Faith leaders speak in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-affirming Methodist gathering in North Carolina
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
Methodist meeting on Sept. 2-5 may be target of protest by Georgia-based Ku Klux Klan chapter and other anti-LGBT groups
'In contrast to the anti-Christian hatred and bigotry of anti-gay demonstrators, more than 500 pro-gay people of faith gathering in Lake Junaluska will shine a beacon of love, inclusion and dignity for all the world to see.' — National Religious Leadership Roundtable member the Rev. Steven Baines, an ordained elder in the Disciples of Christ denomination
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 — Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the United Methodist Church, will hold its bi-annual convocation titled Hearts on Fire at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina on Sept. 2-5. A Georgia-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, along with several other anti-LGBT groups, has planned to protest the event, even posting a Web site called "Queers on Fire." The following are statements by members of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force National Religious Leadership Roundtable, an interfaith network of leaders from LGBT-affirming faith organizations:
"We're coming to Lake Junaluska confident of our place in the United Methodist Church," said the Rev. Troy Plummer, a Roundtable member and executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network. "Although anti-gay forces have objected to the event, we've received many letters and messages of thanks for bringing a positive focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion to churches in this area. We look forward to this time of rest and renewal in the presence of our fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and LGBT-affirming Christians."
Roundtable members called on local law enforcement officials to ensure that convocation participants are allowed to gather safely for prayer, worship and fellowship, without threats or interruption from extremists.
Said the Rev. Cedric Harmon, a Roundtable member and minister in the mostly African-American Missionary Baptist denomination: "All homophobia, even that which is based on 'deeply-held religious belief,' sprouts from the same root of hatred and fear of difference that underlies all racial, ethnic, religious and social discrimination. The presence of the Klan joining the forces against gay-inclusive Methodism shows that those who oppose the work of Reconciling Ministries are on the wrong side of history."
The Rev. Steven Baines, a Roundtable member and ordained elder in the Disciples of Christ denomination, said, "In contrast to the anti-Christian hatred and bigotry of anti-gay demonstrators, more than 500 pro-gay people of faith gathering in Lake Junaluska will shine a beacon of love, inclusion and dignity for all the world to see. Their courageous witness of grace and compassion to all of God's children will outshine those who speak from places of ignorance and fear."
First convened in 1998, the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is an interfaith collaboration of more than forty denominations and faith-related organizations. The Roundtable seeks to reframe the public religious dialogue on issues involving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by amplifying the voices of LGBT-affirming people of faith, countering religious voices of bigotry and intolerance, and working to advance full equality for all.
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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