North Jersey Pride Presents ‘Progress in the Pulpit’ Monday

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The following is from North Jersey Pride:

Monday, as part of Pride Week 2015, North Jersey Pride will host “Progress in the Pulpit,” an interfaith panel and community discussion about the relationship between organized religion and the LGBTQ community, how shifts in attitudes and legislation have impacted religious doctrine and debate, and how faith leaders, even in progressive areas, continue to struggle with how to create a truly welcoming community, without alienating their more conservative members.

The event is at Congregation Beth El, 222 Irvington Ave., South Orange, 6:30pm-8pm. There is pizza for kids at 6pm and childcare during the event for parents who RSVP to

“There has been a lot of progress in faith-based communities in terms of acceptance, but there is still far too much homophobia tolerated, and even promoted, in the name of religion,” says C.J. Prince, executive director of North Jersey Pride. “LGBTQ people should not have to abandon religion in order to be themselves openly. LGBTQ youth, who struggle so mightily with self-acceptance, need love and acceptance from their spiritual leaders, not condemnation. Our goal with this event is to raise some questions that may be challenging, may make us uncomfortable, but that will hopefully help us find solutions.”

Because a Town Hall meeting was recently scheduled for the same evening, North Jersey Pride will record the event. “As an organization, North Jersey Pride is very concerned with school safety and we don’t want anyone to feel they have to choose between these two events,” said Prince. “We hope that taping the event and making it available online will only further encourage participation in the Town Hall.”

The event will be co-hosted by Congregation Beth El synagogue, which is also a 2015 sponsor of North Jersey Pride. “As a member of the Big Tent Judaism coalition of inclusive congregations, we celebrate the divine spark of every individual and believe that each of us is made in God’s image, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Rabbi Jesse Olitzky. “Too many faith-based leaders spew words of hate, discrimination, and homophobia and attribute such words and beliefs to God and religion. Therefore, we need to make sure that the words of love and acceptance that we preach are louder than the hateful words of others. We have a moral imperative to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, to love each other and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual. My hope is that this conversation will encourage other faith-based institutions, congregations, and houses of worship to work harder and push themselves more to create truly inclusive communities that welcome all who walk in our doors.”

The panel will include Rev. Warren Hall, Priest of Archidiocese of Newark, who was recently dismissed from Seton Hall University for Facebook posts supporting same-sex marriage.

Panelists also include:

• Barza Hashmi, Chair of the NY/NJ chapter of Muslims for Progressive Values
• Rev. Janyce Jackson Jones of the Unity Fellowship of Newark
• Bishop George Lucey, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church of Glen Ridge
• Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El
• Rev. Bernard Poppe of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Maplewood
• Rev. Emilie Boggis of the Unitarian Church in Summit
• Rev. Charles Rush of Christ Church in Summit

The panel will be moderated by WNYC’s Arun Venugopal, creator and host of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues. There will be a special performance by the Golden Ochtaves, the high school choir of Golda Och Academy, a Solomon Schechter School in West Orange.


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