Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Please don't be discouraged. God created you. God is on your side."

Commentary by Susan Russell from Minneapolis at the "Creating Change" Conference

I missed Rachel last night. Turns out it was a bad night to miss, because she aired a segment on the murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato. It's a "must watch" ... and so here's the link to the six minute feature, which you don't want to miss like I did.

I missed it because I was at a prayer vigil here at the Creating Change Conference in remembrance of David and all victims of homophobia and violence ... a prayer vigil that included the moving witness of these two courageous Ugandan leaders: Frank Mugisha and Moses Mworeko.

I hope someone taped their witness to David's life and reality of the lives they live as Ugandans under constant threat because of their sexual orientation in a place where homophobia has been fed, watered and fertilized by the Religious Right in this country.

I wish you could have felt the spirit of God's love, justice and compassion in the Minneapolis Hilton ballroom-turned-chapel as we gathered for a candlelit service of Compline sung in remembrance and celebration of David's life.

I wish you could have shared in the poignancy of the tears and embraces when the service was over and faith leaders from many traditions spoke words of hope and assurance to these young men who have been reviled and rejected by the pastors in their homeland. "We never could imagine such a thing," one of them murmured through his tears.

So that's why I missed Rachel last night ... and this morning as I'm preparing to head home I wanted to make sure and post this before I head to the airport. To share the words and wisdom of our friend and hero, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who was the lone voice of Christian love and compassion at the funeral of David Kato ... captured on video and aired on the Rachel segment.

Imagine being a gay or lesbian Ugandan and hearing these words for the first time:

"Please don't be discouraged. God created you. God is on your side." Words from an Anglican bishop whose orders are not recognized by the Anglican Church of Uganda because of his ministry to LGBT people at the grave side of a gay rights activist bludgeoned to death and then denied a Christian burial by the church whose homophobic rhetoric continues to inspire violence against LGBT people.

No wonder Jesus wept. Kyrie eleison.

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