From March 15 through 17, 2012, LGBT-affirming Catholic organization New Ways Ministry will hold their seventh annual symposium, this year titled “From Water to Wine: Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships.” Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in discussions and group sessions, as well as a daylong retreat. New Ways Ministry’s website expands on the reasons this symposium is necessary:
Relationships are at the heart of lesbian/gay ministry in the Catholic Church. Many types of relationships impact this ministry: within families, within parish communities, with the institutional structures of Catholicism, with friends, with society, with one's conscience, with God.
Rooted in our Catholic faith, we believe that the power of relationship is the power to transform people and structures. As the Gospel story of the wedding miracle at Cana tells us, when Jesus enters into our relationships, they are transformed from ordinary into miraculous, from water to wine.
Notable Catholics are scheduled to speak at the symposium, including Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who recently signed his state’s marriage equality bill. Other speakers will include academics and Christian thinkers like Luke Timothy Johnson, who is a Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Patricia Beatty Jung, Professor of Christian Ethics at Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri. Professor Johnson is the author of numerous books and articles and has made the cover of Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. Professor Jung is the author of Heterosexism: An Ethical Challenge and Sexual Diversity and Catholicism: Toward the Development of Moral Theology. Also speaking will be Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and the eldest daughter of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. She is a devoted Catholic and the author of Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way.
The symposium will be held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. Registration is still open and there are discounts for young adults (under 30 years old) who wish to attend. Attendees can choose to participate in several or all of the events.
New Ways Ministry was founded in 1977 by Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent as an education ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT Catholics. Sister Gramick recently testified in support of marriage equality in Maryland and Francis DeBernardo, the current executive director, has written about LGBT acceptance within the Roman Catholic Church. New Ways Ministry is a member of Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic organizations that support the full inclusion of LGBT people within the Catholic Church.
GLAAD encourages anyone in the Baltimore area to attend From Water to Wine if possible and commends New Ways Ministry for their ongoing advocacy on behalf of LGBT Catholics.