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Reflections from RfA’s Executive Director

I’m in my church choir. A few weeks ago, we sang a favorite Thanksgiving anthem, “Thou Visitest the Earth,” based on Psalm 65. The melody dances light on its feet, and the (modernized) lyrics are one repeated sentence, You visit the earth and bless it, and crown the year with your goodness. I love it; it “crowns” the closing church year for me and sets me on the path toward Advent, waiting anew for God to visit and bless the earth through the Word made flesh.

Our choir has moved on to other pieces, but for some reason this song is still roaming around my consciousness. I find myself thinking of it, humming it. Today when I opened up Room for All’s Mailchimp account to compose this letter, the lyrics came again: You visit the earth and bless it, and crown the year with your goodness.

By God’s grace, Room for All certainly has been visited this year. Trusting that we may catch glimpses of God through the faithful lives of others, God has “come calling” in 2014 through interviews with 26 LGBTQ Christians who persistently seek and serve God in their welcoming churches, despite resistance from some in the RCA. Or the gay college student from Iowa who told us, “I’ve always known that I had to keep my sexual identity and my faith community in separate boxes.Today for the first time, I’ve seen that they can occupy the same space, and I feel whole. It’s amazing.”

And blessed? Abundantly! We launched a DVD-based study series called “Body & Soul: We Belong,” and our “Room for Me?” video has been viewed thousands of times. That “one box” college student was part of a first-time event in the Orange City, Iowa area that drew nationally-recognized speakers, a full house and sparked a new local group. Our first regional celebration dinner was attended by just under 200 people in West Michigan, many of whom are new to Room for All. We hope to introduce our new Community Coordinator in the next few weeks, and we’re well into planning for our10-year anniversary conference, October 22 – 25, 2015.

Our numbers are up, too. New email subscribers, close to 1,000 Facebook “likers,” 26 rostered congregations, and many first-time donors. A six-month matching funds challenge has been doubled and then some. Thank you to all who have responded so generously! Truly, as 2014 comes to a close, we can only confirm that God has crowned the year with blessings.

There remains much to be done. Two people who were interested in applying for the new staff slot decided not to take the risk of a grant-funded position in a not-for-profit. People interested in attending the national conference inquire about whether there will be scholarship aid. Parents of LGBTQ children are asking about support groups and resources. We would love to repeat the “Scripture, Science & Story” event at the other RCA-affiliated campuses at zero cost to students. We’d like to increase the number of “Building an Inclusive Church” workshops this year. We want to create more video resources.

If you feel called by God to partner in this ministry, we welcome your support. You may send a check, donate online, arrange a stock transfer, or consider Room for All in your estate planning. We pray that the One who “so loved the world” will continue to visit and bless Room for All as we seek to open the doors of the Reformed Church in America in welcome to all.

We wish you a Merry Christmas, and may the God of love crown your year with blessings.

Grace and Peace,
Marilyn Paarlberg
RfA Executive Director