Marriages Resume in California

a rainbow flag in San Francisco BREAKING NEWS: Soulforce is pleased to join in celebrations of Judge Walker’s announcement that marriages between same gender couples may resume starting August 18, 2010. We believe in full equality for LGBTQ in all aspects of society and will continue to work to resist religious & political oppression, changing hearts and minds, as the case is appealed to higher courts. Be sure to read Rev. Gil Caldwell’s recent blog post "Prayers & Support for the resumption of same gender marriages in California".

Yahoo! News has more information from the Associate Press

Announcing Our New Executive Director: Rev. Dr. Cindi Love

Rev. Dr. Cindi LoveRev. Dr. Cindi Love begins her new duties as Executive Director for USA based nonprofit, SOULFORCE, Inc. on April 22, 2010. Throughout its 12-year history, SOULFORCE has used the principles and practices of Mohandas Gandhi’s and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s relentless nonviolent resistance and direct action to bring attention to and achieve freedom from religious and political oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people.

Founded by Rev. Dr. Mel White and Gary Nixon in 1998, the first gathering of the SOULFORCE community of volunteers was held in 1999 to protest the anti-gay rhetoric of Rev. Jerry Falwell. Soulforce Equality Riders are currently on a 16-city tour across the south, northeast, and midwest of the USA to bring a message of hope and affirmation to students at colleges with oppressive policies toward LGBTQ students. In July 2010, SOULFORCE will attend the 219th Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly and bring its unique witness for truth and justice to the voting members and other attendees.
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Dr. Cindi Love brings a wide range of leadership, management and organizational experience to her new role as SOULFORCE’s Executive Director. From January 2005 until April 2009, she served as the Executive Director of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). Prior to MCC, she served as an Executive Dean in the third largest community college system in the United States, as a Senior Executive of The Toro Company (NYSE:TTC) and CEO and Founder of several award winning corporations, including one named to the INC 500 in 1990. In 1990, Dr. Love was named one of the "Top 50 Entrepreneurs" in North America by Inc. Magazine, the Young Entrepreneur’s Organization, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Love is the creator of the Would Jesus Discriminate? campaign and author of a book by the same name.

"I am really excited that Dr. Cindi Love has accepted the call to serve as Executive Director of SOULFORCE," said the Reverend Dr. Mel White, co-founder of SOULFORCE. "She is the ideal person to continue to lead our non-violent struggle to end misuse of scripture and religion to discriminate against God’s LGBTQ children."

Chuck Phelan, Chair of the Board of SOULFORCE said, "As SOULFORCE transitions from its entrepreneurial stage of development, we are delighted to have Dr. Love in this crucial position of leadership. She brings a unique sensitivity to the issues facing both the LGBTQ rights and civil rights movements. She fully embraces the essential need to engage people in understanding the intersectionality of oppression, particularly within the context of organized religion and its contributions to institutionalized and systemic racism, heterosexism, classism and sexism."

Rev. Gil Caldwell, member of the SOULFORCE Advisory Board, said, "I am convinced as never before that the nation, faith community and beyond needs SOULFORCE! The alienation between and among persons for racial, gender, sexual orientation, political, religious, regional, class, age and other reasons is as great today as I have seen in my 76 years. I am thrilled to hear that Soulforce is committed to challenge anti-black racism as an important component of the fulfillment of its mission. We welcome Rev. Dr. Love to this work and to our SOULFORCE community of activists." Rev. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist Minister who participated in the "Mississippi Freedom Summer" of 1964, the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, and the March on Washington.

More of Rev. Dr. Cindi Love

Cindi speaks to C-SPAN regarding her book Would Jesus Discriminate?

Rev. Love delivered the 2009 Clergy Call for Justice & Equality in Washington, DC

Cindi with the 2010 Equality Riders
Rev Dr Cindi Love with the 2010 Equality Riders

Leave a message for Cindi

We invite you to welcome Cindi Love into her new role as Executive Director by leaving a comment on our blog.

Press Inquiries

To Arrange Press Interviews,
Phone (888-326-5610)
cindi@soulforce.org

Gil Caldwell: Of Rights and Rites

The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion and Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

Of Rights and Rites

By Gilbert H. Caldwell
Special to the Star-Telegram

Eight years ago, at the age of 66, I was arrested at the United Methodist General Conference in Cleveland. I was arrested twice: first as part of a demonstration outside the meeting place, and later with my fellow United Methodist clergy and lay persons who disrupted the legislative session inside.

This was by no means my first demonstration at General Conference. But in the past, issues of racial justice motivated my protest.

At the 2000 conference, I joined many others in seeking justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Standing up for LGBT rights did not always come easily to me.

As a young "foot soldier" in the civil rights movement, I was inspired by the writing and activism of Malcolm Boyd, a white Episcopal priest who wrote Are You Running With Me, Jesus? One day I read that Boyd had come out as a gay man.

As I digested the news, I discovered some unsettling emotions. Although I was deeply committed to civil and religious rights for black people, I realized that I had reservations about those rights being granted to gay people. I wondered, "Do I deny the impact his life had upon me, burn his books, turn from being an advocate to an adversary?"

After a day of reflection and prayer, my faith, reason, and common sense came alive! I could not and would not deny his influence. Just as so many white people became allies of the civil rights movement for racial justice, I determined that I would be a black, straight advocate of civil and religious equality for LGBT people.

These issues came to the forefront at the 1972 General Conference, when new legislation affirmed that "homosexuals no less than heterosexuals are persons of sacred worth." When this proposal reached the floor, a last-minute amendment added the words, "… though we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching."

In the decades that have followed, the "incompatibility amendment" has become the basis for undermining the very equality that was affirmed in 1972, and lesbian and gay people have gradually been excluded from the life of the church: first from ordained ministry (1976), then from marriage (1996), and finally from membership (2006).

Since my first ordination as a deacon in the Methodist church in 1956, I have seen us move from racial segregation to racial integration, and from excluding women from the clergy to ordaining them. In each of these instances of progress, the state preceded the United Methodist Church in extending equal rights.

Today, slowly but surely, civil rights for lesbians and gays are becoming a reality. Civil unions are legal in many states, and marriage equality is the law in Massachusetts.

Whole denominations now affirm the equality of gay and transgender people. The United Church of Christ declared full equality five years ago and recently announced growth in both membership and giving for the whole denomination.

Equality is possible — in churches and society. But to get there, we must quell our fears that the church or society will collapse if we treat others fairly. To get there, we must die to old ideas.

In 2000, I nearly died from a brain tumor. I survived with a nerve-damaged leg, a cane and a drive to use my time well. Since then, my ministry has centered on writing and speaking about the connections between different forms of discrimination. Simply put, my message is about justice.

Some ask if I will get arrested at this General Conference. I don’t know, but I do know that I will act in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. who said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Now more fervently than ever, I pray that this General Conference will lead the way in doing justice for those it has so long denied.

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist minister and an active member of Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization. He is a former chairman of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and a co-founder of United Methodists of Color.

This op-ed originally appeared in the April 30, 2008 edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, www.star-telegram.com/245/story/613555.html.

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A Call to Action From Gil Caldwell

The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion and Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

A Call to Action From Gil Caldwell

A few years ago I saw the Slave Narratives, a presentation of some of the stories that were told by my African ancestors who were slaves. There were nine words in that presentation that I will take with me to my grave; "They used the Bible like a stick against us". This was a graphic way of saying that Christian slave masters living in what is called the "Bible Belt", used the Bible to commit unspeakable crimes against slaves. Paul’s, "Slaves be obedient to your Christian masters…" became justification for demanding obedience and exerting punishment, whenever a Black slave did not please the wishes and needs of his/her master.

When I heard those words I reflected upon how anti-Semitism, sexism, classism, punishment of Methodist clergy who smoked and consumed alcohol, and of course slavery and racial segregation, all of this and much were perpetrated by those who used sections of Scripture as justification for their prejudices and acts of discrimination. In time most Methodists realized it was a desecration of the Bible to use it to support and sustain personal and cultural prejudices. But sadly, the United Methodist Church continues to utilize a narrow Biblical literalism and prejudicial interpretation of Scripture to justify its Book of Discipline language that demeans same gender loving persons.

I first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. at a Prayer Pilgrimage in May of 1957 in Washington, DC. That exposure to him motivated my participation in the Civil Rights Movement. I am convinced that Dr. King who spoke out against the Vietnam War and initiated the Poor People’s Campaign and spoke so many times of the necessity to create the "Beloved Community", if he were alive today, would challenge the Church and Government for their insensitive judgmental approach to LGBT persons.

I will be participating with Soulforce at the General Conference in Ft. Worth as we seek to contribute to the liberation of the United Methodist Church, urging it, "To be the Church". Martin Luther King asked more than once, "Why is the Church always the taillight and not the headlight" (on issues of human justice)? I am saddened that as a fourth generation Methodist, my United Methodist Church (in the 21st century!) desecrates the mission and ministry of Jesus in its attitudes and actions toward LGBT persons.

I invite all persons, especially persons of color and women who have awareness and experience of the Church "using the Bible like a stick" upon those before them and upon them personally, because of race and gender, to be present with me and Soulforce in Ft. Worth.

-Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell (retired)

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Soulforce Board of Directors and Advisory Board

Board of Directors

In accordance with Soulforce Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, the Board of Directors has full oversight authority and insures that the organization remains focused on its mission, prepares annual budgetary projections, and assists in fundraising to help reach program goals.

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board is a diverse group of distinguished individuals that provide counsel, professional knowledge, and public relations to supplement the skills of the Soulforce management team and Board of Directors.

Chuck Phelan, Board ChairChuck Phelan, Board Chair Dr. Sylvia RhueDr. Sylvia Rhue
Dr. Julie NemecekDr. Julie Nemecek Dan KarslakeDan Karslake
Karen BallKaren Ball Dr. Rodney PowellDr. Rodney Powell
Carol BoltzCarol Boltz Rev. Gil CaldwellRev. Gil Caldwell
Bill CarpenterBill Carpenter Dr. Judith StaceyDr. Judith Stacey
Rev. Phil LawsonRev. Phil Lawson
Judy OsborneJudy Osborne
  Rev. Jimmy CreechRev. Jimmy Creech
 
  Jay BakkerJay Bakker

Soulforce Board of Directors and Executive Director’s Round Table

Board of Directors

In accordance with Soulforce Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, the Board of Directors has full oversight authority and insures that the organization remains focused on its mission, prepares annual budgetary projections, and assists in fundraising to help reach program goals.

Round Table

The Executive Director’s Round Table is a diverse group of distinguished individuals that provide counsel, professional knowledge, and public relations to supplement the skills of the Soulforce management team and Board of Directors.

Chuck Phelan, Board ChairChuck Phelan, Board Chair Dr. Sylvia RhueDr. Sylvia Rhue
Dr. Julie NemecekDr. Julie Nemecek Dan KarslakeDan Karslake
Dr. Rodney PowellDr. Rodney Powell
Bill CarpenterBill Carpenter Dr. Judith StaceyDr. Judith Stacey
Karen BallKaren Ball Rev. Phil LawsonRev. Phil Lawson
Rev. Paul EgertsonRev. Paul Egertson Judy OsborneJudy Osborne
Phil ReitanPhil Reitan Rev. Jimmy CreechRev. Jimmy Creech
Jay BakkerRev. Jay Bakker
Rev. Gil CaldwellRev. Gil Caldwell

Rev. Gil Caldwell

Rev. Gil CaldwellRev. Caldwell received his education at Boston University School of Theology, Harvard Divinity School, and North Carolina A. & T. State University. He is a retired United Methodist Minister who participated in the "Mississippi Freedom Summer" of 1964, the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, and the March on Washington. Rev. Caldwell is a founding member of the United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church and the Black Methodists for Church Renewal. He is also a member of the Board of Preachers and Scholars at the Martin Luther King International Chapel, Morehouse College, and the author of two books and numerous book chapters, newspaper, and magazine articles. Rev. Caldwell and has wife, Grace, have been married for 47 years and have two sons and one granddaughter.