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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Shower of Stoles rains

    The Campus Christian Center is exhibiting “”The Shower of Stoles,”” a collection of liturgical stoles that share stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people involved in the leadership of their church.

    Many of these stories, from 24 denominations in five countries, share themes: some, for example, are about an LGBT person who was closeted and had to leave for a more accepting congregation. According to the stoles, while many LGBT people served in the church for years and never came out, many others did come out and were ostracized.

    “”The Shower of Stoles”” was first displayed in Albuquerque, N.M., in 1996 at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. The collection is displayed in hundreds of locations throughout the year. Each stole has a story of an LGBT person in their community that has been sent in by the people themselves or by their family or friends. About a third of these stoles have only the name of the church and not the individual.

    The person behind bringing the exhibit to the UA was Ben Larson-Wolbrink, the minister for the Presbyterian Campus Ministry. Other ministers from the Episcopal Campus Ministries, Methodist Campus Ministries and Lutheran Campus Ministries were enthusiastic about the idea, as well.

    “”Our media is filled with one side of the story, as if all Christians were opposed to people who are LGBT – that it’s sinful, and that its not appropriate. And we wanted to let the campus know that not all Christians feel that way,”” he said.

    “”I wanted to let LGBT folks know that the church doesn’t have to be a hostile place. That they can be welcomed for who they are and have opportunities for leadership.””

    Larson-Wolbrink said the public reaction to the stoles has been very positive in general.

    “”People have told me that it’s been pretty powerful to hear about these stories,”” he said.

    “”This has been an issue that had been a controversy in our denomination and with others for the last 30 years. And I think people are starting to get weary of it in the church and putting it on the backburner. We just want to show that people are welcome in a faith community.””

    Larson-Wolbrink said that though the Christian community might have slightly different perspectives and “”policies”” about welcoming the gay and lesbian population, depending on the individual and the denomination, he hopes this collection shows a broad, human-based side of the issue.

    “”Each of the stoles has the story of the person,”” Larson-Wolbrink said. “”We celebrate these people. These types of issues become more ideological, less about people. And what I really want is the human stories to come out. Try to get a sense of where they’re coming from. It’s the whole ‘walk-a-mile-in-your-brother’s-shoes’ kind of thing.””

    Today is the last day to see the exhibit. The Campus Christian Center is located at 715 N. Park Ave., and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

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