Post submitted by Project One America Faith and Religion Associate Director Joseph Ward
Last night, HRC hosted the second faith gathering in Jackson, Mississippi as a part of our new Project One America. Fondren Presbyterian Church, a local congregation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, hosted the event, with more than 70 Mississippians in attendance.
The conversation started with four panelists sharing their unique journey around LGBT inclusion issues.
Rev. Bruce Case, senior minister of Parkway United Methodist Church, shared his unconditional love for LGBT friends and neighbors. He's constantly listening for ways he can become a stronger straight ally. Rev. Denise Donnell, former pastor of Mississippi United Methodist church, shared that she wasn't always an ally to the LGBT community. It was a close gay friend of hers in seminary who transformed her beliefs and understanding of human sexuality issues. She now uses her ministry to promote the full inclusion of LGBT people.
Rev. Pam Walsh shared about the founding of Safe Harbor Family Church in Flowood Mississippi as a community for all people, with a special emphasis on providing a loving ministry to LGBT people. Lastly, Troy Pearson, a former Southern Baptist minister, shared about the extreme losses he experienced coming out as a gay man in the 1980s, and how he was challenged to build a future and new relationship with God living as his authentic self.
There were several stories shared by participants, including a young woman who was raised to, "hate homosexuals," she said; however, through careful discernment and the love she has for her LGBT friends, she changed her beliefs and theology.
It was powerful to look across the church pews and hear these stories of transformation and love of LGBT friends, family, and neighbors. It's clear that so many Christians and other people of faith are ready to break the silence and do what they can to build safer, more inclusive communities for LGBT people.
Tomorrow we will host our final faith gathering in Fayetteville, Arkansas. If you're in the Fayetteville area or know someone who would like to attend, please RSVP by clicking here. If you'd like to read some highlights of our event in Birmingham, click here.