The ImageOut Film Festival is back. The annual event presents LGBT arts and cultural experiences to promote awareness and foster dialogue. It kicks off this Thursday.

We preview this year's lineup, including a film called “For They Know Not What They Do,” which explores the evangelical church’s reaction to LGBTQ issues. We also discuss the film, "Unsettled," which tells the story of LGBTQ refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. after being persecuted in their home countries. Our guests:

We sit down with the new president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rev. Angela Sims. Sims is the institution’s first female president, and the first African American woman to lead a Rochester-area college. Her term began July 1, after the retirement of Rev. Marvin McMickle.

Sims is a Baptist minister and author, who says one of her goals is to build on Colgate’s social justice efforts. She joins us in studio to share her vision, her goals, and to address the role of faith and religion in the current social and political climate.

Author Sonja Livingston is back in studio to discuss her newest work, a collection of essays called "The Virgin of Prince Street." It's an exploration into a personal journey: her rediscovery of her childhood church and religion.

We talk to Livingston about faith and devotion during a time when organized religion is losing followers.

Why go to church in 2019? It’s a question we explore with the new senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Rochester, Revered Shari Halliday-Quan, and with Revered Lane Campbell, the settled minister at First Universalist Church of Rochester.

Halliday-Quan grew up in Los Angeles among a multicultural extended family before moving to New York City, where she met her wife, an opera singer. She and Campbell share their personal journeys to the church and their unique ministries. We also discuss Universal Unitarianism, faith, social justice, and more. In studio:

We sit down with Rev. Marvin McMickle, the retiring president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. McMickle announced his plans to retire last year; his last day is Sunday.

We talk to him about a range of issues, including his accomplishments at Colgate, political discourse, equality, racism, religious freedom, and more. 

A young, gay activist in the United Methodist Church made headlines earlier this year when he appealed to the church to accept him and his LGBTQ peers. J.J. Warren is a student at Sarah Lawrence College and a certified candidate for ministry. At an annual conference in February, the church voted to uphold its ban on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage.

Warren is in town to speak at Asbury First United Methodist Church, which is considering leaving the denomination. He joins us on Connections, along with Reverend Stephen Cady from Asbury First. In studio:

A new book from a Swedish philosopher aims to give new meaning to atheism. Martin Hagglund argues that for too long, atheists have allowed their views to be maligned as having no sense of meaning. Instead, he writes that when there is no everlasting life to come, every hour of every day becomes imbued with deep meaning. His book is not only a call for a reevaluation of meaning; it’s a call for a fresh look at economic systems that allow some people more freedom of time than others.

Our guests discuss it:

  • Matthew Brown, family doctor in Rochester
  • Lawrence Torcello, associate professor in the department of philosophy at RIT

A popular Christian writer died suddenly this month at the age of 37, and as NPR reports, there is a void in her passing.

Rachel Held Evans had been a popular voice for Christians who didn’t want to leave their faith, but openly questioned parts of it. Our guests discuss the importance of questioning and challenging the church, while seeking to apply their values across society. In studio:

  • Pastor Matthew Martin Nickoloff, pastor of the South Wedge Mission
  • Dr. Soon-Il Song, M.D., primary care physician, and chief of family medicine at Jordan Health
  • Shani Wilson, PA for internal medicine at Trillium Health, and co-chair of the President’s Council of Diversity at Trillium Health
  • Anna Vos, owner and artist at Owl Post Lettering

A local church is weighing decisions similar to those faced by Spiritus Christi Church several decades ago. Asbury First United Methodist Church is considering breaking off from its denomination after delegates from the United Methodist Church voted to approve the church's so-called Traditional Plan. That plan involves a ban on same-sex marriages and LGBTQ clergy.

What does that mean for Methodist congregations that oppose the ban? We're joined by Reverend Stephen Cady from Asbury First. Cady attended the global conference earlier this week and has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights. He joins us to discuss the result of the conference and its possible impacts on his church. In studio:

  • Rev. Stephen Cady, senior minister at Asbury First United Methodist Church
  • Cory Tylenda, member of Asbury First United Methodist Church

Nazareth College is opening a new center with the goal of promoting cross-cultural awareness and understanding among people of different belief systems. The Konar Center for Tolerance and Jewish Studies will work closely with the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and with Nazareth’s Center for Spirituality.

This hour, we’re joined by representatives from the college and from the Islamic Center of Rochester to discuss the value of interfaith education in times of divisiveness. Our guests:

  • Dianne Oliver, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Nazareth College
  • Susan Nowak, Ph.D., professor of religious studies and the William H. Shannon Chair of Religious Studies at Nazareth College
  • Morgan Hand, vice president of the student Interfaith Council at Nazareth College, who has attended the Parliament of World Religions and Interfaith Youth Core Interfaith Leaders Institute
  • Tabassam Javed, president of the Islamic Center of Rochester