Tuesday, August 26, 2014



Dr. John C. Whatley, III
Founding Pastor and Senior Minister
The Community Church of the Midlands

Gender Identity: Jesus, The Bible, and Sexual Orientation

Dr. John C. Whatley, III is a professor and a pastor trained in theology and psycho therapy. He was born in Augusta, Georgia, moved briefly to Alabama, and grew up in Columbia since he was 11 years old. His undergraduate work was done at the University of South Carolina. He has a doctorate degree from Emory University and post-doctorate degrees from Duke, Vanderbilt, and New York's Union Theological at Columbia University. John is currently the founding pastor and senior minister at The Community Church of the Midlands, part of the Alliance of Baptists which is considered the most progressive of denominations. It is the only church in Columbia affiliated with the Center for Progressive Christianity. Their slogan is "Unapologetically Christian and Unapologetically Progressive". John adds, "They follow the teaching of Jesus, as opposed to following the teachings of the followers of Jesus." They have been open and affirming since the inception of the denomination.

The Community Church of the Midlands meets at the 7 Oaks Community Center, 200 Leisure Lane, near St. Andrews Road and Piney Grove Road, with services starting at 10 a.m. on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Call 331-9999 for more information and to request a newsletter.

Washington Street United Methodist Church
1401 Washington Street at Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201

The meal is $10, payable in cash at the door.
Reservations can be made by sending an e-mail message to




Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Shandon Presbyterian Church



Robbie Butt
President and Chief Creative Officer, Marketing Performance, LLC

Marketing for Churches and Non-Profits

Robbie introduced the Building an Inclusive Church training program sponsored by the Institute of Welcoming Resources of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the welcoming/opening and affirming/reconciling organizations within eleven Christian denominations.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014


St. Martin's-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church



Strategic Planning for Welcoming Congregations Workshop and for Openings

Ben Bullock, administration and member services coordinator at the SC Association for Non-Profit Organizations, facilitated two groups: one that began planning a weekend workshop for Midlands churches on how to become more welcoming congregations and a second one that discussed the future structure and organization of Openings.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Agap Senior Conference Center



Army Chaplain (Colonel) Samuel Boone, Retired
Former Commandant, The U. S. Army Chaplain Center & School
Fort Jackson, SC

Training Military Chaplains in the Post-DADT/DOMA Environment

The U.S. Army Chaplain Center & School, the Navy Chaplain Center and School & Center, and the Air Force Chaplaincy Corps College are co-located in the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center at Fort Jackson. Each school's mission is to educate and train Chaplains, Chaplain Assistants, and Religious Program Specialists to serve in their respective service-unique roles.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Unitarian Universalist Congregation



Elizabeth McLendon
Advocacy Consultant, The AIDS Healthcare Foundation

The Current State of HIV/AIDS in South Carolina

Elizabeth addressed the current state of HIV in South Carolina (SC is always in the top 10 in overall new cases.); AIDS as a civil rights issues (The African-American and Latino communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.); comprehensive health education in South Carolina and how enforcing the current act and improving it can address many health issues including HIV; and what the faith community can do to help.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reformation Lutheran Church


Panel Discussion

Supporting the Parents of GLBT Youth

Openings own parents of GLBT children spoke about where they get support and how they support their children, and representatives of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapters in Aiken, Greenville and Spartanburg discussed their organizations. After the Openings meeting local parents of GLBT children began the process to re-activate the Midlands PFLAG chapter.




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shandon Presbyterian Church


Ryan Wilson
Executive Director, South Carolina Equality

Legislative Update and a Report from the 2014 Creating Change Conference

Ryan provided an update on legislation pending in the South Carolina General Assembly that will directly affect the GLBT community and suggested ways Openings could influence legislators. He also reported on the 2014 Creating Change conference, sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, where he attended workshops on the important role that faith-based organizations can play in advancing equality issues.


Tuesday, February 4, 2013

Reformation Lutheran Church


Ed McClain
Member, The Grace Class
Washington Street United Methodist Church

What's Going on in The United Methodist Church?

Ed presented a history of the anti-gay language in The United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline; an update on the recent happenings in The United Methodist Church, both nationally and in South Carolina; and what the plans are for more reconciling efforts in SC United Methodist churches and in the southeastern United States.

2013 Openings Gatherings


2012 Openings Gatherings


2011 Openings Gatherings


2010 Openings Gatherings