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UM Scholars Join Others To Homosexualize Christian History For Future Seminary Students


Received via the Reconciling Ministries Network. ------------------------

New Venture to Preserve LGBT Religious History

Chicago Theological Seminary has launched a unique venture to coordinate the preservation of the historical records of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) religious movements. The LGBT Religious Archives Network is a resource center that assists LGBT religious organizations and leaders in retaining their historical records and personal papers. It also serves as a clearinghouse to provide information on the location and availability of LGBT religious collections for historians and other interested persons.

The LGBT Religious Archives Network is guided by an advisory committee comprised of prominent LGBT religious activists, archivists and historians. In addition to the Rev. Dr. Neil Gerdes and Dr. Kenneth Stone, faculty members at Chicago Theological Seminary, other Advisory Committee members include:

Dr. James Anderson, Presbyterian historian/librarian at Rutgers University; Dr. Joanne Carlson Brown, United Methodist historian; Dr. Mary E. Hunt, Roman Catholic feminist theologian; Rev. Dr. William R. Johnson, United Church of Christ activist; Victor K. Jordan, archivist at The Riverside Church in New York City;

Dr. J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion; Rev. Frank E. Robertson, Unitarian-Universalist archivist; Dr. Kenneth Rowe, director of the Methodist Archives and History Center at Drew University; James Waller, writer and journalist; Dr. Melissa Wilcox, religious sociologist at the Unversity of California at Santa Barbara; and Frank Zerilli, Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches archivist.

"The initiation of this project is most timely," states LGBT Religious Archive Network Coordinator, Mark Bowman. "The religious movements for justice for LGBT persons have had major impact upon churches, synagogues and other religious institutions over the past several decades. Unfortunately, these movements have not done so well in preserving the stories and records of the pioneering individuals and groups who forged these movements. We intend to ensure that these leaders and groups are appropriately remembered, as well as provide a solid historical record that will enable future historians to recognize the full impact of these movements." Bowman is a long-time gay religious activist and organizer. Other staff include: Jack Slowriver, LGBT historian and activist; and Dr. James Carson, professional archivist active with Integrity (Episcopal LGBT group).

"The LGBT Religious Archives Network is an innovative approach to archives that can perhaps be best understood as a 'virtual archive'," notes Gerdes, Library Director at Chicago Theological Seminary and chair of the Network’s Advisory Committee. "Our staff will work closely with LGBT religious leaders and groups to help them ensure that their records and papers are preserved in an appropriate repository and then make these records accessible to a wider audience through the use of electronic technology."

The LGBT Religious Archives Network welcomes the assistance of persons interested in supporting this critical, large-scale venture. Volunteers are needed to look into the collections of local LGBT archives and denominational archives to find records from LGBT religious movements and to assist with the organizing of records that are not yet placed in archives. The LGBT Religious Archives Network staff will provide support and guidance for volunteers. Interested persons can send an email to volunteer@lgbtran.org.

Initial funding for the LGBT Religious Archives Network has been provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Riverside Church Sharing Fund and the United Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries.

More information on the LGBT Religious Archives Network can be found on the web site: http://www.lgbtran.org.

Chicago Theological Seminary, (CTS) affiliated with the United Church of Christ, was the first institution of higher learning founded in Chicago (1855) and has a long tradition of innovation and openness to cultural and religious diversity. The degree programs encourage academic excellence and free inquiry, and focus on leadership issues that foster cooperation between communities of faith and other community-based organizations working to transform lives and neighborhoods. CTS is home to a ten-year-old LGBT studies program and its faculty, students and staff include a relatively high percentage of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual persons. The seminary currently enrolls 235 students from more than 22 religious traditions.

For more information, contact Mark Bowman at 773-322-0290 or mbowman@lgbtran.org.


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