The Time for Gathering is Now: Faith & Family LGBTQ Power Summit Day 1
They came from 33 states; they were bishops, imams, pastors, chaplains, congregants; they were religious and a few not-so-much; some were legendary zealots and others fledgling activists; they were all colors of the rainbow and ranged from octogenarians to young adults. But, despite seeming differences, these 200 plus gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer and allied folks all came to Salt Lake City, Utah to spend a week together strengthening and sharing their skills in combatting the anti-LGBTQ discrimination that is so loudly and shrilly emanating from conservative churches and faith settings across the U.S.
This Faith and Family LGBTQ Power Summit, produced by the National LGBTQ Task Force and its Faith Organizing Team, grew out of the need to push back against the vitriolic homophobia and transphobia from faith groups such as the World Congress of Families that seek to diminish LGBTQ persons and their families; paint our families as not “natural” and deride our faith and spirituality because is doesn’t conform to their narrow view of what a relationship with God is all about. The World Congress is also a major exporter of homophobia to Africa.
Bishop Yvette Flunder of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries gave a rousing, Biblically-based keynote address to give a powerful kick-start to the Power Summit.
After the morning session, a press conference featured black faith leaders Imam Daayiee, Bishop Rawls, Bishop Tolton, Bishop Abrams and Reverend Rodney McKenzie, Director of the Task Force’s Academy for Leadership and Action. Each of them spoke about the necessity of shifting the faith narrative that denigrates the lives and loves of LGBTQ people and families.
The remainder of the day was devoted to a Racial Justice Institute that intentionally and thoughtfully facilitated conversations about race to increase people’s capacity to address racism in their everyday lives, in their activism, and in their faith communities.
During the evening hours, Power Summit participants were able to engage in either a People of Color Caucus or a White Caucus. These caucuses were private confidential gatherings guided by the experience of participants. The intention of the POC Caucus was to explore what it means to have solidarity across of lines of difference within the identity as a person of color. The intention of the White Caucus was to provide participants with an understanding of their role as white people and how to grow the base of white people for racial justice.
Day Two of the Power Summit holds even more opportunities for growth and personal development.
by Barbara Satin, Assistant Faith Work Director, The National LGBTQ Task Force