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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123, cathy@targetcue.com

National Interfaith Service With Sermon
By Bishop Gene Robinson
Includes Transgender Muslim Faith Leader

National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration

JUNE 8, 2015, Philadelphia, PA - Organizers of the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration, from July 2 to 5, announced a National Interfaith Service at historic Christ Church with sermon by Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop. Bishop Robinson will be joined by a diverse group of faith leaders.

The service includes two women rabbis, a transgender Muslim faith leader, African American MCC minister, Episcopal clergy, and “Ave Maria,” sung by Jonathan Allen, America’s Got Talent semi-finalist.

Said Malcolm Lazin, Chair, National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration: “Many in the faith community have made monumental strides in embracing LGBT people. We are honored to hold the National Interfaith Service in historic Christ Church, where President George Washington and other founding fathers worshipped.”

Said Timothy Safford, Pastor of Christ Church, Philadelphia: "Christ Church is honored to be selected for the National Interfaith Service with sermon by Bishop Gene Robinson. Bishop Robinson is the true embodiment of our Church's commitment to LGBT Equal Rights, and our strongest advocate for equal rites for marriage."

Founded in 1695, Christ Church was the first parish of the Church of England in Pennsylvania and the birthplace of the American Episcopal Church. Known as "The Nation's Church," its congregants included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross and John Adams. Five signers of the Declaration of Independence are among the many notable patriots and prominent individuals who are interred in the church's burial grounds.

Participants include:

Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen made his television debut on "America's Got Talent" 2013 - Season 8. Since then, the operatic singer has been featured in magazines, on talk shows and on radio broadcasts. He has made numerous appearances since his departure from "America's Got Talent" and is writing and producing his first album. Allen came out at age 15. His parents were not supportive, and he was forced to move out at age 18 with just the clothes on his back. Shortly thereafter, he found his way to a musical career.

Rabbi Linda Holtzman
Rabbi Linda Holtzman is the adjunct associate professor of practical rabbinics at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the rabbi of Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia. Before that, she led Beth Ahavah, an LGBT congregation in Philadelphia. She is one of the first women in the United States to serve as the presiding rabbi of a synagogue and the first woman rabbi to give a keynote speech for the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jews. She wrote "Struggle, Change and Celebration: My Life as a Lesbian Rabbi" in the book “Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation” (Rutgers University Press, 2000) and "Jewish Lesbian Parenting,” a chapter in “Twice Blessed” (Beacon Press, 1989).

The Reverend Jeffrey H. Jordan-Pickett
The Metropolitan Community Church ordained the Reverend Jeffrey H. Jordan-Pickett in 1994. Since his installation as pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia, Jordan-Pickett has offered transformational worship celebrations and ministries to the LGBT community. In 2005, Reverend Jordan-Pickett was legally married to his partner of 20 years, David E. Pickett.

Tynan Power
Tynan Power is a transgender progressive Muslim faith leader, as well as a writer and educator. He is the former co-coordinator of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD) and currently serves on the organization's steering committee. He is the founder of Pioneer Valley Progressive Muslims/Jami'at al-Inshirah in Northampton, MA, and a member of the U.S. Department of State Working Group on Religion and Foreign Policy. As a religious leader, he is deeply committed to non-sectarian community building and encourages full participation and inclusion of those often traditionally excluded from congregational life and leadership, such as women and LGBTQ individuals.

The Reverend Susan Richardson
Assistant Minister, 
Christ Church
The Rev. Susan Richardson is assistant minister of Christ Church. She was ordained there in 2006. The Rev. Richardson works with all the ministries of Christ Church, including integrating the LGBT community into all aspects of faith life and presiding at same-sex marriages. She is a mother, a teacher of world religions, and a blogger about spirituality and the workplace for WHYY's Newsworks.org.  

Bishop Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson is the first priest in an openly gay relationship to become an Episcopal bishop. His controversial appointment and ordination created a schism in the faith, led by its conservative members. Robinson has co-authored AIDS education curricula, done AIDS work in the United States and Africa, and has lobbied for LGBT civil rights and marriage equality. He is the subject of two feature-length documentaries and the author of two books. His most recent, “God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage,” was published in 2012. Robinson has been honored by numerous LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The Reverend Timothy Safford
Since 1999 the Reverend Timothy Safford has served as the 19th rector of historic Christ Church in Philadelphia. Throughout his 30-year ministry, he has dedicated himself to outreach and social transformation, including work with the homeless, refugees and people with AIDS. He has been an activist and organizer within the Episcopal Church for LGBT civil rights and marriage equality, performing the first blessing of a same-sex couple at Christ Church in 2003. He received the Lawrence J. Mikkelsen Preaching Prize for his sermon on the Gospel, social justice and human dignity.

Rabbi Margot Stein
Rabbi Margot Stein is an adjunct instructor in music and liturgy at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and is High Holy Days cantor at Philadelphia's Mishkan Shalom. She has co-produced seven albums of original Jewish music and performs with her female a cappella trio, MIRAJ, and her rabbinical troupe, Shabbat Unplugged. Her liturgical compositions have won awards from Shalshelet: The International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music and from BMI's Mid-Atlantic Song Contest. They have been published in numerous prayer books and covered on albums. She serves on the boards of several Jewish organizations committed to inclusion, pluralism and diversity.

The organized LGBT civil rights movement was galvanized when activists from New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia staged demonstrations at Independence Hall for equality each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969. When 40 activists picketed in front of Independence Hall in 1965, it was the largest demonstration for gay equality in world history.

Organized by Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, the father and mother of the LGBT civil rights movement, these “Annual Reminders” laid the groundwork for the Stonewall riot in 1969. After Stonewall, the Gay Pioneers suspended the Annual Reminders and turned their energies to help organize the 1970 march from Greenwich Village to Central Park marking the first anniversary of Stonewall.

There is no registration fee and most programs are free.

For more information, visit www.lgbt50th.org and www.gaypioneers.com.

 


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