GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, will host a town hall conversation on issues of faith and equality on Thursday, March 18.

The group hopes to engage people of faith in LGBT equality advocacy and address ways to combat misleading information from the religious right about LGBT people and families. The event’s keynote speaker is Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre, a respected social ethicist and an associate professor at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colo. Additional panelists from the local community will include: Rev. Dr. Arnetta Beverly, St. Matthews United Methodist Church; Rabbi Fred Guttman, Temple Emanuel; and Rev. Susan Parker, Wake Forest Baptist Church.

“We’re working to empower people from across a spectrum of religious traditions to find and utilize their faithful voice for advocacy on behalf of LGBT inclusion, equality and fundamental fairness for all Americans,” said Harry Knox, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program , who served as moderator of the Town Hall program. “Our programming is helping people be transformed, enlightened and emboldened by their experiences, and equips them to pursue justice in both their faith and secular communities.”

“Christ calls us to love our LGBT neighbors as we love ourselves because they, too, are created in God’s image,” Rev. De La Torre stated. “Knowing and loving faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender disciples of Christ challenged me to read the bible from the perspective of those who are oppressed and to reject those learned religious attitudes which reinforce societal iniquities and injustices.”

The Rev. Susan Parker added, “I am more convinced than ever that the way forward to accomplish positive change for the LGBT community is for LGBT folks and their allies to focus on building relationships of trust and mutual understanding within local communities – this is the enduring way to affect justice; it is the Christian way.”

HRC partnered with several community organizations to promote the event, including: Bennett College – Belles Recognizing Individuality Diversity and Equality (B.R.I.D.E.); The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro; Equality North Carolina; Faith Action International House; Faith in America; Gay Straight Advocates For Education (G-SAFE); Guilford Green Foundation; HOLA-NC: Hispanic Organization of LGBT and Amigos of North Carolina/Organizacion LGBT de Amigos Hispanoparlantes de Carolina del Norte; The National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad, Inc. (NCCJ); NC A&T State University – Acceptance Without Exception (A.W.E.); University of North Carolina at Greensboro PRIDE!; Wake Forest University Gay-Straight Student Alliance; and Winston Salem State Gay-Straight Alliance.

The town hall will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, 617 N. Elm St. A reception begins at 5 p.m., followed by the 6 p.m. town hall program.