This summer seems to be flying by! I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’ve been enjoying swimming, cookouts, and Royals baseball! I’ve also attended some weddings, so I was excited to learn about the first KC LGBTQ and Allies Wedding Fair, which was held July 13 at Kansas City United Church of Christ. This event came about thanks to the Rev. Bethany Meier, the church’s associate minister, and her fiancée, Kelsee Evans, who recognized some of the differences that LGBTQIA people often face when planning a wedding. I am excited to have interviewed Bethany about the event, as well as her work as a member of the ministry.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Michigan.
What brought you to join the ministry?
I was raised in a Christian family, and my dad was very anti-gay because of church teachings. I always felt a call to ministry but didn’t believe that I could be gay and a Christian. As an adult, I learned that there are churches that are welcoming of the LGBTQ community and I began studying what the Bible really says about homosexuality. I learned that each one of the texts that are used against the LGBTQ+ community really have nothing to do with our modern-day concept of gender and sexuality. They were written in a specific time and place, within a context that did not have the same understanding of human identities that we have today. They simply can’t be ethically used to judge queer relationships today. I became passionate about addressing the hurt that LGBTQ+ people have experienced because of discrimination by the church. Today, I minister to queer people and spread the message that God loves everyone! I also work with families of queer people who are trying to understand how to love their LGBTQ kids and not lose their relationship with God.
How did you come to live in Kansas City?
I came to Kansas City for seminary in August 2013. I stayed because I found an amazing church that I am so happy to be a part of and my fiancée! (The BBQ doesn’t hurt either!)
So many LGBTQIA people feel distanced from the church or religious faith because of how they have been persecuted in the past. Why is KCUCC different?
At KCUCC, we start every service by saying, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here. Jesus didn’t turn people away, and neither do we.” What I love about this church is that it truly lives that out in every way. It has been open and affirming (the UCC term for LGBTQ-inclusive) for over 20 years. Our congregation is about 45% LGBTQ, and half of our staff is some shade of the rainbow. If you visit our church, you will be welcomed and loved from the minute you walk in! Every year, we have a booth at Pride; we also host LGBTQ events year-round!
This year was the first KC LGBTQ and Allies Wedding Fair at Kansas City United Church of Christ (July 13). How did this event come into being?
My fiancée and I got engaged last year and attended a couple of wedding fairs. We found that we had to ask each vendor whether they would be willing to work with a same-sex couple before we could even begin discussing their business! We left those conversations asking, wouldn’t it be great if there was a wedding fair where we didn’t have to come out before each conversation with a potential vendor?
When I brought the idea of a wedding fair to the church council, they were excited and supportive of the idea. I assumed it would be a small event with a few vendors … but we had an amazing amount of interest in the event. I’m not really joking when I say that working on the Wedding Fair became like a second full-time job for me.
What types of vendors were involved?
We had everything from photographers and videographers, to venues, to caterers, to non-profits! We even had acrobats performing on our front lawn!
How was the turnout?
For a first-time event, the turnout was fantastic. We had about 120 people come, if you count the free tickets we gave to the vendors to pass out. More important, we heard couple after couple talk about how important and necessary the event was for the LGBTQ+ community.
Do KCUCC and Kansas City Center for Inclusion (cosponsor of the fair) hope to hold more events like this in the future?
We are hoping to make this an annual event.
You are engaged! Congratulations! What do you and fiancée like to do in your free time?
Well, this year most of our free time was devoted to the Wedding Fair! When we do have some free time, we like to hang out with friends. We also love watching Netflix in our pajamas with our pets while knitting and crotcheting. … yes, we are already turning into little old ladies. 😊
Finally, a fun question. If you and your fiancée could go anywhere on your honeymoon, where would you go, and why?
We actually have already booked our honeymoon! We will be going on an Olivia Cruise, which will go to Greece, Cypress, and Israel, in October 2020!! We can’t wait!