Chapel will hold panel to discuss same-sex marriage

By Tabassum Ali

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St. Augustine’s Chapel on Rose Street is being opened up for students and the public to attend a discussion about Christian support for same-sex marriage and members of the LGBTQAA community with positions in churches on Wednesday.

Pastor Dana Lockhart of Ignite, a Lutheran campus ministry program that helped organize the 7 p.m. forum, said having the discussion in the chapel will “add something to the conversation” and he hopes the chapel can be “a regular venue for on-campus events and discussions.”

This event is being held to bring a “new perspective on Holy Scripture and a greater awareness of gifts that gay and lesbian persons bring to church,” Lockhart said.

”It is not something we take lightly,” Lockhart said. ”We have a responsibility to be respectful … to our student members and supporting congregations.”

There will be five clergy members on the discussion panel: Pastor Laura Altman of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Lexington, Reverend Laurie Brock of the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Lexington, Reverend Orvis Kean, an ordained Southern Baptist Minister who works in UK’s MLK Center for Diversity, Reverend Marsha J. Moors-Charles, pastor of Bluegrass United Church of Christ in Lexington and Pastor Steven Renner of Third Lutheran Church in Louisville.

Moors-Charles and Renner are both members of same-sex marriages.

Lockhart will moderate the panel with Father Joe Mitchell of the Episcopal Campus Ministry.

Lockhart said the members of the panel will “bring a tremendous and pastoral depth to the discussion (and) will make an impact on everyone who comes.”

Prepared questions will be discussed and then the floor will be opened up to the public for any questions or comments.

“This will cover matters such as biblical interpretation, Christian tradition and matters of pastoral care, Lockhart said. “As a pastor it is not my responsibility to change anyone’s mind — it is important for people to keep these topics in mind.”

It took three months to plan the event and involved a lot of conversation between the campus and churches, Lockhart said.

“I’m excited, especially as it has never been done before,” said Dawson Fugate, a landscape architecture junior. “It is an opportunity to speak on a public topic without being scrutinized.”

Animal science freshman Bianca Ruspi agreed that the event ”sounded like such a good idea, it’s a social hot topic that college kids are often concerned about.”

The organizers are not worried about any protestors causing disturbances, Lockhart said.

“It is the right of any American and if people want to protest, peacefully and respectfully and then that’s their right,” he said.

Lockhart also restated that the panel is “trying to have a conversation, not cause controversy.”