More Light Presbyterian News

Working for the Full Participation of LGBTQ people in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and In Society.
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I am thrilled to introduce Jess Cook (they, them, theirs) as More Light’s new Program and Communications Manager! Jess will serve as third full-time staff member alongside Joey Lopez and me. Some of you may know Jess from the LGBTQ youth workshop they led at the 2015 More Light National Conference. However, if you haven’t met Jess yet, let me help you get to know them!

When I posted the job description for the Program and Communications Manager, I acknowledged that I was looking for a unicorn: someone who had the design and communications chops to take our media work to the next level, experience in program management, and the theological or congregational experience to work alongside our More Light Churches and members. Jess is that unicorn.

Jess is currently a candidate for ordination in the PC(USA), has an MDiv from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA, and a Masters of Fine Arts in photography from the University of North Texas including graphic design experience. For the past four years, Jess has worked as the Youth Programs Director at Side-by-Side, an LGBTQ+ youth center in Richmond, VA. While at Side by Side, Jess grew the youth programs over 300%. Jess was part of building their existing youth programs, including a support group for trans youth and the first LGBTQ+ youth for Middle Schoolers on the east coast, and helped start a new group specifically for LGBTQ+ youth of color. In addition, Jess started a meals program at Side by Side and coordinated the messaging for the organization’s re-brand in 2016. If you want to see Jess talk about their work at Side by Side and how it translates to the work we do at MLP, check out their TEDX talk about what faith communities can learn from queer kids in capes.

Here’s what Jess had to say about joining the team at More Light:

When I first connected with Side by Side in 2011, I was beginning my third year of seminary. I came in with ideas of building bridges with faith communities in an attempt to make them safer for LGBTQ+ youth. Instead, I was drawn into the space itself and the kind of magic that happens when young people are truly seen and affirmed in who they are. I continue to be moved by the transformation I see in youth every day. More Light feels like the opportunity to do what I thought I would do those years ago. My time at Side by Side will allow me to stay rooted in the lived experiences of the people I’ve met as I communicate with congregational leaders about how to truly create space for LGBTQ+ people in their congregations. This job fits perfectly within both my formal education and my work experience, and also my sense of call to better equip faith community leaders on how to support a rich and diverse LGBTQ+ community. I cannot wait to join the team and be part of the work and witness of MLP.

We are in an exciting time of growth here at MLP. More congregations than ever are joining More Light in a commitment to sharing God’s abundant love in a witness of welcome. People of faith have been taking to the streets and halls of their legislators to push back against discrimination, and faith communities are asking the important questions about how to live into LGBTQ inclusion. Jess’ gifts will strengthen and expand the work we are able to do together. Please join me in welcoming and celebrating a new chapter for More Light!

Hooray!

Alex Patchin McNeill
Executive Director


Today, beloved More Light pastor and board member Rev. Dr. Jeff Krehbiel died surrounded by his family. Jeff has served as a board member at More Light since 2014, and as a pastor of More Light churches for many years. He shepherded the organization through our marriage ratification effort and into our vision for what’s next. His energy, passion, dedication, and organizing gifts will continue to influence our ministry at More Light for years to come. At our evening worship service at the More Light national conference in 2015 he used his gifts for Biblical Storytelling to share the Word in this video.

The message that night was from Romans 8: 18-25, and stands as a testament of Jeff’s spirit and a poignant reminder of the vision of hope beyond what we can see.

“I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice–it was the choice of the one who subjected it–but in the hope that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. We were saved in hope. If we see what  we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.”

Jeff’s body has been set free, but his spirit will dwell with all of those who are committed to organizing justice and inclusion. A celebration of his life will take place in Washington DC on May 6. More Light’s board and staff continue to hold Jeff’s wife Cheryl, his daughters and his family in our prayers.


 

Presbyterian Fun Fact

There are about 75 million Reformed/Presbyterian Christians worldwide and about 2.5 million belong to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

 

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