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Sending Messages of Love to Trans-Youth

March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual event dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination they face. The United Church of Christ is calling for a flood of "love letters" to trans-youth. Across the country, 340 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in statehouses, and 150 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year ever. Amid this wave of hatred and legislative violence, LGBTQ+ persons and their families are experiencing immense harm. Places committed to holding safe space for LGTBQ+ adults and youth have also been attacked and vandalized for doing so, including houses of worship. On Monday of this week, the UCC’s national setting sent an urgent request to all Conference Ministers requesting “messages of love.” They hope to receive a minimum of 48 love notes in order to post at least one every 30 minutes on March 31. The notes will appear on the UCC website's landing page and various social media accounts. Congregations and individuals throughout the Minnesota Conference UCC are invited to send your messages of love before or soon after March 31. The messages should be 200 words or less and express support for transgender persons, especially trans-youth. They should be emailed to lettersoflove@ucc.org. The Minnesota Conference UCC is an Open & Affirming Conference that joyfully welcomes and celebrates LGBTQ+ persons in our pulpits, our pews, and communities. Here is the message of love Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon sent on behalf of the Conference: Dear Child of God, On this Transgender Day of Visibility, I send you love on behalf of the Minnesota Conference UCC. We want you to know that you are precious in God’s sight, a creation of God with beautiful dignity & worth. We celebrate you & your gifts. Too many in these days are bent on hatred, targeting LGBTQ+ persons in ways that diminish you, try to make you invisible, and do immense harm. We deeply grieve this with you. Such actions are inconsistent with the kind of extravagant love and inclusive embrace the Gospels call us to share with others. And so we will be witnesses to another way. We will stand with you to counter hatred with a Christ-like love. We will see you & celebrate you. We will hold you in our prayers, surround you with beloved community, & be advocates for your safety, inclusion, & rights. We give God thanks for you. Know that you are loved. Grace & peace, Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister, Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ

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