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By JR Holguin
The Metropolitan New York Synod has elected Christopher Vergara as its first openly gay vice president of the board, and this comes during a concerning nationwide trend where more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are introduced in legislatures.
Vergara’s appointment is a motivating force for the LGBTQ+ community, as it currently faces an aggressive wave of laws aiming to destroy any progress made by the community. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, reports that from the 500 anti-LGBTQ+, “over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people, also a record; and a record 70 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted so far this year.”
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Vergara has a firsthand understanding of the community’s struggle.
Growing up gay in Christian tradition has never been welcoming to any members of the LGBTQ+ community, and Vergara was aware early on.
“For me, there was a very clear message that because of that identity, my only path was to hell,” said Vergara during a recent interview with the Immigrant Journal.
Vergara knew he could not change his identity or religion, so he wondered how to serve the Church on his faith journey. “I realized that what I could do was service,” said Vergara. “Do the work of the Kingdom of God on earth, and that has really shaped me as I’ve grown.”
His dedication is evident in Vergara’s work, as he has been involved in many initiatives, including giving desperately needed resources to underserved communities and fighting for fair immigration laws in this nation.
Vergara took it upon himself to help his congregation declare sanctuary on a national level, and without missing a beat, he thought about how this could have a positive impact on a local level. He focused on the youth in detention centers across New York, “I called it like a ‘sanctuary youth group,’ and every month, we try to take them on a cultural recreational, educational kind of events,” said Vergara.
“I took them like 150 kids at a time to the zoo or ice skating, or we went to the circus, or I was just trying to get them out of that space and have a good day.”
Even more inspiring, Vergara and his partner would help children separated from their parents and placed in detention centers reunite with their loved ones. When they met a migrant with no family, Vergara and his partner became his legal guardians and his new family.
A true advocate for inclusion and acceptance, Vergara and the New York Lutheran Church create a spiritual home where everyone, including migrants, can find support, understanding, and a sense of belonging. When asked about Lutheran traditions, Vergara spoke of grace, how there is nothing one can do to win or lose it, making it responsible of oneself to do their part.
“God loves you died for your sins, and has paid that debt, and you are now free to live to be a worker in the Kingdom of God here on earth,” he said.