Metro Weekly

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Capital Pride 2007: Community Partners

JOHN DINAPOLI CALLS the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest a ”more light church.”

He explains: ”Presbyterians said that individual churches could choose to allow gay ministers to be in services if the congregation agreed, and those churches are considered ‘more light churches.”’

That’s one way to describe a church getting ready to dim the lights and get the music thumping for its OUT on the Dance Floor Ball on June 2, in addition to other monthly events.

Westminster is so accepting of the gay community that it doesn’t limit its inclusiveness to ”GLBTQ.” Instead, it includes every letter of the alphabet in a campaign called the Alphabet Initiative, led by DiNapoli.

”Presbyterians are big on complicated hierarchies and systems, but the Alphabet Initiative is our GLBT outreach. We stopped putting the letters down, and the Alphabet Initiative’s slogan is, ‘Many letters, one alphabet.’ The idea is that we don’t really care which one of those you are.”

DiNapoli says it’s an idea that’s been in existence since 1983. At the time, says DiNapoli, ”we were the first church in Presbyterian community, around this region, to have an openly gay minister.”

If that weren’t enough reason to be proud, DiNapoli points out that it was in the basement of Westminster Presbyterian Church that a member launched Food & Friends, an organization that now prepares, packages and delivers food to more than 1,000 residents of metropolitan Washington who are living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other illnesses.

”Food & Friends has since grown and moved on, and we’re kind of reestablishing our commitment to the gay and lesbian community with this outreach for Pride Week,” he says, noting that the church is hosting the first TransPride Day, for transsexuals and transgender people, on June 3.

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