A Council of Bishops, Elders and Christian Leaders committed to equal rights and inclusion for all will meet in Dallas beginning September 10 to address religious discrimination against LGBT people, and how to counter it.
Over 30 faith leaders from across the United States will assemble as part of the three-day event to worship, pray and strategize on how to remove homophobia and hate from our churches, and replace them with hospitality, justice and equality for all.
The gathering will be hosted by DignityUSA, The Fellowship, Institute for Welcoming Resources and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC). Goals of the meeting will include:
- Form a Council of Christian churches that are dedicated to reclaiming their faith based on the Gospel of inclusion, justice and love.
- Make public statements on Marriage Equality; Parental Adoption and Foster Rights for LGBT families; and address other pressing social justice issues for LGBT families such as peace, immigration and the Iraq war.
- Develop a collaborative coordinated strategy for moving LGBT rights forward within our Christian traditions - through growing the number and strength of "welcoming and affirming" congregations, reaching out to those rejected and alienated by churches, planting new churches, and creating "fellowships" of supportive congregations and clergy.
Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, one of the lead organizers of the Council, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ:
Certain religious groups have aggressively sought to define their agenda in the public's mind, through publicity and lobbying, as the Christian agenda. On the contrary, there is a growing movement of Christian clergy who reject this agenda, for whom bigotry and exclusion have no place in the Church.
It might be more appropriate (and more inclusive) to say that a growing movement of Christian laity reject the religious right's agenda. What excites me is that initiatives like this reflect not only the view of a handful of religious leaders, but are indicative of a groundswell of grassroots support — not only in the mainline liberal churches but increasingly within the evangelical movement.