The Soulforce Equality Ride has wrapped up, but I didn’t get a chance to post about one of the last stops on the journey —  conservative Christian Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. PrideSource:

Shortly before noon riders Matt Hill Comer and Stephen Krebs descended a grassy hill separating the public roadway and the University carrying a stepping stone which read, “Christ, Service, Love, Community.” Within seconds the riders were surrounded by police and met by the University’s President Rex Rogers. Both riders were arrested for trespassing, handcuffed and loaded into nearby cruisers. Along the street riders and their supporters sang “We Shall Overcome.”

Cornerstone alumni Amanda Waldron watched the arrests with amazement, choking back tears she said, “This is my school and I feel my name is connected to it. It is hard to see my University act this way, it’s confusing and sad.”

“To see my Administration act this way sets a bad example for all students and sends a very mixed message,” said Cornerstone senior Jennifer McKinstry. A social work major, McKinstry, who identifies as straight, stood vigil with the riders Sunday and Monday. “The stories these people have shared with me are amazing, especially the dynamic of mixing faith with this lifestyle. I have learned a lot. I just wish more students had been allowed to have these discussions.”

The story also received local news coverage (Grand Rapids, WOOD Channel 8). See the video after the flip…

Matt comments on the coverage over at his pad:

Ok? so, first off: There are just a few problems, obviously, with the news coverage from this NBC station. Firstly, the reporter obviously doesn’t know his journalistic “do’s and don’t’s,” especially when it comes to us gay folk. It isn’t “sexual preference” Mr. Center? look those standards up again; I know they say “sexual orientation.”

Also? I absolutely can’t stand that the reporter played right into the hands of Cornerstone’s Dr. Rex Rogers, making our direct action look like only a media stunt. For a reporter who didn’t even have enough responsibility to show up to the press conference, he has some big balls trying to assume what is happening right when he just happened to show up. The time of our direct action was set days in advance and was certainly not decided upon just because the big NBC truck decided to roll up (late for the press conference, mind you).

Our presence at Cornerstone was a strong one. Our attempt to walk onto campus, delivering a beautiful piece of artwork symbolizing “the Cornerstone” (i.e. Christ) was rejected by Cornerstone University. What harm would have come in letting us deliver the stone to the student body? What harm would have come in LGBT Christians speaking plainly, honestly and openly with others of our faith and others who share the same never-ending trust in Christ? Nothing.

Great job and kudos to all the Soulforce Equality Riders.

The next big national action for Soulforce is the The Ex-gay Survivors’ Conference on June 29-July 1, to be held on the University of California’s Irvine campus. It is a joint effort between Soulforce,, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center at the University of California, Irvine. Participants include Rev. Dr. Mel White, Peterson Toscano, Christine Bakke, Rev. Nancy Wilson, Jason Cianciotto, and Rev. Phil Lawson.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding