Southern California Council on Religion and the Homophile
Span Dates: 1965-1984
Bulk Dates: 1965-1969
Volume: 1.5 cartons (.75 linear foot)
Official records for the Southern California Council on Religion and the Homophile for the years 1965-1968, including copies of the articles of incorporation and by-laws; minutes of the pre-foundation planning committee and of the Board of Trustees and general membership meetings from June 1965 to August 1968; and several contemporary
membership lists. The collection also contains a notebook of the Rev. Ken Wahrenbrock, Secretary of the organization, and manuscript materials from the papers of gay activist
and journalist Jim Kepner, a founder of the organization, who served as Wahrenbrock's pro-tem and later succeeded him as Secretary. These include his detailed handwritten
notes of Board meetings for the years 1965-1972; a file on the 4th North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO) in 1968, to which Kepner served as a
delegate; and a file of notes on the early history of the organization and its parent, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, in San Francisco. The collection also contains a file of correspondence; informational brochures; flyers and announcements of the organization's monthly meetings and other activities; and copies of the nine issues of the organization's newsletter, Concern, published irregularly from 1966 through 1969.
The Southern California Council on Religion and the Homophile (SCCRH) traces its origins to a June 1, 1965, meeting of 20 individuals in the Westchester YMCA called by the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, of San Francisco, which had been founded in 1964. The purposes
of SCCRH were “to open the avenues of communication and understanding between churchmen and homophiles; to investigate and implement ways for meeting the spiritual needs and social responsibilities of homophiles; to encourage more satisfactory climate of opinion within the
community on broad matters of sex and morals; [and] to seek just social treatment of the homophile community”. The articles of incorporation submitted to the California Secretary of State in April 1966 were signed by the Rev. Alexander Smith, director of the Downtown Service Bureau of the Los Angeles Missionary Society of the Methodist Church; W. Dorr Legg, of ONE Institute; the Rev. Kenneth Wahrenbrock, of the First Methodist Church in Glendale; the Rev. Marjorie Likins; and the gay activist and journalist Jim Kepner. The SCCRH provided an extensive program of monthly lectures, discussion groups, and informal meetings of clergymen, church members, and members of the GLBT community; retreats and conferences exploring homosexuality and religion; “exposure education” for non-gay clergymen and church members to learn about such aspects of GLBT culture as gay bars, clubs, and organizations; assistance to
churches developing policies relating to homosexuality and religion and to homosexual law reform; and training for counselors, teachers, clergymen, and others who counseled
homosexuals. The organization originally utilized the mailing address of the Rev. Smith’s Downtown Service Bureau; by 1970 it used the address of the Los Angeles Council of Churches on West Adams Blvd.; and by February 1971 the Venice Blvd. address of ONE Institute, of which both Legg and Kepner were officers.
Despite vigorous activity in its early years, by the 1970s the SCCRH was overtaken by more activist religious organizations, in particular the Metropolitan Community Church and Dignity, whose more militant, and even at times confrontational, stand appealed more to the Gay Liberation generation of the GLBT community. While the SCCRH continued to hold meetings as late as 1974, a notice for a meeting in July of that year ended with the statement, “[w]e hope that
many of you will wish to attend, for just because groups such as DIGNITY, the Metropolitan Community Churches and the various metropolitan Community Temples exist does not mean that the need for keeping channels open toward the major church denominations is less than before. It suggests, rather, that the opportunity for developing better relations with large religious bodies is greater than ever and should not be neglected.” The SCCRH appears to have ceased operations by 1975.
A finding aid is available online.
This colleciton is located at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles, California.
Ecumenical | Kepner, Jim | Council on Religion and the Homosexual | North American Conference of Homophile Organizations | Clergy Activist | Gay Liberation Movement | California | Los Angeles