The Hearth – How it all Began

Jeff & Katherine Wise, founders of The Hearth

Jeff & Katherine Wise, founders of The Hearth

“I’m gay.”  That Sunday night in 2013, our 17-year-old son had answered my question with this simple statement that shook our whole world.  I hadn’t expected that answer, but I also wasn’t totally surprised. As parents we’d wondered if that were the case, but we hadn’t spent any time thinking about what it would be like to hear those words -- to know that about our son.  

We knew we loved him – perhaps even more now that we knew this huge secret he had kept for so long.  That assurance of our love for him washed over us. At the same time, we felt an even stronger assurance that God loved him – loved him for who he was.

So, we knew we loved him, but we didn’t know where to go from there.  We didn’t know anyone to talk to about this. We didn’t have any role models to help us see beyond where we were.

Then quite surprisingly, there was word of an LGBT fireside at a home in Los Altos.  The speakers were two mothers with gay sons, an active gay man, and a long-time ally.  This fireside opened our eyes to some of the possibilities for our son and for us. It helped us not feel so alone and gave us some tools to navigate the rest of our son’s high school experience.

After our son had gone off to college, we started thinking about what we could do to help create a more loving and inclusive atmosphere within the Church, and how we could help other children like ours and parents like us.  Remembering that fireside in Los Altos and how helpful that had been, we decided to hold a fireside ourselves. We’d invite a couple of people to speak and put the word out through people we knew and local leaders of the Church.  We had no idea what that would turn into.

March 9, 2015, we held the first fireside.  118 people squeezed into our home that night filling it with love and the spirit.  It was a powerful evening that touched many hearts.  There were church leaders sitting next to people who hadn’t been inside the church for years.   The rainbow of diversity was fully represented.  We learned from one another and felt of each other’s spirit and love.  

It was a remarkable evening that began a series of mostly monthly firesides that came to be known as The Hearth.   We stand at the intersection of LDS and LGBTQ reaching out with a firm loving embrace holding onto both.

“I’m gay.”  That simple statement set us on this amazing spiritual journey of coming to know that God loves ALL of His children.  He knows them and loves them the way they are. All are alike unto God. All are welcome to sit by the Hearth and feel the warmth of love, light and knowledge.

"To my small Hearth His fire came

And all my House aglow

Did fan and rock, with sudden Light."

Emily Dickinson

“How can our minds and bodies be grateful enough that we have spent, 

Here in this generous room, this evening of content? 

Each one of us has walked through storm and fled the wolves along the road; 

But here the hearth is wide and warm.”  

Sara Teasdale