Dear LGBTQ+ Community of Connecticut,
As of October 15th, I am the new Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. I am the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and I couldn’t be prouder. Growing up, I was afraid coming out meant never becoming a priest, never marrying and never having a child. Today, I am beyond blessed to have been a priest and now a bishop, to be the dad of an amazing 22-year-old son, and to have married my husband, Paul, 27 years ago this December.
I want to begin this letter to you by saying I’m sorry.
I know that many of you reading this Last Word have been deeply hurt by people and organizations claiming to be people of faith. Some of you may have heard messages from the pulpit of your childhood church, others might have seen images of protesters condemning you in the name of Christianity. And I’m sorry.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Never in my life was I asked to choose between my relationship with the God who loves me and who it was God made me to be. I never had to make the choice between my family of origin and who I came to love. I know many of you have had to make those choices and, again, I’m sorry.
The church is a human institution, run by flawed individuals like any institution. To cause harm and shame in the name of the One who calls us to love without ceasing is wrong, and a sin.
If this has been your experience, or one of someone you love, I’m sorry.
As we turn our attention to the holiday season, many among us face these choices again. To “go home for Thanksgiving” isn’t an exciting proposition for everyone. The weeks leading up to Christmas aren’t filled with “comfort and joy” for too many of our LGBTQ+ siblings. If this is you, I invite you to find an Episcopal Church near you. Let us welcome you and give you the support and love you so deserve.
If you are fortunate, like I am, to have a family and a church who love you as you are, I invite you, too, to find an Episcopal Church near you, and let others know what you know—that love really is stronger than hate. The world needs to hear from you. There’s a young LGBTQ+ person who desperately needs to know that they are worthy of love.
We believe that, on that first Christmas, love was made incarnate. That is, that Love itself came into being and was born among us. Christmas is, above all else, a celebration of Love. And that is a party to which everyone deserves an invitation.
If you are curious about the Episcopal Church, I invite you to check us out. Take a look at our website and social media pages and, if you’re feeling up to it, check out a local church. I pray you will find there a community ready to welcome you, and to walk with you in your journey to become more and more the person God made you to be – the person God NEEDS you to be—in this world. And if you do, I’d love to hear about your experience.
I am excited for the work I am embarking on as the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. There is so much for us to do together, from every faith tradition or none at all, to make Connecticut a state where everyone is assured of their worthiness, affirmed in their dignity, and showered in love. If the Episcopal Church might help you to do that, I pray you’ll give us the chance.
I hope your holidays are filled with joy and love.
The Right Reverend Jeffrey W. Mello
Episcopal Church in Connecticut