Saturday, October 16, 2010

Come celebrate with St Johns United Church of Christ 6 pm tonight at their open and affirming banquet

Tickets are still available at the door for tonight's celebration of the Open and Affirming designation afforded t St. John's United Church of Christ.

Last night at the Wealthy Street Theatre Queeries Movie "Fish Out of Water," I saw Theresa Bileth the Open and Affirming Committee Chair for St. John's. She was practically floating with excitement on the eve of her first planned community event.

Not only will there be good food, music and supportive friends from area churches present, (and there is still room for you) she is excited about her church.

So hear now from Theresa Bileth about why this is important. And consider your own churches and faith communities. What is there for you to celebrate? Let me know, and I will help spread the news.
"On March 26, 2010, St. John's United Church of Christ Grand Rapids was designated the 869th Open and Affirming congregation of the UCC! For those readers that are unaware, this designation recognizes and proclaims the depth of welcome and love that the congregation extends to all people, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Being open is not new to the United Church of Christ. The first gay pastor in the UCC was in 1972. Our church was given it's label because we live it, walk it and talk it every day. (Examples: Our pastor, Bill Lyons, spoke at the Stonewall Candlelight vigil downtown GR, our church was a sponsor for the Rock Out To Come Out concert downtown in Rosa Parks Circle in Summer '09, we participate in the AIDS Walks, we attend benefits around the city and hold a booth at West MI Pride Fest every year just to name a few.)

We have a history of standing up for others and wanted to have an event that would invite those in the community to celebrate not only our journey of acceptance but their own. We ALL belong and we are all welcome to participate in the full life of the church and the community.

On Saturday, Oct. 16th, we will gather to celebrate not only our Open and Affirming designation but our history of hospitality and welcome by presenting the St Johns UCC Grand Rapids Open and Affirming Banquet.

We will tell the stories associated with each milestone along the way—from our refugee response in WWII, our welcome of women in leadership, female pastors, gay pastors, our accessibility addition in the 1980s, same sex unions, our Open and Affirming designation earlier this year, etc.

The banquet will also include a beautiful catered dinner by West Michigan Caterer owner Bobby Johnson and wonderful entertainment by multi-album Michigan based recording artist Ben Walter and his band, Notes to Myself.

We are thrilled to present this meaningful celebration. We pray that it shines a bright light on the journey of acceptance and hospitality that the United Church of Christ has always extended to the wider community.

We pray that the people attending will feel inspired to pay it forward, shine brightly and lift those around them. Peace. Hope. Love. Equality. Compassion. Acceptance. Every voice counts!"
Blessings and good luck on your work. St. John's United Church of Christ is located at 1934 Bridge St. NW at the corners of Bridge St, Covell St. and Lake Michigan Drive.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sexuality and Religion examined Friday 10/15 in The Queeries:Fish Out of Water" movie

It's been shown at the Free Spirit Worship Center, now the award-winning movie "Fish Out of Water" is coming Friday Oct. 15 to Wealthy Theatre as part of Queeries, the monthly LGBT movie series presented by Grand Valley State University's LGBT Resource Center.

This is a must-see documentary for any gay Christian who has felt like a fish out of water while honoring their faith and their God-given sexuality.

Here is how the Community Media Center describes the event.
"The film tackles the seven Bible verses used to condemn homosexuality and justify marriage discrimination. This feature documentary uses humor and original animation to make a traditionally complex and controversial topic accessible to those who don't like talking about religion and sexuality.

"Fish out of Water dives into the underbelly of America, crisscrosses red and blue states and talks to ministers from every denomination to uncover America's impassioned relationship with homosexuality and the Bible. With slapstick animation and quirky interviews taken everywhere from barbershops to mega churches, Fish out of Water delivers a voice to the oppressed and informs to the misled.

"Most importantly, Fish out of Water sits down with hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks to impart their experiences with faith and sexuality. This unique lens spans across culture, race... Written by Ky Dickens

The Queeries is a monthly LGBT film series for the Grand Rapids area. It is brought to you by GVSU's LGBT Resource Center, Speak Equal, Rumors Night Club, the Ameriprise office of Sylvia Frattallone, the Network, Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan, and Community Media Center

After watching the movie, come visit the tables of gay friendly groups in the lobby including mine, the Gays In Faith Together table.

Here you will find multiple resources including copies of sermons from affirming local ministers on the subject. You can sign up for more information on how to join the "Gay Christian? Yes!" action teams that interest you and sign up for a new support group of gay Christians and allies who choose to stay and change from the inside, their non-affirming congregations and Christian organizations.

Tickets for the show are $6 for the general public and $3 for Community Media Center members. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. amd the 2.5 hour movie begins at 8 p.m.

For more information, see the community media center website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Will your high school be represented during ally week?

Wednesday, Oct. 13, is Ally Week for ALL K-12 students in Kent County. As everyone has been reacting to the rash of deaths across the country from bullying, what actions are being taken? What conversations are being held?

On Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. students from across Kent County have the opportunity to learn about celebrating ally week in their schools. They will participate in an anti-oppression training led by a national staff member from the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network and they get the chance to meet students from across Kent County who are trying to make their schools better places for everyone.

This event will be held at 227 East Fulton Street in Wesley Hall at the First United Methodist Church downtown and is organized by student leaders, said Kristen Hanson, of the Grand Rapids chapter GLSEN.

The site provides ample free parking. There will be free food and free goodies. This event is only for K-12 students, friends and and educators.

For more information, send an email to