Did you ever meet someone you just knew was going to change your life? Rev. Dr. Nori Rost leaves lots of people feeling like that. Nori is one of the most deep-hearted and dedicated people I know. As a spiritual educator, she shares my enthusiasm for interfaith study and conversation, and she’s served on the In Good Faith Clergy Panel since its inception in 2013. Her decades of social justice leadership in the Pikes Peak region have resulted in measurable shifts and changes. She’s as brilliant as she is irreverently funny — and she’s leaving our city for the Big Apple at the end of June. In this last interview with her, I asked Nori to reflect a bit on her time here.
I moved to Colorado Springs in January 1994, in the wake of Amendment 2. Over 50 percent of voters passed that legislation two years earlier, making it illegal for state and local governments to include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination clauses. I came to serve Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church as their minister specifically to speak out against this.
At that time, Colorado Springs was known as Ground Zero; Colorado was called the Hate State. In my 12 years of service there, I led demonstrations outside of Focus on the Family when they held their anti-gay conferences, being a voice of faith for a community that had been cast out from their churches and homes.
Then, in 2008, I made a “UU-turn” (Unitarian Universalist), broadening my definition of faith to one that included Pagans, Buddhists, Atheists, Humanists, Theists, those who are seeking. I became the minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, taking my activism with me, speaking out for justice in marginalized communities. We became the sole “sanctuary” congregation, housing neighbors threatened with deportation so that they could continue seeking legal residency here.
In my 27 years in Colorado Springs, the religious right groups that championed Amendment 2 have largely become irrelevant. Our city and our state have become more diverse and progressive. We now have a gay governor who seeks to include all at the table of justice. While those who would exclude others based on sexual orientation, race and other issues still hold sway politically, our city has shifted culturally to one of compassion and inclusion.
As I prepare to leave Colorado Springs for New York City where I’ll lead the New York Society for Ethical Culture, I’m proud of the work we’ve done here. Because we refused to abide by the bigoted views of some, we’ve changed our city. We’ve come a long way, but there is still much to do.
Those of us with white privilege must continue the hard work of dismantling white supremacy. We must continue to fight the onslaught against women’s agency over their bodies. If women and the BIPOC communities can gain true emancipation from white patriarchy, we will have set the stage for justice to come to all. I will continue the same in NYC. I am grateful for the activist communities in Colorado Springs. I was forged in the fire of justice here. I take that strength with me as I leave.
— Ahriana Platten is founder-executive director of In Good Faith, leads Unity Spiritual Center and speaks around the country on the topics of interfaith and intercultural understanding.
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