I’m excited to you introduce to you today author and pastor Jamie Arpin-Ricci.
Jamie and his wife, Kim, are pastors and leaders in the Little Flowers Community – an urban worship space and intentional community with Mennonite Church Manitoba and Youth with A Mission in Winnipeg, Canada. From the Little Flowers Community website:
“We are Christians who share life, faith & mission together
in the heart of Winnipeg’s historic West End neighbourhood.
In addition to being a worshiping community, we also have intentional community expressions for those who seek to share
a spiritual pattern of life together.”
Growing up in conservative evangelical traditions, Jamie experienced deep personal trauma after realising he was bisexual. He walked through is own dark night of the soul coming to terms with his identity both within religious circles and LGBTQ2S+ circles . The following post shares some of his story about being a bi man in a straight-passing marriage, working in a Christian leadership position.
I use he/him pronouns.
I am a pastor at Little Flowers Community, a Mennonite congregation in Winnipeg’s West End. I am also the co-director of YWAM Urban Ministries Winnipeg.
A Little Bit About Yourself
I am an author, pastor, and community activist, living & serving at the intersection of faith, sexuality, and community renewal. I live in the inner city of Winnipeg, Canada with my Aussie wife, Kim, and Ethiopian son, Micah and baby daughter, Finley.
My new novella, “The Last Verdict”, draws readers into the complex and controversial world of death row in a legal thriller that will challenge them to the core. It was inspired by my friendship with men on death row & their families. I have also written a novella, “The Sinner Saint”, on the life of St. Patrick of Ireland.
I’m also the author of several other books, including “Vulnerable Faith: Missional Living in the Radical Way of St. Patrick” (Paraclete Press, 2015), which includes a foreword by award winning author Jean Vanier, “The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom” (IVPress, 2011), “The Introvert Writer: Being Your Creative Best By Being Your Truest Self “, and more.
While there have been many significant shifts in my faith journey, the biggest has been coming to believe that God’s image, reflected in humanity, includes LGBTQ+ expressions. As a bisexual/pansexual pastor in a “straight-passing” marriage, some might have assumed this was somehow self-serving. However, I made the shift because of an unrelated shift in how I believe we are to read Scripture. That’s when, combined with my work being a queer person of faith and pastoring queer people, the shift happened.
Meaningful Spiritual Practices
The two spiritual practices I find most meaningful are spending time in nature and reading. Sometimes I even do them together. I think the absence of “noise” helps me. The sounds of nature, while many, are more life-giving for me. I feel like I can breathe.
There are many examples I could give. Dorothy Day’s imperfect radical faithfulness ranks up there for me. Her book “The Long Loneliness” is exceptional, as is the biography about her by her granddaughter, “Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother”
The Relationship Between the LGBTQS2+ Community and the Church Community
While the relationship between the church and the LGBTQS2+ community in Canada has improved over the years, it has a long way to go. Even if we put aside the question of being affirming or not, the harm done (and being done) by the church is egregious and needs addressing. Truth and reconciliation must go hand in hand, so if the church wants to have an authoritative voice in this country, it must be one rooted in confession and repentance.
That said, I am beginning to be hopeful that things will be changing more significantly in the coming years/decades.
Balancing Ministry, Identity, and Life
I am still working that out. My vocation is so very personal for me that it can be hard to set good boundaries. The urgency of the work is also a factor. As a family, we are working hard to find that balance. It can get tricky when our financial stability is threatened because of our stance on justice issues, requiring more time and energy just to stay afloat.
My sincere thanks to Jamie for sharing a bit of his life story on Reluctant Mysticism today. If you want to follow up, check out Jamie’s coming out story here. If you’re a bisexual or pansexual person of faith, message me or message Jamie. We manage a Facebook group for bi/plan folks who are also spiritual and/or religious. We’d love to walk alongside you.
“What we would like to do is change the world–make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute–the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words–we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.” -Dorothy Day