Understanding & Utilizing Pronouns

November 16, 2021

At St. Luke’s, we have spent so much of the last two years talking about our social responsibility, one of the principles that John Wesley started the Methodist movement upon. What is our responsibility to one another, and how does it drive our faith?

Because of our work to redefine how biblical justice is core to our faith, many young people of faith in the LGBTQIA+ community have found St. Luke’s in the last few years or have come out to us as existing students in the ministry. While St. Luke’s has long been a community affirming of and safe for lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the church, we are now learning what it looks like to be a more affirming and even safer place for transgender, intersex, and non-gender conforming members.

More and more young people are coming out as transgender, non-binary, gender-fluid, and non-gender conforming. For the adults who have held relationships with them for years, we are providing more intentional training on how to adjust to learning a new name, gender identity, or new set of pronouns. The video below is a video we created for our Small Group Leaders, who are the true youth pastors of our ministry as they are the ones who build relationships with our students.

Our goal in this video is to cast vision for our hope at St. Luke’s, explain the importance of using a person’s preferred name and pronouns, and give some tips for doing so. We understand that for many adults, this might be the first time they are doing this work as this may be the first relationship they have with someone who is transgender or non-gender conforming. What’s great is our teenagers have been so gracious in helping us adapt and have been so vulnerable in explaining why this work is important.

We believe this video might help people outside of our Student Ministry understand how to best serve LGBTQIA+ individuals. This work feels new to many adults, but for our teenagers this is not as new. At least 10% of Millennials (ages 25 to 40) identify as LGBTQ+, and 15% of Generation Z (ages 10 to 25) identify as LGBTQ+, with a recent study by Barna suggesting it could be as many as 30% and 40%. This means that no longer are we talking about a small subgroup of people, but a big percentage of our current and future church leaders.

It is incredibly important to learn as much as we can – but what’s even more important is that we honor an individual and how they would like to be named and referred to. No matter where you fall theologically or how much education or experience you have on the subject, remember that honoring a person’s name and pronouns quite literally can save their life. This simple act shows a person you care. Think of it like this: just as you had to adjust to my new name when I married three years ago, I ask that you honor the names and pronouns of our students. 

If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them! Email heather.kenison@stlukesumc.com.