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This hymnal is helping LGBTQ+ Christians keep the faith: 'Churches must state who is welcome'

This hymnal is helping LGBTQ+ Christians keep the faith: 'Churches must state who is welcome'

'Songs for the Holy Other' is a collection of LGBTQ+-affirming hymns published in 2019 and compiled by a committee of Hymn Society members representing a wide range of sexualities and gender identities.

For many folks in the queer community who grew up in Christian households, faith can be a complex subject. Jeannette Lindholm, a professor and hymn writer based in Salem, Massachusetts, was raised in an evangelical Christian church. While she has incredible memories of religious music, her early years of faith were marred by a strong dissonance. This is because her hometown, congregation and even her family considered her sexuality a sin. To change experiences of faith for other LGTBQ+ folks, Lindholm has dedicated her life to studying music, feminism and theology. She has since contributed to a collection of LGBTQ+-affirming hymns compiled by the Hymn Society, a 100-year-old institution for religious music, CNN reports.



 

"I profoundly believe in the healing power of love and grace," she shared in an interview with the news outlet. "I didn't want to abandon my faith." Two of Lindholm's works are featured in "Songs for the Holy Other," a collection of LGBTQ+-affirming hymns. The collection was first published in the year 2019 and has proven to be a unique resource for churches who fully celebrate queer believers. The project's mission statement reads, "The title, 'Songs for the Holy Other,' is a self-conscious claiming of otherness as holy and beloved of God." It is just one step towards truly accepting queer Christians, rather than merely tolerating the community.



 

The collection was compiled by a committee of Hymn Society members representing seven denominations and a wide range of sexualities and gender identities. Choosing from over 160 submissions sent in through calls and good old word-of-mouth, the committee compiled 45 texts, paying specific attention to works that were not already widely available. CJ Redden-Liotta, a long-time church music director and Hymn Society member in Virginia served as the project's music director. According to him, queer hymns and worship songs began to proliferate in the 2000s and 2010s, however, it was not always easy to find publications that featured them. He said, "Even as a choir director [at a large church], we often had to turn to songs and hymns that had a very tenuous connection to the community, mentions of rainbows and wide welcomes and the like."



 

Therefore, "Songs for the Holy Other" is truly groundbreaking. It features recently written works like "A Hymn for Self-Acceptance," "God of Queer, Transgressive Spaces" and "Impartial, Compassionate God" being paired with melodies familiar to many churchgoers. In this context, Redden-Liotta affirmed how important it is for churches to be clear about who they welcome. "It is important for churches to explicitly state who is welcome there. It is important for members of our community to hear their names spoken, and sung, in their houses of worship," he stated. "So many of us who are members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community have visited a church that proclaims 'all are welcome' only to find out that there are a lot of exceptions to who they believe 'all' are." You can check out the collection by clicking the link here.



 

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