Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The LGBTQISA2ss+ Pride Activities, and Social Events Center of Elmira, NY.
The only Church in Central New York founded and fostered by the GLBTQSIA2ss+ community for 39 years. October 31, 2022 - 39th Anniversary now in our 40th year in Ministry.
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Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.  The only name associated with this ministry is the "Name above all names."  (see Philippians 2:9-11)
We are gay by God, for Christ's sake!  It is all God's fault.  God started this rainbow parade, God is leading it, and God will bring it all to completion.  June 28, 2018 Stonewall 49 ~ Br. Shawn Benedict, Pastor.   What I am saying here is God made us in our wide spectrum of sexual orientations and gender expressions.  Christ, being the glory of God, is pleased to be our Lord and Saviour.  We are Christ's own and Christ's glory in the Church.  All people are made by God, and are here and alive forever for the sake, the glory of Christ. March 10, 2021.
For easy instructions on how to use Skype to participate in our activities click here.
In this picture we see The Blessed Sacrament on display, the bread is in the Monstrance, the Wine is in the glass jar.  Here we see the real Body and Blood of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday night at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Church of Jesus Christ serving the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight, Queer, Intersexed, Asexual, active or celibate, Community of Central New York.
This is the Church where everyone is welcome in the Name Of Jesus! 

This is the church by you, for you!

In the Book of Genesis chapter 1 and verse 31 God celebrates the wonders and perfection of all God personally created by calling it GOOD. Therefore we openly declare all persons are created good with the full spectrum of sexual orientations and gender expressions being an outpouring manifestation of the continuing creative activities of the Eternal One and Holy God, of Abraham, Isaac, David, Ruth, Naomi, Sarah, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and all believers everywhere - being in fact walking and living tabernacles of the living God in Christ, through the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 19 and 20.



This is the Ray Of Hope Church

Appointed Pastor's Page and it was updated October 25, 2018.


The link to the Pastoral Blog is at the bottom of this page.  The Pastor will give updates

on what is happening in our Parish from time to time.

Meet Our Appointed Pastor

Rev. Brother Shawn Francis Benedict +


     As the Scriptures declare, so I believe;

....that neither death nor life,

    nor angels nor principalities

nor powers, nor things present

nor things to come,

nor height nor depth,

nor any other created thing,

   shall be able to separate us from the love of God

   which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:38,39 NJKV)

Any message contrary to the message of these verses is not the voice of God.


The GLBTQIS community has been lied to for centuries

by people in "church world" who have inserted words into

the Sacred Scriptures that are not there in the original texts

for the sole purpose of persecuting those who do not fit

into some preconceived construct of sexual orientation and gender expression. 

In short, religionists in "churchianity" have used God's name in vain,

the third of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7) when

they intentionally twisted and mistranslated the Scriptures as a tool to exclude or persecute

any person or group of persons.  It is my observation that many have obstructed and twisted the

Gospel of Jesus and His Church into what I call religianity, churchianity, and sexianity.

The assault on millions of people has been immeasurable.   


In our hearts we have known all along that God really created us with a

 spectrum of sexual orientations and gender expressions. 

Scripture puts it this way; "The Holy Spirit bears witness with

our spirit that we are children of God. " (Romans 8:16)

I call this the verse that says all our lives

"we know that we know that we know"

we are God's very own special people.


I invite you to hear the Word of God and receive all the Sacraments

with us and allow God to draw you out of the darkness of the

lies of the "church" and "society" and to bring you

into God's marvelous light of Christ present with us always.

Holy Scripture puts it this way:

"..you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, God's own special people,

that you may proclaim the praises of

God who called you out of darkness and into God's

marvelous light.  For once you were not a people but

now you are the people of God, who had not obtained

mercy but now have obtained mercy. " (1 Peter 2:9)


You are the saints of God, every one of you who is reading

this is a saint of God.  Come out of the tombs of lies we have heard all of our lives

and come together with us to give God thanks and praise

for all that God is doing for God's GLBTQIS people.  I stand on these

words as truth and I place my eternal destiny on these statements.



I, Rev. Br. Shawn Francis Benedict, believe in the eternal divinity of Jesus the Christ.

Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of God.

Jesus is one being with God.  Jesus is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God

as the Creed so clearly states.  

I experience Jesus as Lord and Saviour truly present

in the hearts of believers today through

His Real Presence equally known and manifest

in the Eucharist (Holy Communion),

the Holy Scriptures,

the Sacraments,

the Congregation of Believers, and

the witness of the story of the Church, called Tradition.

I also understand and experience the Holy Spirit to be God and Christ present and the

power of all the ministry the church does.  This is the traditional Christian Faith

of One God in three persons, the Blessed Trinity.



Rev. Br. Benedict is a solemn professed monk of St. Benedict of Nursia having professed the vows of Obedience, Conversion Of Life, and Stability on June 15, 1996 in Syracuse, NY in the presence of the Congregation of Ray Of Hope Church, Rev. Joseph C. Fischer, Rev. George Mc Dermott, and the Rev. Fr. Dr. John James McNeill (September 2, 1925 - September 22, 2015), priest and author of The Church and the Homosexual (1976).  Fr. McNeill was Br. Benedict's Spiritual Director and Therapist for years prior to the celebration of the Sacrament of Ordination and Solemn Monastic Profession.  Fr. McNeill presided as the principal celebrant at the Ordination

and received Br. Benedict's profession of Benedictine Vows.


Pictured at Ordination Fr. McNeill giving the Sermon, and then pictured during the Eucharistic Prayer are

Rev. Br. Benedict, Rev. Dr. Fr. John J. McNeill, Rev. George Mc Dermott, Rev. Joseph C. Fisher

Rev. Br. Shawn Benedict is eternally grateful to Fr. McNeill, who is now in Paradise with all the Angels and the Saints, for his tremendous guidance in Psychotherapy and Spiritual Direction sessions and ultimately for Fr. McNeill's willingness to preside at the Ordination Ceremony and to receive the promises of life Solemn Vows as a peer also living the charisms of religious life as a life-long Jesuit Roman Catholic Christian.  Rev. Benedict is also grateful to Charles Chiarelli, Fr. Mc Neill's married partner of nearly 50 years for his testimony to the love that was made in Heaven for these two Christian men to testify to the Church in the world. 

Pictured: Fr. Dr. John J. McNeill and his married partner Charles Chiarelli.


Now in Paradise, Fr. McNeill prays for all of us as we continue the glorious work of spreading the Gospel that says so many wonderful things including "that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality and that people of all sexual orientations can experience healing and rewarding relationships with God. "

(quote from Fr. McNeill's web site The Owls Nest.  See the link below to visit the site.)

Additionally, as part of the Ordination Ceremony to the Ministerial Priesthood, and his profession of Benedictine Vows, Rev. Leo W. Mc Dermott, II retired the use of his secular birth name, and was given the name in religion, Brother Shawn Francis Benedict, O.S.B. by Fr. McNeill and the Council of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.

     http://www.rayofhopechurch.com/franci~2.jpg                         http://www.rayofhopechurch.com/benedi~2.jpg 
The spelling "Shawn" is the Hebrew spelling and means "God is gracious." The name "Francis" was given in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because St. Francis taught the Church to welcome all people, especially the people society finds undesirable. "Benedict" was given in honor of St. Benedict of Nursia who taught the Church how to pray in common worship as central to the Christian life, and how to redeem time (Ephesians 5:15-17; Col.4:5) with the liturgy of the hours - a revival of the singing of psalms "seven times a day" (Psalm 119:64) and "at midnight" (Psalm 119:62) and who also welcomed all people in the Name of Christ. 

St. Benedict also gave the Church a tremendous gift with the vow of Stability which all "Benedictines" take. This vow says the Benedictine Christian will remain in the religious community where they took their final vows all the days of their life. They will not transfer from place to place as is the custom of most professional religious people. By staying, the Benedictine cannot hide his or her failings and sins. Rather they must live the full Christian life in the sight of all, asking forgiveness and seeking restoration like everyone else. The ministries of Francis and Benedict provide excellent examples for those who would lead the People Of God in ministry at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


This photo was taken on March 11, 2018 on Laetare Rejoice Sunday on the 4thSunday of Lent.   On both Laetare and Gaudete Sundays the color is rose pink, the color of joy.  Notice the fun dusty rose Timberland work boots. The flowers in the stole are pansies a very robust flower that shows all the colors of the rainbow.  These two rose pink Sundays are favorites to me..


One verse in Holy Scripture that has deeply spoken to me is 1 Corinthians 15:10 where St. Paul wrote: by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 

We all can sing the song lyrics "I am what I am" from the musical The Bird Cage with St. Paul, and celebrate that we are who we are by the power of the Grace of God working within us. I realized by the time I made my First Communion in second grade that I was wired and made to do this work. I had no idea how difficult it was going to be and how important it was that I was born at this time in the story of the Church. I was born into the storm of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marriage equality, and all the struggles the churches continue to have with these questions. This was the perfect time for me to be born, of course. Each day I grow in the realization of how significant it is to thank and praise God, who has made me and called me to witness out loud that by the Grace of Almighty God, made known in this Dispensation through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, I am what I am. I am a gay Christian and made so by the real, the living, and the moving work of God's Grace through the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit. Growing each day deeper into this awareness leaves me profoundly in awe of the Real Presence of Christ with us and energizes my continuous gratitude. I invite everyone reading this to join me in the Rainbow Parade designed, started, and continuing forward by Almighty God. This whole thing is the hand of God at work. To put it bluntly, this is all God's fault! Praise the Lord. Come and see the wonderful works of God and join us in giving God thanks and praise.
          Rainbow line


Rev. Brother Benedict + Appointed Pastor Of Ray Of Hope Church

(607) 280-0374

 Email Pastor Benedict:  rayofhopechurch@aol.com






Welcome to the Owls NestVISIT THE OWLS NEST Fr. McNeill's official web site by clicking here.

 This is an excerpt from the web site

The Owls Nest

proudly presents the pioneering books of
John J. McNeill


The Landmark Trilogy of Books on Gay and Lesbian Liberation, Self-Acceptance and Spiritual Maturity

These enlightening books full of healing wisdom, joy and love,
make wonderful gifts for lovers, family, friends and associates.

John McNeill's trilogy of books, The Church and the Homosexual, Taking A Chance On God, and Freedom, Glorious Freedom has inspired tens of thousands by establishing that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality and that people of all sexual orientations can experience healing and rewarding relationships with God.

Photo of John J. McNeillFor more than forty years, John J. McNeill, an ordained priest and psychotherapist, has been devoting his life to spreading the good news of God's love for lesbian and gay Christians.

One year after the publication of The Church and the Homosexual, McNeill received an order from the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" under Cardinal Ratzinger in the Vatican, now Pope Benedict, ordering him to silence in the public media. He observed the silence for nine years while continuing a private ministry to gays and lesbians which included psychotherapy, workshops, lectures and retreats. In 1988, he received a further order from Cardinal Ratzinger directing him to give up all ministry to gay persons which he refused to do in conscience. As a result, he was expelled by the Vatican from the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) for challenging the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of homosexuality, and for refusing to give up his ministry and psychotherapy practice to gay men and lesbians. McNeill had been a Jesuit for nearly 40 years.

In addition to his landmark trilogy, John McNeill has continued to inspire and enlighten with his empowering autobiography Both Feet Firmly Planted In Midair, My Spiritual Journey 

In his latest book Sex As God Intended McNeill presents a simple and straightforward answer to the question: What did God invent sex for? The answer, derived from an incisive investigation of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, is that God intended sex as a source of pleasure, joy and love. This book represents a concise summary of the wisdom culled over a lifetime. McNeill's ideas have enriched the faith of thousands, including fellow teachers, religious scholars, ministers and lay folk. This volume includes a Festschrift to John McNeill, celebrating his life and work in a series of essays by students, friends, and activists, honoring him for his lasting contribution and spelling out how he touched their lives and work.
Welcome to the Owls NestVISIT THE OWLS NEST Fr. McNeill's official web site by clicking here.


2:51 PM
Update: 3-29-2019 from Br. Benedict, Pastor.

I once heard a Trappistine Sister describe serving God with one's whole heart, soul, and mind as "a life that is ordinary, obscure, and laborious."  I agree.  There is something about the rhythm of this life that carries us through the ordinary routine, the lack of public attention - obscurity, and the constant work of being in the world but not of the world.  That rhythm is the work of the Holy Spirit that transforms a secular life into a religious life where everything begins, continues, and constantly moves toward the real presence of God with us.  In this movement we experience God through us, with us, and in us.... kind of like a fish moving through the water.  The water is moving through the fish, is touching the fish on all sides, and is indeed in the fish as the fish like us is substantially made of a lot of water.  God really present is the same sort of presence as the water with the fish, I think. This is beautifully described in Acts 17:28a "In Him we live and move and have our being.."

(Everything about us is designed by God to be a routine from heart beats, to work, rest, sleep, birth to death... everything is routine.)

(I feel obscure...By this I mean simply, sometimes I wonder if anyone is noticing our proclamation of Christ. Sometimes I wonder does anyone care about what we are doing as messengers of Jesus? Should anyone care? We seem so insignificant compared to celebrites, politicians, sports heroes, etc.  ... and yet the profound presence of Christ with us fills the spaces left by these questions for me.  It is the deep joy of being in Christ that makes the most sense and is the most  attractive to me.)

(Work.. Some would have us believe the idea of life is that we do time in the world (work to be paid to spend the money earned and then work to spend and have more) until we die and that is all there is.  In my daily life there is never an end to work, more to be done than I will ever be able to do in my lifetime.  I am profoundly grateful to have work, to be able to do work, to be able to pray and work in a seamless ribbon flowing through time and space.  There are many Scripture verses that teach me work is holy.  Two that come to mind are: "... walk [live / work] circumspectly, not as fools [who ignore God], redeeming the time...." (Ephesians 5:15, 16) I once heard a prisoner say we either do time or time does us, to which I added or God redeems our time and makes each moment holy and full of anticipation for the next.  The second Scripture verse that redeems time for me is: " .. whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through Christ..."  (Colossians 3:17)  Our work is made holy by our living and moving within it as a profound gift from God alive in all of creation. )

(Ordinary, a holy surrender and contentment to be where I am and be listening for God defining it fully for me.)  Paul says is beautifully: "....I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11b-13)

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God, do it to honor God."  1 Corinthians 10:31

St. Benedict held out this motto for all believers: Ora et labora:  Pray and labor.  In his Rule at chapter 43:3 he wrote; "Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God."  While he was referring to praying without ceasing, he firmly held to living every second of life for God and in God through Christ in the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.  This idea is beautifully expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Every Holy Communion prayer / Eucharistic Prayer ends with a perfect summary of our life in Christ. We call this the Great Amen, primarily because it is a complete summary of what our living is for.   We pray: "Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, forever and ever.  Amen, Alleluia.

So, reflecting back on what I heard that Trappistine Nun say in a video I was recently watching, I would conclude this meditation this way.  If we keep our focus on these ideas and in the Scripture, we will live and enjoy the finding of the joy of living in the joy of life as a total gift: "ordinary, obscure, and laborious" when He transforms and defines it according to His will.

5-20-19  I just heard an Episcopal Sister Catherine Clare say "Part of the monastic tradition is do what you are doing.  Be where you are.  So when we are eating, we eat.  We don't talk.  And, if you are fully present to what you are doing, or even to what you are not doing.. ah..then you are in the presence of God.  But, if you are busy thinking about what happened an hour ago you get up from the table and have no idea what you had to eat, and how do you give thanks for something that you haven't paid attention to.  And, the silence becomes kind of an enfolding thing where you can just sink into it and be there... you know, just be there.  So much of the emphasis of the world is on doing."  (The Hidden Life start at 25:32 click here.)
This is a painting of St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Monastic Rule, by Herman Nieg, Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria.
St. Clare of Assisi
Having refused to marry at 15, Clare was moved by the dynamic preaching of Saint Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide.

At 18, she escaped one night from her father's home, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed the long tresses to Francis' scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. She clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair and remained adamant.

Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares). Francis obliged her under obedience at age 21 to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death.

The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence. (Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigor: "Our bodies are not made of brass.") The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade her to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: "I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ."

Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of her life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick, waited on table, washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals and bishops often came to consult her - she never left the walls of San Damiano.

Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. She was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real.

A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. "Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect." To her sisters she said, "Don't be afraid. Trust in Jesus." The Saracens fled.  To see the source of this article Click Here.
  Adoremus in aeternum sanctissimum sacramentum.
      Let us adore forever the Most Holy Sacrament.
Pastor Rev. Br. Shawn F. Benedict with partner Kenneth Richard Ryan on the Feast Of All Saints, November 1, 2020.
Pastor Rev. Br. Shawn F. Benedict with partner Kaiden Rae Benedict, formerly known as Kenneth Richard Ryan on Pride Sunday in the Winter, Gaudete Sunday 12-13-20.
The window below here is a scrolling window.  It will scroll on all devices.  Scroll with your thumb or use the scroll bar on the right inside the window.  If this entire webpage page scrolls, try widening the entire page and then work on scrolling just the window.  There is a large amount of additional content in this next window.  Some smartphones take a minute to realize you are trying to scroll within an internal window.  Just work with it a little.  Visit the rest of this website by going to the Home Page.  Also see our page on Sexuality and the Bible.  Visit our Facebook page where you view all of the worship services held during COVID in the Video section. Remember to like and follow our Facebook page too! https://www.facebook.com/lgbtqsia2ssByYou/     You are always welcome to email me at rayofhopechurch@aol.com (Please put an obvious notation in the subject so I see your email like WEBSITE contact question.)  Or you are welcome to call me directly at 607-280-0374. ~ Pastor Benedict, March 11, 2021.
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This is a picture of Fr. Bartholomew J. O'Brien [born 5-30-1914 - Entered Heaven 11-7-2003].  In this picture he was visiting an outdoor shrine I had made in my backyard as a teenager to the Blessed Mother.  His taking time to visit was a very paternal thing to do and meant so much to me at the time.  Fr. O'Brien was a real priest.  Nothing else mattered to him than to serve and praise Jesus as Lord.  I served Mass for him during middle school and high school at 6:15 a.m.  I had a key to the hallway so I could enter early because he would spend a holy hour of prayer before Mass from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. praying on his knees behind the altar where he was not seen by anyone.  I would quietly enter and slide in next to him for a few minutes of prayer on some mornings.  This man had the most influence on my life than any other man in my life.  Fr. O'Brien gave me a copy of Fr. John J. McNeill's book "The Church And The Homosexual" shortly after the book came out in 1976.  With this book, which had the church's approval at the time, I learned that I was also homosexual and that Scripture did not condemn me.  Fr. O'Brien wanted me to understand my sexual orientation and be able to embrace it and give God thanks and praise for it.  I never saw anyone believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as much as Fr. O'Brien did.  If he had levitated off the floor while holding up the Blessed Sacrament it would have seemed perfectly normal to me.  Many years later I learned I am a relative of his.  I can't say enough about this good man.  I hope he remembers to pray for me in Paradise.  I still need him in my life. 
Brother Benedict's Laetare Covenant.  On Sunday Laetare Sunday March 11, 2018 I promised 30 more years of active ministry to Our Lord.  Of course, that could take many different forms, but  30 it is.  As a reminder, while I did take life-long vows as a Benedictine here at Ray Of Hope, it does not mean Ray Of Hope cannot be free of me.  At anytime Ray Of Hope can terminiate receiving those vows and not renew my License to Ministry.  However, I have promised to God 30 years of additional active ministry and have every reason to believe God will see it through in whatever form God chooses.  I rejoice and look forward to the journey.
Update at the time of Renewal of Vows, June 20, 2021: Looking forward, I like to say the first twenty-five years were spent on stabilization, survival, and sustainability.  The second twenty-five years will be spent on growth to help Ray Of Hope thrive, train, and transplant this Congregation to new leadership.  The founders and foundresses successfully transferred the leadership to a new generation, us, and now we must do the same.  I plan to fade into the Congregation and continue providing support to the new leadership.  My goal is to leave the Congregation with new leadership, in good standing, and thriving.
Pastor Benedict and Kaiden at the Reclaim Pride Queer Liberation March, June 27, 2021.

Worship was held on Sunday June 20, 2021 @10:30 a.m.   We celebrated the 12th Sunday of Year B, Father's Day, and the 25th Anniversary of Ordination and Solemn Profession of the Rev. Br. Shawn F. Benedict, Appointed Pastor.  We also welcomed guest Celebrant and Preacher the Rev. Leanne Zeck, Pastor of the Centenary United Methodist Church of Bath, NY.  Download the Program: Right Click HereWatch the Facebook Live recording of worship event.  Right Click Here.
Br. Benedict at the time of Renewal of Vows, June 20, 2021: "Looking forward, I like to say the first twenty-five years were spent on stabilization, survival, and sustainability.  The second twenty-five years will be spent on growth to help Ray Of Hope thrive, train, and transplant this Congregation to new leadership.  The founders and foundresses successfully transferred the leadership to a new generation, us, and now we must do the same.  I plan to fade into the Congregation and continue providing support to the new leadership.  My goal is to leave the Congregation with new leadership, in good standing, and thriving."