Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Only Church I Could...

A few weeks ago when the whole Chick-fil-a controversy was in full bloom, I asked my husband a question:

“Have you ever attended a church that you would feel comfortable taking an openly gay friend to?”

We both thought about it for a minute. He said that he thought some of the people of the church he attended as a teenager would probably be welcoming, but wasn’t sure about the church in general. Initially, I couldn’t think of one either. But after going through a mental list of all the churches I had attended in my life, I thought of one- Community of Faith Church.

Community of Faith Church was the small church we attended while we lived in rural Maryville, Missouri. It was a typical picturesque, Midwest, country church… the kind that still had church potlucks and had just a few lines of pews.

 Based on this description, I am sure that it is hard to believe that this is the church we would feel comfortable taking an openly gay friend to. When we first started attending, the pastor of the church had only been there for a short time. He had just moved his family to from a more populated city to our town of 3,000 people. While Jerry and I often got frustrated with our hick-ish, small town, our pastor and his wife had a deep and sincere love for Maryville.

The jobs we had while we were in Missouri often required us to work on Sundays, so typically we could only go to church once a month (twice if we were lucky). We never got a guilt trip from our pastor about how little we attended- they would just minister to us when we did see them.

I remember talking to Jerry about how shocked I was after hearing a few sermons that dealt with issues like pacifism and some very relevant examples of loving our enemies. I couldn’t believe that I was hearing sermons like this in a small town in Missouri. And the best part was our pastor always presented a biblical, loving stance on the issues- reaching out to people on both sides of the issue.

This is why this is the one church I would take an openly gay friend to. Other churches I have gone to have stated (from the pulpit) that homosexuals were trying to destroy the family, indoctrinate our kids and even went as far as telling their members how to vote (on issues like Prop 8). Statements like these ostracize homosexuals and quite frankly don’t make Christianity appealing (after all, who wants to be part of a group who distains them?). There is a way to present the truth in love, yet most churches don’t seem to do this.

And this is why I appreciate this pastor so much- and why my heart has been so heavy the past few days. I found out that someone reported him to the head of the denomination because of some comments he had made online about Christianity and homosexuality. Now the denomination is launching  an investigation on this.The individual(s) did not follow the procedure lined out by Christ in Matthew 18, but rather reported him for the things he said. Here is the thing- nothing he said went against the Bible. He submitted to what the Bible said on this issue while encouraging others to love, respect and not participate in homophobia (a biblical stance as well).

So, no matter what happens, I want to thank this pastor for showing love and truth, despite the consequences he might face. I want to thank him for creating a church environment that I could feel comfortable taking any friend, at any stage in life to- knowing that they would not feel judge or ostracized by other humans, but would instead be presented with the truth of the gospel in love. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do Pastor Andrew- you have been such a blessing!