Published: February 13, 2007,
Golden Gate Xpress
By Christine Joy Ferrer
SF State students Jackie Sicard and Tia Kilpatrick are part of a large segment of the Christian population who do not fit the stereotypical, traditionally conservative mold.
They are liberal, Christian, lesbian and a couple.
Sicard and Kilpatrick met through a Christian student organization called The Edge Campus Ministry in June of last year.
Through The Edge, they said their faith in God has grown since they’ve become part of a body of believers who are racially, religiously, and culturally diverse that accepts various backgrounds and beliefs.
“You can talk about things like race, religion, and sexual orientation,” said Sicard, 19, an art major and active member who was raised Catholic. “No one judges you.”
“It really has no set political or one denominational Christian agenda, but creates a safe environment for people who are the fringe – people of color, queer, punk, whoever – to come and worship,” said Kilpatrick, 26, a history graduate student, a Methodist, and president of the organization.
Kilpatrick came to The Edge after her father died, looking for support. Ever since then it has empowered her life, she said. Pastor Carolyn Talmadge, a Methodist minister, who’s been The Edge’s chaplain since July 2005, played a pivotal role in helping Kilpatrick through her father’s loss and coming out to her family.
“God extends no barriers. We are all part of God’s creation. We must accept people as they are because God accepts us as we are. If we do, people can move forward and grow,” Talmadge said.
The Edge Campus Ministries is located in a three-story house just across the street from SF State on Denslowe Drive. In 1961, six denominations bought the house to use as offices for different campus ministries and called it the Ecumenical House. Of the original denominations, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ are still part of the ministry.
In 2003, it became The Edge and now houses SF State students who are part of the ministry.
The Edge houses a diverse group of seven students. Sicard is one of them. Their backgrounds vary from race, culture, and sexual orientation, from conservative to liberal, from people who are still searching for a religion to people who are unabashed Jesus-lovers.
“Erica is a Goth, she has a lot of piercings, and wears huge boots, (Kilpatrick) is like high-energy, there’s Noel who’s a black Rastafarian-looking man,” Sicard said. “Yet, all are connected by their faith.”
“You wake up in the morning and everyone has their own spiritual way of going about the day,” Sicard said. “I like lighting sage, Noel likes lighting incense, Erica plays the French horn.”
Sicard and Kilpatrick met at The Edge’s regular Monday dinner and discussion night. Everyone at the dinner went around the room sharing his or her “God moments,” when he or she felt God’s presence during the week. Kilpatrick told the story of her father’s recent passing.
“At that moment, I felt her pain. My mother passed away from cancer a month after I was born,” Sicard said.
They exchanged numbers, went on a date a week later, and have been together ever since.
“God has brought us into each other’s paths. We talk about God, pray together, go to church together, study, work-out, share our problems, give each other feedback,” Kilpatrick said. “We live intentionally.”
They both possess a strong faith in God that they said has nothing to do with their sexual orientation. God’s love, your love for him, and the love you share is all that matters, Sicard said.
“I pray. I read the Bible for myself. You can’t just go off what others say. It’s not something that can be taught, it’s what I feel,” Sicard said.
“When they say ‘you’re committing a sin,’ I don’t let that hold me down. My sexual orientation has nothing do with the connection I have with God. There are people who are straight who meet the Christian quota but do not have faith as strong as I do, (but) in society they’re more honored.”
The number of people who come to Monday night dinner and discussion and Tuesday night Bible study varies each week, but the organization has around 25 regular members, all from different backgrounds.
“Our broad initiation to students of all types: LGBT students, straight students, students of color, white students, differently-abled students … reflects how God calls us to be as a community,” Talmadge said.
The organization strives for social justice and takes action on its stance at local, nationwide, and international levels.
Previous retreats included working with Habitat for Humanity and serving the homeless at St. Anthony’s. This last weekend, six Edge members went to UC Davis to learn about sustainable agriculture and environmental issues. It has supported ending the genocide in Darfur, as well as the effort of a couple hundred Methodist churches to reconcile homosexuality and Christianity. Edge participants made prayer cards for members of the United Methodist Delegation who left for the Philippines on Wednesday to draw attention to the numerous killings that have occurred in that country since 2001 under Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“The best work … is creating good nurturing spaces where people have opportunity to explore and affirm their faith,” Talmadge said. “It’s about developing your relationship with the Lord, with your community, and seeing where God’s presence is moving you to where he’s called you to be.”