Fordham University - GRE - June 2023

Building Bridges: LGBTQ Christian Ministry

Graduate Syllabus

Credit Hours:  3

June 26th-30th

10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Rose Hill Campus, Fordham University


Jason Steidl Jack, Ph.D.

Email: [email protected]

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the history, theology, and best practices of LGBTQ ministry in the U.S.. Today, LGBTQ ministry is one of the fastest growing areas of pastoral concern in Christian communities around the world. Who are LGBTQ Christians, and what unique spiritual needs and gifts do they bring to the church? This course will begin with an examination of traditionalist Christian teaching on LGBTQ issues along with responses from LGBTQ and allied theologians and lay people. For more than half a century there has been ongoing dialogue and, at times, tension, between doctrinal and pastoral approaches. Then, it will examine the history of LGBTQ ministry, a prerequisite for understanding Christian relationships to queer folks today. What questions and issues have today’s LGBTQ believers and their allies inherited from the past? Finally, we will consider LGBTQ ministries themselves. How do they begin and function in faith communities and other settings? What are some best pastoral practices? The course will conclude with an exploration of LGBTQ ministry with trans people, young people, BIPOC, and women. An intersectional understanding of ministry is imperative for anyone committed to lifegiving and holistic pastoral care. Throughout the semester we will draw on the work of Christian religious and academic leaders in the field with a special focus on the experiences of LGBTQ persons themselves.

Instructional Methods

Interactive lectures, small and large group discussions, readings, written assignments, theological and critical reflections, guest speakers, and interactive LGBTQ spiritual resources.

Required Texts (other texts can be found online or on Blackboard)

Mihi Kim-Kort, Outside the Lines: How Embracing Queerness Will Transform Your Faith (Fortress Press, 2018)

James Martin, SJ. Building A Bridge, Revised and Expanded Edition (Harper Collins, 2018)

Ross Murray, Made, Known, and Loved (Fortress Press, 2021)

Brandan Robertson, The Gospel of Inclusion, Revised Edition (Wipf and Stock, 2022).

Bernard Shlager and David Kundtz, Ministry Among God’s Queer Folk, Second Edition (Pilgrim Press, 2018)

Jason Steidl, LGBTQ Catholic Ministry: Past and Present (Paulist Press, 2023)

Justin Tanis, Transgender: Theology, Ministry, and Communities of Faith (Wipf & Stock, 2018)


Course Goals

The goals for this course are:

  1. Clarify traditionalist Christian teaching on LGBTQ issues and responses from LGBTQ/allied believers.
  2. Uncover the difficult history LGBTQ ministry and its relevance today.
  3. Share the stories, experiences, and unique spiritual needs that LGBTQ people present
  4. Highlight the many ways that LGBTQ believers challenge other Christians to grow and better follow Christ.
  5. Explore pragmatic yet hopeful approaches to LGBTQ ministry.
  6. Reflect on the questions, difficulties, and opportunities facing LGBTQ and allied advocacy.

Goals for Student Learning

At the conclusion of this course, the student will be able to

  1. Articulate their own theological and pastoral perspectives on LGBTQ issues in dialogue with traditionalist teaching and LGBTQ/allied perspectives.
  2. Identify how Christianity’s history with the LGBTQ community affects ministry today.
  3. Recognize and respond to the unique pastoral and spiritual needs that LGBTQ people present with compassion and empathy.
  4. Appreciate LGBTQ perspectives and gifts.
  5. Locate spiritual, pastoral, theological, and liturgical resources for LGBTQ ministry.
  6. Make public interventions related to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the LGBTQ community.

Course Requirements

  1. Attendance and Class Participation: Students are required to attend all classes and should come prepared to discuss the readings each day. Your contributions to classroom dialogue are important, and participation is key to the success of our course. Your experiences in life and ministry matter and are a gift to the class. As a community, we all have much to learn from each other. Sometimes, we’ll be addressing controversial topics. Please be eager to listen, interpret others’ words with a “hermeneutic of charity,” and be respectful of others’ experiences.
  2. Critical Reflection papers: Students will write 3, 3-page papers responding to key questions raised by course readings and discussions. These papers should be well-organized, nuanced, and incorporate at least four different sources from course readings.


 If you miss class, please email a classmate to receive any missing notes or materials. It’s your responsibility to make up any missed work. If you know you will be absent for any reason, please let me know via email as soon as possible. I’ll be glad to work with you, but communication is key.


  1. Final Project
  2. Op-ed Piece Write a 750-1000 word op-ed piece for an online religious publication such as Outreach, New Ways Ministry, Q Spirit, or The Reformation Project or a secular publication such as Huffington Post, The Advocate, or LGBTQ Nation on a topic related to the themes of our course. You might address a current issue related to LGBTQ people and your faith community/organization, the religious/spiritual needs of a particular queer community (youth, trans, BIPOC, etc.), or another topic that is close to your heart. The piece should include 6-10 references from course readings to support your argument.

For your final project, you have two options:


After you have written the piece, write 750-1000 words reflecting on:

  1. Your audience. Who are you writing for? Why do they need to hear what you have to say? Which publication did you choose, and why?
  2. What sources have you included? Why did you find them valuable?
  3. What was it like writing this op-ed piece?
  4. What type of response would you expect if your piece were published?


  1. Pastoral Plan Project Complete a pastoral plan for a parish-, congregation-, school-, organization-, or diocesan-based LGBTQ ministry/group. This final paper should be at least 7 pages long and include at least 6-10 references to course readings.
  2. Introduction to the community (demographics, leadership structure, reason(s) for LGBTQ ministry/group)
  3. Potential challenges to and opportunities for ministry
  4. Given knowledge of the community, a step-by-step plan for introducing a LGBTQ ministry/group (building parish/diocesan relationships, education initiatives, publicity, events, best practices, etc.)
  5. Reflection on your own thoughts and feelings while writing this papers

Prompt: Imagine you are starting an LGBTQ ministry or group in a parish, congregation, school, organization, or diocese that you are familiar with. What would LGBTQ ministry look like in this environment? How would you go about starting a new ministry or group? Play to your strengths and interests. For example, if you have done youth ministry, you might consider an LGBTQ youth ministry. If you have worked in Latiné communities, consider how Latinidad might affect LGBTQ ministry.

This paper should have multiple parts:


  1. Attendance and Class Participation: 25%
  2. Critical Reflection Paper (3x15%): 45%
  1. Final Project: 30%


Unit 1 (Day 1, Morning): Christians Building Controversial Bridges

Why did Building A Bridge cause such a stir? Why is LGBTQ ministry and affirmation such a fraught subject for faith communities?

Read: James Martin, SJ. Building A Bridge, 1-108 (HarperOne, 2018)


Benjamin Hollenbach, “I’m Not Here to Preach Politics, But… Debating LGBTQ+ Welcoming Designations, Preserving Community, and Navigating “Politics,”” from All Are Welcome: Inclusion and Mainline Protestantism in the United States (pages 50-98; pdf available at


Unit 2 (Day 1, Afternoon): Traditionalist Christian Teaching

What are some traditionalist Christian approaches to LGBTQ people and pastoral ministry? What are their sources and methods? What tensions do they hold?

Read: Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 2357-2359;!/search/2357-2359.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons” (1986);

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Always Our Children” (1997);

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; “The Nashville Statement,”

Sarah Zylstra, “Transformation of a Transgender Teen,”

Evangelical Alliance, “Biblical and Pastoral Responses to Homosexuality,”

Unit 3 (Day 2, Morning): New Visions for Christian Teaching on Gender and Sexuality

Why have theologians and LGBTQ Christians challenged traditionalist teaching on LGBTQ issues to evolve? What is their theological method?

Read: Wijnaards Institute for Catholic Research, “Academic Statement on the Ethics of Free and Faithful Same-Sex Relationships,” (2020),

Brandan Robertson, The Gospel of Inclusion, Revised Edition (Wipf and Stock, 2022).

Critical Reflection Paper #1 (3 pages):

Based on course readings, do you believe Christian teaching can adapt to provide adequate pastoral, relational, and community-based care for LGBTQ people? Why or why not? Be sure to include at least four sources from the readings.

Unit 4 (Day 2, Afternoon): The History of LGBTQ Ministry in Catholic and Protestant Communities

What is the history of LGBTQ Ministry? How does it affect ministry today?

Read: Jason Steidl, Chapters 1-4, LGBTQ Catholic Ministry: Past and Present (Paulist Press, 2023)


Heather White, Chapters 2-5, Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights (University of North Carolina Press, 2015)

Unit 5 (Day 3, Morning): Starting an LGBTQ Ministry

How do LGBTQ ministries/groups begin? What are some of the obstacles and opportunities that LGBTQ Christians and allies encounter?

Read: Bernard Shlager and David Kundtz, Ministry Among God’s Queer Folk, Second Edition (Cascade Books, 2018)

New Ways Ministry, “Next Steps: An Online Series About Developing LGBTQ Catholic Ministry,” (2021);

Watch: James Martin, SJ, “5 common questions about LGBT Catholic ministry,” America Media,

Unit 6 (Day 3, Afternoon): Best Practices for LGBTQ Ministry

What are the best practices for parishes and ministries?

Read: New Ways Ministry, “Parish Life: What You Can Do,”

Jason Steidl, “Out at St. Paul,” in LGBTQ Catholic Ministry: Past and Present (2022)

Unit 7 (Day 4, Morning): LGBTQ Spiritual, Theological, and Liturgical Resources

What does LGBTQ spirituality look like? How do queer Christians practice their faith?

Read: Selections from Kittredge Cherry and Zalman Sherwood, Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies and Celebrations (1995) (pdf on Blackboard)

Selections from Brian Murphy, Queers The Word: A 40 Day Devotional for LGBTQ+ Christians (2020) (pdf on Blackboard)

Selections from Mihi Kim-Kort, Outside the Lines: How Embracing Queerness Will Transform Your Faith (2018)

Critical Reflection Paper #2 (3 pages):

Based on the readings and your own experiences, how is working with and serving the LGBTQ community like working with and serving other communities (youth, music ministry, Latinx, non-profits, mental illness/therapeutic, etc.)? What sets it apart? Do you think the challenges that working with and serving the LGBTQ community are universal or particular?

Unit 8 (Day 4, Afternoon) Trans Ministry

How is trans ministry different than or similar to ministry with gay, lesbian, and bi folks?

Christine Zuba, “I am a transgender Catholic woman,” Outreach (2022).;

Justin Tanis, Transgender: Theology, Ministry, and Communities of Faith (Wipf & Stock, 2018), 1-23, 85-128.


Unit 9 (Day 5, Morning) Youth Ministry and Christian/Catholic Schools

Why is ministry to LGBTQ youth important? What are the best practices for Catholic schools?

Read: Ross Murray, Made, Known, and Loved (2021)


David Palmieri, “LGBTQ students face obstacles in Catholic schools. Here’s what better diocesan policy can look like,” Outreach (2022);


            Explore: Beloved Arise;


Critical Reflection Paper #3 (3 pages)

Based on course readings and discussions, what are three things your workplace, organization, and/or worship community can learn from LGBTQ people?


Unit 10 (Day 5, Afternoon) Intersectionality and LGBTQ Experience


What is intersectionality? What do sexism and racism have to do with LGBTQ pastoral care?


Read: Robert Shine, “Catholic LGBTQ Advocates, Local Activists Criticize Bishop’s Sanction of Jesuit School,” New Ways Ministry (2022);

Lindsay Hueston, “At the Intersection of Identities, New Ways Ministry, September 5, 2018;

Melissa Pandika, “The Female Pastors Making Space for Queer Christians to Express Their Faith,” Vice, September 17, 2019;

Watch: Bryan Massingale, “Intersectionality and LGBT Ministry,” Outreach (2022)





















GRE Policies


Letter Grade

Numerical Equivalent

Grade Description






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Minimal Pass







Grading System

GRE Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is a serious offense, and can be defined as “literary theft” when a student misrepresents the work of another as his or her own. One who intentionally plagiarizes the work of another in a course paper, project, or examination can expect to receive a failing grade for the assignment and potentially for the course. The decision will be made by the professor in consultation with the dean and/or assistant dean, and will be recorded in the student’s file. Students who commit a second act of plagiarism while at GRE may be dismissed from the school. One who unintentionally misrepresents borrowed material as one’s own original work, either resulting from carelessness and/or ignorance, will have his or her assignment returned with the opportunity to rewrite it in an acceptable form. The following guidelines apply to all written work:


1) Using the ideas, thoughts, words, and statements of another, including those quoted from the Internet, without crediting the source constitutes plagiarism.

2) If exact words of another are used, they must be put in quotation marks or indented, and acknowledged through footnotes, endnotes, parenthetical citations, and (unless otherwise indicated) bibliography.

3) If the thoughts or ideas, rather than the exact words of another are used, they must be acknowledged through footnotes, endnotes, parenthetical citations, and (unless otherwise indicated) bibliography.

4) If source material is paraphrased or rephrased, it must be acknowledged through a footnote, endnote, parenthetical citation, and (unless otherwise indicated) bibliography. If the paraphrased material includes exact words, phrases, and sentences, they must be put in quotation marks.

5) The underlying criterion for determining plagiarism is claiming as one’s own original work the ideas, thoughts, words, and statements of another without crediting the source.


Inclusive Language Policy 

In keeping with 21st-century scholarship, ethical practice, and the policies of Fordham GRE, inclusive language regarding humanity is required in all assignments. You are also strongly urged to use inclusive language when referring to God or the sacred (this may be gender-neutral, or alternating gender-specific pronouns). If the latter practice is new to you, try to make an experiment of it for the semester.


Fordham University Writing Center

GSRRE students enjoy free access to the university’s writing center and are encouraged to make use of this valuable resource.  See Fordham University Writing Center--


Students are encouraged to make use of Turnitin and Grammarly.


Counseling Center Resources

Everyone has ups and downs and things to process. Counseling can be a helpful component in spiritual, personal, and interpersonal growth. View the Counseling Center website at to learn more about their free and confidential services.


Technology Resources

For technical support with the Blackboard course management system, you will need to email [email protected] or call 718-817-2289. For questions about your username and/or password, you will need to email [email protected] or call 718-817-3999 (on campus) or 877-366-HELP (off campus).


Fordham University Disability Support Services

If you are a student with a documented disability and require academic accommodations, you need to register with the Office of Disability Services for Students (ODS) in order to request academic accommodations for your courses.  Please contact the main ODS office at Rose Hill at 718-817-0655 to arrange services.  Staff at ODS can guide you through the process and arrange appointments.  Accommodations are not retroactive, so you need to register with ODS prior to receiving your accommodations.  Please contact me if you have questions or would like to submit your academic accommodation letter to me if you are already registered for accommodations with Fordham.


If you are not already registered with the Office of Disability Services, please make an appointment to register ASAP and provide me with your accommodations letter as soon as you receive it from ODS.