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A few pictures of today’s efforts at the United States capitol, in support of the supreme court hearings on Proposition 8.
Chris Carr (Board Member of Soulforce), Rev. Dr. Cindi Love (Soulforce Executive Director), & Kevin Jones (Board Member of Soulforce)
We started today at 6:20 A.M. at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, D.C.. We were asked to come early for orientation for those of us who volunteered to serve as a “human shield” or buffer of peace between the Westboro Baptists and the people who would be at the Supreme Court Rally in support of repeal of Prop 8 and DOMA.
Washington, DC Supreme Court Vigil
I was honored to be joined by Chris Carr, our incoming Chair of Soulforce’s Board and Kevin Trimmel-Jones, member of our Board and other volunteers from churches and non-profits, families and friends. Thank to all of you who wrote and were willing to help. We could only submit names for ten and had to share this number with two other groups so if you didn’t get to come to this action, stay tuned for the next one.
More than 20 faith traditions were represented at this service–MCC, Lutherans (of all types), the Circle Sanctuary, Episcopalians (including Bishop Robinson), the National Confederacy of Two Spirit Organization, the International Federation of Rabbis, Turner Memorial Church, California Faith for Equality, United Methodists, Dignity, Muslims for Progressive Values, National Coalition of American Nuns, Unity Fellowship, Five Mountain Zen Order, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Mormons for Equality, United Church of Christ, Covenant Baptist, Unitarian Universalists, The Washington National Cathedral, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Marriage Equality USA and more.
A highlight of the service for me was a revision reading by Minister Paul Fulton-Woods which brought laughter into the sanctuary and the performance of My One & Only by Todd (Tif) Fernandez. Both made me smile.
When the service ended, we processed together to the steps of the Supreme Court singing “This Little Light of Mine.” The sun broke through the chilly air and we turned the corner to see thousands of people lined up, in vast majority to support the repeal of Prop 8 and DOMA.
- God is Still Speaking!
Westboro was there with the usual signs of protest of our lives. They were far outshadowed by the moms with strollers and babies and signs supporting our lives and our right to marriage. I will never forget one mom. She told me that she took her son out of pre-school today and brought her infant and the son to the rally because she wanted them to see what is really right. She said she did not want her children to ask her in thirty years where she was when someone needed to stand up. She was a witness of sheer love— with a stroller and a diaper bag and two children bundled up against the cold.
She stood with us for a while as we held our line of non-violent resistance between Westboro and other protestors and the crowd of well-wishers and hopefuls for the repeal.
Tomorrow, we will return to the steps and the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the constitutionality of DOMA. More buses of opponents will pull in from around the country. More newscasters will show up and interview the Westboro folks. It doesn’t matter. G_d, Allah, the Divine of your naming has got this. We’ve got this. No matter how the Supreme Court rules, the American people are on the move now.
Thank you friends and allies of Soulforce, for your long tenured witness to the sheer power of love, You have changed the world and, along the way, we’ve all been transformed.
Rev. Julianna Donofrio MTS. MA. of Amherst, MA sent the following thoughts we would like to share:
As a community interfaith minister; a lesbian with a gay son and a bisexual daughter, I have traveled, participated, supported and spoken about Soulforce between 1999 and 2008. Although I am unable to attend tomorrow’s peace keeping action in person, know my prayers are with Soulforce and all who work so hard to ellinate oppression affecting LGBTQ persons and their families.
I owe my knowledge and perspective on non violence to the 2000, Soulforce University and the great spiritual mentors, Mel gathered for us to learn from. The 7 direct actions and two arrests, two in the presence of the Westboro Baptist church, are experiences I can share with my seven year old granddaugter as she begins to ask “those questions”. Like, why I have a picture of two men on top of a wedding cake. She keeps me and her mom on point!
Mel’s mentoring and personal reference was a direct influence in my attendance at seminary and my ordination.
Thank you for your leadership, Soulforce, as I have witnessed its evolution, is in good hands. I am especially grateful for the intergenerational face that upholds its principles.
My own living of life on life’s terms, coming on the good side of a year long experience with a dire diagnosis, prohibits me from offering monitary, however you are always in my prayers
Rev. Julianna Donofrio MTS. MA.
Dear friends of Soulforce Inc.,
New York Times, El Pais, The Economist, Alternatives économiques, Jeune Afrique… Every year, ILGA’s maps on Gay and Lesbian rights and the State-Sponsored Homophobia report are getting more and more visibility in the media or in institutions such as the OSCE and the United Nations. Numerous local organizations also use this material for their local advocacy.
This year again ILGA will be launching its report and maps in 4 languages. As in previous years, African, Asian and Latin American maps will be produced along with the world map in partnership with ILGA-Asia, ILGA-Asia and Pan Africa ILGA.
How can you get involved this year?
1/ Tell us how you would like the maps and report to improve. They can be downloaded at http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/1161. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 15 2012.
2/ Notify us of legal changes that have occurred since March 2011. The authors of the State Sponsored Homophobia will use your contributions to complete their work. Send information at email@example.com by March 31 2012.
We look forward to your involvement!
We give thanks to God that Katie Ricks was approved for ordination by New Hope Presbytery on February 18. The passage of Amendment 10-A, now G-2.0104 in our Book of Order, made it possible for Katie to be ordained. Katie is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary who has been serving as an associate in ministry at the Church of the Reconciliation, a welcoming and affirming More Light church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
(Photo: AP Images / The Press Democrat, Christopher Chung)
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The highest court of the U.S. Presbyterian Church will convene in Texas on Friday to consider whether a lesbian minister violated ecclesiastical law when she blessed the weddings of same-sex couples in California.
The case surrounding the Rev. Jane Spahr, a 69-year-old grandmother, highlights deep divisions within the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and its 2 million members, as well as other mainline Protestant denominations over gay and lesbian marriage.
Spahr, who has battled for greater acceptance of homosexuality in the life of the Kentucky-based church for decades, was the first openly gay Presbyterian pastor asked to preside over a local ministry, though she was barred from accepting the post because of her sexual orientation.
by Guest Author
Note from Director of Programs Jason Conner: This Symposium would not have been possible without the tireless and valiant efforts made by Wes. Our thanks go to him for making this such an exceptional event!
After just under a year’s worth of organizing, conference calls, reservations, and possibly hundreds of emails, I was very excited to see Jason Conner and J. Mason pull onto the campus. After a quick meal at Manchester’s finest restaurant, El Mesquite, we returned to campus for a quick tour and made our way to the location for the Leadership and Non-violence training. Upon arriving, we were all excited to see that we already had a good crowd waiting. After a few minutes of preparation, the presenters and the audience were both ready to begin.
The atmosphere was fantastic! Jason introduced Soulforce and the meaning of their visit to campus, and J. Mason introduced the training. Everyone seemed very intrigued and receptive as the presentation carried on. The audience was made up of several Peace Studies students, student leaders from several different organizations on campus, and a few faculty and staff members. In total, the amount of visitors was around 30 people, and proved to be the perfect size group. People were comfortable questioning the topics that did not make sense or that were not agreed with, while others felt the one-on-one attention of the Soulforce crew. After the training, several students made their way to the front to thank Jason and Mason for the wonderful opportunity. We also heard from two students who drove all the way from Cincinnati, OH to hear the dynamic duo speak!
The next day at 3:30 in the afternoon, Soulforce was heard once again on campus. This time, they were here to provide a convocation requirement for many students known as VIAs (values, ideas, and the arts) at Manchester. The panel arrived early to prepare while Jason and Mason made last minute arrangements. Originally we had ordered 250 chairs for the program, but as time quickly faded, we realized the need for more seating. In total, another 50 chairs were added, and the VIA still had people filling up the aisles and standing along the wall without seats. We quickly estimated that roughly 400 students were in attendance making this the biggest turn-out in Soulforce history for their panel. Panelists Mason, Dorothy, Michael, Cheri, and Whitnee took their seats while Barb (professor of social work), the moderator, introduced the schedule of events. Questions dwelt with personal definitions of intersectional justice, how society and individuals can help with intersectional justice, and what groups are currently working to achieve intersectional goals. The audience was captivated by some of the emotional answers in which panelists told of their minorities and stories of social denial and acceptance. Following the convocation, several students stayed behind to discuss their insights with the panel and the Soulforce crew. One particular conversation lasted well over forty-five minutes!
Later that evening, Soulforce and students reconvened for a night of open mic and the performance from J. Mason (J. Mase III). The crowd was a good size, roughly 30 people, which helped keep the event on a personal level, and with a variety of talent. Joseph Myers, a sophomore Communication and English major was first to present at the open mic. His poem recalled an array of stereotypes that surround the Black community while refusing his participation or acceptance in a single one. Following suit, students read segments of autobiographical essays, told stories of their pasts, and continued with emotional poetry. As a nice intermission, Jason Conner taught the attendees his infamous “Window Dance!” Complementing the talent of Jason, J. Mase III took the stage with his impressive, comical, and emotional routine of poetry. All-in-all, the evening was very inspiring and uplifting.
Soulforce was an amazing experience for Manchester College, and I, on behalf of everyone here, would like to thank them for the outreach, talent, and charisma that they brought to us!
Wes Heath is the co-president of the Active Inclusive Movement or AIM at Manchester College. He was the student liason for the recent Soulforce Symposium.
You can ensure the success of future Symposiums by donating today.
by Jason Conner
Soulforce and AIM at Manchester College are proud to be partnering on special events happening on campus October 3rd – October 4th!
Here you will find a description of each event and their locations. All of these events are open to the public. Folks from the community and other schools are encouraged to attend! You can come to one of the events, or be a real daredevil and attend all three!
Soulforce Leadership and Nonviolent Strategies Training
Monday, October 3rd – 8PM – Union Lahman Room
This training is perfect for student leaders, faculty and anyone interested in developing leadership skills. Infusing Nonviolent strategies and principles as taught by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr into team and group management this leadership training will be unlike any other.
Performance by J Mase III preceded by an hour of open mic poetry/spoken word/story telling
Tuesday, October 4th – 7:30PM – Wine Recital Hall
Join us for a performance by renowned performer J Mase III! Attendees will also have a chance to show off their own talent for an hour of open mic. J Mase III takes the stage at 8:30PM. Find out more about J Mase at www.jmaseiii.com
A landmark Panel on Intersectional Justice
Tuesday, October 4th – 3:30PM – Union Hoff/Lahman
What exactly is intersectional justice? Manchester welcomes local and national participants to a panel on social justice and equality. Especially poignant to students and faculty in sociology, psychology, and social justice fields this panel will take an in-depth look at unique identities and how they intersect with one another. This is a VIA event.
RSVP on facebook for these events!
If you can’t join us in Indiana, please donate to make this and other Symposium programs possible!
by Bill Carpenter
Trial continued this morning at 9 am with the penalty phase. The Church asked for suspension until Amy signed agreement to never again perform a holy union as long as its prohibited by the Book of Discipline. It was later ruled that an indeterminate suspension would not be allowed.
The respondent (Amy) suggested a penalty commensurate with the offense. Perhaps to follow the northern Illinois annual conferences recent resolution of no more than 24 hours suspension. Or perhaps require Amy to lead listening/dialog circles throughout the UMC to seek healing aroung the issue and the trial.
Its been nearly three hours since delliberations began…so, now we wait.
- Bill Carpenter