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Beloved Rage - A Reflection from Rev. Julie Davis

If you catch me when I am feeling candid or tired and ask me about “Church,” I am likely to say that it needs to be burned down. First, know that I am being metaphorical. The destruction of the church should be entirely non-violent. 

Second, this statement is a sign of healing. I have been in a state of healthy rage for the last year, and I am immeasurably grateful for my anger. It is holy. And it gives me hope: Righteous anger has the power to once again reform the Church.

I was born queer and Christian into an evangelical family. My tiny queer body was in worship service the Sunday after I came home from the hospital. I can’t remember not identifying as a Christian, and because, according to the Church, that identification included being heterosexual, sexually pure, and inherently sinful, there was little room to discover I was also queer.

This meant that, though my body was in worship every Sunday from infancy to high school graduation, my wholeness was never let in the door. My wholeness waited for me at home, in the sneakers that replaced my patent leather Mary Janes, the baggy shorts that replaced my dress, and the ball that replaced my Bible.

The problem was, I also loved my church. My friends were there. I even felt the Holy Spirit there. I believed. And so I became quite attached to the people, the belonging, the family approval, and the God who loved my partial self. 

For me, to be born queer and Christian was to be born under the rubble. The story of my survival is a long one with lots of heroes. The first responders, the folks who heard my cries and dug me out, were not from the Church. The folks who told me I was OK and I was loved were “God-less unbelievers,” people who had lost faith because of the Church. I took shelter in their compassion and unconditional love.

But the tug of that holy spirit I felt in the pews, at church camp, and alone in my room would not leave me alone, and I ended up back in the church: first as a congregant because I found a mentor in a Disciples pastor; and then as a pastor myself when that mentor died. 

It took that full circle movement — from partially loved, closeted Julie to Reverend Julie fresh from seminary — to realize that the dysfunction of the Church is thorough-going and adaptive; it can terrorize anyone: a young queer girl convinced that God hates her, or a mature woman leading a congregation that would rather die than change. 

It took that full circle movement to realize that I had been an apologist for the Church at the expense of my full humanity, as a queer woman and a spiritual leader.

And that’s when my beloved rage came. I was done apologizing. Shame on the Church for making my authentic selfhood a contradiction and a sin! Shame, shame.

This rage — this moral clarity — is probably the holiest energy I have ever hosted in this queer body. It has freed me. Freed me to think anew about how to follow Jesus, how to gather, and who to gather.

Freed me to be queer about Church: to trouble the traditions, reveal the hard truths, come out of the sanctuary, and make a space for everyone.

I started my own ministry called The Table: a Community for Spiritual Refugees. It is led by myself and another queer woman, Madison McAleese. 

When we gather, we welcome everyone by saying “Whatever is sacred to you, here is sacred to us, too.” We define ourselves by saying that we are followers of Jesus, not Christians and that we focus not on what people believe but rather on what Jesus did: gather, feed, transform, and listen to people of all faiths and genders.

The liturgy of each gathering is the stories people bring with them or discover as they sit in sacred space. The pews are picnic tables. The congregants are young and old, gay and straight, spiritual but not religious, Jewish, and Christian.

Ours is an evangelism of example. If people come and feel loved, cared for, and listened to, then we’ve done the work of Jesus, whose PR slogan was, “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

My heart is with those who have not found their way (back) to the spiritual community because of their experiences with the Church. All the research shows that, while this institution has scared off queer folks, trans folks, and a majority of the upcoming generations, “spirituality” still draws people in towards God, and people still want to gather around it. The Table stands in this gap, but even more so does the non-profit I work for, Spirituality & Practice. We run a voluminous website at, and our mission is to encourage people to see God in everyday life and to therefore approach daily living in terms of spiritual practices. We curate and create resources to facilitate this everyday spirituality: prayers, readings, meditations, quotations, e-courses, and much more — for every spiritual journey, whatever your tradition, whatever your context.

One of the joys of my job is creating a community around our resources. I run a project called Queer Space, a Zoom gathering of queer and trans folks who are also religious/spiritual. Currently, we are making our way through “Queer Virtue” by Rev. Elizabeth Edman, a remarkable book whose subtitle provides the perfect ending to this reflection, and a worthwhile frame for this Pride month: “What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity” (emphasis added).


Rev. Julie Davis is Editorial and Program Director at, Lead Pastor of The Table (, and a proud graduate of Claremont School of Theology (M.Div./2021). Her most recent work focuses on spiritual practices and democracy, with an eye towards the 2024 election.


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