Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The LGBTQISA2ss+ Pride Activities, and Social Events Center of Elmira, NY.
The only Church in Central New York founded and fostered by the GLBTQSIA2ss+ community for 39 years. October 31, 2022 - 39th Anniversary now in our 40th year in Ministry.
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The following web site "Separate Is Not Equal" is from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  This is a multi-paged easy to read site with many historical photos.  This site is highly recommended.  To see it Click Here.

Dear Friends and Members of The Body of Christ and His Church,


Today February 1, 2019 is the anniversary of the protest of four men against the "whites-only" policy at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, NC in 1960.  It was brave non-violent acts of disobedience such as this against the unjust laws that sparked and energized the Civil Rights movement.  The struggle for liberty and justice for all is a struggle for the recognition and respect of the inherent equality and dignity of all persons.  There shouldn't be a "struggle" for these things anywhere in the world.  Dignity and equality are God-given expectations, qualities, status, and so on.  Only people attempt to take those gifts away from other people in a variety of power struggles that always lead to unjust ends.  


Ray Of Hope Church embraces and joins in the celebration of Black History Month during February each year.  Together we work as we each are able for the advancement of liberty and justice for all.  These principles are clearly expressed in our Statement Of Purpose.


Below is a description of the Greensboro Lunch Counter event from the web site for the National Museum of American History.  


Together we move forward in Christ.


Br. Benedict


from: http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/greensboro-lunch-counter


Greensboro Lunch Counter

Greensboro lunch counter

Racial segregation was still legal in the United States on February 1, 1960, when four African American college students sat down at this Woolworth counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Politely asking for service at this "whites only" counter, their request was refused. When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Their sit-in drew national attention and helped ignite a youth-led movement to challenge inequality throughout the South.

In Greensboro, hundreds of students, civil rights organizations, churches, and members of the community joined in a six-month-long protest. Their commitment ultimately led to the desegregation of the F. W. Woolworth lunch counter on July 25, 1960.

Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond were students enrolled at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College when they began their protest.

Protests such as this led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which finally outlawed racial segregation in public accommodations.

The closing of the Greensboro Woolworth's in 1993 presented Museum curators with the opportunity to acquire this historic artifact. After extensive negotiations with Woolworth's executives and representatives of the local community, a small section of the lunch counter was donated to the Smithsonian.


'The great emancipatory gains for human freedom have not been the result of orderly, institutional procedures but of disorderly, unpredicatable, spontaneous action cracking open the social order from below.' - anthropologist and political scientist James scott (source: http://www.carpediem.click/09/22.html)
Robb Bacon b. April 7, 1933 to d. December 23, 2018, one of the Founders of Ray Of Hope Church  was always very aware of the current events, in his neighborhood, in Central NY, and around the world.  Robb frequently sent us cards and cut out articles of interest especially when the content lined up with our Statement Of Purpose.  This card was sent to Veronica Floyd during the celebration of Black History Month.
The Smithsonian Channel has a great 46 minute documentary entitled MLK: The Assassination Tapes.  "Relive an unspeakable tragedy detailed with unforgettable images, videos, and recordings only recently discovered."  CLICK HERE TO VIEW
The Human Rights Campaign has a special feature: Breaking Barriers this Black History Month.  This is an excellent article with many links for further reading.  To visit the HRC web site and read this feature article CLICK HERE.
Here is an excellent short video produced by the Smithsonian Institute entitled: What You Never Knew About Harriet Tubman.  One of our nation's greatest heroes, Harriet Tubman led slaves north to freedom via secret paths and waterways, but her skills also made her a valuable military asset to the Union Army. (2:52).  Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849.  Harriet Tubman has upstate NY in her story including Ithaca and Auburn. To see this video CLICK HERE.

Ray Of Hope

Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.

is the original Church in Central New York for

ALL People, including but not limited to

persons who are or might be:

Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,



Intersex, Queer,

Asexual, Pansexual, Hetero-flexible. 

Anyone who is human!

Married, divorced, remarried, single,

and persons of all gender expressions.

Persons of any faith / religion or

no faith, no religion, or have no idea where to start with religion.

A spiritual home for those who are "spiritual but not religious."


the Church by us, for us, 4 U!

The Church made by you because

we  ARE  you!

Ray Of Hope Church was founded in 1983

and is serving Syracuse, Ithaca and Elmira New York.

We are in fact serving the world with live interactive worship services,

Bible enrichment sessions, and meetings

through SKYPE on the Internet.


We never held a vote to decide if we would be an INCLUSIVE church for you.


We are not an OPEN AND AFFIRMING church for you.






 church where you can attend as long as you blend in quietly and discretely.


THIS is the church where YOU belong.

Ray Of Hope Church is the church

by us, for us, and made by You.

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The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. NBJC's mission is to end racism, homophobia, and LGBTQ/SGL bias and stigma. As America's leading national Black LGBTQ/SGL civil rights organization focused on federal public policy, NBJC has accepted the charge to lead Black families in strengthening the bonds and bridging the gaps between the movements for racial justice and LGBTQ/SGL equality. To visit their elaborate web site CLICK HERE.
The Black AIDS Institute
Our mission is to stop the AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV.

We do this by interpreting public and private sector HIV policies, conducting trainings, offering technical assistance, disseminating information and providing advocacy mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.  To visit this great resource CLICK HERE.
GLAAD Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.  For more than 85 years, Americans have set aside time in February to recognize the many accomplishments and contributions of African Americans. Originally founded by Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week in 1926, Black History Month was officially exapanded to a month-long celebration in 1976 by President Gerald Ford to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

While the annual celebration has since expanded in reach to include festivals, public forums and celebrations across the country, far too often the contributions of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people are often left out of the picture. From civil rights leader Bayard Rustin to community advocate Mandy Carter to well-renowned inventor George Washington Carver, black LGBT people have enriched our nation and our lives.  To visit this amazing web site CLICK HERE.
READ THE OFFICIAL APOLOGY OF THE SBC FOR ITS ROLE IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF SLAVERY AND RACISM IN THE USA.  Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention
Atlanta, Georgia - 1995  Click Here.
The Summer of 1961 is remembered for the Freedom Riders movement, a student movement made up of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  These two groups staged nonviolent activates to test the new laws that said segregation in interstate public transportation and associated terminals was unconstitutional.  One of those people was Patricia Bryant, a 20-year-old Elmiran and EFA graduate.  Read her story of her experience here on the Chemung County Historical Society web site: Click here.
The Patricia Bryant story is just one of those profiled in the on-line exhibit The Color of Change. The exhibit looks at the 100-year history of the local branch of the NAACP.  To view the exhibit Click here.
Welcome to our Black History Month Section, Page 1  To read Page 2 Click here
Help us stay on line by making a tax deductable donation.
"The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. The NAACP is a c4 organization (contributions are not tax-deductible), and we have a partner c3 organizations known as NAACP Empowerment Programs (contributions are fully tax-deductible as allowed by the IRS). NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund - also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation's first civil and human rights law organization and shares our commitment to equal rights.
Click here or on the NAACP logo to visit the web site.

A Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2021
This February, during Black History Month, I call on the American people to honor the history and achievements of Black Americans and to reflect on the centuries of struggle that have brought us to this time of reckoning, redemption, and hope.  Read the full text on the White House website: Right Click Here.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 - October 24, 2005) was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has called her "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".  The picture and quote are from the Wikipedia article Rosa Louise McCauley Parks.  Read the entire article; Right Click Here.
On Saturday, February 13, 2021 House Manager Jamie Raskin was giving the closing remarks and rebuttal for the House of Representatives in their case for the Impeachment trial.  I thought it was very noteworthy that in this Black History Month Mr. Raskin made significant references to two outstanding Civil Rights greats who were African-Americans; Mr. Julian Bond and Mr. Bayard Rustin.  Both of these men would spend their entire adult lives working for liberty and justice for all.  Mr. Rustin would also be celebrated as a gay man who organized the original March On Washington with Dr. King.  To read the manuscript of the few paragraphs where these two men were celebrated in the hearing Right Click Here.
Pictured: Julian Bond with Bayard Rustin at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, in the article: In the Fire of Activism - Julian Bond's Life in Politics and Protest  9-24-20 by Robert Greene II in The Nation.  Right Click Here.  To read more about Bayard Rustin see our page 2.
ARTICLE: The impeachment managers reflect a diverse US - unlike the senators they seek to persuade
The nine Democratic prosecutors are men and women with multiple racial and religious identities, compared to a Republican caucus dominated by ageing white men.   ...  The impeachment managers - all of whom are lawyers - from the House of Representatives are led by Jamie Raskin, who is of Jewish heritage, and include Joaquin Castro, who is Latino, Ted Lieu, who is Asian American, and Joe Neguse and Stacey Plaskett, who are African American.

Neguse, whose parents came to the US as refugees from Eritrea four decades ago, is the first African American member of Congress in Colorado's history and, at 36, the youngest ever impeachment manager.

Plaskett is also making history as the first non-voting delegate to the House to be an impeachment manager. She represents the US Virgin Islands, a territory that does not have a vote in Congress, meaning that she was not permitted to vote for Trump's impeachment on the House floor.  READ THE FULL ARTICLE written by David Smity  IN THE GUARDIANRIGHT CLICK HERE.
Gospel Music's Revolutionary
Edwin Hawkins discusses the death of his brother, the controversy at Love Center Ministries, and his upcoming weeklong conference.
by Lee Hildebrand
Jun 17, 2014
"which had welcomed gays and lesbians since its inception, about their sexual orientations."

Edwin Hawkins on his younger brother, Walter Hawkins:
He played and sang while others did the preaching. They included Bishop E.E. Cleveland, at whose Ephesians Church of God in Christ on Alcatraz Avenue he recorded a hip, Latin-tinged choir arrangement of the 18th-century hymn "Oh Happy Day" that revolutionized African-American gospel music, became a pop hit, and made Hawkins an international star in 1969. Four years later, Hawkins helped his younger brother Walter - who had sung in the choir on "Oh Happy Day" and would become a major gospel music figure with his Love Center Choir's gospel-chart-topping 1975 album Love Alive - establish his own church, Love Center Ministries, at first in the living room of his parents' Oakland hills home, then in a storefront near Castlemont High School, and for the past 25 years in a former Oldsmobile dealership on International Boulevard not far from the family's old residence. The front of the two-story complex occupies an entire city block between 104th Avenue and what is now officially known as Walter Hawkins Way.

Walter Hawkins & Love Center Choir- Full Concert - 05/25/89 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bKYOui-H5s
Walter Hawkins & The Love Center Reunion Choir sing "Solid Rock" (Previously Unreleased) Friday Night of Love Alive 5 Recording 1997  youtube.com/watch?v=PHo5aDp890A

Read a great article on Wikipedia on Walter Hawkins.  Right Click Here.
(May 18, 1949 - July 11, 2010)

Walter Hawkins, a Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, composer and pastor from Oakland, died Sunday (July 11). He was 61.  READ THE FULL ARTICLE RIGHT CLICK HERE.
BOOK and PBS SERIES: The Black Church.  This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song.    Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the roots of African American religion beginning with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the extraordinary ways enslaved Africans preserved and adapted their faith practices from the brutality of slavery to emancipation.  https://www.pbs.org/video/the-black-church-episode1/?continuousplayautoplay=true

Book is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Church-This-Story-Song-ebook/dp/B08H19NCCS/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+History+of+the+Black+Church+Henry+Louis+Gates&qid=1613857873&s=books&sr=1-1

SEXISM AND SEXUALITY: THE CHURCH'S DOUBLE BIND The Reverend Peter Gomes, a dear friend of mine, once remarked that the whole foundation of the Black Church was propped up by women and gay men, though the leadership of the church, he admitted, subjugated the former and was in denial about the latter. The issue of gender equality-or, more pointedly, gender inequality-had been an open wound for the Black Church since its inception. Change has been slow, but there is movement. The enrollment of Black women in seminary and divinity schools increased greatly in the 1980s, and Black women have risen to once unimaginable heights in the church, such as the appointment of Vashti Murphy McKenzie as a bishop in the AME Church in 2000. But a focus on leadership obscures the sexism Black women continue to face in their congregations. Amid the struggle over Black Power and Black theology, other internal frustrations burst to the surface in the early seventies. "The Black Church has been the place where so many of us have come to know a God of justice and a God of love," says Eboni Marshall Turman. "But it has simultaneously been a place that has wounded so many of us."4 Douglas struggles with the contradictory message that comes from many Black Church denominations. "How is it that a church that emerged out of a struggle for freedom would then indeed oppress its own members? If the Black Church is going to survive, it is going to have to be welcoming to the whole entire Black community, because otherwise, there's not going to be a church."

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. The Black Church (pp. 158-159). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

On the West Coast in particular, those who felt marginalized within their own churches boldly broke with tradition and developed righteous new ways to express their beliefs. In 1968, the Edwin Hawkins Singers from Oakland, California, debuted their gospel song "Oh Happy Day." The group was one of several Pentecostal choirs emerging in the late sixties to bring a youthful energy back to the church, but this song was a dramatic break from the past. It not only became an international hit, it also won a Grammy, and the choir members were treated like rock stars. But Pentecostal church leaders criticized the singers, branding the song's crossover success as too worldly to be properly religious. "I was so enthralled in the way that they presented the Gospel, Miss Shirley with her beautiful, regal-looking self," the gospel singer Yolanda Adams recalls, referring to the singer Shirley Miller. "And I'm like, oh, my gosh. This is what I can aspire to? And then to also look cool doing it." But what about the tension between Saturday night and Sunday morning? Adams minimizes the distinction. "Entertainment shouldn't be in the church? What do you think the preacher does? But when the church makes the indictment that you don't serve God anymore, it hurts." And sometimes that indictment can drive people away from the church. In 1972, building on the success of "Oh Happy Day," the Hawkins family opened a storefront church in Oakland. They called it Love Center. Unlike mainstream Pentecostal churches, Love Center adopted the Bay Area's counterculture approach to sexuality. Its choir and pews became a haven for gay and lesbian singers, among them the gospel musician Bishop Yvette Flunder, the daughter and granddaughter of Church of God in Christ pastors. Flunder felt deeply alienated from the Pentecostal church in which she'd been raised. "I came from the church that was just-don't. You just don't," she says. "I never had to leave church to be a same-gender-loving woman. I didn't have to leave the church of my birth, because that's where I learned that I was a same-gender-loving woman. What made me an exile was because I decided to tell the truth. There's an awful price to pay. There are people who are very afraid. They're afraid to lose their churches. They're afraid to lose their positions. They don't want to harm their parents and their legacy. And so they remain deeply closeted." Flunder left the Church of God in Christ and focused less on religion and more on her work with older people and HIV-positive people. She recalls with laughter the call she received from Love Center, asking her to fill in for Hawkins while he was away: "I said yes with my mouth, but my whole body said no. But I had said yes with my mouth by that time. I hung up the phone. I had to go find my Bible. I didn't know where it was. And I had my Bible. I rolled myself a joint and got a glass of red wine. So I want you to get that in your mind: a Bible, a joint, and a glass of red wine! I preached my own self free that day and joined the church." What had been repressed would find a novel way to be expressed, when sacred, churchy vocals fused with secular club rhythms to form disco's gay anthems. The genre's divas, like Sylvester, anointed the "Queen of Disco" in the late 1970s, had all been raised in the church. "Sylvester, who was raised in the Church of God in Christ, just like me," Flunder says, "had that tune, had those licks, had that sound, had that vibe"-and also that alienation from the church. "He said to me that the same people that turned me out turned him out. I'll never forget it. And I told him, I said, there's a lot of people that have that testimony. We didn't have to leave church to be sexualized. The truth of the matter is that sometimes the same atmosphere that sexualized you is the atmosphere that puts you out." Or, as West bluntly states, "Homophobia and transphobia are as evil as white supremacy, but most Black churches have not embraced this prophetic witness." The arrival of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s led to a range of disappointing responses from the Black religious community. Many initially dismissed the disease as a plague that affected only gay white men. Even as it ravaged the Black community, the AME Church maintained that the disease was contracted through sinful acts and promoted abstinence as its official position on the crisis.

From Wikipedia.org Edwin Reuben Hawkins (August 19, 1943 - January 15, 2018) was an American gospel musician, pianist, choir master, composer, and arranger. He was one of the originators of the urban contemporary gospel sound. He (as leader of the Edwin Hawkins Singers) was probably best known for his arrangement of "Oh Happy Day" (1968-69), which was included on the "Songs of the Century" list. The Edwin Hawkins Singers made a second foray into the charts exactly one year later, backing folk singer Melanie on "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)".  Continue reading this article, Right Click Here.