Trinity Episcopal Church in Clearwater
Will Host LGBTQ Religious Stoles Exhibit
highlight their practice of radical hospitality, welcoming everyone
regardless of race, creed, color, gender, age, disability, or
sexual orientation, Holy Trinity, 3200 N. McMullen Booth
Road, Clearwater, will host the Shower of Stoles Project
during the month of May. An opening reception will be
held on Friday, May 11, 5 – 7 p.m. The Shower of Stoles Project
is an extraordinary collection of more than a thousand liturgical
stoles and other sacred items representing the lives of gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of faith. Thirty of
the beautiful stoles along with a powerfully moving narrative
for each will be displayed in the church.
This extraordinary collection celebrates the gifts of LGBT 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 collection tours constantly
around the country, being exhibited in local congregations,
universities and seminaries, and regional and national denominational
“This special project will highlight our sensitivity to members
of the LGBT community,” said The Very Reverend Randall Hehr,
Rector of Holy Trinity.
Each stole, a long scarf usually worn with ministerial robes,
is accompanied by a story of a clergy member — whether a deacon,
elder, minister or church musician — who has been forced out
of their ministry or has had to deny their identity to continue
to serve. The beautifully decorated stoles, which can be viewed
as art in their own right, reflect the feelings of the silenced
clergy members who face the threat of being defrocked, about
three-fourths of whom are not identified on the stoles at their
“The stoles symbolize the tragedy and pain it must cause
someone to hide who they are,” said church member Karen Owen.
Owen lead the effort to bring the Stoles Project to Holy Trinity.
The Shower of Stoles Project began when a Presbyterian
minister from rural Missouri who had recently come out as gay
asked her friends and colleagues for stoles to hang at a meeting
where she set aside her ordination. Almost overnight she received
80 stoles of support, and they kept coming until more than 1,000
were received. The 23-year-old collection now has been shown
at more than 1,500 exhibits and continues to provide a powerful
symbol of the huge loss to churches of gifted leadership. For
more information, visit welcomingresources.org/SOSP.
Since 1976, Episcopalians have been working toward a greater
understanding and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender members. In 2003, the first openly gay bishop
was consecrated; in 2009, the national church resolved that
God’s call is open to all; in 2012, a provisional rite of blessing
for same-gender relationships was authorized, and discrimination
against transgender persons in the ordination process was officially
prohibited; and in 2015, the canons of the church were changed
to make the rite of marriage available to all people, regardless
of gender. Today the Episcopal Church sincerely welcomes their
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters.
Holy Trinity in Clearwater is a welcoming, loving, and serving
congregation that was planted in the Countryside area in 1995.
Holy Trinity is a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest
Florida. Their campus is located directly across the street
from Mease Countryside Hospital.