Interfaith Prayer Vigil in Pioneer Square Part of Queer Clergy Conference

Thursday October 15, 2015

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) clergy from across the nation will gather in Portland, OR from October 15-18, 2015 to create a plan to engage their congregations, seminaries, polities and more, activating thousands across diverse spiritual traditions on the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

The conference will be facilitated by Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Executive Director of Nehirim, a National LGBTQ Jewish Retreat and advocacy organization; Professor Dr. Pîr Ibrahim Abudrrahmani-Farajaje, Provost and Professor of Cultural Studies at the Starr King School for the Ministry; and the Reverend Tara Wilkins, Executive Director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations in Portland, OR, and Pastor at the Bridgeport UCC church.

Said Rabbi Debra Kolodny, producer of the conference, "I've been active in the national LGBTQ religious movement for almost twenty years. For all that time our leadership has spoken of the need to embrace complexity and understand the intersections of all of our identities (including race, class, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin and ability.) There have been too few instances where we have acted upon this intention in a concerted, strategic and ongoing way.

"Our hope is that this conference launches one such coordinated effort, as LGBTQ clergy gather from around the country, from multiple traditions, and work together to support one of the most critical movements of our day: Black Lives Matter."

Said program co-leader, Prof Dr Pîr Ibrahim Abudrrahmani-Farajaje: "Queer religious leaders will gather from around the country to reflect, activate and agitate around Black Lives Matter: So, why does that even matter? It matters because Black trans*, Black bisexual, Black lesbian and Black gay lives are also Black lives, and they all matter. We will walk away from this gathering with a plan and a path to engage and activate thousands of individuals across communities to better support the Black Lives Matter movement, for all of us."

Highlights of the schedule include:

  • Strategic working sessions designed to launch strategic, coordinated action around the country on Black Lives Matter, engaging congregations, seminaries, communities and religious movements for years to come;

  • Sessions on media and media training, designed to better leverage diverse LGBTQ religious voices in public discourse and change the way we talk about race, sexual orientation and the goals of LGBTQ leaders;

  • A public interfaith prayer service on Saturday afternoon October 17, envisioning the world we seek, inspiring and blessing all who venture forward in this holy work and remembering those who have been lost to violence and discrimination; and

  • A documentary video short on how LGBTQ clergy are helping to heal the wounds that religion has created around sexuality.

    For more information go to:

    Nehirim provides vibrant, pluralistic, egalitarian and accessible programming that cultivates and empowers LGBTQ Jewish souls. Our spiritual and cultural events nourish Queer Jews and builds community amongst the affiliated and unaffiliated, professionals, lay leaders and Jews in the pews. Nehirim inspires participants to explore and expand their Jewish and LGBTQ engagement, instills hope for continually increasing welcome and appreciation of our contributions, provides a network that enables the replication of the retreat experience at home and impassions participants to express their gifts and manifest their aspirations. See more at: