In 2014, two transgender inmates founded an LGBT church at San Quentin called New Hope. Kim McBride, a minister for 19 years, and Adriel Ramirez wanted others to have a place to worship without judgment.
New Hope is made up of primarily LGBT people, but doesn’t exclude anyone who wishes to attend New Hope. Kim said, “The meaning of New Hope is a fresh start in the Lord Jesus Christ as a family.”
“I was inspired to have New Hope at SQ because I saw how I was received by other inmates,” Kim said. “I was welcomed at the door and asked to sit among them, but the snide remarks under their breaths and the non-fellow- ship outside the church made me sad.
“I prayed and asked God for guidance, and He lead me to Adriel, and the rest is history,” Kim added. Father George Williams of the Catholic Church is who Kim and Adriel went to with the idea of New Hope. “Father George,” Kim said, “is the biggest supporter for New Hope.” New Hope meets on Saturdays 9 to11 a.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with staff on Saturdays and inmates only on Sundays, with oversight from Father Williams.
“My role in the church is music,” Adriel said. “I would either share a special song or lead the congregation in song, as well as leave time aside where if someone needed to talk I would make myself available for the individuals to do so.
“The goal for New Hope is not to be recognized as a gay church but open to all who seek to have an intimate relationship with God who loves them all.
“My experience in New Hope has given me a strength where I can attend other churches or participate during a service without having to hide who I am and what I truly mean to God.”
Michael Adams, who has attended New Hope for four years, said, “I got involved with New Hope because it is the first time in 20 years of incarceration that there was a place for me to celebrate and function in all of me, not just my faith.”
When asked what he would like to see for New Hope in the future, Michael said, “Growth that opens us up to those from the outside who have learned to be sincere and navigate their faith in light of so much holy opposition.
“We need to learn from each other. “New Hope has been a safe place for me to express my faith. However I understand it to be a by- product of trauma, I will rise above someday.”
“We at New Hope would like more of the LGBT. population to attend,” Kim said. “All we require is an open mind, open heart and a hunger for the Word of God. We will treat you like family in the chapel and promise once you join us you will return.”
When asked if she were re- leased today, would she continue the work she has done in prison with New Hope on the outside, Kim said, “I plan to start New Hope wherever my feet land. From this home church at San Quentin, I will establish other New Hope Congregations.”