After gay nightclub massacre, showing love to LGBT community a focus at Christian conference.
Second Place, In-Depth Reporting, Associated Church Press
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
ORLANDO, Fla. — Sally Gary couldn’t come to Orlando and fail to visit the site of the gay nightclub massacre where 49 people died.
The founder of CenterPeace, a Dallas-based ministry that provides support and resources for people who experience same-sex attraction, said she felt compelled to pay her respects.
“I can’t imagine being here and not paying homage to the brothers and sisters who lost their lives there,” said Gary, a member of the Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas.
Months before the Pulse nightclub attack, Gary accepted an invitation to speak at the Equip Conference in Orlando — a biennial event formerly known as the Spiritual Growth Workshop.
The nation’s worst mass shooting — in which 53 people were wounded in addition to those killed — provided “a very in-your-face reminder” of the urgency for churches to become more open and less fearful in discussing LGBT issues, Gary said.
Her message to the standing-room-only crowds that filled her three sessions: The person experiencing same-sex attraction isn’t a guy in a rainbow-colored bikini marching in a gay pride parade.
“It’s me,” said Gary, who grew up in the Tenth and Broad Street Church of Christ in Wichita Falls, Texas, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Abilene Christian University.
This is the first of a three-part series in The Christian Chronicle.