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“The Rainbow in the Room” Aims to Create Conversation in Berrien Springs

Rainbow in the Room

Our names are Chris and Erin. We are Seventh-day Adventist students attending Andrews University, and we want to discuss “The Rainbow in the Room” at our upcoming community event in Berrien Springs, Michigan. We hope to engage our community in a conversation surrounding care for those in our Berrien family who identify as LGBTQ+. While it has long been a topic of discussion, we desire to bring this discourse to light in a new way. We believe that healthy dialogue—away from echo chambers—about subjects that can be challenging is of utmost importance to community. Now more than ever, conversing with respect and good faith can, and should, be realized. 

We know that many in our town have different opinions on how to care for LGBTQ+ individuals, but instead of talking about it together, we think that people are talking about the topic in closed circles and feedback loops. We want to transcend that by inviting people from all walks of life in our town to come together and talk about this topic at “The Rainbow in the Room.” 

We are hosting the event on the evening of April 21, starting at 4:00 pm, to give voice to people of all perspectives who would like to understand each other and learn more. This exchange will be held in small table talks with speakers, where community members can receive information as they share their perspectives. Attending speakers include the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Beacon Health System; the Executive Director of the “OutCenter,” a non-profit organization providing support services to LGBTQ+ people in Southwest Michigan; and the Executive Director of “Truth Wins Out,” who is an expert on the history of reparative therapy, among other incredible presenters. 

We have two goals: first, sharing information about current research in the United States—including Berrien County—surrounding informed care for LGBTQ+ individuals, along with some basic information about the harms of groups accused of conversion therapy. Second, we’d like to open the floor for comments and conversations from community members, and we genuinely want to hear from people from different walks of life who approach this topic in varying ways. 

“The Rainbow in the Room” is an RSVP-only, free event open to the public. The location/ address will be available to those who RSVP. If you’d like to learn more and RSVP, visit

We hope to see you at “The Rainbow in the Room!” 

Common Questions: 

Q: Is this a protest? 

A: No! We are not protesting anybody. We mention groups like Coming Out Ministries because we believe their new presence in our town opens an opportunity for us to speak about a subject that we do not often hear about in our village. Importantly, we cannot stand by as we hear misinformation surrounding the topic of care for LGBTQ+ individuals, as we understand this to cause harm. So, we are offering an alternative to misinformation: supported information. If we are protesting anything, it is harmful ideas, not people or organizations. 

Q: Did some outside organization put you up to this? 

A: Nope! We are just undergraduate students and community members who want to talk about a matter important to so many. We originally started this project without other people, organizations, or institutions and eventually reached out to people in our community who have supported us. We are passionate about this topic, especially with the rampant misinformation we have heard recently, and this is the second event we have organized in our town about care for LGBTQ+ individuals! We held the first event in the local public library, which was a great success! 

Q: Do you genuinely want to hear everyone’s perspective? 

A: Yes! We have no interest in just hearing our own opinions. We already know what we think and want to hear what you think. Both of us, the project organizers, are Seventh-day Adventist Christians and are incredibly familiar with the broad range of ideas people have in Berrien Springs and Christianity overall. Our central question comes down to, “People are hurting, so what can we do about it in the context of our faith and reliable scholarship?” We think anybody can approach this topic with a strong perspective in any direction while recognizing the humanity in people who are crying out for reliable care. That is part of the reason we are so excited about hearing everyone’s perspective! We know that we can work together no matter what our backgrounds or beliefs are.

Q: How can I help? A: We are two students covering the cost of a venue, security, refreshments, etc. We are making this event free to the public so it is accessible to everyone, but it still costs money. So, if you are in a place where you can donate any amount, your help would go a long way in helping us pay for this event. If you know of someone else who would like to donate, we would be happy to contact them as well. We currently have a GoFundMe page titled “The Rainbow in the Room,” which you can use.

About the author

Chris Ngugi is a student at Andrews University Student in Berrien Springs, Michigan. More from Chris Ngugi.
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