About Michael Leslie

The Rev. Michael Leslie is an advocate for sexual and gender minority Christians. Michael holds a Master of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1997 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He is the founder of Welcoming Cumberland Presbyterians, a grassroots movement for LGBTQ+ support and inclusion within the church.

Church Called to Prayer & Action After Club Q Shooting

In the wake of the November 19th, 2022, mass shooting at a queer nightclub in Colorado Springs, Welcoming Cumberland Presbyterians urges church leaders across the U.S. and around the world to pray over the tragic loss of five lives and for healing for the 18 injured victims, and for their families and loved ones. Survivors of the Club Q shooting have pointed to the ongoing use of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric by political leaders as a contributing factor to the violence and loss of life they experienced. It is essential that leaders in both the church and society use language and actions that promote love and understanding, rather than hate and fear. The General Assemblies of Cumberland Presbyterian Churches have explicitly condemned hate, violence, and denigration perpetrated against any person, as well as any form of oppression based on gender or sexual expression. We call on church leaders to unconditionally denounce all forms of violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community. We believe such a message can discourage future perpetrators, and also expresses pastoral support to LGBTQ+ people in our communities. We urge church leaders to participate in demonstrations and vigils in support of LGBTQ+ people, and for all Christians to join efforts to end discrimination against them by supporting equality initiatives and laws. Befriending LGBTQ+ people and learning about the issues they face while eschewing stereotypes and misinformation will help end hateful attitudes and violence against them. By raising our voices now, we can provide hope in this time of tragedy and ensuring compassion and respect for LGBTQ+ people are an essential part of the church’s pastoral mission. “In her corporate life and through her individual members, the church is an advocate for all victims of violence and all those whom the law or society treats as less than persons for

By |2023-04-23T22:49:22-05:00December 29th, 2022|Comments Off on Church Called to Prayer & Action After Club Q Shooting

Rev. Lisa Anderson Speaks Out After Club Q Shooting

Rev. Lisa Anderson Following the Club Q Shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which killed five children of God, injured at least eighteen, and left countless people across the country traumatized, Reverend Lisa Hall Anderson, the founding executive director of Room in the Inn-Memphis and pastor of Colonial Cumberland Presbyterian Church condemned hateful rhetoric and exclusion targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Calling for repentance, Rev. Anderson wrote: "What we say matters, what we do matters. I am a Christian minister who believes that all are created by God in God’s image and are beloved by God. Because of the hatred and exclusion LGBTQ+ neighbors find places to feel safe, because of our tolerance for hate filled rhetoric in and out of the church even in those places they cannot be safe. Intolerance and exclusion is a sin and it is deadly." “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For God is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil. Joel 2:12-13

By |2022-12-29T19:26:54-06:00November 21st, 2022|Comments Off on Rev. Lisa Anderson Speaks Out After Club Q Shooting

Cumberland Presbyterians Denounce White Supremacist Gathering at Montgomery Bell State Park

The Statement On the hallowed grounds where the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was born, White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Klansmen will meet again November 18 - 20, 2022, to espouse their hateful beliefs. At the American Renaissance conference, participants desecrate the site as they justify, plan, and teach their racist version of American culture in the shelter of Tennessee's Public Land, Montgomery Bell State Park. As a grassroots group of concerned Cumberland Presbyterians, not only are we sickened by their racist ideology, we are heartbroken that they will again meet near the birthplace of our beloved church. In response to this meeting and in the face of rising extremism, we have a duty and a responsibility to speak up. Silence is complicity. Therefore, we state together and with a unified voice: We denounce White supremacy as evil and a threat to justice, peace and the common welfare. We petition the State of Tennessee and Tennessee State Parks to cease sheltering hate speech and providing a platform to individuals and groups promoting White supremacy. White supremacy undermines the safety, livelihood, and basic human rights of its victims and hardens its proponents against the dignity of all people. We vehemently oppose any ideology, philosophy, or theology that sees any human being as inferior to another - based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, age, nationality, or any other reason. We believe all persons are created in the image of God, even those who do not reflect God's love. We pray for those who suffer under oppression and those who deliberately ignore or are unconscious to it. We pray for White supremacists and those of us who benefit from its systemic practice, for the harm it does to our humanity, and that all our hearts may be transformed. We have

By |2023-08-09T01:31:03-05:00November 9th, 2022|Comments Off on Cumberland Presbyterians Denounce White Supremacist Gathering at Montgomery Bell State Park

Resolution of Repentance, Apology, and Resolve

Adopted by the 2016 Cumberland Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly: Whereas, we Cumberland Presbyterians are considering the call of God to “Go” during this 186th meeting of the General Assembly; and Whereas, Jesus sent the twelve with these instructions: “As you go, proclaim the good news. The kingdom of heaven has come near. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8); and Whereas, we seek the healing of our divisions as Cumberland Presbyterians; and Whereas, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in 1810 in Dickson County, Tennessee, USA, and grew rapidly in a nation that endorsed, participated in, and benefited from the practice of enslaving African men, women and children who were brought to this nation through the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade; and Whereas, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was inconsistent in its condemnation of American slavery as an institution -- an institution that condoned the buying and selling of persons made in the image of God; an institution in which African American families were often separated, and individuals were beaten and abused in body and mind; and Whereas, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church often condoned the segregation of its African American members into separate balconies, congregations, and classes because of the influence of cultural ideas of racial superiority and inferiority; and Whereas, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church refused to allow its African American members full and equal membership following emancipation and the end of slavery; organizing instead separate congregations, presbyteries, and other judicatories that were denied representation in the General Assembly, and Whereas, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church encouraged and supported the organization of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America (originally the Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church) in 1874 in order to avoid the difficult work of integration, and to avoid offending its members who continued to hold fast

By |2022-11-09T00:42:57-06:00November 9th, 2022|Comments Off on Resolution of Repentance, Apology, and Resolve

LGBTQI+ Solidarity Sunday

Ecumenical/Interfaith Anti-Violence Initiative Sunday, October 8, 2023 (or anytime in October) Join us in observing Solidarity Sunday, October 8th, 2023. Individuals from diverse faiths will pray together for an end to violence, hate, and harassment directed against our LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) neighbors, as well as all groups subjected such injustices. Anti-LGBTQI+ violence, hate, and harassment are a plague upon our churches, communities and world. In the USA, our LGBTQI+ neighbors are among the most targeted groups for hate crimes. Globally, 69 countries criminalize consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex and 15 countries criminalize the gender identity and/or expression of transgender people. Consensual same-sex acts are punishable by death in eleven countries. While people of faith have differing stances on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, we can all agree that violence, hate and harassment are not acceptable and that we must do our part to end them. Solidarity is coming together in spite of differences to protect the vulnerable and agreeing to stand together against violence, hate and harassment in our church and in society. The Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of Faith and the 190th General Assembly's Statement Against Oppression calls on Cumberland Presbyterians to advocate for ALL victims of violence (without discriminating against those who are LGBTQI+) and to work together to end the oppression of sexual minorities in church and society, as expressed in the perpetration of hate, denigration, and violence. "The church is an advocate for all victims of violence and all those whom the law or society treats as less than persons for whom Christ died." (Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of Faith, 6.31) "Echoing the Holy Scriptures, the Confession declares that humans are created in the image of God, so we believe that there is no place in

By |2023-09-25T01:13:49-05:00September 1st, 2022|Comments Off on LGBTQI+ Solidarity Sunday

Testimonies of Diverse Cumberland Presbyterians

There are a diversity of Cumberland Presbyterians faithfully serving the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and they have been gifts to the denomination throughout its history. We invited a few folks to share their stories in order to help people throughout the church know a few of those whom the exclusionary amendments and discussions on LGBTQ+ inclusion affect most directly. These stories reveal deep faith and commitment to the church but also the damage that comes when people choose intolerance and seek to limit God’s calling on all kinds of people. These stories are an expression of our commitment to God, to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and to sharing the truth of our experiences and our faith. We recognize that our gay and lesbian siblings are not an exception when Scripture declares that God will pour out God’s Spirit on all flesh and that God is no respecter of persons. We hope these stories will be a step towards deeper connection and greater unity as we seek to break down any walls that may exist between us. Thanks for watching! WCP Stories: Allison & Elicia WCP Stories: Michael WCP Stories: Angela WCP Stories: Mandy and Jamie WCP Stories: Christi WCP Stories: Obed WCP Stories: Michael L If you are interested in sharing your story as a part of this project, please contact us. We will also accept anonymous submissions using an alias. Note on the use of the word "Queer" Queer is a word that describes sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender (those assigned either male or female at birth). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people may all identify with the word queer. Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality and gender can be complicated, change over time, and might not fit neatly into either/or identities, like

By |2023-09-23T03:06:09-05:00June 22nd, 2022|Comments Off on Testimonies of Diverse Cumberland Presbyterians

Concerns with Exclusionary Memorials (2022)

Welcoming Cumberland Presbyterians is a grassroots movement of LGBTQIA+ Cumberland Presbyterians and clergy, elders and laity who wish to increase participation in the church by living out our confessional calling to seek reconciliation among all groups of people and embrace all people in the life of the church. We have read and studied the memorials from Arkansas and Grace Presbyteries and find them to be divisive, exclusionary, unnecessary and even dangerous. It is our recommendation that the General Assembly deny these exclusionary memorials because they attempt to usurp the rightful and appropriate authority and discretion of presbytery and session to ordain who they see fit. The following concerns are not an exhaustive list, but we hope it will be a starting place for further conversation with our LGBTQIA+ siblings and their supporters.  It is essential we recognize that the church consists of those who in good faith come to different interpretative conclusions on the complex issue of sexuality and its members will exercise the prerogative to live according to their conscience. We believe the wisest path forward for the church is to continue to respect the rightful authority of presbytery to ordain who they see fit, respect freedom of conscience on same-sex relationships, and practice tolerance and forbearance towards those they disagree with rather than attempting to force universal conformity. It is very concerning that these memorials fail to recognize that LGBTQIA+ people are already faithfully serving the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and have been gifts to the denomination throughout its history. When Scripture declares God will pour out God’s Spirit on all flesh and that God is no respecter of persons this includes LGBTQIA+ people. But these memorials attempt to remove faithful servants of God from leadership and limit how God is moving in the hearts of members of the

By |2022-07-06T23:22:59-05:00June 21st, 2022|Comments Off on Concerns with Exclusionary Memorials (2022)

Prayer for 191st General Assembly

We offer this prayer as the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church meets in its 191st session this week in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Loving God, we offer you thanks and praise! As the week of General Assembly begins, we hold in prayer all who are travelling and making final preparations. We lift up each and every commissioner and youth advisory delegate and ask that you grant them openness, wisdom and courage as they seek resolve controversies and reflect your love in the life of the church. We ask a special blessing on those who have travelled to General Assembly seeking unity and peace. May the whole body find this unity and peace in Christ and may we see in each other the face of Christ. May hearts and minds be open to one another and to the moving of the Holy Spirit. The church means so much to so many and no one wants to lose their church family. Strengthen the bonds that connect us; let love and friendship grow. We pray that the diversity of the church be honored and that restrictive and exclusionary memorials and statements be denied. Give those attending grace beyond measure and the courage to speak up against that which divides, marginalizes and excludes. We lift up your faithful beloved LGBTQ+ members and leaders who only wish to answer their calls and continue to serve God in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Break down the barriers between us and help us to show love and grace in conversations with one another. Keep us all open to continued growth in faith and understanding. Guide and lead us, the General Assembly, the commissioners, the youth advisory delegates, the committees, all the judicatories, and the whole church ever forward into your healing love, justice and reconciliation. God, work

By |2022-08-02T02:04:35-05:00June 18th, 2022|Comments Off on Prayer for 191st General Assembly

Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20th is Trans Day of Remembrance--a day we honor and hold in prayer those who have lost their lives due to transphobia and anti-trans hatred, draw attention to continued acts of violence endured by trans people, and commit to making the church and world a place where trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people can thrive. A special joint Trans Day of Remembrance worship service led by Rev. Ainsley Herrick, Rev. Joy Warren and Michael Leslie was held November 14, 2021 and broadcast on Facebook live. You can watch the service here. Transgender people face hate, violence and suicide at extremely high rates. Globally, more than 409 trans, gender-diverse and non-binary lives were taken through violence and hatred in the last 12 months. We call on members and leaders throughout the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to love, befriend and embrace our trans, gender-diverse and non-binary siblings and stand together against discrimination, violence and hatred. The Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of Faith persuades us to respond to the violence against trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people by honoring their inherent dignity, advocating for victims and seeking to end the violence perpetrated against them: "The covenant community, governed by the Lord Christ, opposes, resists, and seeks to change all circumstances of oppression--political, economic, cultural, racial--by which persons are denied the essential dignity God intends for them in the work of creation." (6.30) “In her corporate life and through her individual members, the church is an advocate for all victims of violence and all those whom the law or society treats as less than persons for whom Christ died.” (6.31) "[The church] seeks to embrace each person and all groups of persons within the family life of the covenant community." (6.16) “The church, corporately and through her individual members, seeks to promote reconciliation, love, and

By |2021-11-23T20:15:03-06:00November 20th, 2021|Comments Off on Trans Day of Remembrance

Prayer for 190th General Assembly

We offer this prayer as the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church meets in its 190th session this week in Louisville, Kentucky. Let us pray: Loving God, you have fearfully and wonderfully made all people in your own image. We thank and praise you for the beauty of your creation. We ask you to lead and guide the General Assembly as this body seeks to discern your will, and better reflect your love in the life of the church. Grant the members of this body wisdom, courage, mercy and minds open to your Spirit. As this body deliberates on a statement on human sexuality, we confess and grieve the harm such statements have caused in the past. We lift up in prayer our LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, and more) siblings along with their families. The debates and decisions made this week will impact them most directly. Bathe them in your love. Reassure them and keep them from all spiritual, emotional and physical harm. We are grateful and pray for all those who seek God's will on how to lovingly respond to our LGBTQIA+ folks in the church and the wider community. Help us all to listen....listen for your voice speaking in one another's voices and the voices of our LGBTQ+ siblings and allies. Grant us patience with one another and the capacity to set aside anything that keeps us from demonstrating your love to those most vulnerable. Christ, make us one with all people in your ministry of reconciliation. Help us break down the barriers between us and help us engage one another with patience and grace so that we can overcome misunderstandings and bring peace. O God, make us one in you, filling us with your grace and compassion. Have mercy on us. Have

By |2022-06-22T21:26:02-05:00June 30th, 2021|Comments Off on Prayer for 190th General Assembly
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