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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2021 5 months ago

St. Luke’s supports LGBTQ+, Pride Month with special events

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The church will host a panel discussion on overcoming barriers and an online memorial vigil for the victims of the Pulse tragedy.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is celebrating Pride Month, and to show support for the LGBTQ+ community, the church will host a panel discussion on “Overcoming Barriers Between the LGBTQ+ and Faith Communities” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 9. This event is presented in partnership with the onePULSE Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to memorializing the victims of the Pulse tragedy June 12, 2016.

The discussion will take place online and on the St. Luke’s campus, 4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested at st.lukes.org/overcomingbarriers.

The church recognizes that many members of the LGBTQ+ community are also members of a faith community however many more have been marginalized and faced with opposition in their search for a church home.

“Overcoming Barriers Between the LGBTQ+ and Faith Communities” aims to open dialogue and create a diverse environment where all people feel welcome, no matter their identity, said church officials.

Dr. Earl Mowatt, vice president of education at the onePULSE Foundation, will kick off the conversation by presenting his research in the areas of social inequality and social psychology, including mental health, substance abuse, race relations and the LGBTQ+ community. He will be joined by experts to help guide and enhance the conversation.

Panelists will include the Rev. Jennifer Stiles Williams (St. Luke’s United Methodist Church), the Rev. Terri Steed Pierce (Joy Metropolitan Community Church) and Dr. Joel Hunter (Community Research Network).

The church will also hold an online memorial vigil for the victims of the Pulse tragedy at noon Saturday, June 12, on the St. Luke’s Facebook page. The Pulse tragedy will never be forgotten, and St. Luke’s is dedicated to honoring the memories of the victims each year with its Pulse Memorial Vigil.

The church will open this time of prayer and reflection with the ringing of 49 bells, one ring for each victim of the tragedy, and the names of the victims will be read aloud. The ringing of the bells will be followed by prayer, liturgy, and music in memory of our Pulse angels and in solidarity with their families and friends.

Additionally, St. Luke’s pastors will join other Central Florida clergy in offering a prayerful presence at Pulse (1912 S Orange Ave, Orlando) on June 12.

Faith leaders from the community will stand together offering love, prayers and support. St. Luke’s congregation has also written notes of encouragement to the first responders, families and survivors of the Pulse tragedy to show support and provide them with strength and comfort.

St. Luke's has also joined the onePULSE Foundation’s OUTLOVE HATE Campaign (outlovehate.com/) and invites the community to support this initiative to preserve the memory of the 49 people killed at the night club.

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Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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