By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com August 09 2014 6:18 AM ET
The United Church of Christ has become the first religious denomination to be a major sponsor of the Gay Games. The Church is a fourth-tier silver sponsor of Gay Games 9, which will be held in Cleveland beginning this weekend.
The self-designated “Church of Firsts” is a Christian community, and according to its website, “the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world. The UCC is a church… of extravagant welcome.”
The Gay Games were established in 1982, in an effort to promote LGBT inclusion and excellence in the field of athletics. They are open to anyone over the age of 18, regardless of athletic prowess, age, gender, race, or sexual orientation.
The UCC will also have two staffers in competition. Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries office in Washington, D.C., will run the 10-k. “There is so much I do in my work life that doesn't always have measurables,” she explains. “Working for social change, there are things that don't always come to fruition in a lifetime… but running a race gives me a sense of completion."
UCC Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer will compete in the 50- and 400-meter freestyle and the 200-meter breaststroke. He also plans to swim the 800-meter freestyle relay and the 200-meter medley relay. The multi-talented athlete will also enter the golf competition.
The Gay Games will take place from August 9-16.