Voices of Butte: Pastor Sandy Van Zyl

Pastor Sandy Van Zyl of the United Congregational Church was kind enough to contribute her experience working for equality and affirmation of LGBTQ individuals in Butte for the LGBTQ: Voices of Butte project. Pastor Sandy and her husband have lived in Montana since 1992, working as Lutheran pastors in Great Falls. In 2011 they moved to Butte, where Pastor Sandy eventually found work with the United Congregational Church, an affiliate of the United Church of Christ. As an open and affirming church of all people regardless of orientation, the church supports the LGBTQ community by marching in Pride Parades, welcoming LGBTQ individuals into the church, participating in PFLAG events, and supporting the recently passed nondiscrimination ordinance in Butte, among other things. For Pastor Sandy in particular, faith was the motivating factor to become the public voice for her congregation during the city council hearings prior to the passage of the ordinance. http://buttepubliclibrary.info/wp-content/uploads/lgbtq_vanzyl_excerpt1.mp3   During the rally at the courthouse before the last vote on the nondiscrimination ordinance, Pastor Sandy referenced a quote used by Martin Luther King from a public speech delivered on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25, 1965: “…the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Pastor Sandy finds encouragement in this statement, because ultimately for her and the United Congregational Church, love wins. “It may not every day, but ultimately that’s what God’s about. Love wins.”   http://buttepubliclibrary.info/wp-content/uploads/lgbtq_vanzyl_excerpt2.mp3   The entire 33-minute interview will be available in the near future through the Montana Memory Project. If interested in contributing your story to this project, please...

Voices of Butte: John and Helen Cummings

Butte-Silver Bow Public Library recently conducted the first of several interviews for the LGBTQ: Voices of Butte oral history project. John and Helen Cummings have lived in Butte their entire lives. Married with four children, in August of 2004 one of their sons came out of the closet. Since then, they’ve devoted countless hours advancing societal affirmation of LGBTQ people. Seven years after their son’s disclosure, John and Helen organized–and still sustain–a Butte chapter of PFLAG, the United States’ largest organization for parents, families, friends, and allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ).   http://buttepubliclibrary.info/wp-content/uploads/lgbtq_cummings_excerpt2.mp3   The Cummings, along with many other community members, were instrumental in gaining support for the city’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance, which the Butte-Silverbow Council passed on Feb. 19, 2014. This ordinance prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. When asked what the community could do to further the efforts of equality and affirmation of LGBTQ people in Butte, the Cummings were remarkably positive about their ongoing efforts.   http://buttepubliclibrary.info/wp-content/uploads/lgbtq_cummings_excerpt.mp3   The entire 35-minute interview will be available in the near future through the Montana Memory Project. If interested in contributing your story to this project, please contact Marian at programming.bsbpl@gmail.com or 732-3361...