UCC LGBT Coalition Meets and Protests in KC
P.O. Box 16305, Wichita, KS 67216-0315
By Bob Minor
Two mainstream Christian denominations held their joint national convention
in Kansas City July 13-17. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ
(Congregational Church) with 1.4 million members (UCC) and the General
Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with 834,037 members
met at Bartle Hall.
Before their meetings, the 21st National Gathering of the United Church of
Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns met at
Rockhurst University July 10-12. Over 150 LGBT people and their allies
attended workshops, met in "Affinity Groups," and worshiped together
"connecting, reflecting and celebrating" to continue a national LGBT
presence in the UCC.
"I have NO doubt that we have had, do have, and wiIl continue to have
an effect on this denomination," Rev. Mitzi Eilts of Guilford,
Connecticut, National Coordinator of the Coalition, told Liberty Press Kansas
"Well continue to be a thorn in the side of the denomination;
though we are also treated by many as partners." The Coalition has
"always been faithful without apology."
Besides meeting separately, the Coalition cosponsored a large booth for the
main convention with Gay and Lesbian Affirming Disciples (GLAD), the
equivalent organization in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.
On July 13 its members along with supporters from the Iarger convention
took to the streets. From 5:00-5:30pm at Barney Allis Plaza downtown the
Coalition held a "Public Witness" to protest Missouris sodomy
laws and to support nondiscrimination. Part protest and part affirmation of
the fact that, as Eilis says, "People still need to know how much they
are loved and loveable," about 400 took part.
The program included music from the Coalition Choir, and speeches by UCC
General Minister and President John H. Thomas, Executive Justice and Witness
Minister Bernice Powell Jackson, and UMKC professor Tom Poe, president of Four
Freedoms Democratic Club.
The National Gathering has changed quite a bit since its first meeting, and
this is the fourth Gathering for Rev. Eilts since becoming national
coordinator, though she attended many before that. "Change" is the
theme Eilts emphasizes as the Coalition seeks to embody diversity in all its
"In my first national Gathering after becoming Coordinator in Chicago
we talked about embodying the intersectionalities of people," she
explained. "In this gathering we are being it. Like the weaving together
of a carpet and seeing it begin to come together, instead of just seeing the
threads, I can now see patterns. It makes much more sense to me. I hope it
does to all of us."
Paul Osgood, Shawnee Mission resident and member of the local host
committee for the Gathering, after working hard to make the visitors from
around the nation welcome, reflected, "Im proud to be a part of a
national denomination that is based on love, not division and hate. The
Gathering is an example of the fact that this is taking place all over the
United Church of Christ
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