Nadine Smith

Gay-Accepting Christians Can Surprise You

Filed By Nadine Smith | January 31, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: election campaigns, gay faith, homophobic behavior

Below is a note from a friend who took a chance on his fellow church members. I found it fascinating and a reminder to engage in the daily activism of being ourselves everywhere we are.

Well, it seems that 2011 is off to an interesting start. Throughout 2010, a friend at church has been asking for permission to nominate me for Church Council and I resisted. Not only was I concerned about whether I wanted the additional responsibility, I did not want to be elected to Church Council without people knowing that I am gay.

So, that put me in a bit of a spot; just how out there did I want to be? While some knew (some friends, Pastor, and attendees of a meeting over a year ago) the larger part of the congregation did not know. I finally acquiesced and let my friend nominate me. A couple weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the church secretary asking for my "bio." I had quite a lump in my stomach as I wrote my bio, knowing it would be published with my picture in the church bulletin:

As a single gay man, I appreciate how welcoming the church family has been to me and my family. I attend with my mother and try to bring my niece as often as I can. [...]

I am honored to have been nominated for Church Council and, if elected, I look forward to sharing whatever talents and skills I have in service to this Church, its church family, and its outreach.

I honestly did not expect to be elected. Others who were running are, in my estimation, more qualified and dedicated to the church missions, outreach, and administration.

Further, I was sure that the first sentence of my bio would move me to the bottom many parishioners' lists. So why did I run if I didn't think I would win? It is a little complicated and there are a number of answers to that question but here are just a few.

  1. A friend asked for permission to nominate me and I appreciated his endorsement and confidence so I wanted to honor his request.
  2. I often wondered if I could have been of greater help when my former church was falling apart or even if I could have helped keep it from self-destructing. I had been asked to run for Church Council there many times but was afraid to do so, in part because I am gay and, in those days, would not have been allowed to serve had anyone known.
  3. I felt that submitting my bio as written might, perhaps in small ways, move some hearts to greater levels of acceptance. Even if it only caused some to take a moment to consider how they feel, that would have been enough for me.
  4. I don't like living in the dark.

Our annual meeting and election was conducted after today's church service. In the brief coffee break between the service and meeting, I knew I was going to be elected. The outpouring of support, handshakes, hugs, and well-wishes (even from those I do not personally know) was startling. What struck me most was the feeling that I was being elected not only despite being gay but also because I am gay. Who would have thought? Beyond endorsing me, the congregation was sending a message of acceptance.

I know that some of those who are receiving this email do not share my faith in God and some might question my involvement with any church at all. I accept and respect that point of view. I share this experience because it is uplifting to see that hearts can be moved, acceptance is a possibility if you let it happen, and it is important to have faith in your life; whether it be in God, in people, in possibilities, in yourself, or in the sun coming up tomorrow!

I also know that I have never had a conversation with some of you regarding my sexuality but I trust it is something that has always been known, even if not discussed specifically. Please know, you are getting this note because you matter to me and I wanted to share this with you.

I hope your 2011 is filled with life's blessings!

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My partner belongs to one of the oldest Christian churches in Bellingham, WA (First Christian Church). He has been a member for about 15 years, came out to his pastor and elders at a retreat about 6-7 years ago, and is now an elder in the church.

They made a very public leap recently when I encouraged them to list themselves in our local LGBT paper "The Betty Pages" as an open and affirming church. Although they have been working towards being open and affirming for a few years now, this was a very big step in COMING OUT PUBLICLY as one.

I think our community often makes a mistake in denouncing ALL religious communities as our enemies; there are some wonderful, loving, accepting Christians everywhere.....BUT....they do get drowned out by the louder far right bigots.

It's time the religious left get EQUALLY as loud!

our godson is going back to kuwait in a couple of weeks, and there was a gathering of our (self-formed) family to see him off along with our new inlaws, as he had married over the summer .

they are churchy folk, and we are not...and we had his "auntie annie" with us, who is openly gay...and the inlaws just could not have been nicer, and we actually had a great time talking about the contrast in lifestyles between michaelangelo and fra angelico and how les paul basically invented the multi-track recording process.

i'm glad things worked out well, and if you need some new recipe ideas for the upcoming potlucks...just let me know.

I am the convener of the New York area chapter of Integrity, the organization of LGBT Episcopalians and our allies. So many Episcopal parishes in our area have LGBT clergy and lay leaders, that we are redefining our mission to reach out to unchurched LGBT Christians. It is an interesting metamorphosis.

A person being better than the religion they subscribe to does not surprise me, but makes me want to ask where that righteous change came from.

I am glad that the community accepted him for who he his, but why should it not be otherwise?

If any doctrine claims to lift humanity beyond its brutal, selfish tendencies, mustn't they first accept those who do not harm others, no matter how different they may be from one another?

While I hope my cynicism will not be taken to heart, I feel it must be said.

Religion does not change religion-how could it?

Its the people and societies within and near those religions; pleading, begging, screaming, and demanding change that move us forward.

Expecting acceptance from Bronze Age doctrine in the 21st century will not get us very far, but making people cognizant of what century it is and what we will and will not stand for, will lead to some sort of forward change.

That is how I see it at least, I could be wrong.

John Rutledge | February 1, 2011 10:24 AM is a good website to find a church home. If we look, we can find a place for spiritual growth and plug into a nurturing community. Religion is not God, just man's attempt to explain Him and to work within their own self-determined framework. Each denomination, each church, has their own ways. When we can find one where the true teachings of the radical, all inclusive Jesus are truly lived, we find a flourishing, nourishing love. Life becomes a beautiful thing.

Anyone can surprise you if you hold enough unfounded suspicions about them.

That's great to read about. Go him!

The big problem with Christian Churches that welcome GLBT members don't really support the gay community.
Oh, individuals within the churches support causes and show up for marches, and serve on committees and raise money, but "the church" as an organization they don't do much.

Churches organize walks for NAMI. They have fundraisers for the Red Cross or have blood drives in the church basement, but I have never known a main line church have an event for the larger gay community.

This is a personal observation and the primary reason I go to an MCC church or similar congregation. To support our community.