Soulforce Leaders Go to St. Louis to Recruit Participants for June 2002 Direct Action

Soulforce Institute for Nonviolent Change and 24 Hours of Justice to take place in St. Louis during the Southern Baptist Convention to protest anti-gay policies

Soulforce Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

(Laguna Beach, CA) – Soulforce will be on the front lines of the Southern Baptist Conventions (SBCs) annual meeting for the third year in a row to confront anti-gay policies and teachings when the SBC meets in St. Louis this summer. Workshops, vigils and a possible civil disobedience are planned. Soulforce is an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people.

Leaders of Soulforce will be in St. Louis from February 15-19 to gather support and recruit participants for the June action. The Rev. Dr. Mel White, Soulforce co-founder and executive director, and Karen Weldin, director of operations, will attend meetings with press and local officials, and meet with activists and religious leaders to familiarize them with the principles of Soulforce and seek their participation in June.

Saturday, February 16 at 7pm, Rev. White will speak at a meeting of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) at The Ethical Society, 9001 Clayton Road.

Sunday, February 17 at 11am, Rev. White will speak at the Sunday service of the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis. Services are held at St. Johns United Methodist Church, 6000 Washington Avenue at Kings Highway.

Rev. White and Ms. Weldin will also attend a reception hosted by a St. Louis resident and meet with city officials regarding Soulforces mass prayer vigil and possible civil disobedience to take place in June during the SBCs annual meeting. Both Rev. White and Ms. Weldin are available for interviews February 18-19.

The residents of St. Louis have been welcoming and supportive of our efforts to confront the anti-gay policies and teachings of the Southern Baptists, said Rev. White. We look forward to working together for the next four months to proclaim to the Southern Baptists, to St. Louis and to the world, that God loves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people just the way they are!

From June 7-9, the "Soulforce Institute for Nonviolent Change" will take place at Centenary United Methodist Church, 55 Plaza Square. Supporters of Soulforce from across the United States and Canada will join with residents of St. Louis to take part in nonviolence trainings and workshops. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, will be the keynote speaker on June 8 and facilitate a workshop on nonviolence for those attending the Institute.

Then, on June 10-11, Soulforce is sponsoring "24 Hours of Justice" designed to bring truth and justice to the Southern Baptists. Vigils will take place throughout the night in front of Americas Center, where the SBC meeting will take place. On Tuesday, the vigils will continue, and additional activities will include a march, media event at the Americas Center, and a direct action and possible civil disobedience and arrests.

MEDIA: For interviews, please contact Laura Montgomery Rutt at 717-278-0592.

For more information about Soulforce, the Soulforce Institute for Nonviolent Change and "24 Hours of Justice" and how participants can register, see

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