Salt Lake City, UT: For many 2008 Utah Pride Festival attendees, the annual InterFaith service is the first official event they’ll attend. Now in its seventh year, the free event is open to the public and will be held this Saturday, June 7 at 2:00pm at the First Unitarian Church (569 South 1300 East). Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT), and allied people of faith will come together to worship and experience spiritual community with members of several faith traditions. Mayor Ralph Becker, along with members of the Salt Lake City Council, will be recognized at the service for and honoring the dignity of all loving couples. Yolanda Francisco-Nez, Coordinator for Mayor Becker’s Office of Diversity and Human Rights, will be attending this service.

This year, Russ Gorringe is the Chair of the InterFaith Service, and a member of the Utah Pride Interfaith Committee, which is a non-profit coalition of religious individuals and leaders from religious organizations welcoming of GLBT people. The committee believes this service is essential to GLBT people of faith because “Some GLBT people tragically believe that when they come out, they lose all rights to consider themselves spiritual people of faith who are capable of holiness,” said Maureen Duffy-Boose, committee member. “Unfortunately,” added Gorringe, “a few religions cross over into spiritual abuse and reinforce this belief. As an InterFaith community, we come together from many diverse faiths and cultures, to proclaim loudly and proudly that each of us is a being of love, created wholly - and holy just as we are.”

Valerie Larabee, the Utah Pride Center’s Executive Director echoes this sentiment, adding “It’s amazing to see how many GLBT people are reclaiming their spirituality. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated religious leaders determined to welcome us without stigma or shame – all worshipping together regardless of theological or doctrinal differences.”

The Interfaith Committee is composed of a diverse group of faith leaders of all genders and orientations, and the thoughtfully crafted Pride Service includes elements of many different faiths – including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and more. Gorringe states that “music will be provided by The Golden Voices Gospel Ensemble, a true gospel choir, under the direction of B. Murphy.” Presenters include The New Jerusalem Samoan Congregation, The Homeless Youth Resource Center, The First Unitarian Church, First Baptist Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Holladay United Church of Christ, Kanzeon Zen Buddhist Center, a vocal trio from Bountiful Community Church, Irish Harp music from Aisling the Bard, and a Litany of Affirmation of Life from Affirmation and Reconciliation - both of whom represent GLBT members of the LDS church.

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