Free Mom (and Dad!) Hugs

Hi, Church Family!

Next week is Austin’s Pride Week including, but not limited to, the Pride Festival and Parade on Saturday, August 10. As we have for the past several years, UBC will have a booth at the festival. I am looking for a few volunteers to donate two hours (or more!) of their time to hang out with the crowd and talk to whoever stops by about UBC!

This year, at the suggestion of a member, I’d like to offer “mom and dad hugs” at our booth, in addition to giving away branded chapstick and sunglasses. This has been popping up over social media and it looks to be a meaningful way to connect with LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults who may have been shunned by their families, churches, or other community groups for identifying as anything other than straight and cis-gendered. 

I mentioned in a Pastor’s Pen a few weeks back about being a part of a “chosen family” as a member of the queer community. When I was really coming to terms with my identity and seeking out a community where I could be free to be fully myself, I never envisioned a religious community could have been that space. In fact, I didn’t really recognize that as an option until maybe four years ago when I moved to Austin. UBC has been that community for so long for so many.

So I need your help! I need several moms and dads to volunteer to hug strangers, to show love and kindness to someone who may be missing it from a parent figure. They may not choose UBC to be their chosen family. In fact, we’ll likely never see most of them again. But, if you’re like me, I’m at my best when I’m helping someone else. Even if for a moment. Those fleeting moments of true connection are tangible. Whether it be smiling at a passerby on the street, genuinely asking your server how their day is going, thanking your barista for preparing your drink, or giving a hug to a stranger under a tent in the August heat, we can make a difference in someone’s day. Maybe in someone’s life.  

Sign-ups are on the bulletin board at the alley entrance, or you can send me an email and I’ll get you on the volunteer list! I hope to be joined by many of you at the Austin Pride Festival on Saturday, August 10!

Love,

Jonathan Castillo
Minister of Music & Outreach

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