St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is celebrating Pride Month and to show support for the LGBTQ+ community, the church will host a panel discussion on “Overcoming Barriers Between the LGBTQ+ and Faith Communities” on June 9 at 7:00 p.m. This event is presented in partnership with the onePULSE Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to memorializing the victims of the Pulse tragedy. The discussion will take place online and on St. Luke’s campus (4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd. Orlando, FL 32819). The event is free and open to the public, registration requested at: st.lukes.org/overcomingbarriers.
Now more than ever, community is a necessity, and St. Luke’s accepts all into its family of faith. The church recognizes that many members of the LGBTQ+ community are also members of a faith community however many more have been marginalized and faced with opposition in their search for a church home. “Overcoming Barriers Between the LGBTQ+ and Faith Communities” aims to open dialogue and create a diverse environment where all people feel welcome, no matter their identity. Dr. Earl Mowatt, Vice President of Education at the onePULSE Foundation, will kick off the “Overcoming Barriers” conversation by presenting his research in the areas of social inequality and social psychology, including mental health, substance abuse, race relations, and the LGBTQ+ community. He will be joined by experts to help guide and enhance the conversation. Panelists will include the Rev. Jennifer Stiles Williams (St. Luke’s United Methodist Church), the Rev. Terri Steed Pierce (Joy Metropolitan Community Church) and Dr. Joel Hunter (Community Research Network).
The church will also hold an online memorial vigil for the victims of the Pulse tragedy on June 12 at 12:00 p.m. on St. Luke’s Facebook page. The Pulse tragedy will never be forgotten, and St. Luke’s is dedicated to honoring the memories of the victims each year with its Pulse Memorial Vigil. At 12:00 p.m. on June 12, St. Luke’s will open this time of prayer and reflection with the ringing of 49 bells, one ring for each victim of the tragedy, and the names of the victims will be read aloud. The ringing of the bells will be followed by prayer, liturgy, and music in memory of our Pulse angels and in solidarity with their families and friends.
Additionally, St. Luke’s pastors will join other Central Florida clergy in offering a prayerful presence at Pulse (1912 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL) from 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. on June 12. Faith leaders from the community will stand together offering love, prayers and support. St. Luke’s congregation has also written notes of encouragement to the first responders, families, and survivors of the Pulse tragedy to show support and provide them with strength and comfort.
St. Luke’s has also joined the onePULSE Foundation’s OUTLOVE HATE Campaign and invites the community support this initiative to preserve the memory of the 49 Angels taken in the Pulse nightclub shooting, and help prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.