Friday, January 20, 2006
Black GLBT leaders say it's past time for black churches to embrace all regardless of sexual orientation
Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder
Rev. Flunder founded the City of Refuge Community Church UCC in 1991. City of Refuge is a thriving inner-city congregation that celebrates the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ. Rev. Flunder will be a featured speaker at the National Black Justice Coalition's Black Church Summit: Creating a More Beloved Community which began last night in Atlanta.
A landmark meeting of African American clergy and members of the gay and lesbian community that begins tonight in Atlanta is the keystone of an effort to promote the acceptance of gays in black churches.
The push for acceptance is gaining momentum because of a growing number of African Americans, especially women, who are being infected with HIV and because measures to ban gay marriage will appear this year on ballots across the nation.
Former Democratic Presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton of New York and City of Refuge Ministries' Bishop Dr. Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor of the United Church of Christ's City of Refuge Church in San Francisco, California will be featured speakers. Rev. Sharpton recently announced an initiative to vigorously challenge homophobia in the Black Church. This will be his first participation in a meeting that will deal directly with that initiative.
The involvement of well-known black politicians and church leaders has given new inspiration to the National Black Justice Coalition, the country's largest black gay civil rights group. The Washington coalition, which has been trying to promote just this kind of dialogue for years, says the summit is especially important because of the large number of black clergy across the country who support bans on same-sex marriage.
"It is so disheartening because African Americans have had strong social connections to their churches but have not been allowed to talk about AIDS or homosexuality, and (gays) are publicly ostracized by their ministers," said Keith Boykin, president of the coalition and author of the book "Beyond the Down Low." "It is especially profound for black folks because the church has been a place of refuge, to get salvation and redemption, not condemnation."
This post combines excerpts from SFGate and The National Black Justice Coalition's website.