SAN DIEGO -- While the Supreme Court works to determine the relationship among sexual orientation, freedom of religion and discrimination in Christian Legal Society v. University of California, Hastings, a local church group works to reconcile Christianity and sexual orientation.
Solace, a peer support group for Christians and other people of faith in the coming out process, provides participants with a safe space to talk about the challenges they face identifying as LGBT people. Solace meets from 7 to 9 p.m. Sundays at the Missiongathering church offices, 3880 Fifth Ave., San Diego.
“It’s unfortunate, but sometimes our churches can be some of the scariest places to talk about these things,” said Joshua Romero, Solace founder and director.
“Solace is a place where people can come ask questions and share their journey as they figure out what it means to be a Christian that may also part of the LGBT community.”
Romero’s own journey as a Christian coming out to friends and family and the stories he heard along the way motivated the creation of Solace.
History of Solace
“While I was in school, I lost a friend to suicide,” Romero said.
“I found out months later that, among other things, he was struggling with the fact that he might be gay. Being in a place where he didn’t have anyone to talk to only made things worse.”
Interestingly, Romero was in a very similar situation as his friend and his life took a very different course.
“I found myself praying more, reading the Bible more, and even fasting in an attempt to sort it all out,” Romero said. “I was more intentional and dedicated in my faith than I’d ever been before.”
The difference? Romero had people he could talk to during the process.
This realization led to the idea that Christians need a place to discuss the challenges that come when they confront the fact that they may be an LGBT person. By sharing their stories and listening to those of their peers, participants can continue to deepen their relationship with God and their faith, while addressing the intense identity crises that comes with coming out.
As a member of Missiongathering Christian Church, Romero looked to his pastoral leadership to support his desire to help people of faith during the coming out process. The church jumped at the opportunity.
“Christ’s message of mercy and grace for all is just that – for all,” said Alex Roller, pastor of Missiongathering Spiritual Formation. “This is an opportunity for us, as a church, to show that mercy and grace to people at a time when they need it most.”
Solace is a peer support group for Christians who are questioning their sexual orientation or in the coming out process. Through sharing our stories as we work to reconcile our Christian identity with our sexual identity, we discover support and encouragement during one of life’s biggest challenges.
Starting May 2, Solace will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Sundays at the Missiongathering church offices, 3880 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103.
Meetings are open to the public and members of any faith confronted with the challenges of reconciling their beliefs with their sexual orientation.
For more information on Solace, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Joshua Romero
Romero grew up in a conservative, Christian home.
He attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, where he was a Bible study leader, resident assistant, campus tour guide, student organization president and member of the Associated Student Body board of directors. It was there that his faith was challenged and grew as he reconciled it with his sexual orientation.
Romero is the volunteer Faith Initiatives representative to the Human Rights Campaign San Diego and an advisor to The Second Guess Ministry. He speaks often on issues of faith and sexual orientation.
He works in higher education marketing and communications.