This week, I will be gathering with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM) in Atlantic City, NJ for the TFAM Convocation. The Convocation is an annual gathering of TFAM folk from across the country and around the world.
I first heard of Bishop Yvette Flunder through events sponsored by CLOUT, Christian Lesbians Out Together. When I relaunched the Transfaith website in 2007, Bishop Flunder was one of many people to whom I outreached. Bishop Flunder reached back with an invitation to attend a TFAM leadership retreat a few months later.
That’s when I met Jonathon Thunderword and Carmarion Anderson, among others. We co-facilitated a workshop/training on transgender experience at that TFAM event. I made many friends at that conference, continued coming back over several years, and eventually became a founding member of the TFAM TransSaints ministry.
I was raised in a white Protestant tradition(s) that have been playfully referred to as the “frozen chosen.” TFAM worship is different than that!
TFAM worship is embodied and Spirit-filled. TFAM is predominantly Black and often referred to as Neo-Pentecostal. Bishop Flunder has a long history in Gospel music as well as the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). While I had been in Black church worship settings before, TFAM gave me a taste of what I had been missing!
TFAM fashions itself a network or movement, not a denomination. TFAM is closely networked in both the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC). Many TFAM churches are also either UCC and/or UFMCC, though others are only affiliated with TFAM. From the TFAM website:
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries is a multi-denominational group of primarily African American Christian leaders and laity representing churches and faith-based organizations from the USA, Africa, and Mexico. These churches range from ultra-conservative backgrounds to more liberal, independent churches; from startup, developing to very large, established churches and from churches that are economically challenged to the very affluent. The overriding purpose of The Fellowship is to support religious leaders and laity in moving toward a theology of radical inclusivity which, by its very nature, requires an equally radical social ministry reaching to the furthest margins of society to serve all in need without prejudice or discrimination.
TFAM plays an important role in advancing the acceptance of same-gender-loving folk in Black church settings by building relationships with Black faith leaders.
Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on July 16, 2019.
Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.