Black History Month: Center for Community Engagement & Social Justice and Pride in the Pews to Host the State of The Black Church Event on Friday, February 24, 2023, in NYC

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The Event Brings Together Black Faith-Leaders and Academia to Bridge the Gap Between The LGBTQ+ Community and The Black Church, Through the Message "Progress & Change."

We advocate for change within the Black Church for the black queer community, ultimately, our goal is to bridge the gap, and this event is a significant step in our journey during this annual Black History month.

In partnership with Union Theological Seminary Center for Community Engagement & Social Justice (CCESJ) Pride in the Pews will host The State of the Black Church: Reconciling Communities and Reimagining Inclusion 1-day, in-person symposium event on Friday, February 24, 2023, 9 am – 5 pm Est; at The Union Theological Seminary of New York, 3041 Broadway, New York, NY, 10027.

850,000 Black LGBTQ+ people identify as religious. Yet, out of the eight historically Black Christian denominations, none of them are LGBTQ+ affirming. For this reason, CCESJ, and Pride in the Pews along with black faith leaders, activists, churchgoers, and academia, are gathering for this 1-day symposium to address this issue.

"We advocate for change within the Black Church for the Black Queer community," says Rev Karmen Smith, Executive Director of CCESJ and author of Holy Queer: The Coming Out of Christ. "Ultimately, our goal is to bridge the gap, and this event is a significant step in our journey during this annual Black History Month, a celebration of our triumphs, struggles, and civil rights."

Speaking of civil rights, we can all point back to history when Bayard Rustin, an openly gay (LGBTQ+) black man, acted as a key adviser to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. during the movement. Rustin was instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington. Unfortunately, due to the criticism over his sexuality, Rustin was typically kept out of the spotlight and utilized only as an engineer of change in positions where he was not widely visible to the public. Today, these are the same issues the black queer community faces regarding the State of the Black Church.

The panel discussions will include the Public Square public policy, legislation, grassroots organizational topics, movement-building, pastoral leadership, congressional relations, and advocacy. Through truth-telling, courageous, open dialogue, and uncandid conversations, CCESJ and Pride in the Pews seeks to spur collective action and create healing pathways that lead to the inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community in black faith-based spaces.

Speakers include Rev. Don Abram, Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Rev. Fred Davie, Rev. Dr. Brianna K. Parker, Rev. Carmarion Anderson-Harvey, Bishop Keith McQueen, Pastor Kristian Smith, Kim Daily, Pastor William Anthony Ellis Jr., Rev. Quincy James Rineheart, PhD Candidate, Rev. Stephen J. Thurston III, Rev. Dr. Timothy Adkins-Jones, Bishop Clarence Laney to name a few.

Sponsors: This event is made possible by: United Church of Christ, Wake Forest University, Chicago Theological Seminary, The Open Church of Maryland.

For more info, please visit | Tickets | Support & Donate

About: Center for Community Engagement and Social Justice (CCESJ)

Building on Union Theological Seminary's nearly 200-year social justice legacy, the CCESJ is a hub to nurture and equip next-generation leaders and to support bold initiatives that reimagine the work of justice. For more information, please visit

Media & Press inquiries: Contact Amore Philip | AOPR | 929-229-5512 |

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