Church lends facilities for resource center

Thursday, August 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:16 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Carol Snively dreams of a resource center for Columbia’s gay and lesbian community, with offices for staff and meeting rooms for local groups. For now, she’ll settle for a remodeled elevator shaft.

After working out of their cars for nearly a year, the Center Project working group is set to move into a temporary office in a remodeled 10-by-12-foot elevator shaft at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

The working group will use the office as a base to continue fundraising for the final resource center.

The Center Project is an effort to build a resource center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer community in Columbia. Carol Snively started the project to bring together the various groups in mid-Missouri dealing with LGBTQ issues and provide a place where people interested in the LGBTQ community can find information.

“The center gives us a place to talk about building a community instead of just defending a community,” Snively said.

The Center Project core working group has grown to about 30 individuals with nearly 100 volunteers from its beginning nearly a year ago. Recently, more volunteers signed on after helping with the campaign to defeat the state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

“Some volunteers were hyped up by the campaign,” Stacy Snow, a working group member, said. “The Center Project gives them an outlet for their enthusiasm.”

The working group is finishing its effort to raise the $500 required to apply for 501C3 non-profit status.

In the upcoming months, the working group will focus on fundraising and planning for the center and continue outreach in the community.

The Center Project will begin monthly meetings in September at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Dennis Murphy, a member of the the Unitarian Universalist Church, said they offered the office and use of church meeting rooms to the Center Project as part of its effort to become a welcoming congregation.

A welcoming congregation is a church recognized by the Unitarian Universalists Association to be a welcoming place for individuals regardless of sexual orientation.

The immediate interest came from a speech delivered by MU professor Arvarh Strickland. “He told us that he always felt comfortable in a Unitarian church as a young man during the last civil rights movement,” Murphy said. “He gave us the idea to do the same thing with the new civil rights movement.”

The first monthly meeting of The Center Project is scheduled for 8 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Unitarian Universalists Church.

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