The progress to acceptance in the ECLA and Episcopalian churches is well-known: both were all over the news back in the summer. There is progress across the board though, low-key and incremental rather than large-scale and dramatic – but progress just the same. This is evident even in some evangelical churches, which are usually seen as the harshest foes. We must not allow the fundies’ argument that “Christians” necessarily oppose homoerotic relationships to take hold: it’s just not true. Take a look at these recent news reports:
Evangelical church opens doors fully to gays
DENVER — The auditorium lights turned low, the service begins with the familiar rhythms of church: children singing, hugs and handshakes of greeting, a plea for donations to fix the boiler.
Then the 55-year-old pastor with spiked gray hair and blue jeans launches into his weekly welcome, a poem-like litany that includes the line “queer or straight here, there’s no hate here.”
The Rev. Mark Tidd initially used the word “gay.” But he changed it to “queer” because it’s the preferred term of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people invited to participate fully at Highlands Church.
Tidd is an outlaw pastor of sorts. His community, less than a year old, is an evangelical Christian church guided both by the Apostle’s Creed and the belief that gay people can embrace their sexual orientation as God-given and seek fulfillment in committed same-sex relationships.
(More from Washington Post)
In Michigan, there is an organiZed program by faith-based LGBT Christians to promote inclusion in churches:
Faith-based group GIFT will use $55,000 grant to promote inclusion of gays in churches
A faith-based support group for gays plans to use a $55,000 grant to reach further into West Michigan.
Gays In Faith Together is preparing for a 2012 Gay Christian? Yes! campaign with help from the two-year grant from the Arcus Foundation.
GIFT provides pastoral care, support groups for gay and lesbian youth and their family and friends, and educational seminars, including a workshop last year for gay couples on building healthy relationships.
Cara Oosterhouse, president of GIFT’s board, said the new campaign is geared toward helping local churches learn how they can be more inclusive of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, their family and friends.
(More from MLive.com)
In Ireland, some evangelicals are supporting the proposed granting of near-marriage to same-sex couples:
Evangelical Alliance Ireland urges Christians to support pro-homosexual law
The Evangelical Alliance Ireland has urged Christians to back the Civil Partnership Bill, which would introduce legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the Republic of Ireland.
The Alliance’s stance on the issue is likely to win praise for its courage, as well as criticism from those who expect evangelicals to oppose gay people’s rights.
“We suggest that evangelical Christians should support the basic thrust of the Bill,” said the Evangelical Alliance Ireland in a statement signed by its General Director, Sean Mullan.
It goes on to say, “We may disagree on the detail of the legislation, but as followers of a just and compassionate God we can recognise the justice and fairness of providing some legal protection for the reality of both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabiting relationships”.
The statement is likely to cause surprise in Britain, where many leading evangelical organisations actively campaigned against the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005.
The Irish Civil Partnerships Bill would give same-sex couples tax, pension, inheritance and hospital visitation rights, as for married mixed-sex couples.
(With the Alliance’s stance on the issue, opposition to the Bill is virtually non-existent. The Bill is likely pass into law in December this year with widespread support from opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour as well as the governing coalition of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.)
(More from Ekklesia)
And in Washington, DC, two Baptist pastors explain why they support gay marriage:
Why two black D.C. pastors support gay marriage
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago, we entered the sanctuary at Covenant Baptist Church and took our places in front of the altar, just as we had countless times before in our more than 20 years as partners in ministry. We had been united in holy matrimony ourselves in the same spot where we now stood to unite others.
As the couple walked down the aisle, we recalled the previous evening’s rehearsal, when we commended all the participants for their courage and prayed that God would be in our midst at the ceremony. When we pronounced the couple “partners for life,” we felt our prayers had been answered. It was the same feeling we had experienced so many times before when asking for God’s blessing of the union of a man and a woman. Only this time, the union was of a man and a man.
Our church is the first and only traditional black church in the District of Columbia to perform same-sex unions. We conducted our first two union ceremonies, one gay and one lesbian, in the summer of 2007. The rapid political developments that followed in our nation and our city have made us optimistic that by the summer of 2010, same-sex nuptials will be not only blessed by churches such as ours, but also sanctioned by law in the District.
After that first ceremony in our church, we were pleased and relieved; many members and guests told us how beautiful the service had been. But not everyone who attended shared this feeling. After most of the guests left, one longtime parishioner approached us, shaking. In a voice filled with rage, she asked how we could desecrate the sanctuary with such an ungodly act. She vowed to no longer be a member of our church.
For us, the courage to perform same-sex unions is in keeping with the proudest traditions of our Baptist and congregational heritage. Within the Baptist tradition of freedom and autonomy, Covenant Baptist Church has a long history of progressive ministry emphasizing social justice, service to the community and inclusion.
(Read the full story at the Washington Post)
- Queer Inclusion in Church: Evangelicals Ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” (Queering Theology and Ministry)
- The Story of the “Queer Saints and Martyrs”: Taking Shape (Queer Saints and Martyrs)
- Advent: Prepare Ye A Way For Inclusion (Queering the Church)
- Give Thanks For This Kairos Moment of LGBT Inclusion (Queering the Church)
- GLAAD’s Religious News Round-up: Highly Recommended. (Queering the Church)