Thursday, June 26, 2014

United Church of Christ to Help Sponsor the Gay Games

Gay Games 9 will be competing in Cleveland and Akron, OH, from August 9-16, 2014. The Gay Games' purpose is to promote LGBT inclusion in sports (something that is less of an issue since it was created in 1982 -- though obviously is an issue considering how many people freaked out when openly gay football player Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend during a moment of extreme excitement).

Normally the events like the Gay Games seek corporate sponsorships. This year's Gay Games 9 will be unique for another reason. It will be the first time that a Christian denomination has provided sponsorship for the Gay Games:
The United Church of Christ is the first religious denomination to sign on as a major sponsor of the Gay Games when the event comes to Cleveland, home of the UCC's national headquarters, this summer, and has made the commitment in partnership with local churches around the country.

Through a unique co-sponsorship opportunity, nearly 30 Open and Affirming UCC congregations have promised support of the event and will be listed alongside the national setting as a major sponsor of the ninth international competition, taking place Aug. 9-16.

"It's a win-win offer of support that will enable the United Church of Christ to be listed among the Gay Games' top corporate sponsors," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the first openly-gay national officer of the UCC. "[Gay Games] organizers realize that the UCC can play an integral and important role in dispelling the pervasive myth that all people of faith are anti-gay, and we are excited to share our message of extravagant welcome and radical inclusivity..."

As a major sponsor, the UCC will provide significant financial support for Gay Games 9, which is expected to bring more than 30,000 athletes and visitors to Cleveland. The sponsorship provides the UCC an unprecedented opportunity to welcome thousands of like-minded visitors to its hometown. Attendees will also be welcome at events held throughout the week at the UCC's Amistad Chapel, a worship space located on the first floor of the UCC's national headquarters. 
The United Church of Christ has a 40+ year history of LGBT inclusion -- beginning with the ordination of Rev. Bill Johnson in 1972. It also became the first major Christian denomination to endorse equal marriage rights for same-sex couples back in 2005. That said, this is still a topic of contention among UCC churches, leaders, and members.

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