Out of the Shadows Into the Light Summit to Deal with Church and Gay and Lesbian Topics

A first-of-its-kind summit titled “Out of the Shadows Into the Light” is being held to allow clergy and church laypeople to have an open dialogue about gay and lesbian topics within the context of the church. Featuring known and respected academics from throughout the U.S., the summit will include a unique combination of presentations and small group interactions that explore diverse Biblical interpretations.

According to event moderator Dr. Miguel De La Torre, associate professor of Social Ethics & director of the Justice and Peace Institute at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology, “The Bible has been interpreted in many different ways, and it has been used to justify cultural homophobia. There is clearly a need for an open, non-threatening conversation about what the Bible says, and what people’s response should be toward gay men and lesbians. This summit provides a safe forum for clergy and laypeople of the church to explore these topics in an honest and thought provoking manner.” He added, “Our goal is to provide people with the tools they need to have open conversations once they return to their churches or places of worship.”

Out of the Shadows Into the Light will be held at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, February 14-16, 2007. The cost is $250 per participant. The number of participants will be capped at 100, with a goal of attracting a diverse and broad representation of people. Registration may be completed online at http://www.shadows2light.com/ or by calling 719-527-4294 before January 31.

“Civil rights for gay men and lesbians is the civil rights issue of our time. The ministry is on the front lines addressing this issue with families and individuals on a daily basis, but may be lacking the tools to comfortably have the discussion. By participating in this open dialogue, we hope people will find that they are better able to engage in conversations around some really tough issues related to relationships and the church,” said Mary Lou Makepeace, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, a sponsor of the event.

Respected scholars from across the U.S. will address various denominational and individual issues and viewpoints regarding gay men and lesbians as they relate to the church. These include:

* Rev. Marvin M. Ellison, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Ethics, Bangor Theological Seminary, Bangor, Maine
* Ken Stone, Ph.D., Professor of Bible, Culture and Hermeneutics, Chicago Theological Seminary
* Larry Kent Graham, Ph.D., Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, Iliff School of Theology, Denver, Colo.
* Rev. Mona West, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Church of the Trinity, Sarasota, Fla.
* Luis Leon, Assistant Professor of American Religion and Culture, University of Denver, Denver, Colo.
* Irene Monroe, Professor of Religion and Director of Multicultural and Spiritual Programming, Pine Manor, Mass.

Dr. Miguel De La Torre will moderate the summit. Dr. De La Torre is associate professor of Social Ethics & director of the Justice and Peace Institute at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colo. He is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who has authored numerous articles and more than eleven books. His twelfth book, “A Lily Among the Thorns: Imagining a New Christian Sexuality,” will be published in April 2007.

The small group interactions will be moderated by Dr. James R. Oraker, an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church and a licensed psychologist. He is professor of Family Systems and professor of Ethics and Law at the Colorado School of Professional Psychology, as well as executive coach and feedback specialist with the Center for Creative Leadership, and serves on numerous boards.

Among the sponsors are the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, Citizens Project, Colorado School of Professional Psychology, Colorado Springs Business Journal, Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, Greenberg Center for Learning and Tolerance, Pikes Peak Fund for Tolerance and Equality, Psychological Society of the Pike Peak Region, and Vanguard Church.

About the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado
The Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado was established in 1996 as a program to financially support nonprofit organizations that enhance the quality of life in Colorado and promote equality for all people. Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than $18 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations whose program areas include arts and culture, civic leadership, healthy families, and public broadcasting. In addition to providing financial assistance, the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado offers training programs, workshops, technical assistance, and public meeting space to strengthen nonprofit organizations’ ability to grow, flourish and succeed. The organization is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For more information please visit www.gayandlesbianfund.org.

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