Metropolitan Community Church founder and moderator the Rev. Troy Perry will be one of the featured speakers at WOW 2003, the largest Christian event ever to focus on welcoming people of all sexual orientations, Aug. 14-17 at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Witness Our Welcome” is an ecumenical gathering of sexually diverse and gender-inclusive Christians from the United States and Canada. The effort supports the full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and straight individuals in congregations and ministries, mostly within the tradition of mainline Protestant churches.
The theme for WOW 2003 is “God’s Deliverance is for All!” The Rev. Wanda Floyd, founding pastor of Imani MCC Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and Elder Marco Grimaldo of More Light Presbyterians are co-chairs of the WOW Coordinating and Planning Committee.
“WOW 2003 will be an exciting experience with inspirational worship services, provocative Bible studies and a wide range of helpful and relevant workshops,” Floyd said. The gathering also will feature musical and dramatic performances, exciting youth programs and other ways for participants to connect with one another.
Five plenary worship events will reflect a diversity of leadership and variety of faith traditions. Worship leaders and speakers will include Yvette Flunder, founding pastor of the City of Refuge Community Church in San Francisco; and Louise Rose, a motivational speaker, educator, composer and choral conductor in Victoria, British Columbia.
According to event organizers, daily breakfast bible studies and dialogues will feature some of the country’s most enlightened scholars and lecturers, including Presbyterian activist and writer Chris Glaser and Erin Swenson, co-founder and president of the Southern Association for Gender Education.
WOW 2003 opens Aug. 14 with registration and hospitality starting at noon; opening worship begins at 7pm. Breakfast bible studies and dialogues begin Aug. 15 at 7am, followed by morning worship at 8am. The day’s schedule also includes a plenary titled “Race, Racism and the Welcoming Movement,” as well as workshops and evening worship. Denominational and special-interest group meetings, as well as workshops and evening entertainment, will highlight Aug. 16. WOW 2003 closes with morning worship on Aug. 17.
Registration is $345 for adults, $190 for youth/students and low-income individuals and $100 for children 12 and under. The fee includes participation in all four days of activities and breakfast and lunch on Aug. 15 and Aug. 16, dinner on Aug. 16 and breakfast Aug. 17.
WOW is part of the “Welcoming Church movement,” a network of Christian communities that publicly affirm the full participation of all people regardless of sexual orientation.