OGDEN -- The minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden has organized a march in response to statements made last weekend by President Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to encourage laws for fair treatment of gay and lesbian individuals.
The Rev. Theresa Novack referred to statements that Packer made at Sunday's session of General Conference calling same-sex unions "basically wrong or evil."
The march will be held in conjunction with a conference of the Mountain Desert District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, but it is open to anyone in the community who wishes to participate.
About 160 people have registered to attend the conference.
The march, set to start at 5 p.m. Saturday in the back parking lot of the Ogden Marriott Hotel, 247 24th St., will go to Ogden City Hall, 2484 Washington Blvd.
"We will sing songs and offer prayers that all may come to recognize that love in all of its forms is truly a blessing, something to celebrate rather than condemn," states a Facebook announcement about the event that was posted Tuesday.
The event is also designed to speed up efforts of Ogden officials to adopt nondiscrimination ordinances that would offer protection from housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
"I want hearts to be touched, for hatred and fear to be overcome, and for despair to turn instead toward hope," Novack said.
"It can happen, one step at a time, if people of faith and others always remember to stand on the side of love."
Novack said she was "deeply disturbed" to read Packer's remarks.
She said she believed it "incredibly critical" at this time to let local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people know that not all religions condemn them or their relationships.
An LDS Church spokesman said officials would not comment about the march.
"I am particularly afraid for the young people who may have heard his message and perhaps even decide to take their own lives as a result," she said of Packer's remarks.
"It has already happened too much, right here in Ogden, and if we only save one young life because of this march, it will be worth it."
Novack said she also was afraid that other young people and adults would use Packer's words to be less tolerant of those who are different and that bullying and violence would increase.
"Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect," she said.
Novack said she had "a great deal of admiration" for many of her Mormon friends and neighbors and that she believed in ongoing revelation as they do.
"Apostle Packer was not speaking for God in his message, but was speaking instead from his own ignorance and prejudices," she said.
"Many devout followers of the LDS faith were deeply hurt, disappointed and disturbed by his remarks."
Novack said the God she knows is a God of love.
"Love comes from God as it says in the New Testament, 1 John 4," she said. "Love comes in so many forms, and it is always a blessing if it is based on mutual caring and respect. Gender certainly doesn't matter."
Novack said a song in her church's hymnal includes the words "Reflections of Grace in Every Embrace."
"I love those words," she said, "and I know they are true."