Local grassroots group takes ‘Soul force’ pro-gay message of hope to Philadelphia through workshops, training, and direct action
Soulforce Press Release: April 28, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
(Philadelphia) – Leaders of Soulforce, Inc. are pleased to announce the recent formation of Soulforce Philadelphia, the 20th licensed local group affiliated with Soulforce, Inc.
Soulforce Inc. is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. Over the past three years, Soulforce has trained over 10,000 people in the principles of nonviolence and over 500 people have willingly been arrested in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.
Soulforce Philadelphia will be holding an introductory workshop at three locations throughout the Philadelphia area. The purpose of the workshop is to acquaint people with the Soulforce principles of nonviolent resistance. On August 15, Rev. Mel White, founder and director of Soulforce, will conduct a nonviolence training at Tabernacle United Church, culminating in a direct action in Philadelphia. Rev. White was formerly the ghost-writer for religious right leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson before reconciling his homosexuality with his Christian faith.
Each introductory workshop is free and open to the public, and will feature a look at the spiritual violence committed by various denominations and religious/political leaders against GLBT people, experiences of people who have participated in Soulforce actions, and how to apply the principles of nonviolence to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities through negotiation, dialogue, and direct action.
The following “Introduction to Soulforce” workshop will take place in the coming months at each of the following locations:
May 13, 2003 (Tuesday) at 7:30pm – William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St, Room 129, Philadelphia
June 2, 2003 (Monday) at 7:30pm – Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, 2110 Chestnut St., Philadelphia
July 8, 2003 (Tuesday) at 7:30 – Central Baptist Church, 109 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne – 1 block south of R5 Wayne train station
“We are committed to working at every level to empower GLBT people and their allies to work together to confront the misinformation that is used to deny us equal rights under the law, stated Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce. We must stop the spiritual violence that leads to suffering and death for so many GLBT people.”
Soulforce Philadelphia leaders are Laurie Pollack and Kathy Stayton. All local groups are autonomous; however, supporters agree to abide by the basic “soul force” principles of non-violent resistance as taught by Gandhi and King and to work relentlessly to apply those principles for the liberation of GLBT people.
National direct actions, including vigils and/or civil disobedience, have taken place over the past three years at the denominational meetings of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (3 times) , the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting (3 times), as well as during the trials of Rev. Jimmy Creech (UMC) and Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken (PCUSA) and in Lynchburg, VA – the home of religious right leader Jerry Falwell.
Additionally, local actions take place throughout the country at many locations throughout each calendar year.
Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications