For Immediate Release

MEDIA ALERT -- August 18, 2005
Jamie Rich (816) 931-0738 --

Spiritual Progressives & Gay Activists Gather for National Training Summit in the Heartland

(Kansas City, MO) Author, activist and scholar Paul Loeb, editor of the progressive guidebook, THE IMPOSSIBLE WILL TAKE A LITTLE WHILE, will be the featured presenter at the Fairness Project Summit to be held in Kansas City on October 21-23, 2005. The focus of this year's summit is "Strengthening the Bond: Progressive Values, Gay Rights and the Faith Community." The three-day summit brings together gay and straight activists, allies, students, ministers, lay leaders, and committed progressives from all walks of life grappling with the issues of fairness, equality and religious bigotry.

The Fairness Project Summit is being convened by Dr. Robert N. Minor, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. "Religious conservatives have used gay rights to divide and alienate secular and religious progressives," says Dr. Minor. "As I travel the country working with social justice groups and ecumenical organizations, people keep telling me how shell-shocked and hopeless they feel. The triple punch of the 2004 elections, the gay marriage amendment battles, and the rising tide of religious bigotry overtaking politics and public discourse, have left many bluer in all senses of the word."

Dr. Minor sees the 2005 Fairness Project Summit as an important step in taking back religious and political discourse: "Now more than ever, people in the heart of America need to know how to speak from our values," says Dr. Minor. "We need to understand that the right-wing is not compromising, and to stop apologizing or expecting them to do so."

There are four primary events in the 2005 Fairness Project Summit: a public lecture with Paul Loeb on Friday, October 21st; a full-day training conference followed by a documentary film showcase on Saturday, October 22nd; and, an ecumenical workshop service and brunch on Sunday, October 23rd.

Seattle-based scholar and activist Paul Loeb will start the three-day summit on Friday, October 21st with a 7:30pm presentation at Unity Temple on the Plaza based on his "citizen's guide to hope in a time of fear," THE IMPOSSIBLE WILL TAKE A LITTLE WHILE. His latest book profiles progressive heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Marian Wright Edelman, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn and Cornel West who, according to Loeb, "inspire people to keep on working to create a more humane world, no matter how difficult the journey."

"The voices I've gathered remind us history isn't some inevitable pendulum", says Loeb. "It's contingent on the hope that enables us to act. Change is rarely immediate, but the process of working to achieve it can itself be immensely rewarding. Even goals we think might be impossible — say, bringing about global justice — are no more so than the seemingly unreachable ones of the past, like ending slavery or getting women the vote. They may simply take a little while."

Loeb and Dr. Minor will team up with other regional presenters for a full-day training conference on Saturday, October 22nd at the Broadway Church. A fixture in midtown Kansas City for more than a century, the Broadway Church was expelled from the Southern Baptist convention for taking a progressive stance in support of gay rights. Minor says the training conference will offer participants the opportunity to "remember who we are and why we believe what we do, what unites the progressive movement, why progressives of different faiths should work together, why this has been so difficult until now, and what actions we can take to promote our shared values."

In addition to Loeb and Minor, other presenters at the Fairness Project's training conference include Lewis Diuguiud, Kansas City Star/Knight Ridder columnist; Executive Director Martin Rafanan and Program Director Cherisse Jackson of the St. Louis Chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice; and Brenda Bobo-Fischer and Mahrya Monson of HumanityWorks! A complete training conference schedule with all breakout sessions and presenters is available for download at

Also on Saturday, October 22nd, conference participants and the general public will have the opportunity to watch an original short film and documentary showcase held in conjunction with the summit. Filmmakers whose submitted works chronicle or inspire grassroots activism will compete for special awards voted on by the audience.
The Fairness Project Summit will conclude on Sunday, October 23rd with an ecumenical service on "Being Progressive from the Pulpit" beginning at 10:00am at the Broadway Church. Paul Smith who has guided the Broadway Church as pastor through forty years of social change will lead the service which will be followed by a community brunch in the church's fellowship hall. Everyone is welcomed.

For more information and a complete schedule of all 2005 Fairness Project Summit's events, times and directions, visit or call (816) 931-0738. Registration is available online, by mail or over the phone.
The complete registration fee which includes single admittance to all summit events is $89 in advance, $99 at the door.

Single summit events may be purchased separately as follows:
Friday, October 21st - 7:30pm
Paul Loeb Public Lecture at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 West 47th Street
$12 in advance, $15 at the door
Saturday, October 22nd - 9:00am to 3:00pm
Fairness Project Training Conference at Broadway Church, 40th Street at Broadway
$75 in advance, $85 at the door
Saturday, October 22nd - 7:30pm
Fairness Project Videographer's Showcase at Tivoli Theater in Westport
$7 in advance, $10 at the door