Sundays of Solidarity: How Soulforce Celebrated Stonewall
On Sunday, June 28, Jeff Lutes (Executive Director of Soulforce) and two of his three children met with John Hagee and his wife, Diane, after the 11am worship service at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Jodie Eldridge (Executive Director of Atticus Circle) was also in attendance, along with a few other members of the Hagee family and church staff.
In the roughly thirty minute meeting, Lutes shared his concerns about the way in which Hagee and others falsely claim that LGBTQ people are a danger to children, marriage, and society, and explained the damage such rhetoric can cause to the lives of LGBTQ people and their families. Hagee listened, said that he was moved by the gracious tone of Lutes’s June 4 letter, and asked Lutes to serve as his point of contact to the LGBTQ community in the future. Both sides listened respectfully as the other shared stories and personal experiences.
Lutes asked Hagee to consider an ongoing series of conversations about this topic within a yet-to-be-determined framework. Hagee agreed to this possibility and asked Lutes to email a proposed format for such continued dialogue. The differences between us were clear and transparent; yet the courage to have this conversation also produced a connection based on our common humanity.
Meanwhile, a delegation of approximately sixty LGBTQ people and their straight allies conversed at a reception with dozens of Cornerstone pastors and leaders in the church’s chapel. Soulforce and Atticus Circle delegates looked for common ground while letting Cornerstone leaders know why LGBTQ equality is so important.
Cornerstone Church is one of the largest single congregrations in Texas and John Hagee has been named one of the country’s most influential religious leaders. Coverage from the event included this San Antonio Express-News article, looking at both parties’ views on how the conversations went; this WOAI-AM article, which called the meeting "historic," and this Austin American-Statesman article from Saturday, previewing the meeting.
This visit to Cornerstone marks the launch of Sundays of Solidarity, a joint program of Soulforce and Atticus Circle that encourages groups of LGBTQ and allied people around the country to train themselves in nonviolent direct action and communication, and then attend worship services and seek conversation with leaders at a church of their choice – a church that is not welcoming and affirming of openly LGBTQ members and guests.