A Worldwide Church of Bridge Builders

The follow are the words of encouragement given by Erika Munson at the 2015 Utah Pride parade, prior to marching:

“It is an inspiring and joyful and beautiful day.   Will all the primary children raise their hands high? Two Primary Songs come to mind today, the first is Do As I’m Doing….the second is the song about baptism that begins “I like to look for rainbows” and ends “I want to be the best I can, and live with God again”.  You Primary children are being a wonderful example to people all along the street who will be watching and cheering for you. Whenever you see a rainbow – say those words to yourself,  “I want to be the best I can” and think about ways you can show love to everyone.

All of us are here today Because We Believe. Our testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ compel us to publicly declare our unconditional love for our LGBTQI/SSA brothers and sisters. Whether today is your first march, or you’re a veteran — you are a Bridge Builder.  Each bridge builder is unique. There are those who have been putting their collective shoulder to the wheel for decades: the pioneers in Family Fellowship, and Affirmation;  there are the amazing ladies responsible for everything you see here today — Doree Burt who has turned our parade experience into a well-oiled machine of love and support; Vicki Johnson,  —  a one woman truth and reconciliation commission — who has made the hugging booths on the festival grounds powerful little islands of love and forgiveness.   MBB also organizes community conversations, shows up at conferences, and advocates for fair treatment of LGBTQI/SSA people in our wider community. Sherri Park created Sit with me Sunday;  and there’s the Mama Dragons: a fire breathing circle of  love and protection for  their gay and trans  kids. All these individuals have taken a great idea and run with it; but it doesn’t need to stop there.  We need thousands of Bridge Builders, doing everything from speaking up in Sunday School to crafting lessons that will build empathy, to proactively talking with their bishops about making sure  their youth program is an inclusive place; where a young man or woman could be safe coming out. There are so many initiatives large and small, quiet and forceful that only you can create, conversations only you can have Because You Believe. Speaking up and being brave inspires others, it builds on itself. Each of us needs to take fresh courage and awaken a worldwide church of Bridge Builders.

At the head of the parade today is Janet Mock, the first transgender Grand Marshal Utah Pride has ever had. It would serve us well this morning to ask for special guidance as we make a place in the church for our transgender brothers and sisters.  The journey of Caitlyn Jenner is unique, but it is also universal. Her very public story elicits strong emotions — many of them judgmental and cruel.  As our fellow ward members sort out their feelings, it may be tempting to walk away in anger, but as bridge builders there’s another option: we have the opportunity to model compassionate listening while at the same time supporting transgender individuals on their life’s path. It’s new, its scary for lots of people, let’s listen, let’s ask questions, then let’s share our story.

We have many reasons to count our blessings today.  More and more  LDS families are rallying round their LGBT loved ones. Local leaders are reaching out. But progress is painfully slow.  For every hopeful story there is another of frustration and heartbreak. Because We Believe,  let us resolve to be there for each other; gay straight, trans, bi, ssa…however we identify. As we strive to be the messengers of the gospel of peace, may every rainbow give us renewed determination to truly Be the Best We Can Be….
Let’s. Go. Build. Zion.
In Jesus Name, Amen.”