Fresno Pacific University Faculty Reaches Out to Equality Riders for Resolutions; Young Adults Bring Discussion of Christian Faith and LGBT Issues

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 4, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, brandon@equalityride.com
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(Fresno, California) — An unprecedented exploration of Christian faith and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender inclusion occurred on Fresno Pacific University campus as twenty-six Soulforce Equality Riders of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities met with students, faculty, and administrators.

One Fresno Pacific student says, "This is the first time we have talked about [these things] openly on our campus." This sentiment was echoed by other students and faculty members throughout the day, many of whom expressed a need for continued dialogue around issues of faith and LGBT equality.

This is the fifth stop for the west bus of the Equality Ride, which is a two month journey of two buses visiting schools on each coast.

At Fresno Pacific University, administrators collaborated with the Equality Riders on the westbound bus to create a setting for meaningful dialogue. On April 3rd, Equality Riders participated in classroom discussions and gave presentations on topics such as "Progressive Theology" and "In God’s Image: Identity and Scripture." Over meals, Equality Riders talked with concerned faculty who wanted to learn what they could do to make Fresno Pacific a safer learning environment for LGBT students.

In the early afternoon, Fresno Pacific University faculty spontaneously requested that Soulforce Equality Riders host a workshop to discuss what a safe space for LGBT people might look like on campus.

The Fresno Pacific student handbook states that "the university is opposed to homosexual, premarital and extramarital sexual relations." But while FPU Director of Communications Diana Bates Mock affirmed that the institution’s views had not changed, she acknowledged that "there is a better appreciation for listening to each other."

"I am excited for the future of this dialogue at Fresno Pacific University," says West Bus co-director Alexey Bulokhov. "We count on the leadership of PROVOST and DEAN OF STUDENTS to help interested faculty and staff create a safe space in their offices and classrooms for further exploration of the intersection of homosexuality and faith. We are hopeful that the Soulforce Equality Ride visit helped the FPU community identify areas of need for greater learning regarding LGBT issues within the Mennonite Brethren tradition, in this valley and American society at large."

The Equality Riders will continue their mission to end religion-based discrimination against the LGBT community as they visit Brigham Young University , Idaho in mid-April. The next stop on the Ride will be George Fox Univeristy, where Equality Riders will engage in a welcomed dialogue regarding GFU’s discriminatory policies.


Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For more information go to www.soulforce.org or www.equalityride.com.

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