On February 27th, at the end of Black History Month, Pastor David Lewis-Peart and Reverend Chiedza Pasipanodya produced a service to celebrate the significant month through LGBT and feminist lenses and to bring up the ideas that were on their minds and in their hearts. Pasipanodya and Lewis-Peart are both trained New Thought ministers who head Sunset Service’s Toronto Fellowship. They describe themselves as a multi-faith gathering space. The fact that they defy what many LGBT people’s typical ideas of what religion teaches made Church Street’s 519 Community Centre a fitting location. Together with the talents of musical co-ordinator James Bailey, they put together What love Looks Like in Public: A Revival.
The service began with readings and rituals from Judaism, Islam, Native Canadians and more, and included music and dance through out, much of which was written by Bailey and members of his choir. An inclusive and nurturing space for all races and identities, What love Looks Like In Public had a common thread of activism that challenged traditional religious ideas at every turn. The Friday service was largely focussed on racial issues, as per the occasion. The name was taken from a quote by Dr.Cornell West, who said that “justice is what love looks like in public.”
Pasipanodya explains some of the Fellowship’s ideology and Bailey explains his original composition “Ase” below.
Thanks to funding awarded by the 519 Space for Change and the University of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Centre, Sunset Service was able to bring in Darnell Moore and Pastor Kevin Taylor, two thought leaders from Newark, New Jersey.
Darnell Moore is a theologist who has been published by the Huffington Post, Feminist Wire and Ebony Magazine. He acts as chair on multiple Newark LGBT organizations and has lectured at universities. When he spoke that night he discussed many topics including police violence against blacks and violence against cis and transgender women.
He spoke on the biblical story of Jericho in which the walls were brought down and the city conquered, challenged the traditional meaning of the story and applied his message to today’s world. He explains his thoughts to Skedline below.
Pastor Kevin Taylor of Unity Fellowship in Newark, New Jersey similarly subverted the biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three eunuchs who refused to bow to King Nebuchadnezzar. He interpreted them as gay men who wouldn’t change for society and related the lesson to present times. Taylor, who had a humorous approach to his sermon, describes his ideas on challenging religious messages below.
Find out more about Sunset Service’s events in Toronto on their website.
Also see Skedline’s news report on the event below for a quick overview.