The ninth annual event will take place today at the First Metropolitan Community Church from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“We do the event to bring the community together and connect with LGBT partners,” says Ebonee Bradford, a member of the HRC Board of Governors for Diversity and Inclusion.
Organizers are especially excited to bring the event back after skipping last year. In 2009 it was not held because Bradford was co-chair of the HRC Dinner.
“So we had one year off,” she says. “We try to keep it moving.”
The HRC Atlanta Diversity and Inclusion Committee coordinates the event. Bradford said they hope Gospel & Unity will bring together members of the community from different race and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and religions.
“It gives us a chance to celebrate our common values and the progress being made toward full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans,” she says.
Gospel & Unity Saturday, July 24, 4-5:30 p.m. First Metropolitan Community Church 1379 Tullie Road Atlanta, GA 30329 www.atlantahrc.org
“The primary goal of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest organization fighting for LGBT equal rights, is to include a wide diversity of the community in the fight for equality through events like this.”
This year’s keynote speaker, Will Horn, founder of the Power Center, is definitely someone people should look forward to, Bradford says.
“Will Horn is an awesome speaker,” she says. “He actually spoke at one of our Gospel and Soul events a few years ago. I just wanted to bring him back.”
Organizers have also asked participating ministers to bring their choirs and are expected the First MCC Quartet, the Power Center Chorale and others. Confirmed ministerial guests include Rev. Paul Graetz, First MCC; Rev. Elliott Sommerville, The Shepherd’s Table; Rev. Sonya Williams, Restoration Inclusive Ministries; and Rev. Dr. Kathi Martin, Interactive Faith Café.
Other highlights include participation from Martin and Keisha Waites, who were the first co-chairs of the event, Bradford said.
Martin said she hopes this year’s Gospel & Unity will draw a more diverse crowd.
“If not, at least the event will bring together LGBT people from various churches to celebrate and fellowship together,” she says.
When Martin first got involved with HRC, her goal was to dispel rumors about HRC’s focus and purpose.
“Most of the African-American community thought the HRC was a white organization for the most part,” she says. “When I heard the HRC wanted to hold an event that focused on the African-American community, I wanted to support it.”
She says the hope was that the event would enable heterosexual and LGBT Christians to celebrate faith together through music and fellowship, thereby bridging the gaps of fear and stereotypes. Unfortunately, the attendance for the event has been mostly LGBT.
But such an event is important for the city of Atlanta, Martin believes, especially if it can eliminate barriers between persons.
“Anything that can do that is a positive for our community,” she says. “Social justice, environmental and political issues require coalitions that can work for the common good rather than focusing on the well-being of only our particular group.”
Bradford is thrilled at the possibilities that may come from the event.
“There will be music, dancing and poetry. What better way to bring together the mission of the HRC to the tradition of faith?”