Several area churches and organizations are sponsoring the "Sexual Identity and Spirituality Conference" at the University of Central Oklahoma Friday and Saturday.
A UCO student organization, Gay Alliance for Tolerance and Equality, is co-sponsoring the event.
The conference was originally named "Homosexuality and Scripture," but with their commitment to broadening the audience, the organizers opted for a more diverse, more interfaith appeal.
The keynote speaker is Deborah Appler, associate professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Penn. According to her seminary bio, Appler's specialty is the "intersection of religion, gender and sexuality in the Hebrew Bible and how these texts and their interpretations impact the church." Appler also works on the Human Rights Campaign's "Out in Scripture," a Lenten resource.
Appler will speak 7 p.m. Friday in the Liberal Arts Building at UCO, and her sermon on Sunday morning at Church of the Open Arms will conclude the conference.
Kathy McCallie, senior pastor of Church of the Open Arms, issued the invitation to Appler before the conference was planned, but the organizers, including McCallie, decided to schedule the conference around the professor's visit.
Scott Jones, the senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope, a United Church of Christ congregation in Oklahoma City, said that some of the gay student organizations in the metro were trying to schedule a conference at the same time, so the two groups decided to work together.
Registration for the conference is $15. Conference details are available at the PFLAG OKC Web site, www.pflagokc.org, or by calling Church of the Open Arms, 525-9555. " Greg Horton