PABE


Nashville Church Welcomes Gays and Lesbians with Open Arms
June 22, 2006, 4:11 pm
Filed under: gay and lesbian, religion

nashville

I love this story. Nashville’s largest predominately gay and lesbian church, the Holy Trinity Community Church in west Nashville, will officially will join the United Church of Christ on Sunday because of the UCC’s stance on gays and lesbians.

In 2005 the UCC passed a resolution in support of “equal marriage rights for all regardless of gender” and encouraged churches to adopt new wedding policies for same-sex marriages. It has long allowed the ordination of openly gay and lesbian ministers.

The Rev. Cynthia Andrews-Looper (pictured), pastor of Holy Trinity, said that her 250-member church was drawn to the UCC because of its “open and affirming” position on gays and lesbians, in the pews and the pulpit.”

At least four-dozen congregations have left the United Church of Christ since the resolution was passed in July 2005. But in the South, UCC membship is growing at an unprecedented rate.

According to the Tennessean, UCC membership is up 79% in the denomination’s Southeast Conference including Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and the Florida Panhandle.

The spurt in UCC membership in the South can be attributed to the thousands of Christian gays and lesbians who live there without
access to accepting churches.

In the South, and I can say this because I am from there, religion and church are for better or worse the cornerstones of society. As my Yankee Jewish girlfriend noticed when we traveled to Nashville just last year, there’s a church on every corner or a sign saying that one is coming soon.

The centrality of church in Southern society is equally true for gays and lesbians as it is for heterosexuals living and raised in the South. The church might not welcome these gays and lesbians, but they are nonetheless a community in need of a church to call home.

Which explains why UCC membership is booming in the South. Just 10 years ago, the Holy Trinity Community Church started in a living room. Now it has it’s own location, 250 devoted members and a place at the table with a national denomination.

More impressive is how the church has truly helped its members come closer to god.

Money quote,

“I always felt worse when I left church than when I went in,” said Phillip Haynes, 46, who said he grew up Southern Baptist and tried the Catholic Church before turning to Holy Trinity about six years ago. “I left because of the prejudice.”

“I could not be myself at church and I always thought that God hated gay people,” said his life partner, Steve Deasy, who was raised in a Church of Christ. “This is the first church that’s opened its arms and accepted me for who I am.”

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