In collaboration with The Lighthouse Church of Chicago, The Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus ( CBGMC ) presented "Spiritual Empowerment," a faith forum/discussion meeting that took place May 22 at Uptown Underground.
With so many strides in LGBTQ civil rights in recent years, it has become apparent that some religious institutionsin particular, the African-American Churchhave been stubborn in accepting or embracing members of this particular community. The focus of this gathering was to discuss and share experiences of LGBTQ individuals of color with their churches while also creating effective ways of healing and reconciliation.
The gathering began with a worship service from Lighthouse Church, which out Pastor Jamie D. Frazier heads. After a short brunch, a segment from the BET documentary Holler if you Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church was shown as a lead-in for the forum. Before breaking the group into smaller discussion groups, CBGMC Executive Director Erik Glenn asked attendees if they had witnessed or been subjected to religious abuse ( condemnation from a church leader ). In answer to the question, a majority of the audience stood.
The gathering then split into two discussion groups for a dialogue session that addressed the question "What role can 'the church' play in empowering both your spiritual and sexual identities?" When the group reunited, with Frazier and Glenn moderating, many ideas and courses of action were aired. A key factor in the discussions that many of the participants shared was the process of "coming out" to themselves while sincerely embracing God.
Frazier later said, "Hopefully, today was the start of a beginning. ... I wanted people to do critical thinking on these subjects and to come up with concrete ways of healing. When I am involved with the church I want to bring all of memy gayness, Blackness and sassiness."
Glenn added that it was important for "people to be honest and themselves. That is where true transformation happens."
This event was designed as a kickoff for more discussion forums in the future to specifically address the relationship between the church and the individual.
The Lighthouse Church of Chicago is a multiethnic church focused on inclusion and has been operating for two years. The church holds services every Sunday at 11 a.m. at Uptown Underground, 4707 N. Broadway. The website for the church is www.lighthousechicago.org .