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A pastor shares the exact moment he changed his mind about the LGBTQ community.

For this Christian pastor, the Bible is a framework, not a rule book.

A pastor shares the exact moment he changed his mind about the LGBTQ community.

Ryan Meeks was brought up as an evangelical Christian. He was taught that homosexuality is a cardinal sin.

“When it came to the conversation about the LGBT community, I always felt awkward about it and I didn’t want to bring it up,” he explains.

A decade or so later, Ryan founded the mega-successful EastLake Community Church. Within a matter of years, attendance grew to the thousands thanks to Ryan’s captivating and approachable preaching.


But when a friend and a longtime musician at EastLake came out to Ryan and admitted she was afraid of being fired because of her sexual orientation, “I realized I had been a coward for too long,” Ryan says of the moment he changed his mind.

He knew he had to address the topic. He was ready to speak out.

While Ryan hadn't been hostile toward the LGBTQ community before, now he admits his lack of attention to the subject helped create a culture of fear surrounding homosexuality and the church.

Since Ryan announced that EastLake would be an open and affirming church, hundreds of people have left the church. But Ryan stands by his decision.

“I don’t care if the Bible says, ‘Gay people suck,'” he says. "I have lots of things I disagree with about the Bible."

The fasting period of Ramadan observed by Muslims around the world is a both an individual and communal observance. For the individual, it's a time to grow closer to God through sacrifice and detachment from physical desires. For the community, it's a time to gather in joy and fellowship at sunset, breaking bread together after abstaining from food and drink since sunrise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited group gatherings in many countries, putting a damper on the communal part of Ramadan. But for one community in Barcelona, Spain, a different faith has stepped up to make the after sunset meal, known as Iftar, as safe as possible for the Muslim community.

According to Reuters, Father Peio Sanchez, Santa Anna's rector, has opened the doors of the Catholic church's open-air cloisters to local Muslims to use for breaking the Ramadan fast. He sees the different faiths coming together as a symbol of civic coexistence.

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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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