Over 200 people participated in 11 vigils across the United States in the Soulforce “National Call to Prayer and Vigils”.
|Photo by Patsy Lynch|
This day of actions, organized by Soulforce, Inc, in conjunction with Licensed Affiliated Soulforce Local Groups and two independent organizations took place on November 9, 2004 at local Catholic Chanceries. Each group tried to establish dialogue with their local Catholic Bishops first, and when requests to ignored or denied, vigils took place. In Oklahoma and Cleveland, the Bishop granted the request, so no vigils took place and the opportunity to dialogue looks promising. The reports below areincredibly hopeful and joyous, and direct quotes from the reports are used whenever possible.
St. Louis, Mo: A group called Catholic Action Network for Social Justice had 107 participants, the largest vigil that took place that day. Their report states: "We’re in conversation about how to proceed, but the vigil really helped us build some new relationships. Thanks for all your work." Pictures of the vigil are viewable at: http://www.catholicactionnetwork.org/site/more.php?id=116_0_13_0_M
Philadelphia: Local group leaders report:
"The Philadelphia vigil at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia started at 9:15 a.m. and ended at 2:00 p.m. On a VERY cold and blustery day we had 13 people there by about 10:30 a.m. Throughout the day there were a total of 25 people who participated. There were four Soulforce reps and one local Dignity (gay Catholic organization) rep there the whole day. All others were there an hour or more and included an ELCA (Evangelical Church in America) minister and ELCA church administrator, an ordained American Baptist woman, a former Catholic priest and retired teaching priest, and a Call To Action (Catholic gay-affirming organization) member."
New York City: Over a dozen members of SOULFORCENYC, as well as supporting organizations, spent the day standing vigil outside of Cardinal Egan’s offices in New York City. They passed out over 1000 pieces of literature that explained Soulforce’s position to those on the street and working in the building.
San Francisco: The local group had 16 people from various backgrounds in the morning vigil and another 7 for the afternoon vigil. "Half of the group was from the local group and about half came from other sources. The local Dignity chapter has grown to be an exemplary support to San Francisco Soulforce. I believe we had 4-5 people from Dignity turnout for the morning event. Two members of our local group met for an hour with Chancery officials, the next day. The Chancery had not met with any LGBT group in approximately ten years, according to officials there.”
Denver: "Twelve of us participated and, as we stood along Colfax with our signs and candles, I looked down the line and was filled with awe because I knew I was witnessing the power and presence of the Spirit. There really are few words to describe the feeling that comes from knowing you’ve "taken a stand" and are part of something that will ultimately help countless numbers of people. In any event, I’m so excited that our local community has been able to demonstrate its resilience and determination to become part of the nonviolent struggle for justice and full equality so close on the heels of what was a devastating election result for so many," stated the report from Denver.
Soulforce Atlanta Vigil
Atlanta: Eight people showed up for the vigil in Atlanta. The vigil was silent, peaceful and without incident. We all carried signs and three of us wore our Soulforce shirts. A few persons inquired what our purpose was in holding the vigil. We had a good response from local press and gave interviews to the Associated Press; PBS, local affiliates of ABC and CBS as well as the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Albuquerque: The local group in Albuquerque reported: “We could certainly feel the energy from all over the nation in our vigil yesterday. In was cold and rainy here, but souls and hearts were warm, holding a place of silent commitment to the truth. We vigiled here from 3-5 at the Chancellery Office, located near St. Pius X High school, so there was a lot of activity and a lot of traffic by our place of vigil. Jean, Peter, Brian and Virginia held signs and talked to the many people who came over to ask us what "spiritual violence" was? Most were supportive and appreciative that we were there."
Detroit: The local group leader in Detroit reports: "To my amazement, we had nearly 3 times as many people show up as I anticipated. I had purchased (optimistically) 15 glow sticks, and we used them all. One woman drove all the way in from Albion, MI, which is nearly 2 hours from Detroit. All in all, we had about 9 first-time participants in a Soulforce action. Before we left, we gathered on the steps of the cathedral and prayed, each person was invited to add their words as they were moved to do so. Then we disbanded and went home.”
Los Angeles: Seventeen people from Soulforce Orange County and Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles vigiled at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, throughout the morning and noon masses. Hundreds of people took our literature and thousands saw our signs and banners, many cars with horns honking in support. Several people said, as they left after Mass "We prayed for what you’re doing in there … thank you for being here!" A short video of the press conference that was held can be seen at http://www.mcclatv.org/soulforce.htm. It can be streamed (by left clicking) or downloaded for later viewing (by right clicking).
Venice, Fla. Seven members stood in front of the Catholic Diocese of Venice on Tuesday holding sings that read, "Stop Spiritual Violence." Luann Conaty, organizer of the local vigil stated: "Our goal of this particular vigil is to remind the bishops of the truth …We’re all God’s children. It’s time for them to stand up and say this persecution needs to stop."
Arlington, Va. Three vigiled in the morning and a total of five in the afternoon.
Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. We teach and employ the nonviolent principles as taught by Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.www.soulforce.org