Belief System

Eight years ago, a group of transgendered Christians at the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco created the world’s first transgender gospel choir to shatter the view that there’s something unholy about changing one’s gender. “We began with a desire to express spirituality, that there’s God in us, in all creation,” says pastor Renee Cyprien. As the choir traveled over the years, Cyprien would watch individuals in the audience as their preconceived notions about transgendered people were challenged. “It’s time to put out the full face of who transgendered people are,” she says. “We know that they are a microcosm of the greater society. It’s about people understanding that we do the same things everybody else does. We go to the store and buy milk. We pay taxes.”

The documentary The Believers follows the group’s members from their humble beginnings arguing over wardrobe and learning to sing with transitioning voices to the award-winning choir they make up today. Tonight you can hear the Transcendence Gospel Choir live, watch The Believers and mingle with its stars at the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar, 404 South Upham Street in Lakewood, as part of the Lab’s Bad Religion lecture series, which explores unexpected expressions of religion in our culture.

There’s a reception at 6 p.m., and the program begins at 6:30. Admission is $10 for non-members, $5 for members. For tickets and info, go to
Thursdays, 6:30-8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 23. Continues through Nov. 6, 2008

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Jessica Centers

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