Thursday, March 16, 2006

ABC Welcoming Caucus Joins Other Mainline Denomination Groups in Affiliating with National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

The Associated Press has picked up a story with interesting implications. The gay caucuses in seven U.S. denominations, including the ABCUSA, have joined together as part of a program lodged within a secular group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The alliance will allow for greater coordination, and presumably political clout, for the welcoming movement.

The potential implications of this affiliation were articulated in the most current issue of "Associational" e-newsletter of the "Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists"

The AWAB piece reports that "The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, founded in 1973, is the oldest national organization working for the rights of LGBT people; the IWR has constituent groups that have been working for change in their denominations since 1974. The Task Force and the IWR will bring these parallel streams of activism together to exponentially increase the profile, resources and size of the pro-LGBT faith movement."

WASHINGTON (AP) - An alliance of gay caucuses in seven U.S. religious denominations is becoming a program within a major secular group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a Monday announcement said. The alliance, known as the Institute for Welcoming Resources, represents caucuses in the American Baptist Churches, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Community of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church.

The statement said the task force will provide resources to increase religious support for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It called the institute's 1,300 local congregations valuable allies against "those who try to justify anti-gay bigotry" on religious grounds. The task force plans to assign religious field organizers around the nation to educate congregations and seminaries, and to reach "progressive people of faith" beyond the seven denominations.

The task force also sponsors the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, an interfaith clergy group. The roundtable issued a January report saying conservative groups within U.S. denominations have eight times the budgets of the pro-gay caucuses.

The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, a United Church of Christ minister and executive officer of the Minneapolis-based institute, will join the task force staff. She charged that religious language "has been hijacked by the radical right and used to attack and abuse."

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