Nehirim To Host Interfaith Queer Clergy Retreat in Portland

Nehirim To Host Interfaith Queer Clergy Retreat in Portland

- in Faith and Religion

LGBTQ Clergy Organize Across Faith Traditions on “Black Lives Matter”

Photo: Nehirim
Photo: Nehirim

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) clergy from across the nation will gather in Portland, Oregon from October 15-18, 2015 to create a plan to engage their congregations, seminaries, polities and more, activating thousands across diverse spiritual traditions on the “Black Lives Matter“ movement.

The conference will be facilitated by Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Executive Director of Nehirim, a National LGBTQ Jewish Retreat and advocacy organization; Professor Dr. Pîr Ibrahim Abudrrahmani-Farajaje, Provost and Professor of Cultural Studies at the Starr King School for the Ministry; and the Reverend Tara Wilkins, Executive Director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations in Portland, Oregon, and Pastor at the Bridgeport UCC Church.

Kolodny, producer of the conference, said: “I’ve been active in the national LGBTQ religious movement for almost 20 years. For all that time our leadership has spoken of the need to embrace complexity and understand the intersections of all of our identities – including race, class, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin and ability. There have been too few instances where we have acted upon this intention in a concerted, strategic and ongoing way. Our hope is that this conference launches one such coordinated effort, as LGBTQ clergy gather from around the country, from multiple traditions, and work together to support one of the most critical movements of our day: Black Lives Matter.”

Said program co-leader, Abudrrahmani-Farajaje:”Queer religious leaders will gather from around the country to reflect, activate and agitate around Black Lives Matter: so, why does that even matter?  It matters because Black trans*, Black bisexual, Black lesbian and Black gay lives are also Black lives, and they all matter. We will walk away from this gathering with a plan and a path to engage and activate thousands of individuals across communities to better support the Black Lives Matter movement, for all of us.”

Highlights of the schedule include:

  • sessions on media and media training, designed to better leverage diverse LGBTQ religious voices in public discourse and change the way we talk about race, sexual orientation and the goals of LGBTQ leaders; and a public interfaith prayer service on Saturday afternoon October 17, envisioning the world we seek, inspiring and blessing all who venture forward in this holy work and remembering those who have been lost to violence and discrimination;
  • strategic working sessions designed to launch strategic, coordinated action around the country on Black Lives Matter, engaging congregations, seminaries, communities and religious movements for years to come;
  • a documentary video short on how LGBTQ clergy are helping to heal the wounds that religion has created around sexuality.

Faculty & Discussions

Professor Dr. Pîr Shaykh Ibrahim Abdurrahmani Farajajé, the Provost and Professor of Cultural Studies at the Starr King School for the Ministry, a Unitarian Universalist/Multireligious member school of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. He is the Director of Starr King’s Certificate in Multireligious Studies and serves in the Core Doctoral Faculty in the Interdisciplinary studies area. He is a graduate of the Faculté de Théologie de l’Université de Berne (Switzerland), from which he received the degree Dr. Théol, magna cum laude in 1986. Dr. Farajajé was appointed in 2011 to the Editorial Board of the Abhishiktananda Desk for Interreligious Dialogue (Delhi Brotherhood Society) as one of the editors of the books of Swami Abhishiktananda/Dom Henri LeSaux. A lover of the Oneness of all Being, Ibrahim baba is passionately committed to eco-halal living and spiritual practice, deep greening, counter-oppressive Earthkeeping, organic multireligiosity and organic earthodoxy. A self-described “queer/two-spirit pro-womanist/mujerista green anarchist muslim”, he serves as a midwife-doula for the dying, the dead, and those who accompany them and loves to share his Sufi meditation practice in that context and others. Ibrahim baba lives in and between Deep East Oakland, Istanbul (Turkey) and Ajmer-i Sharif (India).

The Rev. Tara Wilkins is Executive Director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations, a member of the United Church of Christ and Pastor of Bridgeport UCC in Portland, Oregon. Rev. Tara has earned a reputation in the Pacific Northwest as an inspiring speaker, workshop leader and preacher and is often a guest lecturer at colleges and universities. She also leads workshops in Reclaiming the Feminine, Sexuality and Spirituality and the Welcoming Church Movement. Rev. Tara has a passion for working with youth and young adults. Her favorite hobby is being a grandmother.

Rabbi Debra Kolodny joined Nehirim as its Executive Director in March of 2013. She brings thirty years of leadership in LGBT organizations, including five as National Coordinator for BiNet USA and six facilitating NGLTF’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable. She edited Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith in 2000, published dozens of articles on religion and sexuality, and has taught in hundreds of venues on the topic of Judaism, sexual orientation and gender identity. Rabbi Debra is active in interfaith social justice work and is a frequent guest speaker, ritualist, and teacher. Prior to joining Nehirim she served as the rabbi for P’nai Or of Portland and for nine years before that as Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Rabbah D’vorah has been practicing taiji since 1995, meditation for almost as long and is passionate about ecstatic dance.

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