by J.B. Brayfindley
The Methodist PRIDE Collective (MPC), a group of 13 United Methodist Churches in Northern California, is sponsoring a benefit concert for the Trans & Queer Youth Collective (TQYC) on Saturday, January 25, 2020. The event will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 2100 J Street, Sacramento.
The event features, not one, but three musical ensembles including the Gay Men’s Chorus, The Sacramento Women’s Chorus and internationally honored Christian folk musicians Jim and Jean Strathdee. The event benefits the TQYC which provides a safe space for youth who do not otherwise have an opportunity to secure services.
Starting as a small therapy group in 2018, TQYC grew into a partnership with the Sacramento non-profit Gender Health Center and offers community wide services from basic needs assessments and healthcare resource linkage to providing gender-affirming mental health services and LGBTQ education, the opportunity to create a chosen family and build a community of support. “We are committed to helping trans and queer youth have the resources to overcome adversity and grow into their most beautiful, thriving, authentic selves,” said TQYC Mental Health Director Queer identified, Julie Strathdee, MFTA.
Strathdee had no idea the level of support she would receive from the Methodist Collective when she presented her cause to the group in order to increase awareness of the services TQYC provides. As the MPC considered TQYC needs, the group decided to do more than just advertise the services but to put on a benefit event to help financially support the growing program.
“MPC was glad to take on this project. As young people begin to discover their lives and their identity, the preteen and teen years can be very complicated, confusing, frustrating, and ostracizing. More than 40% of trans youth say they have attempted or considered suicide. They need a safe accepting place to express what they are feeling and help accessing their health and service needs or just an ear to listen. TQYC provides that space and support. That is why MPC was glad to take on this project to help support this work of helping to save our youth,” explained Doug Treadwell from First UMC Sacramento who heads up the MPC group. “This will be a fun night full of music for an important cause.”
The benefit for TQYC is the first event of its kind organized by the MPC which itself only formed a few months ago. Back in June 2019, protesting the UMC Special General Conference decision to adopt a plan that would bar LGBTQ+ from specific leadership opportunities within the denomination solely because of their sexuality, more than 300 United Methodists marched in the June Sacramento PRIDE parade—the largest contingent in the parade that year. The participants included members from more than 16 area UM churches, 13 of which committed to continue working together on social justice projects and form a cooperative group meeting monthly.
“[They] asked those who represented the various churches in the parade if they were interested in continuing the coalition in order to search out the LGBTQ needs in the Sacramento area and collectively try to make a positive difference. My husband and I immediately signed-on,” said Mark Guzman, member of The Table at Central United Methodist Church in Sacramento. “This isn’t a time to be standing alone,” explained Guzman’s husband, Scott Coatsworth. “Now we have a vehicle to bring together our like-minded churches, which feels important to me as we face an uncertain future with the global Church.”
Supporting more than the LGBTQ+ causes, the group came together in the Fall to make hygiene kits for immigrants on the southern border working with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). In two hours with more than 50 people, 750 kits were put together. “It was a moment for some of us who champion LGTBQ+ causes to support the lives of another historically oppressed group,” said Coatsworth. “I love how driven the group and its members are in finding ways to help. It’s much more than a social group or an exchange. It’s a way to promote the efforts of individual churches within the collective to help the LGBTQ community and to come up with our own initiatives that will serve to build more of a community-wide spirit and response to the needs of the community.”
The thirteen UM churches in MPC include: Davis UMC, Elk Grove UMC, Fair Oaks UMC, First UMC in Roseville, First UMC in Sacramento, Loomis UMC, Placerville Federated, Rancho Cordova UMC, Sierra Pines UMC in Grass Valley, St. Andrew’s UMC, St. Mark’s UMC, The Table at Central UMC, and Woodland UMC. “There have also been representatives from more than 16 congregations that have participated on and off,” said Treadwell, who spearheaded the coalition from the start as leader of the PRIDE march organizing committee.
Jobs are divided among churches. In planning for the concert, the group generated a QR code for each church to put in their Sunday program flier, produced tickets and posters and jointly paid for Facebook ads as well as other strategies to promote the event. The group has heard positive feedback from its members including excitement about the increased generation of fresh ideas, help with organizing, setting up and advertising activities in their local churches and holding joint events. Last Fall, during one meeting, the group fielded questions about an upcoming Senior LGBTQ Resource Fair asking if anyone wanted to bring literature from their church, who might help set up tables, gathering emails and then going on to get volunteers for helping with the a community event called The Wisdom Project Brunch before brainstorming on how to begin organizing the group’s concert event.
“I like to see more cooperation between UMCs,” stated Alan Pederson, from St. Andrew’s UMC. “This is good for us,” explained Carol Edwards, also from St. Andrew’s UMC. “We had a committee [at my local church] but it really didn’t function, and we had no one else to talk to—this is great!”
Find more information on the Methodist PRIDE Collective at www.facebook.com/MethodistPRIDECollective or at www.umcpridecollective.com Upcoming concert tickets are available for $15 online at www.Eventbrite.com under “trans queer youth collective” or on the Methodist PRIDE Collective Facebook page. Also, you may purchase tickets from members of the MPC at participating churches. Tickets are available to purchase for $20 at the door. Tickets and direct donations can be made directly to TQYC on their website at www.tqyc.org.