Naples church welcomes youth pride conference

Published: May 16, 2022 10:10 PM EDT
Updated: May 17, 2022 8:47 AM EDT

A youth pride conference set to take place on Saturday at a Naples church is being hit with a lot of misinformation.

The event is described on the organizer’s webpage as, ”This one-day conference, created by and for LGBTQ youth, will provide students with the opportunity to engage in LGBTQ-related issues facing them today while empowering them to be confident in all their identities.”

David Greenhaw is the Interim Senior Minister at Naples UCC. He says, “If you look at the side of the church it says Naples United Church of Christ an Open and Affirming Congregation and that means this church has discerned and decided that God believes that all people should be loved and that we should be welcoming to all.”

The church is welcoming the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network – Collier County Chapter (GLSEN Collier), on Saturday.

Chris Schmeckpeper-Kobzina is a co-chair of GLSEN Collier. She says, “the fact that they are there and they’re willing to let us be there makes everyone feel better cause they know they’re going to be safe there.”

The former pastor did not resign because of the conference. The conference also is not in any way affiliated with the church.

Greenhaw says, “Yesterday was the last day for the senior minister here. He concluded eight years of ministry here and made that decision last fall.”

GLSEN is only one of the numerous organizations the church rents space to.

One rumor spreading is that Collier County Public Schools is involved.

However, Schmeckpeper-Kobzina says, “We’re not doing something in the school, we’re not doing something at the school, we’re not meeting at the school.”

Greenhaw says, “We are really sorry and sad that some in the community have responded so negatively and with inferences that are incorrect we are here we’re doing good work will continue to do good work.”

The event is for students age 12 to 18-years-old. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Here is the event registration link for students interested in attending.