December 23, 2009

Conflict Over Gays Leads Churches to Withdraw From Homeless Ministry

You will probably find that headline aggravating and hard to believe.  Right on the first count, but unfortunately wrong on the second count.  From the Kalamazoo News via PageOneQ:

Theological disagreements over homosexuality are causing a divide within a downtown ministry that serves the poor, homeless and lonely.

Martha’s Table, through which eight churches have provided Sunday afternoon worship and meals for the needy at First Congregational Church, is losing three of the churches because of the issue of homosexuality, even though the ecumenical ministry takes no position on it, said the Rev. Matt Laney, pastor of First Congregational.

Agape Christian Church and Word for Life Church of God plan to withdraw from Martha’s Table at the end of the year, and Centerpoint Church (formerly Third Reformed Church) has already done so, Laney said.

“The founding principle of Martha’s Table was that churches would come together and put aside their differences in light of what unites us, which is our common commitment to serve Christ and others,” Laney said. “But now this difference has risen above our common commitment to serving Christ.”

Laney said representatives of all three churches have been “very clear” that they don’t want to be “guilty by association” with First Congregational and its inclusiveness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, said Laney, who publicly supported an ordinance passed by Kalamazoo voters in November that protects GLBT people from discrimination in housing, jobs and accommodations.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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