began to fight back, thus starting an uprising, a riot.  It is said that the drag queens and trans folk lead the charge so to speak. It has been speculated that the reason the insurrection occurred then, since police harassment had been going on for years, is that the community was in mourning because of the death, only days before, of their idol and superstar Judy Garland.  Up until this time it was a crime to be LGBTQ+ in any public venue.  It wasn’t a crime per say as long as you kept it hidden away and didn’t make any public expression of your sexual orientation or gender identity.  Thus, countless numbers of queer folks were living in fear and shame in “closets”.

However, law enforcement was not the only impediment to being out and proud as an LGBTQ+ person.  The DSM – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which is the Bible for mental and behavioral health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and social workers, listed homosexuality as a disorder.  There were prescribed treatments including conversion therapy which promised to change one’s orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.  And, of course, there were the Churches.  Especially the Catholic Church and fundamentalist, evangelical Christian sects who used Scripture as their basis for condemning homosexuality and any sexual activity that occurred between members of the same sex.  Biblical passages from Genesis (Sodom and Gomorrah), Leviticus from the Hebrew Scripture and Romans, ! Corinthians and Timothy from the Christian Scripture were used like clubs to pummel LGBTQ+ folks and condemn their way of life. So, between the laws, the medical and psychological establishment and the Churches, the LGBTQ+ community faced an enormous wall of opposition, prejudice and hostility.  Even today 12 States refuse to pass anti-Discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ folks which means that one could still lose their job if their employer was so inclined and found out a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

There were severe penalties, including incarceration, if you were caught publicly expressing your sexuality.  So, many lived double lives.  By day a “respected” member of the community, maybe a teacher, or an accountant, or a bus driver or a construction worker, or a nurse or a police officer or a minister.  By night socializing in select bars and clubs where they could openly express their sexuality and gender identity,,,that is unless and until they were raided by police.  In that case. they could go to prison and maybe lose their jobs.  In the UK, a most famous example was Alan Turing, the father of computer science and a man who led a team that cracked the so-called unbreakable Nazi enigma code which exposed the German military plans and gave a tremendous boost to the Allied efforts thus shortening the war and saving untold numbers of lives. A true hero was Alan Turing.  That is, until he was caught as a gay man acting out and was imprisoned and eventually took his own life. So I guess you could say that it was ok to be LGBTQ+ as long as it you kept it hidden away, in a closet so to speak so that no one in the straight world was aware of it. 

That began to change after Stone Wall.  Perhaps the most significant reason has to do with the word Pride.  The word was adopted by the Community and became the underlying theme of all subsequent activities and events.  For those of us who went to Catholic schools, however, the word has a “darker” context.  We remember how the Baltimore Catechism named pride as one of the seven deadly or capital sins along with covetousness, lust, gluttony, anger, envy and sloth. So we were taught and conditioned to think of pride as something undesirable.  For decades people lived in their own closets keeping their identities secret and hoping to never be Outed but always fearing that it might occur.  So they lived in fear and shame.  The Liberation movement begun at Stonewall sought to smash those closet doors and walls and replace shame and fear with pride and empowerment.  For some, the liberation was immediate and swift.  For many, however, it was much more of an evolution than a revolution.   

My own journey was one of evolution rather than revolution and my transition to pride and empowerment was gradual rather than abrupt.  I returned from serving 2 years in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa in July of 1970.  I got a job teaching at a Junior High School that September.  As a non-tenure teacher, my job was anything but secure and so I was most cautious and remained closeted.  I certainly, however, met my fair share of teachers when socializing at gay clubs and social events.  Even after I received tenure, I was not really “out” at my school.  I didn’t lie about my sexuality or pretend to be straight, instead I tended to keep my private life private.  I became friends with a large number of gay and lesbian people and had a very enjoyable social life. Eventually, I decided to buy a house and move to Morris County.  I did so and joined GAAMC (Gay  Activist Alliance Morris County) which held meetings every Monday evening.  It was there I learned about the AIDS Buddy program at the Hope House in Dover.  I attended their 8 session training program and became a “buddy” to Steven who was living with AIDS.  At the conclusion of the training, they asked for feedback.  Because I was a corporate trainer, I provided some feedback to which Paul the coordinator said: “you should coordinate our next training session.”  It was there that I met 2 people who would change my life forever:  Phillip Wilson, who was Rector of Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, and George Jordan who was to become my partner for life.

Phillip’s Church came face to face with AIDS when one of their Parish families reported that their son – Eric – who lived in NYC was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.  They responded by having members attend Buddy training to learn more about HIV and how it affects PWAs and their families and possibly become buddies to People with AIDS or respond in some other important way.  Phillip and George were in that class that I coordinated.  Phillip encouraged us to come to Redeemer where we joined an AIDS Ministry team whose mission was to convert the Rectory, which was no longer being used as such, into a residence for People with AIDS.  It became the Eric Johnson House and served an important need as PWA’s were being discriminated against in many ways including housing.

Another major event in my coming out at this time was the death of my dad.  I was determined that I wasn’t going to face the wake and funeral without George at my side and so I came out to my family.  I needed them to know who George was to and for me.  Although I was nervous doing it, George was there to encourage and support me and afterwards it felt so liberating.  They also were glad that I did because what I told them came as no surprise.

George and I had a ceremony to bless our union at Redeemer in June of 1991 – 30 years ago this month.  Our families and friends were there to celebrate the occasion. As I stood there and made my public vow of love and commitment to George, I knew that I had come to a point of no return, that there was no turning back.  And because of the faith and courage of George and all present, I was glad to leave that all behind. Thanks to George I was able to completely dismantle the remains of the closet in which I was living. 

And so, it is all about Pride.  Glorious, marvelous Pride. Pride in oneself, in who we are and in who we hope to become.  Pride in living into the reality of who we are without shame or fear.  Pride in all LGBTQ+ people who have pride in themselves and work to make the world a better place.  As the gospel says, you are the light of the world, so don’t hide that light but set it high for all to see.  As Desmond Tutu tells us “Basically, I think we’ve got to accept ourselves as we are.  We get very angry with ourselves.  We think we ought to be supermen and superwomen from the start.”  For me it’s been more of an evolution rather than a revolution and I am most grateful especially to George for helping me to embrace and have pride in that part of myself.  I am also grateful for Redeemer for showing me that a faith community can be loving and welcoming and not judgmental.  And I am so grateful to have become a part of Sophia, a faith Community which takes seriously the gospel message of welcome and acceptance and non-judgmental love and service to others.

I would like to close with the words of Desmond Tutu: “And so I would say to everyone: you are made for perfection, you are not yet perfect.  You are a masterpiece in the making.”  Happy Pride Day everyone!  Here’s to your Pride in yourself, in who you are and in who you will become.

Prayer of the People                                                     

Leader 1, Leader 2, Leader 3

Leader 1: Holy One, you have given us a world rich beyond measure in variety and diversity of people. Today we proclaim and celebrate your love for all people, especially those who are LGBTQIA.

Leader 2: We pray for all people who are marginalized for their sexual orientation, their skin color, their gender, their economic or educational poverty, their physical or mental disabilities, or their age.

Leader 3: Response: We proclaim and celebrate the Divine’s love for all people.

Leader 1: We remember those young people who struggle to understand and accept their sexual orientation within families, schools, and communities where diversity is not honored.

Leader 2:  We give thanks for all children who are members of gay and lesbian families.  May these children never lose sight of the goodness within themselves and their families, even when others fail to honor them.

Leader 3 Response: We proclaim and celebrate the Divine’s love for all people.

Leader 1:  We pray for parents, family members, and friends who are unable or unwilling to accept or understand the sexual orientation of their loved ones.

Leader 2:  We give thanks for PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lebsians and Gays, for Lambda Families, for New Ways Ministry, and for the education, advocacy, and support they provide for families and friends.

Leader 3: Response: We proclaim and celebrate the Divine’s love for all people.

Leader 1:  We pray for changes in federal, state and municipal ordinances which allow persons to be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and denied access to public services solely on the basis of sexual orientation.

Leader 3: Response: We proclaim and celebrate the Divine’s love for all people.

 from Redeemer’s A Simple Matter of Justice Annual Liturgy

Sharing of Peace

Blessing of Bread and Wine and Eucharistic Prayer                

(Pick up the bread and drink.) 

Let us extend our hands, palms up, and bless this bread and drink together.

Blessed are you, Divine Love, for giving us this bread and drink,

this Pride Day Eucharist.

As we take, bless, eat and drink, may we manifest divine love in the world. 

By Diann Neu, Stirring Waters, page 217

Prayer of Jesus                                                         

Our father, our mother, our beloved two-spirit parent,

help us honor your holy name in all that we do.

We pray that your justice, peace, love and mercy come to this needy planet.

Give all of us, transgender, cisgender, and people of all gender expressions and orientations, what we need each day to live and thrive. We need food, we need employment, housing and medical care. We need a loving community.

Forgive us our failings, the times we did not listen, the times we did not love, the times we looked away from neighbors in need, as we forgive those who have failed us.

Keep us from the temptation of intolerance, contempt and complacency in the face of injustice. Give us instead the courage to stand in solidarity with all your beloved children and deliver us from those who would harm us.

For yours is love, justice and peace, now and forever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer for Transgender Awareness

from Dignity USA’s Believe Out Loud initiative

Breaking of the Bread                                        

In the breaking of the bread, we knew you, brother Jesus, Alleluia.

In the breaking of the bread, we know you, brother Jesus, Alleluia.

In the breaking of the bread, we know you, brother Jesus, Alleluia.


Presider: “…happy are we to share in this meal” 

All:  Our sharing in this meal is a sign of our willingness to follow Jesus.

When sharing the bread: “This is, and you are, the bread of life”

Presider:  With great joy, we state.

All: We are followers of Jesus.

When sharing the cup: “The cup of the Covenant”

Communion Song                                                                            

“I Am with You” by Kathy Sherman on Always with You    

I am with you on the journey, and I will never leave you.

I am with you on the journey, always with you.                                                   Repeat two times / interlude / repeats twice

 Closing Prayer                                                                                 

May we be sustained in the days ahead to go forth bringing all of the richness and diversity you have bestowed upon this community. 

May we be empowered to be prophetic voices for justice and equity. 

May we be inspired in all we do — so our actions always reflect dignity and love. 

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sending Forth                                                                                   

Let us go forth to act with pride.

May we be grateful, proud and connected.

May we not rest until all the stones of injustice have been rolled away.

May we believe out loud!

By Diann Neu, Stirring Waters, page 218.

Closing Song                                                                                    

“Believe Out Loud” by David Lohman from Fling the Church Doors Open Wide

It’s time to believe out loud – no more staying silent!

It’s time to proclaim aloud the faith that we hold dear.

It’s time to reach out to the rejected. It’s time to stand up and say, “No more!”

It’s time to declare a world of justice, bring everyone through the open doors.

It’s time to believe out loud, it’s time to be strong and proud.

It’s time to believe.