PRIDE! hosts meeting to inform students about LGBTQ-friendly churches

Ashlyne Wilson

On Thursday, PRIDE! Kent presented “Open and Affirming Religious Organizations,” a meeting that informed students about churches that accepted the LGBTQ community.

“A lot of people within the LGBTQ community feel that religion has burned them in some way,” said Brandon Stephens, the president of PRIDE! Kent. “We feel it is important to introduce our members to a different side of these religions because we feel that spirituality is a tool that we want our members to harness to be able to cope with everyday life that may be difficult.”

He said that he ultimately wants the members to be more educated about the LGBTQ community and to be knowledgeable and well-rounded about issues around the community because that is the only way they will achieve equality.

At the event, Rabbi Lee of Hillel, Fred Smith of Unitarian Universalist Church, and Jack Veatch of United Christian Ministries sat at the panel of the Student Center Governance Chambers, answering religious questions from the 30 plus members who attended.

The church representatives talked about their groups’ views on religion and how they interpret the scripture pertaining to same-sex relationships. They encouraged everyone to stop by their church no matter what sexual orientation.

One of the highest moments of the meeting was when Rabbi Lee asked those attending to raise their hand if they have ever had a negative experience with a church because of their sexual orientation. Over 10 people raised their hands. Some attendees even said that they were kicked out of their church because they were in a same-sex relationship.

Veatch said this is exactly why people are skeptical about coming to a church.

“People who have been spurned by the church feel that it’s hard to know whether or not reaching out to a church will be a trap or is it genuine affection or acceptance of others,” he said.

Brad Gregg, an electronic media junior, said that he went to the event because he wants to learn what groups are accepting of others.

“I am an atheist, but I have a lot of friends who are religious. I came because I want to be able to help other LGBTQ people who are religious find groups that will accept them no matter what their sexual identity or orientation are,” he said.

Gregg said that he liked the meeting, and that is was interesting to see the different perspectives of that each representative offered.

Matthew Chernesky, the director of membership affairs for PRIDE! Kent, said that the meeting was important to him as a Catholic because there is a lot of debate about what role that Catholicism plays in the LGBTQ community.

Smith, who left the Catholic Church at 13, said that the church is still having a hard time teaching sexuality, and there is still some reluctance and negativity towards the LGBTQ community.

He said that the current Pope is better than the last, and he sees some changes in the Catholic Church in the future.

Smith added that people should “do some church shopping.”

“Look around for churches who will accept you because they are out there,” Smith said. “You are not alone.”

To look for more LGBT accepting churches, go to

Contact Ashlyne Wilson at [email protected].