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Castro News Briefs

By Heidi Smith

Most Holy Redeemer Unable to Host Gay-Friendly Clergy Speakers

The days leading up to Christmas called for some disappointment amongst the patrons of the Most Holy Redeemer Church, a Catholic congregation located in the heart of the Castro. To much dismay of the largely gay and lesbian congregation, three gay-friendly ministers from other denominations were disinvited to speak at the pre-Christmas services last December.

Archbishop George Niederauer told the church's pastor, the Rev. Steve Meriwether, to rescind the invitations to the speakers the Friday before Christmas. Archdiocese spokesman George Wesolek told the San Francisco Chronicle that the archbishop felt the speakers were "inappropriate for the season of Advent, which should be a time to reflect on the coming of Christ."

The scheduled speakers were Otis Charles, a former Episcopal bishop, Presbyterian Rev. Jane Spahr, who is know for her same-sex marriage efforts, and Metropolitan Community Church Rev. Roland Stringfellow. Stringfellow, who was a grand marshal for the 2011 San Francisco Pride Parade, intended to speak on the theme of Christian love and how Christmas can be "incredibly hard" for gays and lesbians estranged from family and friends. According to The Blaze, he felt disrespected by the Catholic Church for their assumption that he would not speak about anything other than gay rights.

The Most Holy Redeemer Church was built on the corner of Diamond and 18th in 1901. When Father Tony McGuire came to the church in the 1980s, he basically transformed the parish to be more tolerant and accepting of homosexuality. Some Castro residents have nicknamed the Most Holy Redeemer "the gayest church west of the Vatican."

New General Manager Takes Over Programming at the Castro Theatre

The Castro Theatre announced Keith Arnold as the new General Manager of Operations of the local landmark as of January 2012.

Arnold plans to uphold the 90-year-old theatre's motto of "Diverse Programming for a Diverse Audience." He will be responsible for bringing the film-booking in house, as well as for selecting the films.

"It's the same Castro Theatre," Arnold expressed. "It's just getting better; we just have more structure. There are more opportunities to support the existing pieces that are there. I couldn't ask for a greater opportunity. It's a thrill."

His goal is to unfold a mix of classic films against a modern background. He aims to expose unknown flicks as well as enhance independent festivals.

Arnold had no comment about his personal influences towards the programming of the Castro Theatre, yet the new manager does command experience in the film industry. Previously, he was the owner/operator and senior programmer for the Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley. He has also contributed to several film festivals worldwide.

Arnold's selection for January includes the week-long Noir City X festival that has become an annual tradition. The festival ends mid-month.