Last edited: February 14, 2005

UCC LGBT Coalition Meets and Protests in Kansas City

Liberty Press, August 2001
P.O. Box 16305, Wichita, KS 67216-0315
Fax: 316-685-1999

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 City.

"We’ll 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 Missouri’s 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 human forms.

"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, "I’m 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 world."

United Church of Christ

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