WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.— A statewide conference, “Come Out of the Wilderness,” will be held this weekend, Oct. 18-19, at Green Street United Methodist Church, 239 Green St.
The event is tailored for people from many faith traditions who are working toward greater inclusion of LGBTQ people in their congregations.
Interfaith Voice, a Winston-Salem ecumenical group of congregations already welcoming LGBTQ individuals, and The Reconciling Ministries Network, (RMN), a growing movement for full participation of all people in the United Methodist Church, are working together to sponsor “Come Out of the Wilderness.”
Rev. Kelly P. Carpenter, senior pastor at Green Street and active member of RMN, said, “We are in the midst of a great national and cultural shift in thinking about the LGBTQ community. Our faith communities are lagging behind n the challenge to embrace the diversity of gender and sexuality in our world. This conference is an opportunity for faith communities to take a step toward the right side of history and toward justice.”
The Rev. Chris Glaser, pastor, author, and activist, serves as featured workshop leader. Glaser will lead three workshops including one based on his book, “Coming Out as Sacrament,” in which he explores how coming out as an LGBTQ person may serve as a means of grace. He has served as interim pastor at Metropolitan Community Churches in San Francisco and Decatur, Ga. and at Virginia Highland Church in Atlanta, Ga., which is a member both of the United Church of Christ and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The Rev. Dawn Hand, originally from Western North Carolina and now on staff at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., will preach at the conference’s worship service on Friday night. Also among the conference leaders are Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt, minister of social justice at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Ga.,, and Rev. Laura Rossbert, Southeast regional organizer for the Reconciling Ministries Network.
The nine workshops will cover such topics as the Bible and homosexuality, how to make churches more inviting to LGBTQ people, what it means to be transgender, the history and theology of marriage equality, inclusive worship, coming out as sacrament, racism and homophobia, and others.
Through both the workshops and worship, the conference is designed to meet people wherever they are on their journey toward full inclusion in the faith community, whether they are straight people wanting their churches to be more welcoming or gays and lesbians who want to further explore their sexual orientation as a gift from God.
The conference is open to all. Cost to attend is $25. Additional information and registration are available online or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The conference is part of the 2013 Pride Festival and march, which will follow the conference on Saturday. On Sunday evening, Oct. 20, a community worship service is being planned at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4055 Robinhood Rd.