News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios

Levin Furniture


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us




Churches come together to welcome and include Gay Games athletes
From sponsoring the Games to athletes themselves, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church and others become part of the event
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
This story is part of a special series.


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
The United Church of Christ was the first mainline denomination to support the Games financially.
Courtesy of Amanda Rabinowitz
Download (WKSU Only)

LGBT issues are often divisive topics among faith leaders of mainline denominations. But, many of those churches have come together to make sure Cleveland and Akron are welcoming International Gay Games athletes this week. And, as WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz reports, those religious leaders say they hope the movement grows after the games.

LISTEN: Churches come together to welcome, include Gay Games athletes

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:00)


A conversation about LGBT inclusiveness 
A small group of Gay Games athletes paused from competing and sightseeing to gather at the United Church of Christ headquarters in downtown Cleveland Tuesday.

They sang, worshipped and heard from a panel of faith leaders of LGBT-inclusive churches in the Cleveland-area. Rainbow decorations and signs that promised “you’re welcome here” were scattered around the intimate chapel.

Gay Games faith partners
The Gay Games has 18 faith partners representing eight denominations including the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and The United Church of Christ, which was the first mainline denomination to support the Games financially, becoming one of the top sponsors.

Andy Lang is director of the U.C.C.’s Open and Affirming Coalition. He says the church has 1,200 congregations nationwide --- or about one-fifth of its total --  that have committed to including LGBT people. And he says that number is growing each month.and The United Church of Christ became the first mainline denomination to support the Games financially, becoming one of the top sponsors.

"Other churches aren’t there yet, but their consciences have been disturbed," Lang says. "And they’re beginning to rethink what they believe. So I really believe there’s a future not only for American Christianity but for other faith traditions as well. It’s going to take a long time to get there, but we’re at a turning point in history."

"To stand up and be counted" 
About a mile away from Cleveland’s U.C.C. headquarters, rainbow ribbons decorate the doors of The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Gay Games partner signs are throughout thebuildings. The dean, Tracey Lind, says that full inclusion of the LGBT community still has ways to go, but she is amazed how far the church has come.

Lind first came out as a lesbian while she was in seminary about 40 years ago, but with a promise that she would keep it quiet and not embarrass the church. That changed about 25 years ago; she was a priest at a church in Patterson, New Jersey:

"When one of my bishops was put on trial for heresy and the reason for it was he ordained an openly gay man who had been in my seminary class. And I thought, ‘You know, it could have been me but instead it was him.’ And so, I thought, I got to stand up and be counted," Lind says. 

Lind was featured in a Time Magazine article about openly gay clergy in 2000, the year she joined Trinity Episcopal. She married her partner In New Hampshire and performs same-sex blessings for couples who are married in other states – a right the Episcopal Church gave to its congregations in 2012.

Churches help sponsor Central American athletes
Trinity and the other churches in the region have reached out beyond their own congregations to support Gay Games athletes – as well as the Games themselves.The LGBT softball team from El Salvador got to the Gay Games through help of the Inter-Religious Task Force

A Cleveland-based group called Inter-Religious Task Force raised about $15,000 -- mostly from local churches -- to sponsor two Central American teams in the Gay Games. The softball team from El Salvador and volleyball team from Columbia are the first to represent those countries in the Games.

Task Force member Mary Williams says her group was inspired by an Anglican bishop they met in El Salvador who supported the LGBT community, and a lesbian woman whose faith was undeterred by the disapproval of her church and community. 

"She was just so adamant on believing in God and believing in the church even though she would tell us stories about having to walk home to her house every night a different way because she was so scared for her life," Williams says. "These people don’t live in fear because of their faith and they just keep doing the work that they’re doing. And I’ve just carried that with me."Task Force members Christine Stonebraker-Martinez (L) Mary Williams (R)

"Get with the times" 
Faith leaders and organizers in Northeast Ohio hope their outreach both in the community and worldwide continue to strengthen after the Gay Games.

Trinity Episcopal’s Lind says excluding the LGBT community is becoming a thing of the past. "Everybody under the age of 35 is over it. It’s a non-issue. Even among Evangelical Christians, it’s a non-issue. And so, the church needs to get with the times."

Even some of the churches that remain opposed to same-sex relationships and gay marriage have extended a welcome to the gay community during the games. The Roman Catholic Diocese has distributed brochures that list Mass times and locations and is staffing the Spiritual Center in the Festival Village in downtown Cleveland. 


Related Links & Resources
El Salvador Softball Team


Related WKSU Stories

Gay Games rodeo: Changing stereotypes
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

From Guam to Africa, Gay Games athletes compete for equality
Monday, August 11, 2014

Prepping for the Gay Games: Changing hearts, neighborhoods and bus routes
Saturday, August 9, 2014

Listener Comments:

So sad to see the church waiver on what Scripture considers a "non-issue". We claim to be the Church of Christ, yet deny his very words... How narrow minded to think that the only way to love someone is to approve of everything they do.


Posted by: Kevin (Dallas) on August 19, 2014 4:08AM
Nicely done!!! A little known fact about the El Salvadoran and Columbian scholarships.. A big thank you to the Faith Community for their support of Gay Games 9. Many locals were questioning, curious, and very welcoming!!!


Posted by: Paniolo Joe (summit county fairgrounds, OH) on August 15, 2014 1:08AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio to appeal ruling keeping Akron's red light cameras in place
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. If you don't like tickets drive the speed limit and stop at red lights. It's really all up to you.

Letters from a lost friend: A Beachwood survivor's Holocaust remembrance
What a great story -- and how important it was for both Marlene and her mother to tell it! Thank you.

Akron city council to vote on resolution for hiring ex-offenders
Great as a taxpayer I paid for the police to catch them, the free lawyer, the jail to house them , the food their kids eat the medical for them and all its goin...

5 of 8 rule headed for a vote
this is just another way for kasich to pass the buck and claim that it gives the local districts control. Few schools have enough money because of his cuts. T...

Bill would allow Ohio religious leaders to refuse to do gay marriages
This is just a lot of political posturing. The free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment already protects clergy from being forced by civil authorities to perfo...

Ohio lawmakers want to eliminate background checks, training to carry guns
On the face of this report I don't find the name of the bill or who sponsered it. I will have to google a general bill with this as its content to address it. N...

Ohio lawmaker calls for an investigation into a Dayton women's prison
I was an inmate at DCI and I am so happy that it's being investigated. The staff behavior there is awful unless he/she is your lover. There are more drugs insid...

Ohio's disabled face long waiting list for services
Can we use the Tribble on Disability Care? if so can you send the link to http://voice4thevoiceless.us thank you, Mark J Cleland Sr voice4thevoiceless.us

Treasures rescued from Cleveland's closed Catholic churches
This was found to be a real gift today Good Friday Bless you for your work

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University