National religious workshop to be held in Charlotte

Faith groups unite in effort toward inclusion

CHARLOTTE — Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is set to host the “Building an Inclusive Church Training” workshop from Feb. 26-28. This educational workshop provides congregations with tools and knowledge to build a more inclusive church.

The training, sponsored by Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA), will provide tools that other churches can use to welcome those of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Race will also be discussed as an area for further outreach.

“We want to be able to do something to foster more inclusion within our denomination,” Holy Trinity Pastor Nancy Kraft told qnotes. “As a congregation we feel a responsibility to do that.”

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According to the LC/NA website the training areas will focus on organizing people and money, Bible texts used to justify negative reactions toward the LGBT community, learning to tell your personal story and understanding bisexual and transgender people.

The workshop will have several trainers from across the nation, and from different denominations within the Christian community, including the Lutheran Church, the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church and United Church of God.

The training comes in the wake of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America changing their policy banning gay, monogamously couple individuals from serving in the clergy, among other sexuality-based policies, in August.

The training workshop is open to all churches and religions. Charlotte will be among only six cities to host the training. Other host cities will be Birmingham, Ala., Denver, Colo., Duluth, Minn. and Hayward, Calif. Attendance is limited to 30 participants, and Kraft feels confident the workshop will be full.

“I would like to see some of the leaders of this congregation become a resource for the Lutheran Churches in North Carolina, and I think this will help us do that,” said Kraft.

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The same training was held in 2008 at Wake Forest University’s Divinity School in Winston-Salem, and one Charlotte organization traces its roots to the lessons learned there.

According to its website, Charlotte Interfaith Connection co-founders Charley Faulkenberry and Pamela Jones met at the workshop and began to conceptualize what would later become the Interfaith Connection. Faulkenberry, a member of Myers Park Baptist Church, and Jones, a member of Holy Trinity, envisioned their organization as a way to bridge the gap between different organized religions and the LGBT community.

Jones said she feels there will be more outreach to the mainstream and LGBT community after this year’s training in Charlotte. “We begin to feel like islands in the LGBT community. We need to tear down those walls and build bridges,” said Jones.

After the training she attended two years ago, Jones noticed the great change happened within her. “You don’t know what doors are going to open when you do something like that,” she said.

Kraft’s vision for her congregation moving forward is a role of resourcefulness. “I hope we get to reach out and help other congregations in our denomination, in particular, become more welcoming,” she said. “People need to meet us. People need to get to know us. People need to see what we’re like. We’re not monsters.”

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Posted by Nathan James

Nathan James is a former editorial intern for QNotes.