Thursday, June 9, 2011

Declaring affirmation is just the start

There is an open and affirming (gay friendly) church in Flint, Mich. (near where my parents live). Those that know Flint might find that surprising. Alas, it isn't United Methodist (there are several gay friendly UM churches in the state). It is Woodside Church and is associated with both the liberal United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches USA.

Baptist? Yeah. First, we're starting with the moderate branch of the denomination, not the Southern Baptist Convention. Second, The other ABC churches in the region kicked Woodside out. Now they're officially part of the Chicago region.

This post is mostly the story of Rev. Deborah Kohler who served Woodside from 1997 to 2010. They voted to be gay affirming in 2001 after studying the issue for a while. But that was only the start. It took more time to figure out that gay people really do want to be treated the same as straight people. Another issue was that outsiders kept referring to them as the "gay church" and that rubbed people the wrong way. Alas, there is always lingering internalized homophobia and heterosexism.

A few days ago I wrote about 40 United Methodist pastors in Minnesota saying they would perform same-sex marriages. That number has now passed 70. There are 365 UM churches in the state. That gives a hint at the percentage who agree with us but it doesn't directly translate to 365 pastors.

No comments:

Post a Comment