About 40 members and supporters of several area churches, on Sept. 11, staged a protest at Moody Bible Institute, 820 N. LaSalle St., to denounce several Moody officials' participation in the so-called "Nashville Statement" in late August.
Moody President Paul Nyquist and other Moody principals were among the 150 signatories of the Nashville Statement, an Aug. 30 document issued by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that rejects notions of societal acceptance of LGBT issues.
Among those protesting Sept. 11 were several individuals who called themselves "Moody Heretics," graduates of the school who nevertheless disagreed with its policies. Rev. Elizabeth Jones, a pastor at St. Lukes Christian Community Church in Morton Grove, was one of them.
She called the Nashville Statement "abhorrent. It is abhorrent to me."
After attending Moody, Jones did chaplain work, a time during which she learned more about serving the LGBT community.
"I served anyone," she recalled. "Anyone who asked me to sit quietly with them, in a trauma situation, a death situation, or any hospital situation. I fully believe that anyone is God's child, that we are all God's children. There are no mistakes."
The rally was mainly led by Rev. Jason Coulter, a pastor at Ravenswood United Church of Christ, who said participants marched "in the spirit of peace and transformation." The marchers sang a number of hymns, and several Moody students gathered to watch. A local woman disrupted the rally briefly, but seemed to have no connection to the Institute.
Rev. Jamie Frazier, of Lighthouse Church of Chicago, said in his remarks that, "On some issues there are not two equal moral sides ... LGBT folks bear the witness of God."
Rev. Matt Fitzgerald, of Saint Paul's United Church of Christ, said, "I read that statement and felt my heart break," adding that it was "a distortion of the truth of God."
Fitzgerald added that, if the Nashville Statement is indeed a line in the sand regarding the LGBT community, "That line is in the minds of the people who wrote that statement, not in the heart of God."
Rev. Joshua Lee, an assistant pastor at Kingswood United Methodist Church, said that the Nashville Statement at least serves as a potent reminder that many religious communities still oppose LGBT rights.
"This is a way for us to say, 'This conversation is still going on and is not over yet.'"