Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Haven is a group that meets at my undergraduate institution, Seattle Pacific University (SPU), originally formed to discuss GLBT issues and human sexuality--a much needed group on campus. It's a long story, but the group has been fighting with the administration at SPU to gain official club status for years (I believe since about 2006 or 07). You can read about their most current struggle here. Needless to say, I'm so disappointed in SPU. Really disappointed. THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE EXPECT OF THE CHURCH. What if we decided to join together to LOVE everyone and fight for those that society doesn't treat with dignity and respect--it seems to me God would get more behind THAT idea then anything else. Call me crazy. What makes me really upset is that the club is not about being pro-this issue or anti-that issue...it's about DISCUSSION...and I feel like Haven has done such an excellent job of living that value out, and it gets continually misconstrued. The really cool thing though is seeing the scores of people that are showing their support towards the cause (yeah social change!). Petitions are forming, and letters being sent (Sign the petition here). GLBT issues are so close to my heart for so many reasons--the greatest people I know have dealt with too much unnecessary pain and heartache, particularly within a religious context, which is so far from who I believe Christ was, and is frankly embarrassing for me to be associated with as a person of faith. I have so much respect for the students who are fighting the good fight--they are the agents of change and I'm honored to be affiliated with them and their cause, even in such a small way as signing a petition and sending a letter. I was just thinking the other day how I wish that more Americans would get angry at injustice, that they would get more political (much like the protesters in Egypt--while I don't love the violence, at least they're fighting for something...). But apathy is not the name of the game anymore--a ruckus is being stirred! Anyways, here is my letter to the administration: feel free to send one their way.

Dear President Eaton, Dr. Steele and Dean Jordan,

I am writing to express my disappointment that the SPU administration has decided to not award Haven official club status, and is refusing to let them meet on campus. I was a Peer Advisor the year that the Equality Ride attended SPU. I am forever grateful that SPU was committed to listening to the group that came, and it was the first time that I was exposed to different ways of thinking about homosexuality in particular. I know that not all Christian universities allowed the Equality Ride to come to their campus, but SPU was different. I really valued that SPU was not afraid of dissimilarity in ideas, and were willing to engage in the conversation. I learned about many different theological perspectives during that time, as well as heard many stories of pain from those that spoke. I had never been exposed to the GLBT community prior to this, and it was a pivotal moment in my faith. I was allowed the opportunity to critically think about my faith from an academic perspective, proving to me that God was not afraid of my questions, and that Christianity was a faith that could be thought about on an intellectual level. It was through my education that my faith was saved—through professors who taught me that faith and intellect could go together. It was through my classes at SPU that taught me to value equality for all people, regardless of their difference in gender, race, social class or sexual orientation, and to put my faith in to action and to fight for change alongside them. THIS was why I came to college--to learn about the world around me, to engage with those were were different. Everyone's experience is not like mine. I chose SPU specifically because one did not have to be a confessing Christian to attend like many other Christian universities—which seemed to demonstrate a belief that SPU was confident enough in their doctrine and values that those who were different could attend and still be apart of a community. SPU constantly talked about engaging the culture—and I thought they were trying to practice it as well. That is why I am so disappointed that SPU will not allow Haven club status. This is not the SPU that I know, love, and support in so many ways. I believed that SPU was not afraid of conversation, which Haven has repeatedly expressed is their sole purpose in forming this club. They are not about pushing a perspective, but rather about having open discussion—I have personally witnessed this in the multiple meetings I attended. As a former member of Haven and Sophia, I experienced personally Haven’s efforts to respect SPU’s statement on sexuality, and honor the wishes of the administration, but I have to ask, what is the administration afraid of? Through conversation, I believe that God will lead us to truth—if we cannot trust in that, then where is our faith?

Additionally, this group is vital for those that identify as part of the GLBT community. I personally have had many friends who identify as GLBT, and I have heard their stories of struggle, their feeling that they did not belong, especially and oftentimes specifically within a religious community. Unfortunately, this decision by the administration only seems to confirm this fear. This is absolutely devastating to me as a follower of Christ because I believe that was the antithesis of who He was. Many of my friends thought they were the only one who struggled with these issues, oftentimes giving up faith or their church community altogether because they thought they had to choose, and I can’t imagine how different their stories might have been had they had a group like Haven on campus to support them. As an ally, I needed this group to learn more about my peers and to make sure I was making an effort to create a community they could feel like they were apart of. As a follower of Jesus, I believe this is my call. Jesus was about engaging in conversation. He was about including others. I urge you to please grant Haven club status, as it will create a more loving and inclusive community that I know SPU strives for. It is time to put faith into action.


Jessica Miller, Class of 2009

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful letter, Jess. Thanks for your support.