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Online Interfaith Memorial Service Will Honor Holidays, Mourn Losses

Vazquez Flunder Latz

Organized by HRC, the service will observe Easter and Passover while memorializing victims of the current pandemic.

Scheduled speakers include (from left) HRC Religion & Faith Program Director Michael Vazquez, Bishop Yvette Flunder, and Rabbi Michael Adam Latz.

At a time of year sacred to both Christians and Jews, and when many people may be mourning losses but large gatherings are taboo, the Human Rights Campaign is offering a way to come together virtually to observe the religious holidays and remember those lost in the COVID-19 pandemic.

HRC is hosting "Remaining Home in Faith: An Interfaith Memorial Service" today at noon Eastern time. It will be livestreamed via Zoom. (In case you missed it, it is now on YouTube; see below.)

"Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, hundreds of thousands of people have contracted the virus, and every community has been affected," reads a notice on HRC's website. "Marginalized communities -- including the LGBTQ community, Black communities and those at the intersection of these identities -- are facing unique challenges due to economic and health care disparities. As we mark two of the most important holidays in two major religions, Holy Week/Easter in Western Christianity and Passover in Judaism, many people are unable to celebrate with their families and friends, and may even be mourning the loss of friends and family members while in isolation. HRC's interfaith memorial service will bring the LGBTQ and faith communities together virtually at a time when many may feel alone."

Scheduled speakers are HRC President Alphonso David, HRC Religion & Faith Program Director Michael Vazquez, Bishop Yvette Flunder of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, and Senior Rabbi Michael Adam Latz of Shir Tikvah Congregation. Go here to register for the service.

This is the second virtual interfaith service hosted by HRC, after "Remaining Home in Faith: An Interfaith Prayer Service" was held March 21.

This year the organization launched a religion and faith program, Coming Home to Faith: A Search for Common Ground, which started with visits to Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia. This week, as part of the effort, David was interviewed by The Root about how the LGBTQ and faith communities can build common ground so that LGBTQ people can feel more welcome in religious spaces, particularly in the Black church.

"Many members of the queer community have difficulty engaging with places of worship because historically they have not been accepting of LGBTQ people," David said in the interview. He recalled that as a youth, attending Baptist services with his mother and Methodist services with his father, "I learned very early on that being gay was not accepted." That's something he and HRC are seeking to change, he said. Watch the full interview here.

Below, find video of the interfaith memorial service and another faith-related video posted by HRC Friday: Father James Martin, a Roman Catholic LGBTQ ally, discussing a meeting with Pope Francis and more.

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