Grappling with the intersectionality of the queer community and Christianity can be a challenge that most people aren’t willing to face. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church began to take on that challenge decades ago, and is now a Montrose haven where Christians of all sexualities and gender identities can proudly profess their faith.
Through their new podcast Faith from the Margins, church members Ademian Pinder and Andrés Herrera are using their voices and personal experiences to bring queer faith leaders and allies to the airwaves and prove that there’s plenty of room at the table for all. They envision the show as a platform for those who are so often silenced.
“Faith from the Margins is a podcast about the intersection of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation with Christianity,” Herrera, an out transgender man, explains. “We want to create a space for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC Christians to share their stories. The fact that we get to tell our stories and not have someone else speak for us is huge.”
Show co-host Pinder, who is an out gay man, explains why the podcasting process has been a mutually beneficial experience. “[The show has] been an opportunity for honest conversation to take place,” he says. “It has given me, as a co-host, the opportunity to engage and reflect on my own life while being enlightened by what guests have to share. And it hopefully gives listeners [a few] nuggets for their journey.
With a background in journalism, Herrera brings his broadcast expertise and unique life experiences to the pod to encourage those who need it most. “[I’m able to] share my experiences as a person of faith, and my journey in the Episcopal Church,” he explains. “I grew up in Latin America and transitioned there, so I am able to share the challenges I have experienced in evangelical churches in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Chile.”
It’s no wonder why the duo felt emboldened to create a St. Stephen’s-sponsored podcast, considering their parish’s illustrious background in supporting the LGBTQ community. “St. Stephen’s has always been a church that welcomes everyone and gives them a seat at the table. [We called] the first woman priest to serve as a rector in Texas in 1981, [and soon became] one of the only local churches to bury folks during the AIDS pandemic. And we were the first Episcopal church in Houston to celebrate a gay wedding,” Herrera says proudly.
“We want to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC folks to share their stories and experiences of faith,” he adds. “There is so much energy and creativity in these intersections of identity and spirituality. Faith from the Margins is an effort to spark and nurture those impulses.”
With quite a few episodes under their belts, now is the perfect time to binge the pod. “Some of the topics we have covered so far are the experiences of LGBTQ+ BIPOC people who are ordained, nonbinary visibility, anti-racism work, and being a Latinx woman in the Episcopal Church,” Herrera notes. “In the future, our focus will be to go deeper into these topics, such as talking about what it means to be a marginalized community in a predominantly white institution. Another one of our efforts will be to explore the stories of other LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC folks outside of the Episcopal Church. We want people to know that there’s a community who will accept them and will love and nurture their spiritual life.”
The duo has received promising feedback about the podcast, both from their congregation and other listeners near and far. “The reception has definitely been a positive one,” Pinder says. “Our content is genuinely breaking new ground [with our discussions about] where people of faith are, and are en route to. Their support signifies an inner growth and yearning for something divinely new.”
With a global following, Hererra is emboldened to enter into conversations that are typically silenced in Christian communities. “The [positive feedback] encourages us to continue tackling topics that are usually not covered by other Christian podcasts.”
Looking ahead, the hosts hope to convince skeptics—whether they’re queer-identifying or not—to just give the pod a chance. “My hope is that people will see that we are fostering a forum for the LGBTQ+ BIPOC community to tell their stories about what it means to be a person of faith,” Herrera says.
“We understand why others can be skeptical of Christianity, since Christians have caused so much harm to our communities,” Pinder adds. “However, the teachings of Jesus and the spiritual practices cultivated in his name are life-giving. Be willing to hear what you may have never heard before, and see where the Spirit leads you! The LGBTQIA+ community seeks to be heard, seen, and thus valued. This podcast is doing that work with intentionality and love. This is how we find solace.”
For more on St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, visit church.ststephenshouston.org.
This article appears in the January 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.