Black & LGBTQI Timeline

Our executive director, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love developed Black & LGBTQI Timeline for Metropolitan Community Churches.

This project honors the lives and contributions of Black & LGBTQI people who have served as lay and clergy leaders for the movement and ministry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide.  The project has two aspects: Creation of a timeline of contributions of Black & LGBTQI people adapted from the Black History Project and MCC’s own Oral History and Archives Project titled "In Our Own Words – MCC".

A brief narrative drawn from the vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. of a "world house" and the story of one of our clergy leaders, Rev. Carolyn Mobley.
We hope that the time line and the narrative will encourage you to visit "In Our Own Words – MCC" and add your own story and that of people you know who have contributed so much to our work worldwide.

View the timeline on MCC’s "In Our Own Words" site

Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches Calls the Nation to Prayer and Recommitment to Valuing All Life

As many already know, this morning Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and several others were shot.  While stories are varying at this point, we know that Rep. Giffords was hosting her first "Congress on Your Corner" event at a local Safeway Store in northwest Tucson, offering constituents a chance to learn more about the workings of Congress. 

Details from this horrific incident will not be sorted for some time, but what we can and must focus on as a nation of many creeds, colors, and cultures is the fundamental truth that all of life is scared regardless of political views, social or religious affiliations. 

The present turmoil of our nation, as we repeatedly battle over issues of human equality like immigration reform, just and equal wages, and universal health care access — things Rep. Giffords was known to champion — must not become for any of us, no matter our ideological positions, justification for violence in any form.  Jesus’ counsel was clearly and simply, "Love your enemies."  

It is with that word in mind, that I call the members and friends of Metropolitan Community Churches and people of good will across this nation to prayer.  Join me in praying not only for Rep. Giffords and all who were shot, along with their families and friends, but also for the young man who committed this crime and his family.  
    
To paraphrase one of our great prophets and martyrs, we must learn to live together in peace, despite our differences, or we will simply be consigned to die together.

Rep. Giffords dedicated her life to the principles of justice and equality for all, things she really believed in.  Let us now follow her example and lift up the one thing all of us who call America home say we believe in:  the right to life and liberty for all God’s children.

 Join me in praying:  

 Source of all life,
We give you thanks this day for the lives of those who
daily use that gift of life in service to others.
We especially remember now all those who lives were taken too soon from us
in today’s shooting,
and pray for the miracle of recovery for all those still in surgery or under hospital care.
Be with the families and friends of those targeted,
and the family and friends of the aggressor,
and surround them all in the light of your comforting presence.
Bless the community that must now struggle with the trauma and terror of this day.
And help us all to recommit ourselves to living together in ways
that honor your plan for a diverse creation.

+ Amen

  

Grace and Peace,
Nancy

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches

 

UN Faith Coalition Urges Protections for Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity

A growing coalition for decriminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity

Media Release
December 17, 2010
Contact: Ann Craig (213)-703-1365 craig@glaad.org<mailto:craig@glaad.org>

UN Faith Coalition Urges Protections for Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity

Forty national faith leaders and organizations in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were convened on December 13 by the Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights. The group, meeting across the street from the United Nations at the Church Center for the UN, spoke out strongly against the action of a committee in the UN that removed gay people from a list of groups protected from violent targeting and extrajudicial killing.  The Coalition expressed strong support for Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations, who is expected to propose reinstatement of sexual orientation to the UN resolution on December 20.

The essence of the Resolution is reflected in the following comments by leaders in the Coalition.  The full document can be read on our blog.

Bruce Knotts, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist UN Office, said, "Thousands of supporters have been called on to contact US State Department officials and the UN to urge the reinstatement of sexual orientation as a protected class.  In addition to this protection, the UN and all countries can add protection for everyone by adopting the Yogyakarta Principles which say, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.’"

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, retired bishop from Uganda, said, "As a straight ally to LGBT people, I see how countries in Eastern Africa are increasingly persecuting people because of who they are and who they love, in part, because Evangelicals from the USA come to Uganda and preach against LGBT people. This divides families, communities and countries. The UN removal of sexual orientation from a list of protected groups is one more symptom of a deeply disturbing trend."

Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director of Soulforce, said, "Imprisoning or executing people for sexual orientation or gender identity does not just violate human rights, it undermines trust, social cohesion, economic development and public health. Trust is vital for cooperation among nations, communities, families and co-workers.  We call on the UN to rebuild this trust by protecting all people who are subject to persecution by unjust laws and mob actions."

Frank Mugisha, head of SMUG (Sexual Minorities of Uganda) said, "The international community must not ignore the warning signs of persecution and genocide.  LGBT people are fleeing from their homes in fear for the lives.  Any law that calls for imprisonment or execution based on sexual orientation or gender identity creates a climate ripe for vigilantes. People of good will must speak out."

Pat Bumgardner, head of the Metropolitan Community Church’s International Committee, said, "All faith traditions support human rights but many faith leaders get cold feet when it comes to LGBT human rights.  It is time for faith leaders to step up and support human rights for all people.
Pastor Joseph Tolton, of The Fellowship, said, African American people of faith understand that LGBT people have always been part of our faith communities.  As part of the African Diaspora, we are saying out loud, that when any of us are targeted, we are all at risk.

Episcopal Canon Albert Ogle, head of St. Paul’s Foundation, said, "When I was in Uganda this year, I saw the needs for pastoral ministry such as Bishop Senyonjo is offering.  Today, we call on all faith leaders to know that much rests on their shoulders.  They need to follow their conscience to take actions to protect LGBT people both in the US and across the globe."

The UN Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights is a coalition of the Unitarian Universalist UN Office, Metropolitan Community Church, National Black Justice Coalition, The Fellowship, Union Theological Seminary and St. Paul’s Foundation for Reconciliation.

Soulforce announces Ray Boltz as honorary spokesperson

Ray BoltzThe Board of Directors of Soulforce is deeply honored to announce that Ray Boltz has been named Honorary Spokesperson for our organization effective September 3, 2010.  In this role, Ray will introduce Soulforce to concert audiences around the world and encourage attendees to volunteer and contribute to the mission of Soulforce in the world.  In addition, he will assist with the promotion of the Soulforce Equality Ride 2011 which has been expanded to include a Town Hall meeting in the cities where college campuses are visited by the Ride.  Ray will host a celebration concert in selected cities along the route.  Before Ray came out as a gay man, he served as Spokesperson for Missions of Mercy and raised millions of dollars for orphanages outside the United States.  He developed a very effective witness through music and stories that helped enroll people in these projects.  He plans to use a similar approach in his work with Soulforce. His opening act, Azariah Southworth, was the host of a popular Christian TV series before coming out and went on to be a rider on the 2008 Equality Ride.

Ray Boltz was born in 1953 in Muncie, Indiana, United States) and was a singer songwriter who first came to wide notice in contemporary Christian music. Many of his songs tell stories of faith and inspiration. He was raised by his parents William and Ruth Boltz, and was married to his wife Carol Boltz for over 30 years prior to coming out as gay in 2008. They have four children.  They are now divorced but Carol remains a huge supporter of Ray. 

Boltz wrote "Thank You", which won the Song of the Year prize at the 1990 GMA Dove Awards. After the release of Songs from the Potter’s Field in 2002, and his last tour in 2004, Boltz retired from the music industry and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In a September 2008 interview with the Washington Blade, Boltz came out of the closet and announced that he was gay.  Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, then Executive Director of Metropolitan Community Church, co-led a worship service with Ray at MCC Washington D.C. as part of his coming out process. At that same service, Ray introduced the song "Who Would Jesus Love?" at that service.  Ray says the song was inspired by his reading of the book Would Jesus Discriminate? written by Dr. Love. He also stateed that he was further inspired by the work of Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce and Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches. Boltz is also well known for the 1986 song "Watch the Lamb" which has played to millions of people around the world during Easter services.

Biography adapted from Wikipedia
Photo by Howard Zucker

Soulforce Symposium: Philadelphia 2010

Soulforce Symposium: Philadelphia, PA November 5 - 7, 2010

More information: Speakers, Presenters & Contributors

We had an amazing experience in Philadelphia at the 2010 Soulforce Symposium. More than 300 people gathered over the two-day scheduled events, including the Life Rally on Friday night and the Symposium on Saturday. Seventy percent of these individuals were at theirfirst Soulforce event of any kind.  I want you to hear some of their feedback so you know what you have helped create with your support.

@Jaybakker It was awesome to see you this past weekend at the Soulforce event. Thank you for being more than an ally. #ss2010less than a minute ago via txt

 

The soulforce symposium was stupendous – Everyone did great n totally professional job, so proud of my joyful diverse family! Thanksless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

 

We needed 3 pages for all the words people had to describe the conference. Pretty inspiring stuff. #ss2010.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story by Jay Bakker while he was with us as a plenary speaker.  NPR interviewed him.  The EPDN and Edge covered the events.  Journalists from France and Norway stayed with us all day interviewing participants.

Bill Meyer from Duke Medical Center had a standing room only crowd for his incredible research about the unholy partnership of media and religion in the historical abuse of non-gender conforming people (LGBTQI).

Christine Bakke’s workshop participants produced amazing life stories in art that will be reproduced on our site.

Making ex-gay survivor art

Rev. Jeffrey Jordan’s MCC Philadelphia members held a vigil at NARTH and then joined us to share what they saw and heard.

Petersen Toscano presented a cabaret on Saturday night that combined segments from several of his plays—deeply moving, incredibly funny and inspiring.

Six panelists and a facilitator Kevin Jones, Vincent Cervantes, Melanie Martinez, J Mason, Amanda Lee Genero, Jeffrey Jordan, and Cathy Renna responded to a question in ways that had all of us thinking again about what it really means to operate at the intersections of justice.

Dr. Daniel Helminiak took us on a spiritual journey at the closing session, reminding us that at the Spirit level of our lives, labels mean nothing.
We captured video of sessions and people’s stories that live on now as encouragement and catalysts for nonviolent resistance.

We learned so much about what is real in the lives of people who have experienced religious abuse and spiritual violence from brilliant activists and writers.  We explored the "bullies in our own minds" that Mel speaks of so beautifully in his new "It Gets Better" video.

I think we gave real hope to people and created safe space for intense conversations about their lives and how to move forward in the midst of oppression.

We already have requests to bring the Symposium experience in the Spring to the West Coast and the Appalachians. More will follow.

We hope you will help us continue this work throughout the United States. In 2011, we are planning to take Symposium-like panels to at least five of the colleges and universities where the Equality Riders have gone and hold our EQ Leadership Camps to train at least 50 young advocates who apply for the Equality Ride in 2012.

You can help ensure the success of future Soulforce programs by donating today.

Sponsored in part by
COIL Foundation
COIL Foundation

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love on Blog Talk Radio

Every Wednesday night, from 8-9 pm EST, the Gay Agenda broadcasts live on Blog Talk Radio with host James Hipp along with co-host Lyndon Evans of Focus On The Rainbow brings you an hour of LGBT talk with weekly special guest.

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love was on the show recently, you can listen here: Rev. Dr. Cindi Love of Soulforce Speaks OUT

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.
__________________________________________________________________
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

Clergy Call for Justice and Equality, Washington, DC

April 16-17, 2007

 

I am Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, author of Would Jesus Discriminate?  The 21st Century Question, Executive Director of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and an ordained minister of a gospel of good news delivered by a subversive Rabbi — a Teacher named Jesus Christ.  The good news Jesus delivered is this — the Divine is in each one of us — we are the beloved people and children and family of God and nothing can separate us from that love. And, as children of God, we are not to be muzzled like oxen. We are worthy of our labor — worthy for hire. (1 Timothy 5:18)
As a pastor, I am often the first person called after a partner or other family member when a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person loses a job.  People in our community get to process all of the same stages of grief about losing a job that other people do, but they have to do so without benefit of the protection of law and with the added burden of being fired just for being who they were born to be.  We get to go home and tell our spouses and our children the bad news that the pay check isn’t coming not because we did a bad job or even because of sanctioned layoffs in a down economy but because of whom we are.

As a pastor and a citizen of the United States, I believe we have a moral and civic responsibility to say once and for all, stop discrimination in the workplace against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual  and transgender.  My great-grandfather would have said, "Let me earn my keep and you earn yours."  Let me share a personal story with you.

My spouse, Sue, and I have been together 29 years.  She retired early in 2005 from a small public school district in Texas after a life-time of distinguished service as an elementary counselor.  She decided it was time to retire when the superintendent of schools asked her to remove a Human Rights Campaign sticker from the back of her car. A school board member had suggested that this sticker meant Sue was gay. She told him that the sticker was about human rights and, by the way, she was gay and she wasn’t going to take the sticker off until there was no more need for it in this country. Until that incident, we never felt afraid for her — even though the neighborhood where she worked was a high-crime area.  Now the real risk of harm felt like it could come from her co-workers or supervisors or one of the fundamentalist church goers who represented a large population of the parents.  And, we knew and we know today that no one would do anything if someone hurt her—beat her up as she left school at night or raped her to prove that she could be "cured" of her lesbianism.

We are also here today to remind our neighbors and legislators that hate crimes legislation is not about limiting free speech, but about limiting real acts that terrorize, maim and kill real people in our communities. It is time for equal protection under the law for employment and for hate crimes protection to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.  Now is time to do the right thing.