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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Church marks 10 yrs since Shepard murder

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News Staff - 7th October 2008

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Today marks ten years since young gay man Matthew Shepard was murdered in the US state of Wyoming – bringing international attention to hate crimes and their consequences – and Auckland Community Church is planning to remember his life at their service this Sunday evening.

A decade ago: Matthew Shepard

Auckland Community Church's Mark Hangartner explains: "Matthew was brutally murdered 10 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming. Two young men offered him a ride home from a bar but instead took him out into the country to rob, torture and leave him to die. A cyclist came across him almost a day later, and called for medical help. He died in hospital on 12 October 1998."

A candlelight vigil was held in Laramie as he lay dying, says Hangartner. "After his death there have been services remembering him and other victims of hate crimes, especially on the anniversaries of his death."

Earlier this year church members attended a moving production of The Laramie Project at the Stables Theatre in Ellerslie, a play which explored the consequences of Shepard's death on his small Wyoming town.

"This Sunday is also our opportunity to remember two early martyrs, Serge and Bacchus, often thought of as gay saints because of their love for each other, and because they were invoked in church services blessing same-sex unions – as discovered by researcher John Boswell," says Hangartner.

All are welcome to the LGBT-friendly church's service from 7:30pm this Sunday 12 October – or any following Sunday – at St. Matthew-in-the-City in central Auckland.