Today, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) organized an interfaith service at the Church Center's United Nations chapel. Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church, NYC, presided. All Souls Minister of Music Walter Klauss put together an awesome musical program of organ, piano and soloist Misa Iwama. UU-UNO Executive Director, Bruce Knotts gave opening words, where he said that while people can find justification for hate in scripture, it is the purpose of scripture and of faith to "bend our barbaric and brutal natures towards liberty, equality, justice and compassion." Rev. Guengerich read "A Litany for Survival" by Audre Lord. Rev. Guengerich led a prayer to support Bishop Christopher Senyonjo's courageous work to support gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in Uganda. The homily was delivered by Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who quoted Paul, "And there now abides faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love." He spoke of unconditional love which can and must extend to all people no matter how different they may be. He said that homophobia stems from ignorance. However, even in ignorance, we are not released from our obligation to love unconditionally.
Bishop Senyonjo spoke out against the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. He welcomed the support of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in opposing this hateful bill which, Bishop Senyonjo equated to genocide. Bishop Senyonjo welcomed Americans and others who support the oppressed sexual minorities in Uganda.Both Galen Guengerich and Christopher Senyonjo agreed that their last names were too difficult to pronounce and both agreed to address one another by their first names. The service was followed by a reception hosted by the UU-UNO. The service and reception drew attendees from various faith traditions including clergy, officials, and lay from Lutheran, Methodist, Metropolitan Community Church, Mennonite Central Committee, Anglican, and an official from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). This evening, the UU-UNO will host a fundraising event for Bishop Christopher Senyonjo and for the work the UU-UNO does in Uganda to combat homophobia. The event will be at the National Arts Club. On June 14, the UU-UNO will host a high level meeting of global faith leaders to combat homophobia. While not every faith tradition will accept gay marriage or gay clergy, we ought to believe that there is no "divinely inspired scripture" that calls its faithful to kill gays, nor to deprive people of education, employment, housing or safety due to their real or preserved sexual orientation or gender identity. People who believe their faith calls them to persecute people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity have seriously distorted the intent of their scriptures and "divine" guidance. The UU-UNO hopes to build a faith alliance against homophobia, starting with the meeting on June 14, which will include NY Times Best Selling author Jeff Sharlet who wrote The Family: The Secret of Fundamentalism at the Center of American Power.