Asher Brown’s suicide inspires ‘Bring Your Gay Teen to Church’ event in Houston

LGBT-affirming churches in the Houston area are participating in “Bring Your Gay Teen to Church” on Sunday, which aims to counter negative messages gay youth often receive from religion. The Houston Chronicle reports:

“We think it’s important for families to know there’s a safe place to go to worship,” said Jim Bankston, senior minister at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “Families who have gay members want to make sure they feel welcome in church and aren’t bashed in any way.”

Joanna Crawford, a seminary student at the Houston Graduate School of Theology, said the idea came up after the suicide last fall of Asher Brown, a Cypress-area eighth-grader who killed himself after what his parents said were years of bullying and taunts that he was gay.

It is a project of the Houston Clergy Council, formed last year to allow churches to work together on shared concerns.

“None of us knew Asher, but we felt if we could get families into our churches, where they have support, where they feel loved for who they are, not in spite of it, something good could come of that,” Crawford said.

Organized religion has had a complicated relationship with homosexuality.

To see a full list of churches participating and learn more about the event, go here.

—  John Wright

DFW Unitarians holding progressive revival this weekend

From Staff Reports

Ruben Habito
Ruben Habito

“Revivals” have long been a staple of the more conservative, evangelical side of Christianity. But this weekend, revivals get a more progressive twist with the “Rediscovering Jesus and Communities of Hope” Revival/Retreat 2010, a national event for spiritual progressives, according to organizers.

The event, open to everyone, will feature talks by biblical scholar Brandon Scott, author and pastor the Rev. John Buehrens, SMU Perkins School of Theology professor Ruben Habito and more.

The revival began Thursday, Oct. 14, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 17, at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church, 1641 W. Hebron Parkway in Carrollton.

The revival is sponsored by the national Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship.

Scott is a professor of New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, a founding fellow of the Jesus Seminar and parables scholar whose newest book is The Trouble With Resurrection.

Buehrens is a past president of the Unitarian Universalist Association whose previous churches served include First Unitarian Church of Dallas. His newest book is A House For Hope: the promise of progressive religion.

Habito is the president of the Society of Buddhist Christian Studies and author of several books.

In addition to the keynote speeches and Habito’s talk on “Christian Faith and Buddhist Practice,” there will be worship services that include opening and closing services, Taizé sung meditation, communion, baptism, prayer and healing services.

There will also be workshops by Scott and Buehrens on “Re-Imagining the Resurrection” and progressive religion’s problems and promise. The Rev. Naomi King will speak on Jesus and queer christologies. And there will be workshops on Jesus and film, Universalist Christianity, Jesus and India and Jesus and Unitarian Universalism today.

Small group times, social times, bookstore, and service opportunity will also be available.

The Rev. Ron Robinson, executive director of UUCF, said the revival weekend will focus on “voices of old” that are “needed more than ever today” in finding an ‘authentic version of Jesus and what it means to follow in his radical spirit of hospitality and justice.”

Robinson stressed that “we welcome you at this event whether or not you are Christian, whether or not you are Unitarian Universalist.

We don’t think Jesus would have it any other way.”

For registration and more information, go online to UUChristian.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas