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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

Church welcomes GLBT

Ministry reaches out to gay and lesbian students

The Metropolitan Community Church of Washington is sponsoring a weekend of community activities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students who are looking for God or just an accepting group of peers.

Ministry leader Shawn Henderson said that a wide range of events will be offered at the church's first Youth Awareness Sunday, which will start on Friday night.

"Our main goal is for students to connect with each other," Henderson said. "So they know there is a place for them to come and worship."

The kick-off is a dance social Friday night at 9 p.m. The weekend continues with forums on Saturday, including clergy from different religious denominations. A church service will take place Sunday morning, and there will be a concert Sunday night.

The event is targeted to anyone up to the age of 25, "especially college students who might be coming from outside of the area and don't know anyone," Henderson said.

Other than religious opportunities, Henderson said many different organizations and groups have been invited to participate and set up booths at the church this weekend. Locally the church has teamed with The Sexual Minority Assistance League and National Youth Advocacy Coalition to give area students opportunities to find out about things such as community involvement and health issues over the weekend.

Mark Schaefer, AU's United Methodist Chaplain, thinks this event is a good way for GLBT students to find spirituality.

"If they're making an opportunity to find a religious opportunity, that's great," he said.

Schaefer said the Methodists at AU have made no specific outreach to the GLBT community, but they are welcome to come to services. In terms of reaching out specifically to GLBT students, Schaefer said, "we haven't done enough."

Sophomore Eric Jost, who volunteers at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Resource Center, thinks the event is a good idea.

Jost says he would generally feel welcomed at campus religious services. He feels that the campus religious community doesn't necessarily condemn the GLBT lifestyle, "but they don't support it either."

Schaeffer said that the Metropolitan Community Church has been very progressive and sexually inclusive since being founded by gay Methodists over 30 years ago.

Henderson said, "Other churches' primary ministry is to the straight community, everything we do is geared toward the GLBT community."

Jost believes the weekend is a good opportunity for AU students.

"Some people prefer to go to GLBT churches," he said, "and if you can find an outlet, that's great."

"They can begin to formulate relationships and find activities formulated for them," said Henderson. "Our goal is to form a community of young people interested in making a difference."

The Metropolitan Community Church of Washington is located at 474 Ridge St., NW, near the Mt. Vernon Square/7th Street/ Convention Center Metro stop.

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