Gratitude from Keisha to the Believe Out Loud Community

Please share your good wishes with our departing director Keisha McKenzie in the comments below! We will keep you updated on Believe Out Loud's staff structure as we continue an organization-wide strategic planning process under the leadership of Intersections International's executive director, Rev. Julie Johnson Staples. As always, we are grateful for your presence in our community!

During my first week at Believe Out Loud last November, Alison, Chrissy, Reese, and I launched #ChristiansVote, a campaign that shared how BOL community members’ Christian faith compels them to act for justice. We addressed LGBTQIA justice, as we always have, and we also addressed other kinds of justice that impact daily life for many of us: disability justice, racial and immigration justice, reproductive justice, and trans justice.

It was an amazing way for me to learn what really matters to this community. 

I’ve been honored to work with Alison, Chrissy, and Reese at Believe Out Loud during what’s been been a very difficult year for LGBTQIA people in this country. With support from the Arcus Foundation, the Walter and Evelyn Haas, Jr. Fund, and individual donors, Believe Out Loud has shown how legal and social discrimination harms our community. We’re currently publishing about the upcoming Supreme Court hearing of Masterpiece Cakeshop, which will consider consider whether a business open to the public has a constitutional right to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. We’re also working to highlight the connections between our community’s experiences in the United States and the experiences of LGBTQIA people around the world.

At the end of October, we were invited to attend the Ethics of Reciprocity, an unprecedented gathering at the United Nations. This event convened conservative and progressive religious leaders, diplomats and human rights experts to dialogue with LGBTI-identified religious leaders from around the world. There we heard stories of faith, challenge, and triumph from residents of countries like Brazil, Hong Kong, and Uganda, countries where US and European Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians actively spread hateful beliefs and influence laws that hurt LGBTQIA people. 

Closer to home, our team is part of NC Faith Forward, an LGBTQ-affirming faith coalition working to make North Carolina a more just and inclusive home for all LGBTQ people. In this coalition, we're helping to build an energized community of LGBTQ-affirming people of faith in North Carolina. Across the country, we'll continue to work with our colleagues to boost affirming voices in other key states around the country. 

I’ve led the Believe Out Loud team during a season of deep organizational change and mission review at our parent organization, Intersections International. I end this year still believing in Believe Out Loud and its role as a digital advocacy and organizing hub in the Christian and faith-rooted justice movements. 

Thank you—all of you—for being such an occasion of hope for me.

I know that our stories have the power to change hearts, minds, and lives, because I’ve read your blogs, comments, and emails this year. I’ve seen you inspired to start hard conversations with people you love and act for justice in your local communities. And I know that affirming Christianity has a future because I see that in each of you. 

I’m now being called to support the work of Believe Out Loud from the outside, and so my last day on-staff was November 8, 2017. Our team is continuing the work we began together last year and, very soon, they’ll share some of the exciting work we’ve been doing since the summer to make our web resources more useful for you. 

So many of you welcomed me into leadership here last year and I hope that you will also pray me into my next chapter. No matter what the new year brings us, in Christianity or the rest of society, please keep on believing out loud! This world needs you, and I believe in you.

Believe Out Loud staff pictured above: Reese Rathjen, Chrissy Etienne, Keisha McKenzie, and Alison Amyx

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