- July 28, 2014
Post submitted by Project One America Faith and Religion Associate Director Joseph Ward
This past Saturday, HRC hosted the third and final faith gathering in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as a part of our new Project One America. The gathering was hosted in partnership with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Interfaith Alliance of Arkansas. Rev. Lowell Grisham, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, opened the event in prayer. Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the religion and faith program at HRC, moderated a panel.
Our panel included a diverse group of lay leaders and local clergy. Rev. Britt Skarda, senior pastor of Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, shared about tensions within the global United Methodist Church on LGBT inclusion issues. Cathy Campbell and Noah Meeks shared about the support they received from PFLAG and their faith community when Cathy’s son Noah came out as trans. Cyndi Nance, a lay leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and former dean of the University Of Arkansas School Of Law, shared about the community activism she’s seen on LGBT inclusion issues in Fayetteville. Finally, Rev. Abigail Letsinger, Pastor of New Communities at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, challenged people of faith to engage their religious text in order to deepen understanding, particularly on what the Bible says and doesn’t say about loving same-sex couples.
There were over 40 Arkansans in attendance and many shared about their own experiences within affirming and non-affirming faith communities. In addition to this gathering, our events in Jackson and Birmingham brought together a range of faith communities from longtime activist and faith leaders, to those who are new to this conversation.
Through Project One America, we believe we can change hearts and minds to build more inclusive faith communities, institutions, laws, and a culture that promote the safe and fair treatment of all LGBT people. As we continue working with diverse faith communities in each state, we do so with this vision and commitment to change at the core of our work.