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Posts tagged ‘Standing on the Side of Love’

Six Mississippi Churches Get It about DOMA and Prop 8 Ruling

Originally published June 28 2013 by Eunice Benton

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CONTACT: Eunice Benton – eunice.benton@gmail.com – 770-356-1057 (cell)
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How do religious people in Mississippi respond to the Supreme Court’s decisions about DOMA and Proposition 8? For six congregations in the state the news from the court this week added to the educational mission they have been pursuing.

Since last fall six Mississippi congregations have been engaged in a study program to better understand what it means to identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered or ‘queer’ and what it feels like to live in the current American and Southern culture with those orientations. Now these six congregations, all part of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition, ‘get it’ about why the court’s ruling is vitally important.

“We believe that love, compassion, acceptance, and justice are at the very heart of what people of faith should be about,” said Eunice Milton Benton, a member of the Oxford Unitarian Universalist congregation. “Our congregations could see that we needed to be more informed and more intentional about welcoming our GLBTQ sisters and brothers. So, last fall, we gathered for a training weekend and set out on a year-long program to be more accepting and welcoming.”

The six churches doing the study program are Mississippi’s Unitarian Universalist congregations and are part of the religious tradition that arose during the Reformation. Although not as omnipresent in the South as some other denominations, the religion has included Europeans and Americans like Joseph Priestly, John and John Quincy Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Adlai Stevenson.

Today the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, of which Mississippi’s churches are a part, offers a study program about being ‘Welcoming Congregations’ and leads a popular justice initiative called ‘Standing On The Side Of Love.’

In Mississippi the congregations working toward being ‘Welcoming Congregations’ are in Ellisville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Tupelo and Oxford. The congregations maintain a simple web site (www.uums.org) and a Facebook page (Mississippi Welcoming Congregations) as part of their hospitality initiative.

Jim Becker, a long-time religious leader for Jackson’s GLBTQ community and a past president of the UU Church of Jackson, was very moved by this week’s court’s decisions. “This is a momentous occasion! I nearly had to pull off the interstate to cry tears of great joy. I’ve learned that when the GLBTQ community has to take two steps back, that we just do it, knowing that there will come the day when two-steps forward will be ours,” he said.

Gail Stratton and Pat Miller, members of the Oxford congregation who had to go out of state to get legally married after being in a committed relationship for twenty years, recently noted, “Getting married finally gave us common language with our families, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, and everyone we know for what our relationship means to us! We love each other, and now we don’t dance around ‘what word do we use to describe what we have?’”

Unitarian Universalist congregations have been at the forefront of accepting the GLBTQ community. Two of the central tenets that guide the priorities for the faith, are “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,“ and “justice, equity and compassion in human relations.” Many ministers and other religious professionals in the tradition are ‘other than straight’ and the right to legal marriage had UUA support early on.

For more information:

Eunice Benton (UU Oxford) eunice.benton@gmail.com / 770-356-1057

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA)

UUA Office – GLBTQ Ministries

Mississippi UU Congregations (links to all congregations)

UUA President Responds to SCOTUS Decisions

UUA ‘Standing On The Side Of Love’