The the United Church of Christ announced that it will be the first religious denomination to be a major sponsor of the Gay Games when the event comes to Cleveland.
The Gay Games were created in 1982 to promote LGBT inclusion and excellence in sports. Founded by U.S. Olympian Dr. Tom Wadell, and held every four years; the Gay Games now includes 36 competitive sports, a festival village, cultural and social events, interfaith worship, and opening and closing ceremonies.
“Serving as a major sponsor of Gay Games 9 is a perfect fit because of the UCC’s longstanding commitment to social justice issues. We pride ourselves on being a bold voice for progressive Christianity and look forward to offering the UCC’s trademark ‘extravagant welcome’ to the athletes, volunteers and spectators.”
Rev. J. Bennett Guess, UCC’s national officer
As a major sponsor, the UCC will provide significant financial support for Gay Games 9, which is expected to bring more than 30,000 athletes and visitors to Cleveland and to generate more than $50 million for the local economy.
“This partnership allows the UCC to live out our values of diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance of all. We are proud to offer financial support, alongside a range of in-kind, volunteer and support services that are needed by Gay Games 9 organizers. I couldn’t be more proud of the UCC and the city of Cleveland for doing everything possible to ensure that this summer’s games will be a success.”
Ann Poston, the UCC’s director of communications.
The UCC’s sponsorship of Gay Games 9 adds another ‘first’ to the organisation’s long list of precedent-setting accolades. The church was the first mainline denomination to affirm equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, and the first to ordain an openly-gay man. The UCC was also the first denomination to ordain a woman, the first predominately white denomination to ordain an African American, and the first mainline religious group to vote to move toward divestment from fossil fuel companies as a strategy to combat climate change.
“We’re so appreciative to have the backing of the United Church of Christ and other members of the faith community. The UCC’s sponsorship of the 2014 Gay Games on a national level amplifies their strong commitment to inclusion on and off the playing fields. Our partnership serves to illustrate the open and affirming atmosphere participants will experience when visitingCleveland and Akron.”
Tom Nobbe, executive director of Gay Games 9.