Angie Von Slaughter, One Church Pastor8 min read

In Theirs by Crissy SaintLeave a Comment

“When you have a finger pointing at the moon, be careful that you don’t get fixated on the finger pointing, but rather on the moon itself. Our sacred spaces, our icons and imagery, they are fingers pointing to the moon. They are sacred spaces, but they aren’t the Sacred.”
Angie Von Slaughter, One Church 

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Angie Von Slaughter is Lead Pastor at One Church, a safe and inclusive place that reflects the love of God. While she says they aren’t perfect, they do a stand-up job at supporting ALL humans. We asked her a bit about how she’s making the world a better place, and here’s what she had to say….

How is One Church different than a lot of other “Christian” churches?

First, we welcome questions and doubts. Many people have been raised in certainty-based faiths and were given concrete answers that were threatened by any form of questioning. This approach leaves little room for mystery and personal spiritual exploration when it comes to the Divine. Because of this openness to questions, it’s created a rather vulnerable and authentic environment. A place you can be… you, no strings attached.

Second, we are open and affirming, which means we are affirming of LGBTQ relationships. While this may be a common concept for some, for many Christ-centered faiths, this isn’t the norm. Currently, none of America’s 100 largest churches are LGBTQ-affirming.

Last, we are a progressive community that approaches Biblical scripture seriously but not literally. We recognize that the sacred texts were written by real humans, like you and I, and inspired by God. One-third of the Bible is Hebrew poetry and yet it’s often interpreted literally, which in my opinion, can not only create some confusing theology but also diminishes the beauty and deeper meaning of it. There are so many things I could say about this beautiful community, but it’s overall openness to learn from one another and love one another humbles me!

What advice would you give to humans struggling to come to terms with their identities/sexual orientations and religion?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to this, as it can look and feel different to everyone facing this situation but, I’d recommend that those struggling would find people who feel safe to process this with. It can be a slow process to come to terms with your faith and sexual orientation or gender identity, especially if you come from a legalistic and conservative background. I lived a partitioned life for the greater portion of my life, keeping my identity and faith separate… (as if that’s even possible) and it left me feeling alone and full of shame. It was the process of meeting others who were in similar situations and examining my belief systems that allowed me to fully embrace myself.

What advice would you give to those in leadership positions at churches in regards to building organizations that are all-inclusive?
There are plenty of resources online to help churches become affirming and inclusive. Start by doing a bit of research and educate yourself on the subject. In addition to gaining knowledge, take some time to listen to stories from those around you that may be minorities. It’s amazing how the perspectives we can have about a person or people group can diminish when we choose to see the humanity in them. I recommend listening, truly listening to those marginalized and hearing how you may assist them. Know that while this work is important… it will be difficult. Prepare yourself for reactions of every kind from those in your church congregation and hold steady to the message of inclusive love. And lastly, when you’re moving into an affirming stance, creating a safe environment is essential for those LGBTQ individuals who often have heard messages that are hurtful and harmful.
What does it mean to you to “believe in love” and why is that important for us as individuals and as a society to have that belief?
Believing in love is the pinnacle of my spirituality and synonymous with God. And the thing is, you don’t have to believe in God to believe in Love. We all have felt the effects of Love in one way or another. Love is the thing that heals us, gives of itself to others, sees the good in us, believes the best for humanity and is the one place where fear and hate cannot reside. As a society so riddled with divisiveness and anger, we could all use more love- Love for the other, for the oppressed, for the minorities, for those we disagree with, for those who irritate us and for those we don’t understand. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
If you could change one thing to make the world a kinder place, what would it be?
I think the world could be a kinder place if we chose to see the humanity and sacredness in one another.
What are some of the ways One Church inspires humans to believe in love?
It’s very simple, but we try to mirror it as often as possible. Love is a practice and we may never perfect it, but it’s incredible what love can do. We share different stories, give a platform to unheard voices and hold space for different views.
Could you imagine a world where humans didn’t believe in love? What would that look like to you?
Honestly, I can’t. Even in the worst of times, there are still signs of hope and love in the world – it’s what keeps us going. I imagine a life without love is what some may call hell. Not the kind of torture and flames, but the kind where love resides in a forgotten wasteland of selfishness and pain.
Which humans inspire you the most on a daily basis?
My wife and family inspire me to show up, be present and do my best. But, humanity inspires me constantly! Those who live their truth in authenticity and vulnerability really resonate with me. People like Rob Bell, Mike McHargue, Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rumi, Gandhi, and Jesus.
What are 3 completely off-the-wall facts about you?
1. My pinky toes don’t touch the ground… they’re total freeloaders.
2. I love cereal. It’s still one of my favorite foods since childhood.
3. I used to be a singer in a touring band.
What has been your most vulnerable experience as a spiritual teacher?
Being able to publicly admit I struggle with something or don’t know something as a spiritual teacher can leave me feeling exposed and vulnerable. Yet, I’m trying to lean into the discomfort because I believe we need more vulnerability and transparency in spiritual leaders.
What drew you to your current calling in life?
Truthfully, I never imagined I would be a pastor. First, I’m a woman. Second, I’m a lesbian. Third, I’ve witnessed the damage a pastor can cause. Yet, I believe in listening to the story your life is telling… and mine has always been telling of spirituality and creative expression. Whether in a band, creating art or giving a talk, I’ve always been drawn to creatively inspiring others to be the person they were created to be.
WATCH ANGIE IN ACTION

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