Come join us at one of our monthly gatherings.

Of Faith and Hope

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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


Sheila Morris, Author/Activist/Humorist


Sheila was born and raised in rural Grimes County, Texas, and is a first-year Baby Boomer. She is a cum laude graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and has a master’s degree with honors from The University of South Carolina in Columbia. She comes from six generations of Southern Baptists and did graduate studies for two years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Later she served as a minister of music in several churches during her early years in South Carolina prior to the inevitable severing of her ties to that part of her heritage as a result of her activism.


She has overcome, and moved on. Her career as a CPA, college accounting instructor, stockbroker, and financial advisor spanned four decades and three states including two years in Seattle, Washington. She received numerous awards for outstanding performance in the corporate world and retired with remarkably little fanfare from her position as vice-president of investments with a major financial services firm in 2008. She currently shares a nomadic life with her partner Teresa Williams and their three dogs as they keep the interstates and back roads busy between their homes in Columbia, South Carolina and Montgomery, Texas.


Sheila has spent a lifetime of community involvement in actively promoting social justice issues. In the early 1970's she was a member of the National Organization for Women and worked tirelessly as a volunteer in support of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment which was ultimately defeated. She also served as a volunteer treasurer for Planned Parenthood in Columbia and in that same capacity for the Advocates for Women on Boards and Commissions. She was a volunteer for the Sickle Cell Foundation in South Carolina. In the late 1980's and early 90's Sheila began her work for the LGBTQ community by serving on the boards of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services in Columbia and the AIDS Benefit Foundation of South Carolina.


She was a co-founder in 1993 of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild and served as its first President and has remained involved with that organization in various roles for the past twenty years. She was given the Founders’ Award and various other awards by the Guild during that time. On the national level Sheila served on the board of directors for the Victory Fund and was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign with its prestigious Community Service Award for her pioneering work for the LGBTQ community in South Carolina.

My Father's House

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Columbia


Dr. Ed Madden, Poet, LGBTQ Activist, Associate Professor of English and Interim Director, Women's and Gender Studies Program, University of South Carolina


Dr. Ed Madden read his poetry from My Father's House, a chapbook of poems based on the 13 weeks he spent in Arkansas helping with his dying father's home hospice care. A discussion followed regarding his journey from years of estrangement from his family, to healing, reconciliation, and hope.


Born and raised on a rice and soybean farm in rural Arkansas, Ed is now a poet, political activist, and associate professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of South Carolina. He got his B.A. from Harding University and received his Ph.D. in literature from the University of Texas, Austin. Ed is president of the American Conference of Irish Studies, Southern Region. He has been secretary, vice president, and president of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement.


Ed is the author of Signals, winner of the 2007 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize; Prodigal: Variations; and Nest. He is also the co-editor with Candace Chellew-Hodge of Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, a collection of radio essays that was selected by USC-Upstate for their 2013 first-year common reading. His work has appeared in Best New Poets 2007, The Book of Irish American Poetry, and Collective Brightness.

The God Article - A Spiritual Blog

ALL = ALL

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reformation Lutheran Church, Columbia


The Rev. Mark Sandlin, Minister and Progressive Blogger, Greensboro, North Carolina


The Rev. Mark Sandlin has been the minister at Vandalia Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, for the past eight years. Under his leadership the church has become increasingly focused on helping those in need in the community.


Mark received his M. Div. from Wake Forest University's School of Divinity and has undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and English with a minor in Computer Science. He's an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a self-described progressive, and a certified geek.


Mark is founder or co-founder of The God Article, The Christian Left, the super-PAC Christians for a Change, Until ALL Can Wed and Occupy Voting Booths, all of which can be found on Facebook. He also writes for The Huffington Post and Sojourners online and is winner of the "Award of Excellence" from the Associated Church Press.


He has been featured on NPR's The Story with Dick Gordon, PBS's Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, and the documentary film Amendment One. Mark is married to a Baptist minister, and they have two children. Read an interview with Mark at progressiveredneckpreacher.

Global Justice--LGBTQ Christians Around the World

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Washington Street United Methodist Church, Columbia


The Rev. Lisa Heilig, Interim Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer, Augusta, Georgia


The Rev. Lisa Heilig discussed the work of the Metropolitan Community Church's global justice work through the Global Justice Institute and included stories of LGBTQ Christians around the world.


Rooted in her faith, Rev. Lisa has had a lifelong commitment to showing compassion, working for justice for all people and inspiring groups of people to take positive action. Rev. Lisa received a BA degree in English Education from Florida Southern College and a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, graduating with honors in 1995. She completed her clergy candidacy and was ordained in 2001 in the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). She has served churches in Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Rev. Lisa’s particular gifts are in assisting churches and organizations through times of transition. In March 2012 she won the Ed Paul Memorial Award for Excellence in Transitional Ministry. MCC of Our Redeemer in Augusta, GA is her fourth Intentional Interim Pastorate.


Rev. Lisa was also in full-time ministry in non-profit social services and has nearly 20 years experience in social service and non-profit management, working with persons with disabilities and their families. Partnered for 18 years, her partner is an academic librarian at a seminary. Their son is a barista and a professional contemporary dancer/choreographer. While being a tireless advocate for social justice and radical inclusion, Rev. Lisa also is an avid college football fan, following her beloved Florida Gators closely every season.

Film and Discussion

A story of tolerance, acceptance, and love ― that's right ... a fairytale.


Tuesday, July 25, 2013

Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Columbia


Millie, a selfless, young female who pines for a true love companion lives a beautiful, simple life in a little house at the top of Honey Bee Hill nestled next to the Little Stone Church that Millie attends with Reverend Filch and a faithful, colorful congregation. Through a magical turn of events, Millie finds her true love, yet there is one little problem. Follow Millie through the topsy-turvy adventure of her life through this story so full of life, love, and the beauty of acceptance. It is one surely not to be missed. Written and directed by Bob Pondillo, Ph.D., the film features a cast of one adult, 30 children, two babies and one dog; and God makes a guest appearance.

Five Ways to Make Your Congregation More Welcoming for LGBT People

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shandon Presbyterian Church, Columbia


Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge, Pastor, Jubilee! Circle, Columbia, South Carolina


The Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge spoke about: What extravagant welcome looks like; How to extend radical grace; and How service, love and self-care can play a big role in how welcoming a congregation can feel for LGBT people.


Candace is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians, pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, South Carolina (), and editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Christians

The Schism within the Episcopal Church Over Ordaining Gays


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reformation Lutheran Church, Columbia


Daniel J. Ennis, Ph.D., Dean, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Coastal Carolina University


Daniel J. Ennis is the Senior Warden (lay leader) of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Conway, which is a church community aligned with the national Episcopal Church in the recent schism over ordaining gays and other issues. He presented a perspective on the split within the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and what led to the formation of a new congregation.


Dr. Ennis serves as Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at Coastal Carolina University. He holds a Ph.D. from Auburn University, an M.A. from Appalachian State University, and a B.A. from The College of Charleston.