A student-led organization is looking to dispel the viewpoint that the LGBTQ community and Christianity are incompatible.
Originally formed in 1990, Sacred Worth strives to create a safe environment for LGBTQ students in the church. Over the years, the group—originally named Divinity Students for Gay and Lesbian Concerns—has hosted a variety of events on campus to raise awareness about their cause.
Before Amendment One was passed, the group held panel discussions and organized drives for people to vote against the Amendment. The organization has also hosted film screenings and discussions and art installations featuring LGBTQ saints and martyrs.
“The group represents something that’s foreign to a lot of people. We can lend our voices and experiences, make things personal, challenge doctrines or beliefs just through sharing our lives in classes and studies with one another,” said Justin Davis, one of the four co-leaders of the group and student at the Divinity School.
The name Sacred Worth was inspired by a statement in the United Methodist Book of Discipline about all persons being created with sacred worth, said Lynda Berg, a co-leader of the group and student at the Divinity School.
Although the organization has been a facet of the University for over two decades, its presence was not always readily accepted.
“When the group was first formed in the 1990s, it was a real struggle. They had to go up against a lot of opposition,” Berg said. “But I think the Divinity School has come a long way since then and no one will question our ability to be here now.”
Sophomore Daniel Kort, president of Blue Devil’s United, said Sacred Worth’s presence on campus is invaluable and ensures that the LGBTQ community is represented across all facets of the University.
Berg echoed this sentiment, noting that the group offers pertinent information for LGBTQ students who may feel that they do not belong at church.
“A lot of LGBT Christians have walked away from their faith because how the church has treated them, or they felt that they have to choose one or the other, which is heartbreaking,” she said.
Amy Hall, associate professor of Christian ethics at the Divinity School, is one of the faculty allies of the group and believes that it is possible to be Christian and a member or supporter of the LGBTQ community.
“It does come as a surprise to some folks that people at the Divinity school are allies,” said Hall. “As a teacher at Duke Divinity School, I’ve had some very gifted ministers and students come through who belong to the LGBT group. I want to be able to tell people that God has gifted individuals who are gays and lesbians.”
Senior Raygan Baker, another co-leader of Sacred Worth, noted that the church is at its best when it’s inclusive of more voices, and needs to hear the voices of LGBTQ community.
“Our goal is to be inclusive about LGBTQ people is part of our role in serving the church,” said Baker. “We are not just serving these people, we think that the church needs these people.”
Correction: Lynda Berg and Justin Davis are both students at the Duke Divinity School, not undergraduates. The Chronicle regrets the error.