Tensions in Lynchburg Grow as October 25-27 Weekend Approaches

Pro-Gay Events Planned to Empower People of Lynchburg * Falwell’s National Liberty Journal Denounces Soulforce Events as Vile and Destructive * Anti-Gay Rev. Fred Phelps Plans to Protest

MEDIA ALERT – October 17, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592
email: soulforcemedia@aol.com

(Lynchburg, VA) – Human rights activists from across the country will be attending a Soulforce-sponsored weekend of pro-gay events in Lynchburg, VA, home of right-wing televangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Soulforce is a national movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. In keeping with their mission, the weekend of October 25 – 27 is intended to educate, mobilize and empower the people of Lynchburg to stand up to homophobia, heterosexism, and bigotry in their community perpetuated by Christian fundamentalism and the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

In an article titled "When the Soulforce Circus Comes to Town" in the October issue of Falwell’s National Liberty Journal, Soulforce’s influence is called vile and destructive. Fred Phelps, minister of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS, will also be coming to Lynchburg that weekend, according to his website. Phelps is known for signs that proclaim, "God Hates Fags," and his anti-gay pickets at funerals of AIDS victims and gay pride events.

Pre-weekend activities

October 22 – 25 Gathering at 10am at the Best Western Hotel
Door to door leafleting in Lynchburg for Soulforce veterans trained in nonviolence

Weekend activities – First Christian Church, 3109 Rivermont Ave (unless otherwise noted)

Fri., October 25: 4:00 p.m. – Registration and Media Check-in
6:30 p.m. – Soulforce Rally and Training in Nonviolence

Sat., October 26: 8:00 a.m. – Coffee
8:30 a.m. – Additional Training in Nonviolence and Civil Disobedience
10:30 a.m. – Workshops on gay issues by national and regional groups
12:00 p.m.- Box lunch and walk to Riverside Park
12:45 p.m. – PRESS CONFERENCE at Riverside Park
Rivermont Ave., (1.1 miles east of the church)
1:00 p.m. – "OUT and ABOUT" Pride Celebration (ends at 4pm) – Information booths, banners, singers, speakers, entertainers.
7:00 p.m. – Teach-in/Spiritual Preparation at First Christian Church

Sun., October 27: 8:00 a.m. – Vigils and Leafleting outside Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church during all Worship Services
1:00 p.m. – Additional activities to be announced

MEDIA ARE INVITED TO ATTEND ALL EVENTS. Media can pre-register at soulforcemedia@aol.com, include contact information. Additional information available at www.soulforce.org.

The Pride Festival at Riverside Park from 1- 4 pm offers the opportunity for photos and extensive interviews with individuals from Lynchburg and across the United States. Organizations participating in "OUT and ABOUT" include Soulforce, Inc., National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, People For the American Way, Human Rights Campaign, Interfaith Working Group, Q-Spirit, Roanoke 7, New Beginnings Christian Church (Richmond), Virginians for Justice, Lynchburg Friends Meeting (Quakers), First Christian Church in Lynchburg, Roanoke Chapter of PFLAG, The Richmond Lesbian and Gay Pride Coalition, Al-Fatiha (LGBTQ Muslims), Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Equal Partners in Faith, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).