FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May, 2018
To highlight their practice of radical hospitality, welcoming everyone regardless of race, creed, color, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation, Holy Trinity, 3200 N. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater, will host the Shower of Stoles Project during the month of May. The Shower of Stoles Project is an extraordinary collection of more than a thousand liturgical stoles and other sacred items representing the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of faith. Thirty of the beautiful stoles along with a powerfully moving narrative for each will be displayed in the church. The stoles may be viewed Sunday, May 20 & 27, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., or by appointment. Call 727-796-5514 to make an appointment.
This extraordinary collection celebrates the gifts of LGBT persons who serve God in countless ways, while also lifting up those who have been excluded from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The collection tours constantly around the country, being exhibited in local congregations, universities and seminaries, and regional and national denominational gatherings.
“This special project will highlight our sensitivity to members of the LGBT community,” said The Very Reverend Randall Hehr, Rector of Holy Trinity.
Each stole, a long scarf usually worn with ministerial robes, is accompanied by a story of a clergy member — whether a deacon, elder, minister or church musician — who has been forced out of their ministry or has had to deny their identity to continue to serve. The beautifully decorated stoles, which can be viewed as art in their own right, reflect the feelings of the silenced clergy members who face the threat of being defrocked, about three-fourths of whom are not identified on the stoles at their request.
“The stoles symbolize the tragedy and pain it must cause someone to hide who they are,” said church member Karen Owen. Owen lead the effort to bring the Stoles Project to Holy Trinity.
The Shower of Stoles Project began when a Presbyterian minister from rural Missouri who had recently come out as gay asked her friends and colleagues for stoles to hang at a meeting where she set aside her ordination. Almost overnight she received 80 stoles of support, and they kept coming until more than 1,000 were received. The 23-year-old collection now has been shown at more than 1,500 exhibits and continues to provide a powerful symbol of the huge loss to churches of gifted leadership. For more information, visit welcomingresources.org/SOSP.
Since 1976, Episcopalians have been working toward a greater understanding and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members. In 2003, the first openly gay bishop was consecrated; in 2009, the national church resolved that God’s call is open to all; in 2012, a provisional rite of blessing for same-gender relationships was authorized, and discrimination against transgender persons in the ordination process was officially prohibited; and in 2015, the canons of the church were changed to make the rite of marriage available to all people, regardless of gender. Today the Episcopal Church sincerely welcomes their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters.
Holy Trinity in Clearwater is a welcoming, loving, and serving congregation that was planted in the Countryside area in 1995. Holy Trinity is a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. Their campus is located directly across the street from Mease Countryside Hospital.