Rev. Dr. Maurice Charles, Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago, is among the new board members.
CHICAGO — Pride in the Pews, a grassroots organization addressing the harms Black LGBTQ+ people experience through interactions in and with the church, welcomes four new board members, Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, adjunct professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, Rev. Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey, Alabama state director of the Human Rights Campaign, Kim Daily, lawyer and founder of The Qulture, and Rev. Dr. Maurice Charles, Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago.
“It is an honor to welcome our new board members to Pride in the Pews,” said Rev. Don Abram, founder and executive director of Pride in the Pews. “We are creating a reality where Black LGBTQ+ believers can cultivate holistic health and well-being inside of their relationships with the church and beyond. We are confident these folks will support us in achieving just that, and we look forward to their contributions as we continue to build bridges with faith leaders, organizers, advocates and movements around the nation.”
Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart brings a breadth of knowledge and experience. A Blackqueer daughter of Detroit, she is a minister, professor, and movement strategist. She is so grateful to be able to make a life doing the work she was made for — preaching, teaching, and plotting resistance to inhumane political, economic, and religious systems. Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart has worked as a faith organizer and director for POWER Interfaith, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement in the city of Philadelphia. She teaches emerging scholars of religion and theology at Villanova University, Arcadia University, and Harvard Divinity School.
“As more attention is given to the vulnerabilities of LGBTQ+ people in this political era, Pride in the Pews is in a league all its own,” said Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart. “By addressing Black LGBTQ+ wellbeing through the frame of religion as a social determinant of health, PITP’s impact will be thoroughly felt – in pews, pulpits, and the public square. I’m proud to be a member of the PITP board to support this exciting work.”
Bringing a powerful perspective that sits at the intersection of academia and spirituality, Rev. Dr. Maurice Charles currently serves as the dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago. Prior to his time at the University of Chicago, he served as associate dean for religious life at Stanford University. An alumnus of the University of Chicago Divinity School (MDiv, PhD), Maurice returned in 2019 to serve as the seventh dean, having previously served as Associate Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University and Dean for Spiritual Engagement at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“When I first read Don’s story in the Chicago Tribune, I reached out to him immediately because I wanted to support his nascent vision of dismantling the barriers that keep Black LGBTQ+ folks from flourishing–spiritually, mentally, and physically. Since then, Pride in the Pews has drawn together an impressive network of creative people committed to this cause.”
Rev. Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey is the first trans person of color to serve in a leadership role with Human Rights Campaign in the organization’s history. Bringing a valuable public health background, Carmarion worked in the field of Public Health and Education in Texas, managing both local and national prevention initiatives focusing on HIV/AIDS and other health disparities that impact marginalized communities.
Also joining the team is Kim Daily who brings a valuable perspective as an award-winning trial attorney, viral public-speaker, and founder of The Qulture, a nationwide community known as heaven on earth for queer Black women. As a former ministry leader and later-in-life lesbian, Kim is dedicated to helping queer people reconcile their faith and sexuality so they can walk in freedom.
Pride In the Pews is a grassroots organization addressing the harms Black LGBTQ+ people experience through their interactions in and with the church. Pride in the Pews is committed to building a reality where all Black LGBTQ+ communities can cultivate and maintain their holistic health and well-being in the church and beyond in ways that honor their humanity and faith.
Takara T. Pierce
Pride in the Pews
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.