Editor's note: Every week, HuffPost Religion shines a spotlight on religious people doing good work in their communities. If you would like to recommend a faith-inspired organization, initiative or person in your community, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @huffpostrelig using the hashtag #faithinspires.
This week’s Faith Inspires highlights the work of Guardian Angels Catholic Community, an LGBT-friendly independent Catholic Church focused on social justice located in Tempe, AZ. An eight-year-old parish, Guardian Angels Catholic Community is part of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. The ECC was formed in 2003 in Orange, CA and traces its history to the “Old Catholics,” a group of Catholics who came together in 1870 in opposition to the Pope’s declaration of infallibility. Today the ECC, which is independent of papal jurisdiction, has parishes all over the world.
Charity and justice, core values of Catholic social teaching, are the foundation of Guardian Angels’ ministry. Their social justice focus areas include interfaith dialogue, community service, eco-justice, immigration, medical care, and serving meals and providing shelter to the homeless and needy through I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program).
Zach Grossman, a member of the Guardian Angels’ community who volunteers with the I-HELP told The Huffington Post in an email: “Our aim in serving a meal to [the homeless] is to affirm to them that they are human beings who are to be treated with dignity, respect and love.” He explained that what he loved best about the program is that once the guests are served, everyone eats together. “In doing so we are trying to emulate Christ,” said Grossman. Grossman who converted to Roman Catholicism in 2007, has been a member of Guardian Angels’ Catholic Community for six months now.
Where does Guardian Angels Catholic Community derive its social justice inspiration from? “It all goes back to Jesus. He spent time with folks who were marginalized,” explained Rev. Sue Ringler, the pastor of Guardian Angels Catholic Community. It is all about acting with love, justice and reconciliation, she said. Prior to joining the ECC, Rev. Ringler, who was raised Roman Catholic, was employed as a lay minister for 20 years at a Roman Catholic Church. She has been the pastor of Guardian Angels for five years now. (The ECC honors calls to priesthood from men, women and married.)
Speaking about her hope for Guardian Angels Catholic Community, Rev. Ringler said, “My hope is that social justice is not something we do, but something we are. We live our faith, we don’t just do Sunday.”
Thank you to HuffPost community member Zach Grossman for recommending this weeks' Faith Inspires.
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Below are some scenes from Guardian Angels Catholic Community: