Press

Inspirational Shower of Stoles Project to be displayed in August

Date: 
July 30, 2007

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator
646.358.1479
pjserrano@theTaskForce.org

David Lohman, Program Associate
651.428.8230
david@WelcomingResources.org

Rare showing of complete collection of liturgical stoles representing the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in August

“The Shower of Stoles Project bears witness to the huge loss of leadership that the church has brought upon itself because of its own intolerance and unjust policies.”
Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Program Director, Institute for Welcoming Resources

WASHINGTON, July 30 The Shower of Stoles Project, an extraordinary collection of more than a thousand liturgical stoles and other sacred items representing the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of faith, will be on display at two upcoming momentous religious gatherings: the Ninth National Reconciling Convocation of the Reconciling United Methodists on Aug. 2–5 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and the Tenth Biennial Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Aug. 6–11 at Navy Pier in Chicago, Ill. This is the first time since 2003 that the complete collection will be on view for the public.

Since its beginnings in 1995, the Shower of Stoles Project has been displayed well over 1,500 times at denominational gatherings, local congregations, colleges, universities and seminaries.

This collection of stoles and sacred items celebrates the gifts of LGBT people of faith, while also lifting up those who have been excluded from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Shower of Stoles Project, a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources, “bears witness to the huge loss of leadership that the church has brought upon itself because of its own intolerance and unjust policies,” said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, program director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources.

The project bears witness to the lives of those the church has unfairly rejected on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as to the contributions and lives of LGBT people of faith. It was founded by Martha Juillerat, a lesbian Presbyterian minister who chose to set aside her ordination in 1995 when she was threatened with being defrocked after announcing her sexual orientation. On the day of her presbytery meeting, she asked LGBT friends and colleagues to send stoles to impress upon the leaders of her church that there are thousands of LGBT people of faith who are active in the life and ministry of the church. The project kept growing and now has more than 1,100 stoles from LGBT religious leaders from 27 denominations and faith traditions in six countries.

The Shower of Stoles Project is currently working with the LGBT Religious Archives Network to create a permanent online exhibit where every stole will have its own page complete with photos and historical background. Currently the “Historical Commentary” section of the online exhibition relates the circumstances surrounding the donation of the stole to the collection, its place in the history of the project, thoughts about stole’s theological implications or its political significance within the struggle for equality in a particular denomination. Each stole is accompanied by the story of whom the stole honors, who donated it to the collection, denominational affiliation and geographical location. In addition to this factual data, you will find more background about the stole. Often a stole’s significance is highlighted in the “story behind the story” — anecdotes about how the stole came to the project or reflections on the stole’s honoree.

For more information, visit www.WelcomingResources.org.

To view an online exhibition of the Shower of Stoles, visit http://www.lgbtran.org/Exhibits/Stoles.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.