A gynandromorph butterfly with the transgender pride flag for the front wing and the rainbow pride flag on the rear wing On Servants Wings
Resources and Reflections by Ari Leigh

Introduction


My relationship with Christianity has been tempestuous at best, and violent at it's worst. I've felt a spiritual longing since I was a small child. Living in an Evangelical Christian family in the Midswestern United States, I naturally followed that path. I was baptized at the age of six, at my request, in a tradition that usually favored adult baptism. I left the evangelical community at 14, after my experiences of hearing God in prayer were interpreted as demonic possession and I was told to pray harder so that God would help me become the Good Christian Girl I was supposed to be. Despite leaving the church that early, I am still affected by the harm caused by purity culture and the emphasis on guilt and salvation that were instilled in me at a young age.

I came back to Christianity in college, after a New Year's Resolution to "see if I could tolerate Christians", led me to the Episcopal Church. I found hope in their claim to welcome LGBTQ folks, and delighted in the opportunity to reexamine my spiritituality and reopen my relationship with God. I was confirmed in that tradition in 2012. Unfoturnately their welcome was incomplete for people like me. I ended up needing to file a discrimination complaint against the bishop who confirmed me, was censured for being open about my identity with a camper at an Episcopal summer camp, and was eventually left homeless because I wouldn't worship in a community that failed to respect my name and pronouns.

I started seminary in the fall of 2016 to get out of homelessness. The more I studied Christianity, the more I realized that it wasn't a fit for me. I have C-PTSD from my experiences in Christian institutions, and failing out of seminary was the healthiest thing that could have happened to me. Since then, I have known that I am not and can never again identify as a Christian. The wounds that religion have caused in me are too deep for repair. Since then I have found other traditions that celebrate my experiences of the divine and offer challenges that help me grow into healthy community.

As such I've moved all of my Christian writings, reflections, and documents to this section of the website. I wanted to leave them availible for those who might benefit from them, even though they no longer reflect my beliefs and experiences. If you are interested in watching my current spiritual journey unfold, I invite you to look at my more recent reflections on Becoming Jewish.



Meditations



Called By Name

Meditation on identity & naming in the imaginative contemplation style of the Ignation tradition focusing on 1 Samuel 3:2-11.


Known and Loved

Meditation on being lovingly created in the imaginative contemplation style of the Ignation tradition focusing on Psalm 139:15,13-18.


Naming & Nourishment

Meditation on being named & fed in the imaginative contemplation style of the Ignation tradition focusing on Revelation 2:17 & Exodus 16:14-15, 31.


Wrestling with Identity

Meditation on wrestling with identity in the imaginative contemplation style of the Ignation tradition focusing on Genesis 32:24-32


Vocation Venn Diagram

An exercise designed to help participants reflect on the intersection between their deepest joys and the worlds deepest needs at various times in their life.



Sermons



The Blessing of "I Am"

Reflection on identity for the Jan 7, 2016 gather of Common Ground in Northampton, MA

Text: Exodus 3:13-15, Genesis 1:26-27


Trinity Sunday Year B

Trinity Sunday Sermon at All Saints' Episcopal Church in South Hadley, MA on May 31, 2015

Text: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 29, Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-17


Easter 4 Year B

Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Eastertide shared with St. John's Episcopal Church in Northampton, MA on April 16, 2015

Text: Acts 4:5-12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18


Lent 1 Year B

Sermon for the 1st Sunday in Lent shared with All Saints' Episcopal Church in South Hadley, MA on Feb. 22, 2015

Text: Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15


Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service

From the South Hadley, MA Thanksgiving service, Nov. 25, 2014

Text: Psalm 65, Luke 17:11-19, Deuteronomy 8:7-18


Stewardship Sunday with the Lawrence House Service Corps

Stewardship Sunday sermon for Church of the Atonement in Westfield, MA on Nov. 16, 2014

Text: Zephaniah 1:7,12-18, Psalm 90:1-8,12, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-23


Proper 15 Year A

Sermon for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Emporia, KS on Aug. 17, 2014

Text: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8, Psalm 67, Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32, Matthew 15:10-28


Easter 6 Year A

Sermon for Grace & St. Peter's Hamden, CT on May 25, 2014

Text: Acts 17:22-31, Psalm 66:8-20, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21


Epiphany 7 Year A

Sermon for Grace & St. Peter's Hamden, CT on Feb 23, 2014

Text: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18, Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23, Matthew 5:38-48



Personal Reflections



Episcopal Blog

A collection of my reflections & striving to connect with the Episcopal Church. This collection features the 78th General Convention (2015) and my struggle to gain visibility as a person outside the gender binary. It is a closed archive as my current projects are featured directly on this website.


As the Deer

A poem exploring the spiritual implications of religious rejection of a God-given identity


Through the Grave

A spiritual autobiography that focuses on the overlaping strands of my early transition and return to Christianity.

Citation: Leigh-Bullard, A. (2014). Through the Grave: A Story of Transition & Resurrection. In Kissing in the Chapel Praying in the Frat House.


The Crossing

A short story that explores an outcast shaking at the edge of prayer


A Psalm of Gender

Submission to Dreams of the Church for the 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church this poem reflects my experience of seeing God in the diversity of gender.

Note: The name, pronouns and identity terms used in this resource reflect historic, not current use