Religious leaders and thirty community members gathered Sunday afternoon to share a short ceremony outside the University United Methodist Church at 829 Camino del Sur to declare Isla Vista a “safe zone” for the LGBTQ community.
The event’s purpose, according to its description, was to “apologize to the LGBTQ community for derogatory remarks made by an outside group during worship service and raise awareness to still existing homophobia in Isla Vista.” As KCLU first reported, a separate congregation had recently invited a speaker who made homophobic comments at I.V.’s United Methodist Church.
Leading the event was human rights activist Reverend Frank Schaefer, who in 2013 was defrocked from a Pennsylvanian church for conducting a same-sex marriage for his son but reinstated in 2014 to I.V.’s United Methodist Church. Rev. Dr. Mark Richardson of Santa Barbara’s First United Methodist Church spoke about the Christian value of love he learned as a child. “God so loved the world,” he said, “love is not a zero-sum game. There is no place in the church for homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of sexual prejudice.“
Church members expressed appreciation for the congregation’s open arms as Rev. Schaefer hoisted a rainbow flag in front of the building to declare the church a safe zone for all people. “We shall overcome,” rang the singing voices of the rally, in prayer for “the peace and justice of Isla Vista.”