Daniel

Williamsburg, VA

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I’m Daniel, the pastor at Williamsburg Baptist Church (WBC). I’ve done a lot of learning and growing over my life, which has led me to speak out in support of transgender people. I’ll be honest, growing up I was a fundamentalist and I was downright hateful. I had to make a huge mental shift when I went to seminary at an Evangelical school. Seminary was already a fairly reflective space where I was faced with trying to figure out why I believed what I believed. I started recognizing that the hate I was holding onto did not fit into my faith at all. Then I found myself in more progressive and inclusive spaces, which solidified my understanding that my faith called me to be loving and accepting of everyone.

 

When I was first interviewing at WBC, I let them know I was affirming of LGBT people. They told me they were a welcoming congregation, but were not fully affirming. They were interested in beginning the affirmation process, which we began in the summer of 2017, after I was hired. I want our church to be a place where people can feel safe figuring out where faith fits into their identity and we’ve been committed to communicating that to our community. We have a statement of affirmation on our website, we’ve updated our marriage policy to include all sexual orientations, and we’ve even hung up a big rainbow banner on the front of our church. While this has helped to bring in quite a few people who are looking for an inclusive church, it has also shown me the depth and breadth of the religious trauma many people have suffered. I have had so many conversations with people who have told me they saw our messaging and were still suspicious and afraid. Frankly, I understand how they may be hesitant to trust us when they’ve experienced a history of pain and rejection from places of faith that proclaim to be welcoming.

 

As a Christian, I live out my faith by trying to contribute to a just and peaceful society. A just society in its most basic form would include equal protections for transgender people. A peaceful society would have everyone standing in solidarity with the most vulnerable. In my eyes, protecting someone’s right to housing and employment is low hanging fruit.