July 14, 2007

Coverage of a City's First "Gay" Church

The Metropolitan Community Church continues its international outreach by opening a new church in Worcester, England. According to this report by the Worcester News, it's the first of its kind in that city.

Rev Chris Dowd, an Australian who came to the UK 12 years ago and who is leading the services, said: "It's appalling that there simply isn't a place where openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people can come to church and be accepted for who they are. For a substantial number of gay and lesbian people spirituality is very important.

"There is a difference between being tolerant of sexuality and celebrating it."

He said: "The church is on the liberal side but people don't have to be gay to come to it. Some gay people feel that they are expected to sit at the back of the church and say nothing.

"The fact that people don't see a need for a gay church is the problem. A lot of people who attend the church have been on the receiving end of bigotry from people. Most people in my church - particularly the gays and lesbians - have suffered terrible stress from other denominations and feel they can't worship freely.

As I've written before, I don't want to be tolerated, I want to be accepted for who I am. If I were gay, I would seek no less but often be disappointed. ALL people deserve to have a church where they can go to worship God in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of who they are as individuals. To accomplish the first part of that, I strongly believe one needs to be able to do the second part.

This is one of the primary reasons that here in the U. S. there are still many churches that are primarily African-American. Historically, they needed their own churches to not feel like second-class citizens in congregations controlled by white people. It's hard not to see the irony in the fact that "gay" houses of worship and GLBT activists face some of their stiffest opposition from the leaders of those African-American churches.

I put "gay" in quotes here because, though I understand why these churches are described that way, I don't believe it's accurate. That phrase implices the exclusion of anyone who is not gay, and I have not found that to be the case.

When I first started attending Believers Covenant Fellowship, I was warmly received and accepted, not tolerated, even though it would fall under the "gay church" classification and I was a straight man. I have bonded with these wonderful people and call them "my strange little church family." They have loved me and helped me grow in my walk with God, and I have enjoyed poking fun at them as they have at me over our differences.

To me, congregations like BCF are not "gay churches," they are accepting and affirming.

Shouldn't all our places of worship be like that, regardless of race and/or sexual orientation.

After all, God is.

Thanks to PageOneQ for the tip.

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