Modified on: March 8, 2018

In Buddhism, practitioners vow to “take refuge in the sangha,” the spiritual community—both to find haven from life’s difficulties and to build one another up to face life’s challenges. Those who take refuge create a space for each other, a place of mutual support, a place to strengthen one another along life’s way.

This week, the work of many people in the Spartanburg community has culminated in the report of an LGBTQ needs assessment ( Based on a survey of almost 400 people throughout our county, the assessment measures the lived experience of LGBTQ members of this community. 70% of respondents report that LGBTQ co-workers and clients experience a lack of family support. Accessing healthcare that meets the needs of an individual, in the fullness of their identity and being, is a major concern expressed in the survey, with a majority of respondents not feeling they can share their sexual orientation or gender identity with their doctors. 70% express frequent feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

As I have listened to presenters interpret this report, they have repeatedly named individuals and organizations who are doing the work of advocacy to create a more livable space for every person in Spartanburg. And over and over again I hear the names of members and friends of this congregation. I hear the name of this congregation itself. I am not surprised. But I am awed.

You do so much, individually and together. You have for so long. And in all of your work, in so many organizations and venues, and beyond the limits of any group or institution—you also have made this church a place that matters—a place of belonging and of strength—a place of refuge and of power—for every person who finds a place here—and for many, many, many more, far beyond these walls.

It matters.

Thank you.


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