This June, EMM worked with 21 congregations and other partners throughout the U.S. and Europe to shine a spotlight on people who have been forced to flee their country of origin because of homophobia and transphobia. Here are a few highlights:

Panel discussion, Church of the Good Samaritan, Knoxville, TN

Bridge Refugee Services staged a “Reconciling Panel Discussion” on June 25th in partnership with Church of the Good Samaritan of Knoxville, TN. The event featured a speaker from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), as well as Bishop Brian Cole of the Diocese of East Tennessee; EMM’s Director Sarah Shipman; Sinead Doherty of Good Samaritan, who was one of the coauthors of the resolution that led to the creation of the Rainbow Initiative; and independent scholar Craig Mortley, who provided a video presentation that is available in extended format here. An Ecumenical pride service was celebrated at Good Samaritan on the same day, with the sermon provided by Bishop Kevin Strickland of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Southeastern Synod, which is also a Rainbow Initiative partner.

American Cathedral in Paris

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, also known as the “la Cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité” or “The American Cathedral in Paris,” displayed the Rainbow Initiative banner in front of their church building, and in the annual “Marche des fiertés” (“Pride March”) on June 24th. On the same day, the Cathedral celebrated an inclusive bilingual service that included Prayers of the People created by and for the Rainbow Initiative. In addition, Holy Trinity launched a new webpage dedicated to the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people, including forced migrants.

Christ Lutheran Church, Nashville

Christ Lutheran Church in Nashville, TN, staged two worship services in which members of the congregation prayed for LGBTQ+ forced migrants: the first on June 23rd to mark World Refugee Day, and the second on June 30th to mark Pride. On June 24th they carried the Rainbow Initiative banner in the Nashville Pride March and partnered with Inspiritus (a refugee resettlement agency) to distribute Rainbow Initiative stickers and information sheets.

Church of the Ascension, Munich


Church of the Ascension of Munich, Germany, highlighted LGBTQ+ forced migrants in their city’s annual “Christopher Street Day” parade on June 24th, which attracted approximately 500,000 people and for many years has included an ecumenical service. Janet Day-Strehlow, who proposed General Convention Resolution D045, which sparked the creation of the Rainbow Initiative, was a member of Ascension’s parade contingent.

Church of the Epiphany, Vacaville, CA

Church of the Epiphany in Vacaville, CA, set up a table featuring the Rainbow Initiative at the Solano County Pride Celebration on June 3rd. This gave them the opportunity to talk about LGBTQ+ forced migration with several hundred people, to distribute pamphlets and stickers, and to proclaim the welcome that The Episcopal Church extends to everyone.




First Lutheran Church of Duluth, MN, joined Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (also a Rainbow Initiative partner) to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation during June. Together, they also provide support to asylum seekers as part of EMM’s Neighbor to Neighbor program. They are preparing to draw attention to LGBTQ+ forced migrants during the annual Duluth-Superior Pride Festival, which is scheduled for September 2nd and 3rd.

Grace Episcopal Church of Sandusky, OH, was the only church to participate in the Sandusky Pride Parade on June 24th. In their monthly newsletter, their rector proclaimed: “I pray that we, as a congregation, see this as an opportunity to truly live out what it means when we say ‘God loves you. No exceptions.’”

 Holy Spirit Episcopal Church of Belmont, MI, proudly waved their Rainbow Initiative banner at the 35th annual Grand Rapids Pride Festival on June 17th, which organized around the theme of “Unapologetically Me in 2023.”

Grace Episcopal Church, Sandusky, OH

Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, Belmont, MI

Integrity Harlem at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, NYC

Integrity Harlem at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in New York, NY, presented an “LGBTQIA Asylum Seekers Sunday” on June 11th, which included a worship service and informational event afterwards. Al Green, the Ministry Director of the LGBT Asylum Taskforce, offered the sermon, and Ugandan activist Kasha Nagabesera provided a special video presentation.




LGBT Asylum Task Force

The LGBT Asylum Task Force, a ministry of Hadwen Park Congregational Church UCC in Worcester, MA, remains the only program or organization in the U.S. that focuses specifically on offering housing and a wide variety of other support to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. On June 10th they participated in the Boston Pride March, and on June 11th their Ministry Director provided the sermon at Integrity Harlem’s “LGBTQIA Asylum Seekers Sunday” service. On June 25th, their work was highlighted by Craig Mortley at the Reconciling Panel Discussion in Knoxville, TN.


Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, Houston, TX

Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church of Houston, TX, participated in the Houston Pride Parade on June 24th. Palmer Memorial is one of Houston’s Affirming Episcopal Churches, whose clergy and members marched together in matching T-shirts with their float bearing an oversized replica of a wedding cake, and actual prayer kneelers and a lectern, as part of their “Queerly Beloved” theme. Diocesan Liaison to EMM the Rev. Alyssa Stebbing and Deacon Linda Shelton carried the Rainbow Initiative banner in the parade and received shouts of appreciation from the crowd.



St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans, LA

St. Anna’s Episcopal Church of New Orleans, LA, displayed its Rainbow Initiative banner in front of the church until it was torn down by vandals. “We will not be deterred,” according to their rector, Fr. Bill Terry, who insisted it be replaced and returned to its original location. St. Anna’s also drew attention to LGBTQ+ forced migrants throughout the month of June by integrating the Rainbow Initiative’s Prayers of the People with its regular worship services.



St. Michael & All Angels, Portland, OR

St. Michael & All Angels of Portland, OR, staged a forum titled “In Search of Safety and Community: Forced Migration of LGBTQ+ People” on June 18th which included a presentation by a forced migrant from Iran who found safety in the U.S. in 2017. A recording of the event will be made available after the parish’s participation in the Portland Pride Parade on July 16th. An article in their recent parish newsletter reflected on the importance of this activity: “Why is it especially important to pay attention to LGBTQ+ forced migration this year?  All you have to do is read or listen to the news to know that LGBTQ+ human rights around the world, including in the US, are under assault.  Similarly, immigration is under assault as LGBTQ+ people and others flee their countries, or their states in the US, because of persecution brought on by shifting social and political attitudes and changing laws.”



The Benedictine Way of Omaha, NE, led adult forums and preached about LGBTQ+ forced migration at several Omaha-area congregations. Two of their sermons – one offered by Br. James Dowd, and another offered by Br. Jerry Thompson – are available online. On July 15th, The Benedictine Way plans to participate in the Heartland Pride Parade and Festival.

In addition to all of these events, Episcopal Migration Ministries has released a wealth of educational and graphic material about LGBTQ+ forced migrants on its website, Facebook page and Instagram. This work has been featured in a sermon offered by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in honor of World Refugee Day, and in an article published by Episcopal News Service.