When Elizabeth Boehm-Miller joined Kingwood Christian Church about a year ago, she and her family were looking for an inclusive environment.
“Our value system was seriously challenged on a lot of topics - treatment of women, treatment of all races and ethnicities and certainly treatment of people in the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “We wanted to be in an environment that was loving and inclusive. We wanted to be walking the walk, not just talking the talk.” Because Elizabeth and her husband were re-thinking and re-assessing everything they’d been taught, they arrived at a new place. “We made the decision that our talent, our time, and our money were going to support faith communities who were inclusive and fully affirming.”
The welcome statement at the Table service really resonated with her. “I think I cried every Sunday for the first month and a half we came here,” she said. “We love that message.”
A lot of churches say everyone is welcome, but then don’t live up to that in reality. But KWCC really means it.
The Be the Bridge partnership with The Luke Church is just one example.
“I was already doing a lot of work in the area of racial reconciliation, questioning my own conditioning,” she said. “When we first came to Kingwood Christian Church, it was very different from a lot of places we’d gone to. I felt like God showed me on multiple Sundays in a row the way the church was already intersecting with things I was interested in.”
She didn’t just join the church. She got involved.
Even before joining the church, she had already read “Be the Bridge Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation.” She joined the monthly meetings that KWCC and The Luke Church are holding, but she also started going to the Center For the Healing of Racism in Houston with Sha Johnson-Falcon, of The Luke, every week. She wanted to learn more.
“One thing I realized early in the process is that I haven’t been taught history,” she said. “As I was getting history taught to me at the center and through reading and researching, I started getting angry.” Like many white people of privilege, she had no reason to care before that.
Learning about the history of our country and our society is the key to change, she believes. “When everyone learns history, I think we’re going to have real change in the world. We have to educate ourselves first, heal from our own racial conditioning and be a catalyst for others.”
Through her work with the center, Elizabeth said she’s learning how to recognize and heal from her own racial conditioning and to hold space for people to become their best selves.
She and Sha have formed a subgroup of Be the Bridge, called Causing Good Trouble. It’s already hosted one panel discussion and hopes to hold more events. Its goal is to expose racial conditioning through education.
Elizabeth and her husband, Brad, have also created Love Wins, a group designed for parents or grandparents of LGBTQ+ kids. The idea is to “help us understand and grow our love for our kids.” It’s one of seven new groups formed this fall at KWCC.
The group meets weekly, using the Beloved series from FreedHearts, a nonprofit created by Susan Cotrell, a theologian and author who works with faith families as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
Elizabeth said 25 percent of kids who come out become homeless the same day and often it’s when their parents are involved in an evangelical church. Without affirming parents, suicide rates are huge for LGBQ+ kids.
She said Love Wins is part of her inclusion journey. “I am really digging into not judging. Even if I don’t understand, I’m not judging.”
Brad and Elizabeth, who have been married 29 years, have always gotten involved in church communities. “It’s enriched our lives. We’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people.”
They still are in touch with friends they made when leading small groups at a Virginia church soon after they were married. “There’s a little bit of work associated with leading. But the blessings we’ve received are multifold for our time and effort.”
As an extrovert, it was easy for her to be involved. But her advice to others who are new and aren’t sure what to do is: “Pray about it. Ask God where do you want me? I think inevitably things will come to mind…. Lean in to what interests you about the church.”
Elizabeth worked as a Shell executive for 28 years before taking an early retirement and starting a leadership and life coach business. She’s a certified master coach, working with both individuals and for companies. Brad teaches at the University of Houston, and their son, Harrison, attends Summer Creek High School, where he was recently inducted into the National Honor Society.
A North Carolina native, she’s lived in the Houston area twice. This time, it’s been home for 14 years.
Elizabeth also has found the time to become a second degree black belt. She and Harrison have been doing martial arts together for six-and-a-half years. They’re training to test for third degree in the spring.
She’s clearly busy. But being involved, particularly in a church community, is important to her. “What I love about Kingwood Christian Church is that I don’t feel like I was expected to do anything. But it goes back to leaning into what gives me life. When we lean into what we enjoy, it’s going to be super fulfilling.”
This is one in a series of occasional profiles, written by Susan Bullard, on members of Kingwood Christian Church. Love 101: Do Your Part.