F L O Y D P O E N I T Z
What do you do as President?
I represent SDA Kinship in dealing with other corporations and businesses, including the signing of contracts. I also sit in an ex officio capacity, without a vote, on all committees except the Nominating Committee. I coordinate and chair membership meetings, Board meetings, and Executive Committee meetings. I maintain communication with the Board between meetings. I report regularly to the membership. I submit to the Board an annual work plan identifying the specific activities and collaborative ventures to be carried out during the forthcoming fiscal year.
What do you hope to accomplish as President?
Kinship has been around for 40+ years. We have established that we exist inside the church, that we belong as an equal with other members; and we have proven from the Bible that we are not broken or a mistake. I would like to see us move forward as an organization and take the next step in being relevant to all of our diverse membership.
Hi! I’m Ellen Henderson, a 30-something who loves to read. My favorite genre is queer YA (young adult fiction), but I dabble in other genres as well. I’m excited to keep sharing book recommendations with you. Even if reading isn’t for you, tell your friends about these great books.
UnClobber tells of the personal journey of Pastor Colby Martin as he researches the Bible’s six “clobber texts”—the only places in Scripture that might plausibly address sexual orientation—and comes to a new understanding of how the church can relate to members of the LGBTQIA+ community from a biblical and compassionate framework. Pastor Colby isn't the first to learn this, but his story and biblical interpretation communicates the message in a deep, balanced, and accessible way.
In 2021, SDA Kinship sent over 1,000 paperback and ebook copies of UnClobber to people around the world. We have collaborated with the publishers to ship UnClobber in paperback, not just to the United States, but also to Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The ebooks are provided through Amazon Kindle, and we can only send them to the U.S.-based accounts. We are not able to send books to other locations in South America, Africa, or Asia at this time, but we are looking for other resources that we may be able to share.
Kinship Families & Friends Zoom Roundtable
The SDA Kinship Families & Friends group desires to support all families working their way through emotional and, possibly, confusing times. We (Carolyn and John) conducted two Sabbath school evaluations. In one class, 42% shared that they had an LGBTQ+ family member, and in the other class, it was 45%. We also estimate that 5-10% don’t know if they have an LGBTQ+ family member, while an additional 5-10% don’t care to admit it.
by Ellen Henderson
This year’s European Kinship Meeting (EKM) was held about an hour and a half outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands from September 2 to 6, 2021. EKM was made possible by the leadership and coordination of Ruud Kieboom and the financial support of an anonymous donor.
This New Year’s, I'm thankful for a Kinship Connection magazine showing up in my email inbox. It’s a wonderful escape from the world outside. It offers a time to reflect on our chosen family and the many blessings of Kinship friends around the world.
When I first joined SDA Kinship and before I became an active member, the Connection was my monthly lifeline to others who were like me. Most of them had grown up Adventist too, and they understood what it meant to be "different." That was many years ago now, but connecting with others who understand me is still a priority.
A Week at Quest Learning Center
BY JERRY MCKAY
By the end of the first week of September 1982, I had decided to relocate to Pennsylvania for counseling. The first thing I had to do was to call Perry in Japan, because my decision would require his finding a teacher to replace me on short notice. At $3.00 per minute, our call was brief. Perry said that any inconvenience my decision might cause did not concern him. Rather, he was concerned for me. After sharing a few details about my visit with Colin, I thought I had put Perry’s reservations to rest. That was not the case. Two days later, Perry called back.
Perry feared that my life—in fact, my whole identity—would become organized around homosexuality instead of a bigger paradigm—my maleness within a Christian framework. He was concerned that by going to Reading, I would establish and reinforce my identity through a sexual framework by being with and talking to other homosexuals, day in and day out. I thought Perry’s concerns were legitimate, but my ship named “Identity” had already set sail.
A Wedding and a Vacation
BY JERRY MCKAY
On August 10, 1982, barely a week after my first weekend visit with Colin Cook, my sister and I loaded up a rented Capri station wagon and set out for Alberta where I would be a member of the wedding of a college friend. The difference between this trip and others Marilyn and I had taken together before was that she now knew about my orientation. I told her the night I returned from my first visit with Colin. Her knowing about my orientation was significant, but it didn’t mean much. Without access to my experience, how could she know what I was going through? Often during this trip, I was lost in self-reflection about my past, present, and future, all through the lens of reparative therapy.
We knew we had reached our target destination for our first day when we saw a well-known landmark, a large island – the sleeping giant of Ojibwa legend – peacefully resting off the shores of Lake Superior just east of Thunder Bay. It was a long drive, for sure, but we were experienced at marathon road trips. During childhood, many a vacation covered the same route we travelled that day. For that reason, every curve in the road and every small town was familiar. This time, as we drove past familiar places, memories of particular family interactions and orientation- related experiences emerged. The strongest memories were associated with the tiny ubiquitous self-contained cabins we stayed in as a family.
The Rest of the Reading Story
BY JERRY MCKAY
DISCLAIMER: The material in this chapter deals with sensitive issues with respect to the author's experience when he was in counseling with Mr. Cook. Some may find this section upsetting. At the same time, the author would like to stress that these events were in 1982 and that a lot of time has passed since then. The author has a long history with Mr. Cook. Over the last couple of years, he has been in contact with Mr. Cook about these incidents. This, however, is for a later chapter.
When I previously described my first visit with Colin, I indicated I had had a very positive experience. In fact, there were multiple benefits. I arrived in Reading hoping to be known on a deeply personal level; I was not to be disappointed. I bared my soul in ways I had never done before. I began to purge twenty years of shame, self-condemnation, and emotional isolation.
First Visit with Colin
BY JERRY MCKAY
Once I named my experience—acknowledged my homosexual orientation—a predictable side effect emerged. I found myself wanting to meet others with a similar experience. The only way I knew of doing that was through an ad on the back page of The Japan Times.
Among the ads for apartments, language teachers, and cheap flights to the U.S., was the bi-weekly one-sentence notice for a gathering of gay men. The ad I had purposely ignored over the years was now my portal to meeting people like myself. I called from the language school, but only when it was deserted. The conversation was short. All I needed was the time and location of the gathering.
The Day After
BY JERRY MCKAY
After years of suppressing relationship longings, fearing and over-analyzing every thought and feeling, my world seemed different the day after reading the Ministry magazine interview; even the sunlight was different. Naming my experience instantly altered my perception of the world and divided it into before and after. While most prior themes remained and/or evolved, new themes emerged. Overnight, I became preoccupied with changing my orientation.
At the same time, I felt driven to seek out other LGBT people as a means of understanding myself. Not all new themes were pleasant. I would slowly learn what others—church members in particular—thought of "the homosexual"—of me. My circumstances notwithstanding, I was as naïve as any heterosexual about the broader experience of LGBT people. I had no idea what was ahead of me. I had just eaten from the reparative-therapy tree of knowledge of good and evil, so I would have to experience all the consequences for myself.
The Year of Before and After, Part II
BY JERRY MCKAY
It was midnight when I finished reading the Ministry interview and headed home. The familiar residential streets of Tokyo seemed different that night. My trance-like walk home was broken once by a brief exchange with a passing policeman whom I knew. I remember this odd detail because his greeting jolted me back into the present. Although my head was filled with the hope of healing from homosexuality, when I saw him I was once again aware of how attractive I found him.
This left me feeling uneasy. Once home, hoping not to wake anyone, I slipped into bed and tried to sleep. That was impossible. It is said that just before you die your life passes before you. Mine passed before me many times that night. I replayed events from childhood and with male friendships in high school and college. I recounted my long “relationship” with Donna and my three prior years in Japan. I spent most of the night reassessing every event through a new lens—the cause and cure of homosexuality.
The Year of Before and After, Part I
BY JERRY MCKAY
As my graduation approached, I should have been contacting conferences in Canada for a pastoral internship position. I was not. Instead, I returned to Japan, the only place I felt I could serve God and avoid the stress my yet unacknowledged orientation was creating. While my return was an acceptable option, it did not come from a place of strength. Distress was a common private component of my life. However, this trip to Japan would be unlike any other. Halfway through my two-year term, a life-defining moment occurred.
I arrived in Japan just in time to attend the baptism of a dear friend. During my final year of college, Mitsuko wrote to tell me of her decision to give her heart to Jesus. On August 3, 1980, Mitsuko was baptized in a beautiful, tree-lined mountain stream an hour west of Tokyo. English teachers, church members, her husband, and I gathered as she waded into a pool of water with the pastor to seal her commitment. I was thrilled to be part of this celebration because I never expected to be there. The day after, I rushed off to Osaka. Although my heart was in Tokyo, I had reluctantly agreed to start my work in Osaka because they needed a teacher.
When my oldest child informed me that she was transgender, I cried. I was confused. I didn’t even know where to turn to talk to anyone, because I knew my church wasn’t prepared to touch the issue. So I started praying and reading.
It’s been a couple of years now. My daughter Amy is happier than she ever was during her years of living as a boy. Her teenage siblings accepted her without question; their oldest sibling was simply "regenerating" like in Dr. Who—the same person inside with a different outside.
Finished with College, Part II
BY JERRY MCKAY
Despite everything that was going on internally, I made wary attempts at dating. My very confused state of mind affected everyone around me including Donna who continued to hold out hope for a relationship. But her hope was constantly frustrated. I was all over the map when it came to Donna and other female friends. A seemingly insignificant event could ignite my fight or flight response.
One evening, for example, a considerate faculty member sent me into a panic. A few minutes before a worship service was to begin, I sat down next to one of my professors. Shortly after, he noticed Donna approaching. Because there wasn’t room for her, he stood up and offered her his seat. I remember this incident because of a sudden almost overwhelming surge of agitation—even anger. I appreciated his gesture, but in my mind, his action implied we were a couple. Taking place in church, this felt too public. His gracious offer brought reality too close. I couldn’t manage being seen to be in a serious relationship. I wanted to get up and leave.
Why I am an LGBT+ Ally
Though, like most Adventists, I was raised without an accepting view of LGBT+ people, I have always felt uncomfortable with that theology.
Finished with College but Not My Orientation
BY JERRY MCKAY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
If you are reading my story for the first time and you feel you are missing some context, I suggest you start at the beginning with the May 2015 issue of The Connection. Why I am writing my story in such detail? In short, I am answering questions while hoping to educate. Over the years, I have been asked the same questions over and over by friends, family, and church members. The answers to those questions are found in different decades of my life. I'm grateful to the Connection for giving me this space to share my story. Publishing as I write is a great motivator! –Jerry McKay
In January 1979, after a second mission term in Japan, I was back at Canadian Union College (now Burman University) and ready to finish my degree in theology. I wish I could say it was an amazing stress-free experience. There were high points, but it seemed as if every few months there was a new incident related to my orientation. Two of them were traumatic.
Continuing with Studies and Attempts at Dating
BY JERRY MCKAY
In the introduction to my story, I mentioned that people have asked how my faith and my orientation intersected and collided. During that first year at CUC, there was a spiritual “event” that conspired against me to create great expectations on one hand and disillusionment on the other. Those expectations intensified my internal conflict and would carry forward to the time when I was in reparative therapy. Because my spiritual formation was profoundly influenced by that event, I will explore it at some length. Bear with me, as I get a bit theological.
While I was in Japan, an Adventist pastor had been giving Week of Prayer lectures on Adventist campuses in the United States. I initially learned of Morris Venden through audiocassette tapes (showing my age again). While I enjoyed the taped messages, I was thrilled when I obtained a print copy of the fall 1975 Student Movement, the student newspaper for Andrews University. That 28-page issue was a transcript of Venden’s Week of Prayer messages.
Awareness of My Orientation
BY JERRY MCKAY
My orientation continued to manifest on a daily basis, and there were times when it intruded noticeably. As in high school, it sometimes caused me to modify my behavior. Four examples have stayed with me all these years.
But before I continue, I feel it’s important to reiterate that, even though I can now write about these situations with a high degree of awareness, at the time I still had not named my experience. I did not identify as homosexual or gay. I was, however, growing increasingly aware of how differently I experienced the world compared to my male friends.