The 100 Revs will return to Mardi Gras this year with double the number of supporters ready to march for GLBT rights and mental health.
The group will further extend its efforts this year by hosting a two-day seminar on mental health issues for gay and lesbian people of faith.
Group spokesman Reverend Mike Hercock said this year’s entry could attract up to 100 marchers on the night. He has already received twice as many expressions of interest compared to the pre-parade period two years ago.
“A lot of churches are grappling with how to re-engage with the GLBTI community,” he told Southern Star.
“There’s been a lot of defensive statements that have come from the church, but individual churches and ministers are saying we need to re-identify our relationship to GLBTI people.”
Taking part in the 100 Revs marching entry is still risky. When the group participated two years ago a number of ministers registered their support by proxy, out of fear of retribution.
Two ministers, who have remained anonymous, were threatened with dismissal and disciplinary action for participating.
“There is still a level of criticism that we take for putting on the forum and marching,” Hercock said.
“It’s a big step for a lot of ministers. The perception that they are involved with, or condoning, anything that’s considered immoral can affect their reputation and opportunities.”
Still, more ministers, including a number who previously offered supported anonymously and a delegation from New Zealand, are defying that pressure.
Even more have registered interest in taking part in the two-day seminar to address difficulties with embracing gay and lesbian parishioners and to address mental health concerns.
“We realised last time that a lot of the perceptions around the GLBTQ community, and how to engage them, were based on fear and a lack of education,” Hercock said.
“We want to encourage people to move forward, especially ministers who would like to have a more compassionate response, but don’t know how to go about it.
“We are attempting to provide a bridge for people who are in a transition, so there will be many conservative people and proactive [people] in attendance.”
Ministers from most denominations, except Catholics, will attend. GLBT people who wish to attend some of the seminars are welcome.
info: For more information on 100 Revs, visit www.100revs.blogspot.com For information or to register for the two-day workshop, email email@example.com