In the summer of 1977, Rev. Bill Johnson, approached Riverside again about starting a gay and lesbian group, this time with Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Senior Minister of Riverside from 1977 - 1987.
Rev. Johnson showed his film A Position of Faith again at Riverside in April 1978 at "The Gay Civil Rights Movement" forums sponsored by Adult Ministries. Dr. Carter Heyward was a guest speaker.
At the end of the last forum, Sam Barrett, a Riverside member, asked if people were interested in forming a Lesbian & Gay support group at Riverside. Marnanatha (although it had yet been named as such) was BORN!
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In the beginning, Senior Minister at Riverside from 1977 - 1987, Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, Jr. told Rev. Johnson that he did not believe there were any homosexuals at Riverside. Of course, after consciousness raising by Rev. Johnson, he totally supported the formation of the group and preached his first sermon on gay rights in January 1980 and many other lesbian/gay rights sermons to follow.