On Saturday evening, HRC hosted a virtual interfaith service, titled “Remaining Home in Faith: An Interfaith Prayer Service,” as a part of its “Coming Home to Faith: A Search for Common Ground” tour. The tour aims to establish common ground with prominent houses of worship and faith traditions across the country.
The current and necessary practice of social distancing during the COVID-19 global health crisis is difficult for many people, but can be especially hard for the LGBTQ community. Many of us are facing this crisis while also grappling with other incredible hardships, from being isolated from chosen family and friends who acknowledge and affirm our identities, to facing the loss of income, jobs, housing and other living necessities. Faith can be a source of comfort for many during difficult times, and as people are no longer able to visit their places of worship in person, this virtual service was a time for LGBTQ people of faith and allies to come together and find community in a welcoming setting.
Faith and community leaders from many different religious traditions and backgrounds came together for the virtual service, including HRC President Alphonso David; Senior Minister Carmarion Anderson; Ret. Bishop Gene Robinson; Rabbi Denise Eger; the Rev. Michelle Higgins; Pastor Josh Scott; Imam Abdullah Antepli; candidate for ordination J.J. Warren; and HRC Foundation Religion & Faith Program Director Michael Vazquez.
The words of faith and community leaders such as Toni Morrison, Howard Thurman, the Rev. Pauli Murray, Maya Angelou and Thomas Merton were also featured prominently in the service, as were passages from Scripture. Speakers also discussed themes such as water and the washing of hands, cultivating resilience and perseverance during times of adversity, finding hope through relationships with faith, friends and family and recognizing the power and dignity of the LGBTQ community.
The virtual service was grounded in the reminder that we are not alone, and that we can find strength, resilience and hope during this difficult time, both through our faith and in the knowledge that the LGBTQ giants who have come before us have shown us a way forward.
“I look at the giants who came before us -- footsoldiers for justice like Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and countless others -- who wrestled with discrimination and oppression, and a government who did not care about their lives or our lives," said David during the service. "These leaders drew strength from each other in the face of incredible obstacles and went on to elevate and validate our communities, and built a framework for a more equal nation.
“Their practice was justice. Their practice was resilience. Their practice was love. Every day, they decided to start again; every day, they made their communities and the world a little better, more joyful, and more free. It is this practice that I call on all of us to embrace anew.”
During this difficult time, HRC is dedicated to providing resources to the LGBTQ community, and creating spaces where the LGBTQ community can come together and support each other. For more of what HRC is doing around this crisis, click here.