Archive for the ‘lesbian’ Tag

Writing the LGBT Spiritual Journey, Saturday April 5, Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids MI   Leave a comment

WritingLGBTthe_StueartUnfortunately, this class did not gather any students.  But I wanted to teach a workshop anyway, and the Michigan LGBT community is facing a huge battle right now. So we’ve designed a FREE class instead, on April 6 Scenes from Stalled Marriages.  Please join us to write about YOUR family under the marriage ban, or your FRIENDS’ families or individuals.  We’ll see you APRIL 6 at Fountain Street Church.

_________

Please join us in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the weekend before the Festival of Faith and Writing (at Calvin College), for Writing the LGBT Spiritual Journey Workshop, APRIL 5, SATURDAY, 9am–5pm.

For the LGBT person of faith, the journey has not been easy.  Many of us are refugees from mainline denominations that offer faith but only to some, or only with clauses attached.  Some of us have escaped into better, more accepting faiths or denominations–but that journey may not have been easy.  Charting our spiritual journey, though, can help bring focus and fulfillment to our lives as part of the LGBT community.  Writing our spiritual journeys also completes the missing parts of society’s spiritual journey.  In this Workshop we will read LGBT writers of faith, as well as writers of faith in general, to pick up tips and techniques that will help you write about your journey.  If you like discussing spirituality in the context of the LGBT community, with others like yourself, and exploring through writing what your journey has discovered, come join us.  Using writing exercises, games, techniques of professional writers, and your own lives, you will create writing that struggles, overcomes, even heals, as it maps the spiritual journey of your life.  All faiths are welcome.  All struggles are welcome.  Even if your spirituality doesn’t fall neatly in a box, join us.  Boxes aren’t the best places for spirituality anyway.

This class needs a minimum of five people to run.  Some reading will be sent to you via email before the workshop begins. Cost is $80 per person.  Sign up early so we can be sure that the workshop runs, and that you receive readings for the workshop.  Bring a journal, a pen, and the heart of an explorer.

To sign up, follow this link.  For more information,  please contact Fountain Street Church.

Saturday, April 5, 9am-5pm
Fountain Street Church
(616) 459-8386
Advertisements

Christian Parents Who Tried to Love Their Gay Son the way the Church Taught them to   2 comments

2013-06-21-ryanprofile1.jpgOver on Huffington Post, Gay Voices, is a tragic story of Christian parents who tried very hard to love their gay son.  They prayed, though, that they would not have a gay son….and that prayer came true, in the worst possible way.

I’ve reprinted here only the beginning of this piece—but it is powerful–and the link will take you over to Huff Post for the full column.

For me, this is the tragedy of good Christian parents who aren’t ready to allow their kids to make up their minds about their sexuality. They learn that accepting your sexuality is accepting yourself–and when you aren’t allowed to accept your sexuality, you aren’t allowed to accept who you are—and that can have awful ramifications.  They do understand though—but too late to help their own son.

Read one family’s story:

FOR THE WHOLE ESSAY, Just Because He Breathes, CLICK HERE.

From Linda Robertson:

On the night of Nov. 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our 12-year-old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something

Mom says: Yes I am listening

Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.
Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you

Mom says: Are you joking?

Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don

Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?

Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don’t like hannah
Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up

Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…

Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: but u don’t understand
Ryan says: i am gay

Mom says: tell me more

Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know
Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that. it is the same thing

Mom says: what do you mean?

Ryan says: i am just gay
Ryan says: i am that

Mom says: I love you no matter what

Ryan says: i am white not black
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl
Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls
Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this

Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?

Ryan says: i know

Mom says: thank you for telling me

Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now

Mom says: I love you more for being honest

Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people; my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails and all boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all our reactions over the next six years was fear.

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:

We love you. We will always love you. And this is hard. Really hard. But we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.

We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books; you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you are gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay; it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option.

We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we — and God — were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to an abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards. Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly, enthusiastically participated in all the church youth group events and Bible Studies and got baptized. He read all the books that claimed to know where his gay feelings came from, dove into counseling to further discover the whys of his unwanted attraction to other guys, worked through painful conflict resolution with my husband and me and built strong friendships with other guys — straight guys — just like the reparative therapy experts advised. He even came out to his entire youth group, giving his testimony of how God had rescued him from the traps of the enemy, and sharing, by memory, verse after verse that God had used to draw Ryan to Him.

For the rest of the essay, please follow this link.

Sunday in the Court of Religion: After the death of DOMA and Prop 8   1 comment

4f1dc0ac2c986.preview-620The Supreme Court of the United States issued two huge rulings on gay rights Wednesday morning, June 26.  They overturned a key component of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), Section #3 which tried to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. This spells the end of DOMA; which will probably be repealed quickly since it’s been declared, in essence, unconstitutional, as it stands now.  Also, in a separate case, Hollingsworth vs. Perry, the fight over Proposition 8, the law passed in California banning gay marriage (which Judge Walker of the Ninth Circuit Court declared unconstitutional, but which Prop 8 proponents brought to the Supreme Court on appeal), those wishing to appeal Walker’s decision did not have standing.  So Walker’s decision stands and marriages can happen again in California.  Yay!  All seems right in the world.

And then Sunday comes.

Sunday, the Court of Religion meets.  And those Judges (for they aren’t Justices) have the power to perpetuate the source of hate and discrimination against the LGBT community–or they have the power to cut off that source of hate and discrimination.  It’s a make or break Sunday.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the public has to enact those changes.  The Court cannot legislate morality—and in some cases, those who are opposed to gay rights have found new fervor to rail against gay people.  Now we can marry!  In 13 states.  Now the Court said that gay couples can receive benefits! On our tax forms.  But if we’ve made some progress through the Supreme Court–a hard fought case–we could regress in the Court of Religion—a court that has more power over Americans than any Judicial body created by the Constitution.

Without question, most congregants will listen to their pastors.  Without question they will believe what those pastors tell them. If those pastors tell them that America is sliding downhill into the Apocalypse because loving gay couples can marry–then they will believe that.  And they will go out and hate gay people for moving them one step closer to oblivion.  (Actually, they should be thrilled–one step closer to the Apocalypse is one step closer to Heaven for them! I know my Revelation!)  Still, this Sunday has the potential to stir the hearts of good Christians even deeper against the LGBT community–or stir them deeper to love LGBT people.

Christians do not realize how potent a sermon can be—but Pastors do.  One sermon can re-enforce ages of bad dogma–or change it; it can change a weak mind, for or against; it can reassure a doubting congregant.  If you don’t know what you think about the Supreme Court helping to end discrimination against gay people (we’re a long ways from that end), you might by the end of Sunday’s sermon.

Churches have a moment to RETHINK

Imagine if Pastors took this moment to re-enforce the humanity of LGBT people, their interest in pairing up in Marriage, their love for each other–and to see the movement across the US to help LGBT people find equality under the law, and in churches everywhere.  That sermon could propel folks to think about Jesus’ work with the oppressed—and that they too, as Christians, can help the oppressed.  It could do more to help the healing: THIS Sunday.

THIS Sunday, Churches have a chance to do the most good for their congregations.  Because inside every congregation are a few gay people trying to hide, fearful of coming out.  Inside every congregation is a parent of a gay son or lesbian daughter or folks whose lives are touched by LGBT people every day.  They are not isolated from gay people.  And promoting healing through the news that LGBT people deserve better treatment under the law might promote the same kind of healing in the church between members who have been hurt.  Certainly it will make things more welcoming to those people who have LGBT family members, or friends.  Our churches must be welcoming above everything.  This is the second commandment–to love your neighbor as yourself.  And if churches aren’t welcoming–people won’t stay and hear the Good News.

Read Jim Wallis from the Huffington Post on how churches can help find “Equal Justice Under the Law

This Sunday more healing, or more damage, can be made in Churches across North America.

It is not the Justices who change the Churches, but the Churches who can change the Justice. 

“How do I save my daughter from a lesbian friend?”   2 comments

These words appeared today as search terms used to find information—but found my blog.  The story they tell breaks my heart.  I don’t know who put the words in, whether father or mother.  I do know they are frightened.  The question was whole.  As if someone just hoped the internet would kick back a whole answer.  I do that when I’m desperate, when I’m upset, when I hurt.  I put the whole question in, as if I’m divining.

I feel so sad for the parent who wrote this–sad because I can feel that fear, that sense of powerlessness, that you are helpless to watch your child get hurt, or seduced, or taken away.  The word “save” in there— it’s a “rescue from danger” word.  For a parent to write this in Google is to ask anyone, anyone at all, for advice.  Please, please help.  I hurt for that parent who is at that stage.  I wish I didn’t empathize so much–but what I identify with is a parent’s cry, here, for help, for what they perceive as danger, as out of control.  This is much worse than “how do I get my daughter to stop dating thugs”–there’s a whole different, scary feel to it.  I want to comfort that parent, but I can’t.  I don’t know who it is.  And they don’t know me.

I am saddened too that he or she feels as if lesbians and gays are dangerous to their daughter.  Oh, I understand where that point of view comes from–it’s not new.  I think many of us grew up with people in our community who had that mindset–that people like us were a threat.  Some resources I hope that this parent found might be these:

Someone to Talk To—this is a great great resource designed for parents.  It answers questions parents have.

Can my gay child change?— for parents who have a child who is coming out, or has come out.

Having a gay friend or a lesbian friend will not cause your own child to “become” gay or lesbian.  It doesn’t work that way.  Just as having a gay or lesbian friend hasn’t done that to you–if you have one. We don’t rub off on people.  We don’t convince them of a theological concept that then makes them act on a sexual impulse.  Sexuality is hard-wired.  Although many of us might try to be the other way–MANY gays have tried being straight and kept up the pretense of being straight for most of their lifetimes, fifty years or more, with kids to show from it.  Being gay doesn’t mean that you can’t have sex with the opposite gender.  It means that you aren’t attracted to the other gender sexually.

One final note: I’m glad that lesbian has a friend in your daughter.  We need friends too.  I hope and pray that you understand that we mean no harm to people–we are just like you.  Humans in search of friendship and relationships.  There is no need to rescue your children from gay kids in their lives—gay kids need you more than ever.

 

Hidden Histories: How to Teach LGBT subject matter in the Schools, a possible curriculum   3 comments

California teachers have a rough road ahead.  Mandated by new laws to teach about LGBT people in history classes, teachers are uncertain about how to plug the new information into tight curriculum.  And they have to do it by January.  I sympathize with them.  From a gay teacher perspective, let me tell you what I would do.

The problems at the outset:

1. Teach the teachers.  Just as teachers were taught history, literature, math, etc., asking them suddenly to know things they were never taught in schools is asking a lot.  My first step if I were a principal of a school is to have a Teacher-Training day where you bring in an expert on LGBT history or LGBT information in general.  Even us gays don’t know our history well–because it’s been hidden.  But teaching the teachers about our history is the most important first step.  Until THEY see how prominent gay and lesbians have been in history, they won’t be able to teach it.

A good start is Michael Bronski’s  A Queer History of the United States, which addresses everything from pre-first contact with North America, on through the history of the US.  It just gives a few brushstrokes of color to a queer history that had been erased.

2.  Awkward to talk about heterosexual and homosexual people in history class.  I rarely had a history course where ANYTHING was known about sexual orientation.  No one talked about historical figures dating, or marrying.  Most of the founding fathers, as far as we knew, were single and devoted to politics…  no one bothered talking about who they slept with, because, frankly, it didn’t matter.  Will teachers be required to emphasize that George Washington was “straight” or that he had a wife? I don’t know, but it’s awkward to just label people’s sexual orientation.

3.  Time.  I can’t imagine that a comprehensive curriculum will be developed for you that will include all of California and US history with its gay members polished up and shiny by January.  Don’t worry right now about having to plug a litte bit of gay in every history lesson.  No gay person expects that all will be suddenly be apparent–that every gay will be uncovered.

4.  The importance of teaching it.  The best quote I ever read about the importance of teaching LGBT history in schools was this one:

“Within the typical secondary school curriculum, homosexuals do not exist. They are ‘nonpersons’ in the finest Stalinist sense. They have fought no battles, held no offices, explored nowhere, written no literature, built nothing, invented nothing and solved no equations. The lesson to the heterosexual student is abundantly clear: homosexuals do nothing of consequence. To the homosexual student, the message has even greater power: no one who has ever felt as you do has done anything worth mentioning.” -Gerald Unks, editor, The Gay Teen, p. 5.

It’s for this reason, that I think just putting a little LGBT into your curriculum is worth so much.

Because it’s an easy framework, and not a heavy re-writing of current curriculum, I’m going to suggest  Hidden Histories as a way to bridge the interim until you get more curriculum.

Read the rest of this entry »

Esther: The Queen Who Came Out   2 comments

Esther at the moment of decision---Sir John Everett Millais, painter, 1865

The Story of Esther in the Bible means a great deal to me.  On the day I decided to come out it was Esther who gave me the last push.  She was the one who told me–you aren’t just doing it for you.  You’re doing it to save your people.  Every act of coming out is about saving people.  But more on Esther in a moment.

Some background is in order:  I had kept the secret of being gay for five years before coming out—three of them I was gone from the Yukon, a student in Texas, researching whether or not God was okay with me being gay.  He was uppermost on my mind.  If He didn’t like it, I would go through therapy, I would become a monk, I would do whatever was necessary to change myself to fit what He wanted.  Thankfully, not only was He cool with me being gay, it was how he created me to be.  So it was quite a revelation.  However, just because God was okay with it, didn’t mean I was itching to tell my church.  People are unpredictable.

At first, I wondered if I really HAD to come out.  It wasn’t anyone else’s business.  I had known many gays who told me to go live my life and not bother with coming out at all.  Who needs to know?  — Well, I had lived my life pretty open to this point, and it was difficult to keep part of myself from people I loved.  In fact, it was so difficult it was hitting me on multiple levels that I had to come out.

1.  I had become deceptive.  This was hard for me to accept.  That I would have to hide who I was in order to keep the life I had been living, to keep the friends I had.  I was never a liar growing up—and never a liar as an adult.  But suddenly, I was a liar in order to keep the peace, to keep friends, to keep interacting with the church and people I loved.  It made me into a person I didn’t want to be.

2.  I wanted to share who I loved with the church.  They loved me, and I wanted to be as open as I could be with them–letting them know, like anyone else, when I was dating, when I was happy, why I was happy, who I loved.  One day I wanted to stand up with my boyfriend like so many other couples in the church and declare that we got engaged.  The whole crowd would clap.  There would be such a renewal of love and hope in the congregation whenever a young couple announced their upcoming marriage.

3.  God told me, point blank, that he couldn’t use me until I came out.  How could he use someone that had a secret to spill–a secret that might endanger whatever mission he would give me?  And further, how could God put me on any kind of road to minister to other gay christians–when I couldn’t be honest with them?

4.  I was hurting others who knew.  A woman in the church whom I’d told many months before came up to me and said–we can’t keep your secret any longer.  You have to tell the pastor.  She set in motion a pressure that would just increase every day until I came out.  She wasn’t threatening to tell–but she said that the pressure to keep the secret was hurting her family.

And then Esther came along.  I realized what I had to do—but for some reason I thought Easter was the best time to do it.  I knew that I would go from family to family, but just like it’s hard when you skydive to let go of the safety of the plane… I was lingering at the door, looking at the thousand mile drop below me.  I knew if I went to one family, it would get away from me and I would never be able to control who knew what.  The truth would be out and then they could decide to hurt me with it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Sixteen Churches of the CBWC reconsider their stance on Homosexuality: an open letter   Leave a comment

Greetings, churches of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada.  I’m writing to you today to talk about an important issue that affects your church, or will affect your church very soon.

Most churches don’t realize that the “issue” of gays and lesbians in church already affects them.  It has a face.  You might have members of your church who are hiding out, closeted gays and lesbians. You might have members with close family who identify as gay or lesbian.  Inside your youth group, or your children’s church, are kids who will grow up to be gay or lesbian.   These are people you know.  They have faces you recognize.  What will your church do when any of these people come out?  Or when they ask you to accept and affirm them as you would anyone else?  Or what will you do if not “coming out” drives these people to hurt themselves, or hurt others by marrying heterosexual partners within your church and, therefore, hurting whole future families?

These are questions many churches are facing now.  They are hard questions to ask.  CBWC doesn’t currently have a policy on this.  Does your church?  Some churches are finding themselves blindsided when the moment arrives.  Forced to pick between their faith and the one they love, churches split, families are torn apart.

The Current situation in our churches

Gay and lesbian members of your churches are hurting.  The families of those members are hurting.  Some of the children you are raising in the church now will one day have to choose between their faith and their sexuality.  This will hurt your churches more than you can imagine.

Imagine this:  we tell our members that we offer them complete and total Christian love.  We baptize our babies and dedicate in front of the church, promising to be there for them as they grow.  We promise them that we will work out our differences in love.  However, from our pulpits, and in our practice, we show that if those people come out, show themselves to be gays and lesbians–that we will shun them, judge them, take away our friendships, our fellowship and our love.

In effect, we ask gay and lesbian members to lie, hide themselves and appear straight—because it will go better for them if they do.  And while they sit there, hidden, we condemn them with scripture and tell them that God does not love them as they are.  They are the only ones who are required to change first before they can become active Christians.  We hold them to a high standard, asking them to be celibate if they are openly gay or lesbian, or to lie and marry our sons and daughters, so that our churches don’t have to face an issue that every other church is facing.  What if our churches are believing the wrong interpretation of these scriptures?

Baptists are long overdue in revisiting, and reassessing, these scriptures.

Many gays leave the church because it is not a welcoming place.  For evangelicals, whose mission is to spread the word of God everywhere, it must be difficult to see people leaving the church because of our stand on homosexuality, and our lack of hospitality towards gays and lesbians—even those who were raised in our own churches.  We find ourselves asking: are we undoing the good work we were doing?

Some will say that we are doing the right thing.  That we are taking a Biblical, scriptural stand on homosexuality—one of loving the sinner and hating the sin. The CBWC, on their website under About Us/what we believe/specific beliefs, say that as one of the Baptist specific and unique beliefs, “Any sexual behaviour outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage is not affirmed biblically or historically.”

But other churches, even other Baptist churches, say differently, that biblically there is no injunction against loving gay couples, or single gays or lesbians.  These Baptist churches have made a different decision—and they have remained Baptist, kept all their theology, and yet they reach out and love their gay and lesbian members, accepting and affirming them firmly.  They keep the families we turn away.  And these churches also believe they are right.  How is this so?  They have scholars too.  They have theologians too.  Who’s right?  Do we owe it to our families and children to search the scriptures again, and to make sure we are right?

The consequences of getting it wrong every Sunday

When we discover there were families in the church who had gay and lesbian children, and they never told us, we reel with the hidden pain they felt as they heard our sermons about their children.

How do we feel when we realize that the kids we taught in Sunday School grew up to hate themselves, or that some of them might choose to take their own lives?  Or what if they leave God altogether because of what we said?  Does it bother us that other kids learned to taunt, look down on, or otherwise reject their gay and lesbian peers in our Sunday School classes?

If someone came to you today and told you that you could have all of your Baptist beliefs intact, but that there was a way to accept and love your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, would you look into it?  Would you form a book study to look at it yourself?

“But I’m not Qualified…”

All of us feel comfortable researching a medical issue on our own, but not a spiritual one.  Many of us feel intimidated by someone with a seminary degree, but feel no intimidation approaching, with questions in hand, a doctor with a medical degree.  We believe that God speaks to all of us.  We believe in the Priesthood of the Believer, that we have the right to interpret, as well as the responsibility to interpret the Bible correctly.  But do we also know that we have the ability to interpret the Bible because of the Holy Spirit?

God did not expect everyone to get a seminary degree first before coming to Him.  He doesn’t put a bouncer at the door of heaven to anyone without the ability to understand Greek or Hebrew.  Through the Holy Spirit we learn, we grow, and we interpret the Word of God.

Study both interpretations

We can study this issue ourselves by listening to the Holy Spirit, reading our bible and reading commentary from those who have insight from both sides of the issue.  It’s how we understand ANY issue.  We put people who believe both sides passionately and then we read their reasons and arguments.  The CBWC has material on their side of the issue—that of accepting but not affirming gay people.  They also believe in the one man/one woman view of marriage.

There are many seminary-taught people, and lay people, who take a different interpretation of the scriptures concerning gay and lesbian people.  They are Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Mennonites, the United Church, among others, and they accept gay and lesbian people, both single and married, into full membership with full rights to serve God.  And they can show you in scripture how they did it.  Hundreds of churches, who have the same theology you do, made the effort to look at the scripture again, and choose to save these people by pulling them lovingly back into the church, and affirming who God made them to be.

Where can I find information on this interpretation?

There are many websites that cover the basics of the scriptures we use to condemn gay people.  They give an overview of how they are interpreting the scripture.  The best of these sites are at Whosoever magazine, and the Welcoming and Affirming Baptist Churches website.

For those of you who want a more thorough study, good books exist on this subject. Jack Roger’s Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality makes a wonderful book study.  No one can stop you from learning the truth about the widespread turning away of gay and lesbian Christians and their families.  Only you can do something to help them.

Things you can do:

1. Form a book study to read one of the books listed as a group

2. Have a video night and invite others to watch one of the DVDs listed on the Helpful Resources page

3. Ask the church to hold a churchwide forum or discussion that takes into consideration both sides of this issue—with knowledgeable representatives from both sides.

4. Invite a Christian gay person to your meeting, or to your house to talk to him or her about their faith.

5. Invite the family of a Christian gay or lesbian person over to your house to talk to them.  Give them encouragement and hospitality no matter where either of you stand on the issue.

6. If someone comes out in your church, make a public show of support for that person, whether or not you have worked out the theology yourself.  That show of support could be the difference between life and death, someone staying or someone leaving, a church together or a church split.

7.    If someone comes out in the church and they are in a service position, it’s okay to ask them to step down from any service position until you can study the issue.  This is not too much to ask.  But please study the issue.  Pick a date by which the study will be done, look at both sides of the issue from sides that support the affirming and accepting of gay people, and those that don’t.  Publicly affirm them as a person while you do the study and be ready to hear them when they want to speak.

Why did you write us this letter?

You are members of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, one of the sixteen churches represented by members of the Board of the CBWC.  Like you, my church belongs to this denomination.  I am a member of Riverdale Baptist Church in the Yukon Territory.  Our church has been facing this complicated issue over the last year and a half.  It has not been easy for anyone.  You can read more about me, Jerome Stueart, if you follow the My Story link.  You can also view there letters I sent to my own church here, and to the CBWC.  My hope is that this will be a resource, one of many, for your church, for it is addressed, like a personal letter to your sixteen churches.

Each of your churches are linked multiply to this letter, and you can contact and discuss this issue with each other.  Many times we never see or hear from the churches in our denomination–we may not even be aware of them.  But today, like that moment that happens in church on Sunday morning, I want you to stand up and greet one another:

First Baptist Church, Prince Albert, SK

Willowlake Baptist Church, Winnipeg

First Baptist, Brandon MB

Leduc Community Baptist Church, AB

First Baptist Church, Pincher Creek, AB

Clive Baptist Church, AB

First Baptist Church, Kelowna, BC

First Baptist Church, Port Alberni, BC

Westview Baptist Church, Calgary

Riverdale Baptist Church, Whitehorse, YT

First Baptist Church, Penticton BC

Broadmoor Baptist Church, Richmond BC

Westhill Park Baptist Church, Regina

First Baptist Church, Lethbridge AB

First Baptist Church, Vancouver

Bethel Baptist Church, Sechelt BC

And the group that binds them together:  the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada

My hope is that you will sit down and talk about this issue, that you will do it in your homes, that you will do it in your studies, that you will do it in your fellowships, and that you will ask your administration to join you at some point.  Be careful that you do not reflexively defer to your pastor for his knowledge alone to solve this–or else you lose what we hold dear about being a Baptist–that we do not need an intermediary between us and the Holy Spirit, that we can listen to the Holy Spirit and interpret scripture too.  By all means, invite him in–but find a way to come to consensus on the verses, and the Bible, and what the Holy Spirit is saying.  These are your families being affected, not a theological issue to be parsed.

We cannot continue to preach condemnation on gays and lesbians and others in the GLBT community and not reap the consequences of misrepresenting Christ.  Our churches will dwindle in attendance.  Our own children will walk away from the church.  And we will be forced to wear this condemnation against gay people as either a tar baby or badge of honour.

I pray that the churches will consider this request while there is still time to change course.  Your church is part of the CBWC and they will not want you to openly discuss this, to hold a forum on it, or to put it to a vote.  It could mean your expulsion from the CBWC.  But who is it that can harm you if you are eager to do good? (1 Peter 3:13)

The CBWC does great things in the world, and there is no denying that they are a help to other countries, as well as many communities in Canada.  But irreparable harm is being done to people who are being told to hate who they are, or to change who they are for the sake of God and the church.  Quite frankly churches bully gay people and their families until they submit to the pressure.  This was never the intent of the good news.  Despite all the good we do, if we hurt others to do it, can we say we are following God?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Please let your sixteen churches be the first to study this issue–every person–to make sure your church is not contributing to the problem, and to make sure that the good news gets to every person, regardless of race, gender, sex, nationality, ability, sexual orientation, or any other factor.  The Good News is the Good News of Salvation to every one.

Blessings and the Peace of Christ to you,

Jerome Stueart

If someone has already come out in your church, or you want to know what to do when they do come out–even if you don’t agree with their interpretation of the issue, please consider reading: when someone comes out in your church.  We can react in a loving way–we can sit and listen to each other.  We can be Christ to each other.

%d bloggers like this: