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Archive for the ‘MCC News’ Category


The MCC Office of Emerging Ministries is charged with (1) concerns related to diversity and inclusion within MCC and (2) increasing MCC’s cross-cultural competencies so that our churches and global movement can be better equipped to minister in a culturally-diverse world. International Advisory Councils have been formed to give voice and visibility to the particular concerns, perspectives, and needs that are shared by certain non-dominant groups within MCC.

Purpose and Function

Advisory Councils do not have legal or fiduciary obligations, yet their advisory role is an integral and highly-valued function and will add great value to our movement as a whole. The Advisory Councils will function as “internal think-tanks.” They are not activist, support, or advocacy groups. The primary focus of their attention is on “getting our own MCC house in order.”

The Councils will:

  • Serve as consultants to the Senior Leadership Team, MCC staff, and the Governing Board on the potential impact of MCC programs, polices, and practices on non-dominant groups within MCC;
  • Recommend resources and programming that will build the capacity of our churches to become not only more diverse but also more inclusive faith communities; and
  • Propose strategies that might lead to greater diversity and inclusivity in our churches and among MCC leadership.

Composition of the Advisory Councils

Members of each Advisory Council have been appointed by Rev. Elder Darlene Garner (Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries) to serve for a two-year period. To learn more about each of the Advisors, please click on the name of each Advisory Council below.

Advisory Councils

Young Adults
(under 35 years of age)

Katie Hotze Wilton, MDiv (Program Officer)
Kedric Brown
Dr. Mark Dalgleish
Sabrina Diz
Rev. Brian Hutchison
Adam Lopez
Aaron Smith

Older Adults
(over 50 years of age)

Dr. Imani Woody-Macko, (Program Officer)
Annette Beall
Lydya Chapman
Robert Collins
Alan Dismore
Richard Henry
Deb Kassien
Rev. Elder Freda Smith
Rev. Dr. Danny Spears

People of African Descent

Rev. Candy Holmes, (Program Officer)
Rev. Brendan Boone
Elisa Vega Burns
Lessie Henderson
Denise Junious
Rev. Roland Smith


Rev. Sharon  Ferguson, (Program Officer)
Rev. Houston Burnside
Brett Doig
Dr. Constance Kay
Rev. Mel Martinez
Rev. Edwin Yates

Trans*/Gender Non-conforming People

Angel Collie, (Program Officer)
Rev. Norma Gann
Miller Hoffman
Jake Kopmeier
Zach McCallum
Rev. Aaron Miller
Stacy Sandberg
Steve Sills
Rev. Mykal Slack
Julie Walsh


Rev. Jackie Carter, (Program Officer)
Marian Cavagnaro, M.Div., M.S., MASCP, MLS CM (ASCP) DLMCM
Lisa Kelson
Carmen Llanos
Rev. Dr. Joan Saniuk

Heterosexual Inclusion

Collen Folley, (Program Officer)
Rev. Mary Cantrell
Rev. Megan More
Andrew Smithers
Emily Worman


Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, (Program Officer)
Rafael Arellano-Barrera
Preben Bakbo Sloth
Georgia Lacy
Rev. Jeffery Jordan Pickett
Carl Krysa
Dr. David Williams

I ask that you hold each of the Advisory Councils and Advisors in your prayers as they hold up who we have been, bear witness to who we are today, and envision who we can be in the future.
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
Office of Emerging Ministries

Metropolitan Community Churches 2013 Awards

Kerry Brown Award for Distinguished Lay Leadership

This award is named after a pioneering lay leader, who, among many roles and offices she held, was a founder and mover of the pension plan for clergy in the U.S.

JUDE LITZENBERGER joined MCC San Diego (California, USA) in 1991 and has been a leader ever since. She led the Couples Group, the Social Justice Ministry, and has been an educator, advocate, lay delegate, and member of the Board of Directors. More recently she has been a member of the Stewardship Team. She has been involved with Justice Overcoming Boundaries and the San Diego Uptown Faith Community Service Center. She served on the Southwest District Committee, volunteered for her Region, and is now a Network Leader for the Southern California/Nevada Network. Jude served on MCC’s Judiciary Review Team and is now a member of the Judicial pool for MCC internationally. Jude is an outstanding and faithful lay leader and has supported pastors and other lay leaders in her many roles over the years.


Rev. John H. Hose Award for Dedicated and Faithful Service by a Clergy person in MCC

This award is named after one of the very first MCC clergy serving at MCC Los Angeles, California, (USA) who became part of the first Board of Elders, who served as Treasurer of MCC, and who contributed a great deal to MCC’s Statement of Faith.

REV. CANDY HOLMES serves MCC in a variety of ways as a clergy leader. She has been a key leader and organizer of the People of African Descent (PAD) Conference and the PAD movement on an ongoing basis. Candy currently serves as MCC’s Program Coordinator for the People of African Descent program. She also serves the Moderator as the official liaison to The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and assists with special events, MCC/Fellowship conferences and joint projects, in addition to major roles at General Conferences. She has a preaching and healing ministry that she was encouraged to pursue by the late Rev. Elder Jeri Ann Harvey. Candy works for Marriage Equality through MCC’s Public Policy Team and is a member of the Leadership Advisory Council for the National Black Justice Coalition. Candy is a co-founder and spokesperson for – a campaign to counter the “divide and conquer“ strategies used to create a wedge between the LGBT community and Black America. Candy has done all of this as a volunteer of MCC, while also being out in her job with the U. S. Federal Government, speaking with U. S. President Obama, and testifying before Congress about equal rights for LGBT federal employees. With the success of the Marriage Equality battle in Maryland (USA) in 2012, Rev. Candy Holmes, as the key spokesperson, has changed history!


Purple Grass Award

This award is named for a sermon still preached by Rev. Elder Freda Smith, the first woman ordained in MCC and elected an Elder. It is given to persons who have a passion for Evangelism and who share the vision and message of MCC in creative and innovative ways.

REV. BOON LIN NGEO is a clergy person on staff at MCC New York (USA) and also a well-known author in his home country of Malaysia and all over Asia. He has written about LGBT rights, religion and MCC, and he has traveled all over Asia for many years helping LGBT Christians and activists understand the message and ministry of MCC. Boon holds spiritual training retreats in China and is instrumental in founding gay Christian fellowships in Beijing, Xiamen, and Chengdu (all in China), in addition to an MCC church in Kuala Lumpur. Boon led a press conference in Hong Kong in 2012 for openly LGBT and affirming pastors, and was the first public figure to have a gay wedding reception in Malaysia. The event was widely reported by the media in Asia, as well as by CNN and the New York Times. Boon does this work largely as a volunteer with the support of MCC New York and the Global Justice Institute, and now with MCC’s Office of Emerging Ministries.


New Church Start Awards

REV. DR. TONY THIEMAN-SOMORA and Heartland MCC, a family-size church in Springfield, Illinois (USA), are carrying the message of MCC to new cities in the central part of the state. They have created three emerging ministry sites that are serving the cities of Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, and Jacksonville. During the time they have been expanding their sense of mission, the Heartland Church in Springfield has grown. Tony is paid parttime, and the church has been able to increase his hours as their reach has expanded.

CÉLIO CAMARGO is the Interim Lay Pastor of ICM Maringá / PR in Brazil. He has proven his ability to be a very effective pastoral leader, as well as a champion for social justice. One of Célio’s major accomplishments has been to establish the “Unconditional Love Housing Center” for homeless youth. It is his hope that he will be able to provide life skills training to these young people so that they are empowered to take care of themselves when they leave the Center. The ministry is recognized in the LGBTQIA community and also the larger regional community. This is evidenced by the attention and praise the Catholic Archbishop has bestowed on Célio and the church, an important connection in Brazil! Célio repeatedly shares the message of the radically inclusive gospel of Jesus to all who will listen. On several occasions, he has been sought out by the media to speak out on the issues impacting the LGBTQIA community. Célio and the ministry of the church are held with deep respect and high esteem as they offer and witness to the transformation in the spiritual lives of the whole community.


Ed Paul Award for Leadership in Transitional Ministry

REV. JIM LYNCH celebrated twenty-five years in ministry in 2012. During that time, he served churches in Florida, Illinois, and Michigan. In the aftermath of a tragic situation in Michigan last year, culminating in the death of the long-time pastor of MCC Detroit, Jim stepped in and has done a wonderful job in connecting the church to MCC resources and offers of assistance from many places. Jim has been a faithful and wise interim pastor and has helped MCC Detroit discover ways to deal with the grief, while looking forward in faith, in this — their 40th year. Jim has used the skills of a lifetime of MCC pastoring to help a church that has a long, proud history in Michigan to recover and to prepare to face the future with hope.


Distinguished Service Award

REV. DEB DYSERT receives the Distinguished Service Award for her pastoral leadership as associate pastor at MCC Detroit over the years and especially in this last, very challenging year. MCC Leadership wants to acknowledge that Deb, who also teaches full-time for a living, has offered outstanding pastoral, educational, and preaching support to MCC Detroit, along with Rev. Jim Lynch and lay and other clergy leaders. Deb has also served Divine Peace MCC, in Pontiac, Michigan (USA), as pastor and has offered pastoral care to churches and pastors over many years of ministry.


Young Adult Leadership Award

This award was first given at General Conference in Acapulco (Mexico) in 2010. This year MCC Leadership awards two young adults who have made a difference.
REV. WILKIN LARA is the first homegrown pastor of ICM Santo Domingo who trained in a Catholic Seminary and was mentored by Rev. Tania Guzman. Under Wilkin’s leadership, the church has moved into its own space in old town Santo Domingo and hosts many community groups, including the first PFLAG. In addition, Wilkin was the leader in ICM Santo Domingo’s efforts on three relief trips to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. The church he pastors has a large Haitian community, and that work is ongoing. Also, this year, ICM Santo Domingo has begun to reach out to a new MCC community forming in Santiago. They have a passion to be the “Mother Church” for MCC on the island of Hispanola.

Since the beginning of the CRAVE young adult movement in Australia, NATASHA HOLMES has been part of leading worship. She is a gifted musician with dozens of her own compositions as a young, contemporary Christian artist. She has worked with other young adults to continue exploring strategies for reaching young adults for MCC all over the world. Natasha has participated in MCC Conferences and has worked hard to find a way to build a repository for music that has been and will continue to be created by MCC young adult musicians. Additionally, Natasha served as a Resident Artist at Resurrection MCC in Houston (Texas, USA) for three months, where she provided oversight for the music ministry and recruited young adults to the music program. Natasha is currently associated with LifeJourney Press in Indianapolis (Indiana, USA) to make her music available to all. She also sponsors a website that features her music, as well as that of other artists.

Merry Christmas from Metropolitan Community Churches


Half dozen states next in marriage fight

gay news,Washington Blade,gay marriage,same sex marriage

Maryland, Maine and Washington joined Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont, New York and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage this past election day. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — After Election Day, when Maryland, Maine and Washington became the first three states to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box, advocates of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples are eyeing Illinois, Delaware, Rhode Island and New Jersey as the next battlegrounds on the matter.

Read full article at the Washington Blade

The Next Chapter in LGBT Justice: A Faith Perspective – featuring Bishop Yvette Flunder & Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson


Post-Election Panel Discussion

The Next Chapter in LGBT Justice:

A Faith Perspective

Thursday, November 15, 2012, 7pm

U.S. Capitol Visitors Center

Room HVC-215

murphman72's Next Chapter in LGBT Justice-  A Faith Perspective album on Photobucket


The panel will examine the 2012 Elections for lessons learned about the future of LGBT justice and opportunities to collaborate with faith leaders and to integrate faith groups. The panel seeks to offer a more viable alternative to the familiar media frame that has conservative religious denominations and organizations on one side and the secular gay rights activists and organizations on the other side. “Gays vs God.” That frame assumes that there are no progressive people of faith committed to the full equality and inclusion of LGBTQ people or that LGBT rights groups place no value on communities of faith. Progressive people of faith, who have been active in the push for human rights for LGBT people, bring a wealth of experience to the cause of justice and an affirming religious message of radical inclusion and beloved community. A more robust partnership between these progressive religious voices and the LGBT rights community can serve as a powerful rejection of the “gays vs. God” frame and broaden the dialogue about civil rights for LGBT people beyond the current assumption that all religious voices are anti-gay. We hope for a lively discussion that, though rooted in the work that led up to Tuesday’s election, will serve as guidepost for the future.



Opening Remarks by The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton (Delegate-Washington, DC)



Rev. Cedric Harmon (Co-Director, Many Voices)



Bishop Yvette Flunder (Fellowship of Affirming Ministries)

Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson (Metropolitan Community Churches)

David Stacy (Deputy Legislative Director, Human Rights Campaign)

Sarah Dreier (International Affairs Director, Episcopal Church USA and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

Rev. Dennis Wiley (Co-Pastor, Covenant Baptist UCC Church)

Sharon Lettman Hicks (Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition)

Rachel Laser (Deputy Director, Religious Action Center for Reformed Judaism)



Please do come and join us, invite a friend, and forward to your networks.  This important conversation should be witnessed by all.

Metropolitan Community Church Confirms Removal of Filipino Pastor

From the Office of the Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
For Immediate Release: 12 October 2012

Metropolitan Community Church Confirms Removal of Filipino Pastor 

Officials of Metropolitan Community Churches released a decision on a request for an appeal which confirmed the removal of Ceejay Agbayani from being pastor of MCC Quezon City and de facto resignation of his credentials as an MCC clergy person.

After a series of meetings in the Philippines, Mr. Agbayani decided not to follow the recommendations of the supervising elder, which set in motion his removal from his position as pastor of MCC Quezon City and the de facto relinquishment of his credentials as MCC clergy.

The decision to confirm his relinquishment of his clergy credentials was based on the related guideline in the Metropolitan Community Churches bylaws, which states that when circumstances require it, an Elder “shall have the authority to interface with that church, to take appropriate measures.”


Media contact: Jason O’Neill, Communications Coordinator,

National Religious Leaders Support SB 1172


September 18, 2012

CONTACT: Steve Roth, OutThink Partners
PHONE: 323-951-0059 EMAIL:

CONTACT: Erik Olvera, National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Religious Leaders Support SB 1172 to End Dangerous Psychological Abuse of Minors

(San Francisco) A coalition of more than 30 national religious leaders gathered by Gaylesta, a therapy association for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Faith Work Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund and Convenor of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, have endorsed Senate Bill 1172, which will protect minors from damaging psychological abuse by licensed mental health professionals who falsely claim they can change their sexual orientation or gender expression.  Authored by Senator Ted Lieu, SB 1172 is co-sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Mental Health America of Northern California, Lambda Legal, and the Courage Campaign.

“We applaud these religious leaders for taking a stand against these harmful and discredited practices and helping to protect LGBT youth,”  said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president.”

“We see the heartbreaking effects of this deceptive and dangerous psychological abuse and we know that, as religious leaders, we must say no. No to injury, no to suffering, no to the pain it causes.  Our religious traditions call us to affirm the worth and dignity of all God’s children – these practices denigrate that which is sacred in all people and they must be stopped,” said Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Faith Work Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund and Convenor of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable.

“All children are created in the image of God, beloved just as they are. Subjecting minors to these potentially dangerous and discredited practices would be like handing your child a stone when they ask for bread,” said Patrick Evans, interim executive director of More Light Presbyterians. “It is important that people of faith speak out against these harmful methods and protect the vulnerable from coercive practices which declare them to be inferior in the sight of God. SB 1172 does exactly that.”

“In our years of ministering to LGBT Catholics, we have seen the devastation wrought by this damaging psychological abuse, and know the years of legitimate therapy, prayer and reflection required to return victims to a healthy, whole identity,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, an LGBT Catholic organization. “We know that we are blessed, whole, and healthy people, and SB 1172 removes the fear of psychological abuse for young people yearning for the freedom to love.”

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faith leaders who spoke in favor of SB 1172 see firsthand the deep psychological, emotional and spiritual effects of the damaging attempts to change the orientation of LGBT minors. They also feel that this is a moral issue, upon which they must take a firm stand, recognizing the intrinsic dignity and perfection of all LGBT youth.

The 32 religious organizations endorsing SB 1172 are:

The Taskforce’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable, an interfaith network of leaders from pro-LGBT faith, spiritual and religious organizations
A Wider Bridge, bridging the LGBTQ communities of Israel & North America
Believe Out Loud Network
Dignity USA (LGBT Catholics)
Dignity San Diego
Ecumenical Catholic Church
Faith in America
Glory to Glory Christian Church, United Church of Christ
Integrity USA (LGBT Episcopalians)
Institute for Judaism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
Keshet, LGBT Jewish Network
Many Voices: A Black Church Movement for Gay & Transgender Justice
First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta, GA
Metropolitan Community Church of the Valley
Metropolitan Community Church – New England Ministries
Metropolitan Community Church of Albuquerque
Metropolitan Community Church of Austin
Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge
Metropolitan Community Church of Central Texas
Metropolitan Community Church of Sarasota
Metropolitan Community Churches – Office of Church Life & Health
Metropolitan Community Churches – USA
Metropolitan Community Churches – Office of Emerging Ministries
More Light Presbyterians
Muslims for Progressive Values
New Ways Ministries (a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for LGBT Catholics)
Progressive Christians Uniting
Reconciling Ministries Network: United Methodists
Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation
Religious Institute Faithful Voices on Sexuality and Religion
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International

The faith leaders who have registered support for SB 1172 have sent letters to Governor Jerry Brown, urging him to sign the measure. Governor has until September 30th to sign or veto the bill or it will become law on January 1st, 2013.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 85 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Denomination Job Opening – Program Support/Data Analyst

Program Support/Data Analyst for Metropolitan Community Churches

This position is responsible for ongoing analysis of tithe/membership information, obtained from a variety of sources, including tithe reports, annual reports, surveys, registration databases and demographic data. It involves development and preparation of information products for MCC staff and members. It requires the ability to analyze data from conceptualization through presentation of the data. It requires proficiency with analytical tools, knowledge of data analysis methodology, use of presentation software, strong communication skills and a strong commitment to and affinity for delivering the highest level of customer service. Additional duties of this position relate to posting information to the MCC website, and as such the position requires a basic level of skill with web content management systems and blogging software.

The description below covers the primary duties and skills required for success as Program Support Analyst/Data Analyst.

Primary duties

  • Accurately recording tithe and membership information
  • Analysis and reporting of tithe and membership data
  • Developing standardized reports and custom analysis using tithe and membership data
  • Posting documents to the appropriate place on the MCC website
  • Assist with MCC website maintenance through content management system (WordPress primarily).


Required skills:

  • Demonstrated experience and expertise with Excel
  • Demonstrated experience using advanced Excel features and techniques
  • Demonstrated experience in analysis and presentation of data required
  • Experience working with a variety of information systems and data files, including large and complex files: analyzing file structure, using and creating file layouts, transforming raw data into finished products
  • Ability to consult with data users to formulate analysis request parameters
  • Database application development and maintenance (e.g., church databases)
  • Excellent personal communication skills, both written and spoken
  • Ability to work independently, with experience working in a team environment
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Ability to use computer hardware and software
  • Ability to read, write, speak and understand English
  • Detail oriented
  • Creative
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office is required
  • Proficiency in WordPress or equivalent is strongly preferred
  • Proficiency in Constant Contact is a plus


Educational Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in relevant field
  • Coursework in statistics, data analysis, research methods or decision support
  • IT/website courses or subsequent training


Other Important Information

  • Full time, 37.5 hours, benefits eligible based on our Employee handbook.
  • Location:  Sarasota, Florida, USA
  • Relocation package is not available
  • Reports to: Barb Crabtree, Director of Operations
  • Response needed by August 24, 2012
  • If interested, please submit resume & cover letter to

Metropolitan Community Church Leader Responds to Arrest of Brandon Hamm, Volunteer MCC Pastor

From the Office of the Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
For Immediate Release: 6 July 2011

Metropolitan Community Church Leader Responds to
Arrest of Brandon Hamm, Volunteer MCC Pastor 

The Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church recently learned that Brandon Hamm, a volunteer minister, was arrested on 22 June 2012 on charges related to child pornography. Hamm was held, and on 26 June, charged with multiple felony counts of engaging in a lewd act with a minor through social media.

When the news reached The Peninsula MCC and leaders at the Metropolitan Community Churches, officials immediately followed pre-established procedures to respond to arrests or allegations by suspending Brandon Hamm’s license to be a minister within MCC until the investigation and legal proceedings are completed. All MCC ministers annually read and sign a code of conduct that explicitly prohibits “abuse or exploitation of minors.”

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, said, “Leaders, pastors and members of Metropolitan Community Churches are shocked by these allegations. We serve people across the world, and we are committed to creating safe sanctuary for all of our members and community participants. MCC leaders have taken appropriate initial actions and are monitoring developments. It is important to remember that an investigation is in process, and it is in the hands of police authorities. As always, we seek God’s guidance and pray for every person who is impacted.”


For contact: Ann Craig, MCC Media Coordinator .

Three Faith Groups with Global Reach Add Voices of Support for President Obama’s Affirmation of Marriage for All Couples



For Immediate Release: May 14, 2012

Ann Craig – MCC Communications

Jason O’Neill – MCC Communications

Three Faith Groups with Global Reach Add Voices of Support for President Obama’s Affirmation of Marriage for All Couples

Three organizations added their accolades to President Barack Obama for his affirmation of marriage for loving same-gender couples. The Global Justice Institute works in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America to support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families; the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries is a network of primarily African American congregations; and Metropolitan Community Churches has been performing marriages for same-gender couples for more than 40 years.

Metropolitan Community Churches
We are so proud of President Obama.  He listened to committed couples; he listened to his daughters whose friends have same gender parents and he listened to the message of love in the Bible. He understands that two-tiered systems are never equal and affirmed his support for marriage for all loving couples.  Through the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, President Obama heard faith leaders support marriage equality. He knows that pastors in the Metropolitan Community Churches around the world have performed thousands of marriages for loving same-gender couples for over forty years.

The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
We hope everyone who felt that somehow being a person of faith conflicts with being an advocate for equality will take to heart the words of President Obama and find the courage to pray and reflect on the meaning of believing in a God who is defined as love. As a network of primarily African American churches that support same-gender-loving people and their families, we know the importance of equality before the law.

Global Justice Institute
We will not give up until Marriage Equality is the law, not only in North Carolina, but all across the United States and even the globe.  President Obama’s evolution in thought and his courage in sharing his convictions give us all hope for the kind of changes globally that will guarantee freedom and equality for everyone.  It is this conviction that gives us hope for a future where the world will live in peace with its God-given diversity.