Uniting faith and sexuality

As part of a four-week series called Rainbow Connections, the Unity Centre, a non-denominational church in Kitchener, is hosting a series of events that explore expressions and interpretations of spirituality.

“We’re offering a safe inclusive place for gays and lesbians and transgendered people and bisexuals to come together and discuss some of the interpretations of the Bible that have been used to oppress our community for so long and we’re challenging those interpretations,” said Susan Howard, a licensed unity teacher for the Unity Centre and part-time masters of theological studies student at Laurier.

The series was launched with a movie screening last weekend, and sessions are being held every Sunday from Nov. 1 to 22 at 7 p.m. at the Unity Centre.

Rainbow Connections began with the screening of the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So this past weekend. The movie follows the lives of five religious American families who have a member who announces themselves as a homosexual, and explores how the family adapts to or rejects the individual.

Sunday’s screening of the documentary was followed by a discussion with those in attendance.

“There were certainly a lot of heterosexual people that came as well, just wanting to understand,” said Howard.

Next weekend’s discussion, entitled “Perspectives on the Bible”, will examine biblical verses and place them in their historical and social context, which enable them to be understood and re-evaluated to draw out the spiritual wisdom while setting aside prejudices.

“My objective is how do we reconcile some of what we were taught in more traditional churches … as young people, with who we are today and what we understand about homosexuality today,” said Howard.

“It’s not a choice, it’s who we are, how we express,” she added.

Future discussion topics include the “Development of Consciousness”, “Sacred and Loving Heart”, and “Co-creating Spiritual Community”.

These discussions will involve evaluating the evolution of the human consciousness and applying it to biblical teachings, addressing the prejudices and oppression of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) community and discussing with ministers from a variety of denominations to speak about their experiences in addressing religiosity and homosexuality.

Howard expressed the importance of finding and expressing spirituality regardless of sexual orientation by quoting American unity minister Jim Rosemergy: “The real tragedy is not that someone has turned their back on religion or even turned their back on God, the real tragedy is that he’s no longer a spiritual explorer.”

In advising people of faith within the LGBT community, Howard said, “Keep true to yourself and the fact that each one of us is connected directly to God. Spirituality is really about expressing that connection to God. We all have that divinity within us.”