Engaged Swedenborgianism: Welcoming and Affirming the LGBTQ+ Community -Dru Johnson

“A heavenly society is a harmony of many.” -Emanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven §687 *

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” -1 John 4:16 **

While we realize we have plenty of room for improvement, our denomination has taken some notable steps forward in love to embrace communities of people who have been marginalized by outmoded hateful patriarchal cultural directives. One of those communities is the LGBTQ+ community which has been under particularly violent attack of late, by hateful authoritarians.

In stark contrast to Rabbi Yeshua (AKA Jesus, The Lord) who went out of his way to be publicly seen with, spend time with and identify with marginalized communities,hateful anti-Jesus authoritarians seek to use LGBTQ+ people as unwilling targets employing bigotry to profit off of attacking vulnerable “others”.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community I am proud to stand instead with Jesus, with love and with our denomination, the Swedenborgian Church of North America (SCNA). Collectively the SCNA continues to intentionally move towards becoming better at welcoming and affirming the LGBTQ+ Community. 

Among the steps the SCNA has taken so far were to pass the 2022 “Standing Resolution on Welcome and Support of LGBTQ+ Community.” This can be viewed by going to our web site, Swedenborg.org and looking under the menu item for “Community,” then “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” and then clicking the link to “Denominational Statements.”

Rev. Colin Amato recently started a ministry called The Rainbow Church of The New Jerusalem as a group on Facebook which works to provide “a safe virtual space for LGBTQ+ spiritual seekers and allies to come together in worship, reflection, and discussion grounded in the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg as understood by the [SCNA].” Please search for the group on Facebook and contact Colin for more information.

Dr. Devin Zuber of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies (CSS) recently did a class called Seeing Rainbows: Queer Swedenborgians and Queering Swedenborg which can still be accessed by emailing info@swedenborgianstudies.org

Finally there is an ongoing meeting called The Rainbow Group which is brainstorming and coordinating this movement toward welcoming and affirming the LGBTQ+ Community and people who would like to participate can contact the SCNA’s manager@swedenborg.org.

* Swedenborg, Emanuel. Secrets of Heaven, Vol III. West Chester: Swedenborg Foundation, 2022.

** New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition. Copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Dru Johnson (they/them) is a follower of “Rabbi Yeshua” (AKA Jesus the Christ), a liberation technologist, theologist, ethicist, writer and thinker who tries to always remember the quote “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free,” from Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the great leaders in the ongoing Black Freedom Struggle. Dru was especially excited to hear their mentor, the Rev. Dr. Jim Lawrence use a phrase they love, “Engaged Swedenborgianism.” In an earlier career Dru worked in the Tech Industry and founded a public benefit organization, HeartBeat Earth. Dru is a member of Hillside Swedenborgian Church in El Cerrito California. In extensive preparation for ministry Dru completed a CAGS (Certificate of Achievement in Gender Studies – Feminist and Queer Theory) from Berkeley City College (BCC), and while at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley California, completed a CSS (Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies – Engaged Swedenborgianism) at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies (CSS), and at the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) completed a MAST (Masters of Arts in Social Transformation – Permanently Affordable Housing via Community Land Trusts), and an MTS (Masters of Theological Studies – Liberation Theology / Liberation Swedenborgianism, a CSSC (Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change – Games as a Tool for Social Justice), and a CAPS (Certificate of Advanced Professional Studies – MDiv Equivalency and Online Ministry).

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