Written by Anthony Moujaes
In its commitment to be an open and welcoming space, and to make schools in the Philadelphia area safer and accepting of LGBTQ students, Ascension United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville, Pa., is hosting a scholarship concert and art exhibit for students working for LGBTQ advocacy.
The Rev. Dwayne A. Mosier said Ascension UCC chose to become an open and affirming church a year-and-a-half ago, and the concert benefit "was part of living out what it means to be an (open and affirming) church."
The first-time event promotes the need to provide safe environments for LGBTQ youths and their straight allies, and help break barriers of fear and isolation that LGBTQ youths might experience through discrimination or bullying. Proceeds from the event will be used toward a soon-to-be established college scholarship, awarded to a senior student who is active in the Norristown Area High School Gay/Straight Alliance.
"We had some kids in church, and they are part of the Gay/Straight Alliance. We wanted to be a safe place (where people can be) whoever they are, and we wanted to work to make it that way," Mosier said. "That's why we chose to have a scholarship for someone who's really part of the community and not rejected."
Mosier said that Ascension is a small church, but the event should help it reach out in ways to connect with the community, and in return let the community know they are part of the neighborhood. The Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia recently designated the church a ‘Zone of Peace.'
The concert and exhibit begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 27 featuring Brotherly Love, a select chorus of the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus.
The art exhibit and reception begin after the concert. The local artist guild has provided paintings from an artist for the exhibit, with proceeds from the sale going toward the scholarship. For more information about the event, visit the Ascension UCC website.