December 08, 2009

Encouraging Words 12/8/09: A Church Helps Out Gay Youth Shelter in a Big Way!

When you hear the word diocese in the news in recent times, it is often referencing a lawsuit due to transgressions by a priest or quotes statements of intolerance, frequently toward the LGBT community.

This story is just the opposite. From the New York Times via QueerJohnPA on Twitter.

Since 2002, when he opened the Ali Forney Center, which helps homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, Carl Siciliano says, he has often witnessed the baleful effects of some religious institutions on some young people. He said he had regularly heard stories about priests verbally or physically abusing youngsters who had come out to their parents, urging them to suppress their sexuality and telling parents to disown their children.

So when the Episcopal Community Services of Long Island contacted Mr. Siciliano about creating a shelter for homeless gay youths, he paused.

But a $200,000 donation later, the charity, and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, of which it is a part, helped create a new 16-bed shelter at the Church of St. Andrew’s in Astoria. The Ali Forney Center, which is named for a gay homeless teenager who was killed in 1997 and which has seen its budget cut in the past year by nearly $450,000 because of the economic downturn, is partnering with the church in operating the shelter.

“For a lot of us, when we hear about Christianity, our stomachs kind of churn,” Mr. Siciliano said in an interview. “Another part of me is very grateful the church is making this kind of gesture.”

He added that the gift comes at a time when religious organizations and gay rights activists have clashed over issues ranging from marriage equality to the recent appointment of an openly gay bishop.

But the partnership is less about politics than about simple charity, said Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano, who represents 146 congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island (which includes Brooklyn and Queens).

“I think it’s an obligation to care for God’s people,” Bishop Provenzano said. “This is basic nuts-and-bolts Christianity.” 

Amen to that!  That's the love of Christ being acted out!

Click here to read the rest of the New York Times story.

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