2012 Gatherings


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shandon Presbyterian Church


Dr. Todd Shaw

The Unique LGBT Issues in the African-American Church

Dr. Todd Shaw spoke about the unique gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in the African-American church. He is  a  professor in the USC Political Science Department and has appointments both in the Political Science and the African-American Studies Program. His writings include the theme of "Black Theology, Homosexuality, and the Black Political Church."

Dr. Shaw has been on the USC faculty since 2003 and has appointments both in USC's Department of Political Science and the African-American Studies Program. He researches and teaches broadly in the areas of African American politics, urban politics and public policy, as well as citizen activism and social movements.



Friday, October 19, 2012

Washington Street United Methodist Church


Jimmy Creech

GLBT Advocate
Former United Methodist Minister
Author of Adam's Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor's Calling to Defy
the Church's Persecution of Lesbians and Gays

A native of Goldsboro, North Carolina, Jimmy Creech was an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church from 1970 to 1999 when the Church removed his ordination after two church trials for his officiating at a wedding ceremony of a gay couple. In April 2011 his book, Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays, was published. Adam’s Gift is Creech’s inspiring first-person account of how a conversation with a gay longtime parishioner Adam transformed his life and ministry.

Since The United Methodist Church removed his ordination in 1999, Creech has worked with many social-action organizations, including Soulforce, an interfaith movement confronting spiritual violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons; the North Carolina Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, dedicated to defeating an anti-gay marriage amendment to the NC State constitution and to advocating for marriage equality; and Faith In America, an organization working to end religion-based bigotry.

Creech has received the Flagbearer Award from PFLAG National; the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award; the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Frank Porter Graham Award; the North Carolina Pride, Inc. Award; and the Lee and Mae Ball Award, presented by The Methodist Federation for Social Action. He was selected as one of OUT magazine’s “Out 100” in 1998 and 1999. He now lives in Raleigh where he recently helped to found the North Carolina Social Justice Project.




Tuesday, September 24, 2012

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church


Zeke Stokes

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Why Are We Still Talking About It?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is history, yet full LGBT military equality has not been achieved. South Carolina native Zeke Stokes, Communications Director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network - a leading national organization that fought for and won repeal - discussed the impact of repeal, why LGBT service members still are not equal, and what's next in the fight for full equality in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Before joining SLDN, Zeke managed his own firm, consulting for a variety of political, nonprofit, corporate and governmental clients in the areas of public relations, development, and communications, including the South Carolina Department of Education, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a variety of campaigns at the local, state, and federal level. He is a former publicist for the March of Dimes national office in White Plains, NY, and is a native of South Carolina, where he began his career at age 19 as the youngest Director of Communications for a State Democratic Party in the country.




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reformation Lutheran Church


Opening Up

One of the important on-going missions of Openings is to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for each other. Rev. Patricia Voelker facilitated small group conversations that enabled meeting attendees to share life stories and to get to know each other better.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shandon Presbyterian Church

Film and Discussion

Trembling Before G-d

The feature documentary that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious fundamentalism, Trembling Before G-d, was shown. Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian - from the world's first openly gay Orthodox rabbi to closeted, married Hasidic gays and lesbians to those abandoned by religious families to Orthodox lesbian high-school sweethearts - told their intimate personal stories of facing a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality. Discussion followed the screening.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church


Rev. David Coffman
Mrs. Sara Coffman

A Pastor Comes Out to His Congregation - His Story and Journey

The Rev. David Coffman, who was serving St. John's Lutheran Church in Walhalla, SC, when he came out to his wife, family, friends, and congregation in 2010, spoke about that experience and where he is today. David has been working and studying at Palmetto Health as a Chaplain Resident in the Clinical Pastoral Education program since August 2011.  His mother Sara also shared her family's story of support for her son.



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

College Place United Methodist Church


Heather Cairns

A Survey of the Church, the Courts, and the Culture on the Path to Equality

Ms. Cairns spoke about how the Episcopal Church, which is on the verge of adopting rites for the blessing of same sex relationships, functions within the overlay and influence of the outside courts and culture.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reformation Lutheran Church


Legislative Update and Citizen Lobbyist Training

Christine Johnson, executive director, South Carolina Equality, and Victoria Middleton, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, discussed the current status of Senate bill 566 - the Safe Schools Act - and then conducted citizen lobbyist training to provide the tools to talk with legislators and to express the faith community's support for this bill that includes protection for GLBT students.



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

University of South Carolina South Quad Lounge

Panel Discussion

Campus Ministries to GLBTQ Students

Pastor Frank W. Anderson, campus pastor, Lutheran Campus Ministry at USC; Rabbi Leah Doberne-Schor, director of Jewish student life, Hillel, USC; Peter H. Hobbie, D.Min, Ph.D., professor of the Christian religion, Presbyterian College; Cheryl Soehl, administrative coordinator for student life at USC; Rev. Tom H. Wall, campus minister, Methodist Student Network at USC; Devin Moss, coordinator of LGBT programs and services, USC; and Drew Newton, graduate assistant for LGBT programs and services, USC discussed campus ministry programs to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Virginia Wingard Memorial United Methodist Church

Panel Discussion

The Challenges and Blessings of Being/Becoming a Welcoming Congregation for GLBTs

Rev. Diana Westerkam (retired, Washington Street United Methodist Church), Rev. Bill Eiwan (Reformation Lutheran Church), Rev. John Culp (Virginia Wingard Memorial United Methodist Church), and Pastor Tiffany Adams (Kingdom Outreach Fellowship) discussed the benefits for churches that are welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

2011 Openings Gatherings


2010 Openings Gatherings