Controversial Votes on Equality for Gays and Lesbians to Impact the Lutheran Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, August 8-14

Goodsoil coalition to witness to the inequality of treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people in the Lutheran Church

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ALERT: July 30, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Phil Soucy, 703-980-2038, communications@lcna.org
Laura Montgomer Rutt, 717-278-0592, lmrutt@gmail.com
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(Orlando, FL) -Goodsoil, a coalition of six progressive advocacy groups (including Soulforce) for the full participation of GLBT people in the Lutheran Church, www.goodsoil.org, will have a significant presence and a myriad of activities at World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for the August 8-14 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Through conversation, vigiling, leafleting, presentations, and non-violent direct action, goodsoil will bear witness to the ongoing inequality, injustice, and double standard at the center of the Lutheran Church’s of treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Goodsoil intends through its presence in Orlando to call the ELCA back to its confessional roots, to be a Church that stands boldly for reconciliation, transformation, equality and justice for all people.

The Issues:
After a four year period of study, the ELCA Church Council is recommending three resolutions regarding the unity of the Church in the midst of controversy, the blessing of same-gender covenanted relationships, and the ordination and rostering of gay and lesbian clergy in covenanted relationships.

Goodsoil seeks justice for GLBT Lutherans at this Assembly in Orlando. The central issue of concern is the complete abolition of the Church’s current policy of discrimination which requires a vow of life-long celibacy for GLBT people seeking ordination. In addition, GLBT people seek the removal of any barriers to the blessing of their covenanted relationships and marriages. Goodsoil will by its large presence both within the body of voting delegates and as visitors to the assembly provide witness to the inequality of the treatment and welcome provided by the Church for GLBT persons.

Goodsoil Activities:
Activities by goodsoil during the Assembly will include silent witnessing, vigils, leafleting, presentations, non-violent direct actions intended to make the Assembly aware of the injustice of the current situation. Midweek, goodsoil will sponsor a Festival Liturgy, co-celebrated and preached by ordained, openly GLBT clergy. During the worship service, vows of baptism, ordination, and covenanted relationships (including marriage) will be renewed. Current and former ELCA Bishops will help lead the renewal of these vows. More than 400 of those attending the Assembly are expected to be at the service, which will be held at 7:30 pm, Thursday, August 11, at the Caribe Royale All-Suites Resort and Convention Center, close to the Marriott. Transportation will be provided from the Marriott. The press is invited to attend.

Lutheran Pastor Lars Clausen, Riding Straight into Gay America, www.straightintogayamerica.com, will continue the witness of his unicycle ride, now a month and more than 1000 miles long, a straight pastor searching for the stories that help all understand the fellow Lutherans, God’s Children, who are the target of the current ELCA bans. Lars will be available to the press/photographers at 2:30 pm Wednesday, August 10th, at the Marriott Center. Lars will also be available at the goodsoil reception that evening in the Marriott.

Interviews and Press Availability:
Jeannine Janson and the Reverend Jeff Johnson, co-chairs for goodsoil, will be available for interviews prior to and during the Churchwide Assembly. Senior representatives from the each of the six alliance organizations will also be present and available.

Soulforce Thanks the United Church of Christ – New Reason to Celebrate July 4 as Holiday

First church to offer full acceptance to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians. May mark beginning of the end for Federal Marriage Amendment.

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ALERT: July 5, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: The Rev. Dr. Mel White, Executive Director
Soulforce, PO Box 3195, Lynchburg, VA 24503 www.soulforce.org
Office: 434-384-7696 Cell: 434-221-4700 GaryNixon@aol.com
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(Lynchburg, VA) – The July 4, 2005, vote by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ to offer "equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender" is the first sign of hope in our long, painful struggle against religion-based discrimination.

Let the Falwells, Dobsons, and Robertsons rush to condemn this decision with their false and inflammatory threats that allowing gays to marry will destroy marriage and family.

Finally a denomination has the courage to stand against the fundamentalists and their attempt to take power over church and state alike through their anti-gay fear campaign.

Finally a denomination has the courage to join the Metropolitan Community Churches in recognizing officially that millions of lesbian and gay Americans in loving, committed relationships with families of their own deserve the rites and rights of marriage.

For the past half century the United Church of Christ has modeled what it means to be a fully inclusive denomination. The UCC led the way on that amazing day in June, 1972, when the first openly gay man, the Rev. Dr. William R. Johnson, was ordained into ministry. Now, on the 33rd anniversary of that historic event, with their vote to endorse full civil and religious rights for marriage equality with regard to lesbian and gay couples, the United Church of Christ leads the way again.

These are dark times for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike. After decades of study and discussion, most of our denominations have turned against us, refusing to recognize our loving relationships or our calls to ministry. But with this courageous and prophetic vote, the UCC General Synod has taken its stand against the rising tide of Christian fundamentalism and obeyed the command of Christ to "love one another as I have loved you." This vote makes glad the heart of God and gives hope to lesbians and gays everywhere.

Please take 60 seconds to call your local UCC pastor/church to express your appreciation for their stand. Then email a thank you note to: the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC President: thomasj@ucc.org

The Rev. Dr. Mel White, Executive Director, Soulforce