This is part 2 of a 5 part series sharing stories from RMN's recently published 2012 Annual Report.
- by Giselle Lawn, RMN Board Director -
Twenty-two years ago I professed my faith in God and my life has never been the same. I joined my local Southern Baptist church and began my new life journey with God. For the next sixteen years, I shared the Christian gospel through personal witness as part of the outreach ministry of the church.
Since my earliest memories as a child, I lived my entire life in the closet, doing my best to live according to societal norms and expectations and to suppress the person God created me to be. Six years ago, I put God’s design for my life ahead of societal expectations. I decided to live the rest of my life as the woman God created me to be instead of continuing my life as a man. I decided to come out of the closet. My objective was to blend into society as another Godly woman.
I met with my pastor and told him. He told me to rescind my letter of membership and leave the church. As a single person for whom the church was home and family, it was painful to leave this church, but I did so, trusting God to lead me.
A friend introduced me to Saint Mark UMC in midtown Atlanta and I joined three years ago. Just two weeks later I learned to tell my story at my first Reconciling Ministries Network event for All Means All, part of the Called to Witness campaign, held at St Mark.
When asked to join the RMN board just over two years ago, it was not an easy decision. For me it meant coming out of the closet again. It meant not only just blending into society as another woman who loves the Lord and was still hiding her past from society, but also trusting God to live publicly and proudly as a transgender woman and as a woman who loves other women.
RMN has helped me experience the freedom of living an authentic, open life. Since RMN has become part of my life, I feel an even closer, stronger relationship with God. The RMN vision statement says, “Reconciling Ministries Network strives to transform the world by living out the Gospel’s teachings of grace, love, justice and inclusion for all of God’s children.” RMN has provided me an outreach vehicle, now to work alongside others to make this vision reality. RMN has expanded my advocacy role helping to make our United Methodist Church more welcoming and affirming.
Through RMN, I help provide a church home for my transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, and queer sisters and brothers. Through RMN I advocate for a UMC where (regardless of sexual orientation) the marriage of all loving couples may be celebrated; and a UMC where all who are or are called to be our UMC clergy are able to live open, authentic lives.
Loving God, thank you for leading me through life and leading me to Reconciling Ministries Network.
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Giselle attends St. Mark UMC in Atlanta where she serves on the Administrative Council and is a district at-large delegate to the North Georgia Annual Conference. She has participated in the Called to Witness campaign since 2009, sharing her story this year with delegates to the 2012 General Conference and serving with the North Georgia Annual Conference team. She will be a volunteer at the 2012 General Conference and was a presenter at Sing a New Song. Since 2009, she has lobbied her Georgia senators and congressmen with the National Center for Transgender Equality in both Washington, DC and Atlanta, advocating legislation for employment nondiscrimination. Giselle marched in the National Equality March in Washington, DC. She is employed as Manager of Forecasting for Shaw Industries, Inc. in Dalton, Ga.