Report from Rev. Melanie “Mel” Martinez, Representing HRC Religion and Faith Program, MCC, MCC Transgender Ministries at Soulforce’s Symposium in Philadelphia, PA – November 2010
Mel recently attended Soulforce’s Symposium on “The Truth about Faith, Science, Love and Reparative Therapy” as a representative of Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program. Mel has served for two years as a trainer for the “Gender Identity and Faith Communities” curriculum released by HRC Religion and Faith Program in 2008.
From the Desk of Rev. Mel Martinez, Co-Lead, MCC Transgender Ministries
My work with HRC’s Religion and Faith Program culminated in an invitation to represent the program during Soulforce’s Symposium in Philadelphia, November 5-6, 2010. I was exceedingly impressed by the diversity of the gathering, both among attendees and presenters.
We gathered on the Friday prior to our day-long symposium in Love Park (downtown Philadelphia) for a LIFE Rally. Featuring a performance by Ray Boltz, this rally called for solidarity against bullying in our schools. We shivered together, cried together, and spoke together “We Are Accepted!”
Our symposium began early Saturday morning and continued throughout the day. The opening plenary by Jay Bakker (pastor of Revolution NYC church and speaker at MCC’s General Conference 2007) shed light on an ally’s journey among religious leaders. Jay’s perspective: “Silence is Violence!” Amen!
Break out sessions, workshops, discussion panels, and community meals offered all gathered at the symposium the opportunity to consider our next steps and best tools for combating the destructive spiritual violence found in reparative therapeutic measures. We considered the lasting injuries inflicted on ourselves and our siblings through religious abuse and medical abuse. We joined the ongoing dialogue happening among our many organizations represented.
From Jallen Rix, Author of “Ex-Gay, No Way!” and a workshop presenter at the Symposium: “Agree to disagree is not enough. We need to see our differences as what makes our community strong. We need to affirm our differences. The more we can get used to celebrating our differences…[they] make us stronger.”
Ultimately, our Symposium concluded with hope and expectation of one another and our organizations. As a representative of both HRC and MCC, I am optimistic about the efforts our organizations are making worldwide. As a leader in MCC Transgender Ministries, I am hopeful that the true celebration of diversity will continue to make visible the needs of our transgender siblings and to enliven the ministries of all of our siblings as part of the Body of Christ.
Special thanks to Soulforce for the opportunity to gather and dialogue. Special thanks to HRC for honoring me with the opportunity to be a representative of their Religion and Faith Program. Finally, thanks to MCC and MCC Transgender Ministries for allowing me to represent our important work, ministry, and message in the world.