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Metropolitan Community Churches Support Mel White

Deem Weekend's 'Dialogue' with Falwell to be 'Historic'

Says 'World Watches Soulforce' in Lynchburg, Virginia

Compiled By GayToday

Lynchburg, Virginia Referring to a weekend event here, The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) is exulting that "the religious world will take a step back to analyze the historic dialogue that took place in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 23."
whitefalwell.jpg - 8.18 K Revs. White and Falwell meet on Oct. 23

That will be the day when the Rev. Jerry Falwell, one of America's most conservative religious leaders, will meet with the Rev. Mel White, a credentialed MCC clergy and co-founder of Soulforce, Inc., an ecumenical group that applies principles of nonviolence to advance gay rights.

"They will discuss," says the UFMCC, "how to end the 'war of words' that has characterized the conversations between Rev. Jerry Falwell and the gay community."

Some, like Oral Majority activist Bob Kunst of Miami, believe that Falwell is incapable of reformation.

"He's a war criminal," insists Kunst, who is an activist for both gay and Jewish causes, "and he was losing in public opinion big-time after Tinky Winky brought him down. I can never forgive Falwell. He'll always be what he is: a smug, sly, strategic-minded war criminal who is responsible for having slowed America's response to the AIDS crisis.

"Now this meeting of his with the gay Rev. Mel White is making Falwell look reasonable again. This is a self-serving religious strategy on White's and MCC's part, but it isn't good strategy. Falwell gives himself his own black eyes. I say let him alone to do it and he'll self-destruct, he'll just blow up because of he's so full of it. And that's what he deserves. "

Kunst, already speaking out against the Falwell-White on local and national TV/radio programs, plans to be protesting at the site of the Lynchburg meeting, accompanied by Tinky Winky and Tinky Winky's purse. Kunst has refused to reveal what's in the famed purse, but rumor has it that it's full of condoms.

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While Kunst will be in a decided minority, a delegation of 200 individuals, brought by Rev. Mel White and Soulforce, and 200 of Rev. Jerry Falwell's Baptist friends and associates are also caught up in the midst of an international media frenzy.

The Rev. Mel White will appear on Good Morning America this coming Friday, October 22; he will be on the Saturday edition of the Today Show, and will also be on PBS. The New York Times, Washington Post and Village Voice have major stories on this event and he has met with editors from Time magazine and U.S. News & World Report.

Much of Soulforce's activities for that weekend will take shape in the form of community outreach. The Soulforce delegation is contributing $20,000 to Habitat for Humanity in Lynchburg and will donate cans and packages of food to Lynchburg food banks.

There will also be a candle light vigil and memorial services for victims of hate crimes. The world is taking notice of these courageous acts of peaceful demonstration - especially the opposition.

From the other side of the spectrum, Fred Phelps of "" says he will be present and Phelps condemns both Falwell and White for the event and feels that in meeting with people who commit acts that are 'worthy of death', Falwell "commits an even greater sin."
phelps100.jpg - 22.91 K One more reverend in the mix: Fred Phelps

Members of the Soulforce delegation will reportedly participate in advanced training in nonviolence. They will also, they say, "be armed with the prayers and well wishes of thousands who were not able to attend this event." Vice Moderator of UFMCC, The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, says she's "thrilled that Rev. Mel White is bringing Soulforce to bear on one of this country's most outspoken conservative religious leaders, the Rev. Jerry Falwell. We applaud the willingness of both Rev. Jerry Falwell and Mel White to participate in this dialogue."

Reminiscing about her debate with Falwell several years ago on the Ron Reagan, Jr. Show, she said, "We must move from debate to dialogue. We believe this event will create a reduction in religious hate rhetoric. I applaud the 200 courageous people who are participating in this historic event."

Among the MCC dignitaries taking part in the Lynchburg proceedings is The Rev. Elder Hong Tan, Pastor of MCC London who represents both the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches' (UFMCC) Board of Elders and the General Council.

The Rev. Elder Hong Tan released a statement which says:

"UFMCC endorses and celebrates this courageous effort. We're very proud of Rev. Mel White, the former UFMCC Justice Minister and current MCCLA member. He and his delegation of 200 are sending a clear message to the world that peaceful and positive demonstrations, in the spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. can still get results even today."

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