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San Diego Religious Leaders Host Spiritual Summit for LGBTQ Community

Credit: Melanie Peters

Reverend Jerry Troyer, minister at the Joyful Living Spiritual Center and the organizer of the LGBTQ Spiritual Summit, speaks to a group.

Aired 8/1/14 on KPBS News.

A first-of-its-kind LGBTQ Spiritual Summit on Saturday in Hillcrest aims to connect the gay and lesbian community with churches.

Members of San Diego's gay and lesbian community can explore spirituality with a panel of religious leaders at the first-of-its-kind LGBTQ Spiritual Summit on Saturday.

The Rev. Jerry Troyer, minister at the Joyful Living Spiritual Center and the event's organizer, said it's meant to show that some religious organizations embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"Those of us in the gay and lesbian community, many of us have felt ostracized from spiritual practices and religious denominations because traditional Christian teachings tell us that the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong and that it's a sin and an abomination and so forth," Troyer said. "But thankfully in recent years as more and more denominations and spiritual traditions are realizing that that's not what the Bible meant, that's not what God meant, and there may be more to a spiritual practice than just the traditional God up in Heaven someplace."

The panel is meant to help people connect with different religions in one place, he said. It will include representatives from different religious organizations, including the Rev. Ric Castanon of Cathedral of Saint John the Beloved; the Rev. Kathleen Owens of the First UU Church of San Diego; Richard Stravinsky of the Humanist Fellowship of San Diego; Kelsang Chokyi of Kadampa Meditation Center; and Rabbi Laurie Coskey.

"I wanted to invite the gay, lesbian community to start to think about reacquainting themselves with their spiritual side, just to start the conversation and see if there's a spiritual practice that might work for especially the people in our community who are not involved with a church or a center or an organization at this time," Troyer said.

Panelists will answer questions like "why does this matter," "how would a spiritual practice affect my life," and "why should I attend your church or center," Troyer said. They will also explain whether their organizations tolerate, accept or embrace gays and lesbians.

The panel will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at the The San Diego LGBT Community Center at 3909 Centre St. in Hillcrest.

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