The Shower Stoles Project The National LGBTQ Task Force

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So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

Shower of Stoles Project

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The Shower of Stoles Project is an extraordinary collection of over a thousand liturgical stoles and other sacred items representing the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of faith. These religious leaders have served in twenty-seven denominations and faith traditions, and come from six countries on three continents. This collection celebrates the gifts of GLBT persons who serve God in countless ways, while also lifting up those who have been excluded from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Project bears witness to the huge loss of leadership that the church has brought upon itself because of its own unjust policies. The collection tours constantly around the country, being exhibited in local congregations, universities and seminaries, and regional and national denominational gatherings.

Project founder Martha Juillerat worked for years as a closeted Presbyterian minister in rural Missouri. When faced with the threat of being defrocked by the church in 1995 after coming out, she chose to set aside her ordination. It was important both for Martha and for her partner, Tammy Lindahl (herself a minister), to impress upon their presbytery the fact that they were only two of hundreds of glbt people of faith who were active in the life and ministry of the church. They asked glbt friends and colleagues to send a stole to hang at the presbytery meeting on the day that she was to set aside her ordination. They were hoping to receive a couple of dozen stoles; instead they received eighty almost overnight! After that presbytery meeting the stoles kept coming, along with cards and letters. By the following spring, they had 200. Truly, this was taking on a life of its own.

The Shower of Stoles was first displayed in full at the 1996 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These stoles quickly became a powerful symbol of the huge loss to the church of gifted leadership. Since that time the Project has become broadly ecumenical, working within dozens of denominations, faith traditions, and secular settings across the US and Canada. The Stoles in this collection represent people who have served churches in thirty-one denominations and faith traditions, in six countries, and on three continents.

In 2006, after ten years of traveling with the collection – logging over a half million miles on the road and almost a quarter million in the air, while overseeing about 1,500 exhibits – Martha Juillerat retired and gave the Shower of Stoles to the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources. The Stoles continue to be exhibited across North America and online, bearing witness to the lives and voices of glbt persons of faith who have been silenced by the church.

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Shower of Stoles Project
Online Exhibition!

Organizational Partners

Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists Brethren-Mennonite Council for LGBT Concerns Open and Affirming Ministries of the Gay, Lesbian & Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Integrity Reconciling Works
More Light Presbyterians Open and Affirming Program of the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns (ONA) Reconciling Ministries Network Room for All - Reformed Church in America Welcoming Community Network - Community of Christ