When anti-gay religious leaders grab headlines, Rev. Rebecca Voelkel is there to counteract the messages of hate. The ordained minister in the United Church of Christ has enjoyed a long career blending spiritual teaching with progressive activism. Currently, Voelkel is the director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources and Faith Work, a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. She previously served as the Interim National Coordinator for the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns. Widely published in religious and mainstream journals and sought as a leader for faith-based social justice workshops, Voelkel argues that “there is a deep, spiritual wisdom in the queer community. I don't necessarily think it is inherent. Instead, I think there is something transformative about coming to claim and celebrate what G-d, Creator, Spirit has done in you. Especially in the face of familial, religious community and societal rejection, such claiming is powerful.” In addition to her IWR job, Voelkel is working towards a Doctor of Ministry at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.