St. James Episcopal Church in Dexter is hosting “Open Hearts Pride Picnic” tonight, Friday, June 8, 5-8 pm at their church at 3279 Broad St.
The Open Hearts Club is an inclusive and open teen gathering which meets weekly at St. James Episcopal Church for youth who self-identify as LGBTQ.
“Several of us at St. James realized that there are at risk youth in the middle and high school that self identify as LGBTQ,” says church member Janet Cook. “Some are members of the high school GSA (Gay, Straight Alliance) and the newly formed GSA at Mill Creek middle school.”
Youth in sixth grade and up meet together at the church on Thursday afternoons for social time around food and conversation, crafts and games, outreach projects, and focused time celebrating and understanding how we are similar to and different from one another. Drop-in times are 3:30–6:30pm every Thursday and organized meetings once a month.
“There is no other mainline church in Dexter that welcomes these kids as is, and offers support and a place to meet, eat and play ping pong, charades, make buttons and talk,” Janet says. “(The kids) asked us to have a picnic since it is Pride month. We said ‘sure’ and have organized a simple $1 donation for a hot dog, drink, chips and cookie picnic with face painting, bubble making, music playing, yard games and community support.”
“People in our church community want them to know they are supported and loved!” adds Janet.
Already receiving support and encouragement from the schools, St. James invites anyone in the Dexter area to show up, share some food, play some games and express support for the kids in the Open Hearts Youth Club.