More than a year ago, Moorestown’s First United Methodist Church opened its doors to the LGBTQ community by becoming a “Reconciling Congregation.” On Saturday, Nov. 16, FUMC is practicing what they preach when Brotherly Love, an ensemble from the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus Ensemble, will perform in their sanctuary.
Church officials are hoping the performance sparks conversation and helps spread their message of welcome. For that reason, they’re calling the evening a Community Engagement Concert.
In 2019, FUMC became part of the Reconciling Ministry Network, a national network of Methodists committed to the inclusion of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Lisa Kulp, the chair of the church’s Reconciling Committee, said since becoming a reconciling congregation, church members are constantly talking about what programs and support they can provide. The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus had already been partnering with other local Methodist churches when they reached out to FUMC about hosting a performance. Kulp said their organization’s values aligned perfectly with their own.
Joe Buches, artistic director and conductor of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, said their mission is to entertain audiences, support communities and foster acceptance. He said many of the local Methodist Churches have proven to be welcoming partners and have helped them shine a light of visibility on the LBGTQ community.
Kulp said the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus celebrates differences and inspires change, and as a church, they want to celebrate the full array of human experiences.
“We’re all different; we’re all diverse people,” Kulp said. “Inspiring change is the bottom line. That’s why we’re reconciling, because we want to change. We want to be a voice for change just like the choir.”
FUMC’s Associate Pastor Hey Young Horton said their church is here to share the message that God loves the world, and they need do that not only with words, but with actions. She said welcoming a diverse group into their sanctuary to share their gifts is a perfect example of this.
Horton said she hopes that this performance helps underscore to the Moorestown community and beyond that FUMC is a place where people of any background, race, sexual orientation or gender can come and not have to fear judgment. She said they’re working hard every day to ensure the church is a safe space for all.
Kulp said anyone who attends is in a for a night of great vocal performances and uplifting music. The chorus is currently celebrating its 38th year in existence and has performed in venues such as the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the Academy of Music, Prince Theater and Arden Theater. The 16-member ensemble Brotherly Love performing on Nov. 16 will sing a variety of music, including pop, opera, folk and Broadway hits. Kulp said her hope is that attendees may see something new that may open their eyes to something unexpected, which Buches said is quite typical of their church performances.
“These types of events, you always get people who have never heard of the chorus, and then they start going to our concerts,” Buches said.
Horton said while the United Methodist Church remains unsettled about whether to recognize the LGBTQ community at a global level, Moorestown’s FUMC remains steadfast in its commitment to welcoming them.
“We will do our part,” Horton said. “We just want to make sure our doors are open to everybody.”
The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 in the sanctuary of Moorestown’s First United Methodist Church. The event is free for anyone to attend, but there will be a free-will offering for anyone who wishes to contribute.