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    How Different Churches Respond to a Gay Rally

    How Different Churches Respond to a Gay Rally

    This is interesting... from the Atlanta Journal Constitution... on the different ways that different churches responded to a recent Gay pride rally in Atlanta...

    Here's a little from the article:

    The battle for Jesus played itself out Saturday as it does every year during Atlanta's largest event for gay people.

    Outside the gates of Piedmont Park, where much of the Atlanta Pride Festival takes place, a handful of conservative Christians carried Bibles and signs, warning arriving gays of impending eternal doom unless they change.

    For the past two years, local churches who affirm gays have mounted a counteroffensive. Their members stand near the conservatives, holding signs saying that God accepts gays just as they are.

    "We are letting people know that there is an alternative message," said Lisa Costen of Atlanta.

    She attends Trinity United Methodist Church, which affirms gays though the United Methodist denomination has not taken that step.

    The battling groups reflect much of what is happening inside American Christianity, as churches grapple with how to treat gay members. Some reject them. Some welcome them with open arms. Others are trying to find a balance.

    Inside the park, local churches, from a born-again, charismatic gay congregation to mainline churches, such as the Episcopal Church, have taken vendors' booths and invite gays in without demanding they change.

    This year, two evangelical ministers who are walking a middle path between outright condemnation and full affirmation of gay people took a booth and surprised those stopping by with apologies.

    "I just want to say I'm sorry," Jason Harper, an assistant pastor from Sacramento, Calif., told a man as he handed him a white rubber bracelet with "We're Sorry" indented into it.

    Harper continued, he is sorry for the way many churches have treated gay people, making them feel like outcasts. The man paused, looked Harper in the eye and thanked him before disappearing.

    Harper and Craig Gross wrote a book, "No Matter Who You Are or What You've Done, Jesus Loves You, This I Know" (Baker Books $17.99), about their experiences with prisoners, porn stars, Las Vegas strip down-and-outers and other strangers to church. They attended Atlanta Pride as part of the book tour. They don't condemn gay people, but they won't affirm a gay relationship as an ideal union. That typically does not come up in their brief apologies.

    Renee Randall, a gay Georgia State University student, smiled and chatted with Harper and  Gross after an apology.

    "I think it's a message that people need to know," she said after leaving the booth.

    "It gets really old hearing all that other stuff," she said, nodding toward the gates where the conservative Christians stood in the misting rain with their signs.

    You can read more of the article here...

    So... how would YOUR church act at a gay pride rally, or would you just stay away?

    Comments

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    1. CindyK on Thu, November 05, 2009

      I think Harper and those fellows were spot on!  Jesus does love us all.  I’m so grateful that I’ve been forgiven, and that he never stopped loving me when I was rebellious.

      Is homosexuality a sin?  Yes.  I dropped a bucket of water on the floor this morning and I said words I should not have said. Also a sin.  Also forgiven. 

      Yes you have to turn from your sin before you’re forgiven, but I’ll let the Lord take care of conviction.  As followers of Jesus we need to understand that it’s hard for anyone to hear what the Spirit is trying to say in his quiet loving voice if the sound of condemnation from self righteous Christians is ringing in your ears.

      We need to shut up and love people and know that this battle is not ours, but it is the Lords.

    2. Gary Humble on Thu, November 05, 2009

      I think what Harper is doing is a good thing.  As Christians, we don’t need to be out on the streets shouting condemnation to anyone.  We should be shouting the love of Christ.  Yes, homosexuality is sin and it’s disgusting to me.  But Christ in me does not allow me to hate or condemn people.

      However, I can’t for the life of me figure out why any church organization would feel the need to get involved in a gay pride march.  If they want to march, let ‘em march.  I don’t see why the church would be there regardless if it’s to condemn or affirm. 

      Why can’t the local church just learn to be the local church, and act like it.

    3. CindyK on Thu, November 05, 2009

      Gary Humble said:

      “However, I canít for the life of me figure out why any church organization would feel the need to get involved in a gay pride march.”

      Personally I think we should be everywhere, particularly in those places where the love of Christ is most needed.  I think it’s needed at a gay pride march.

    4. Jerry on Thu, November 05, 2009

      It’s a tough to get past the emotional response and into the hearts of those we’re trying to reach with the message that Jesus loves the sinner but hates the sin. Many involved in sinful lifestyles, (not limited to gay relationships), don’t want to hear anything that would cause them to look at their activities as sinful, and strike out at any form of correction. They like the “Jesus loves you” part, but they don’t want to hear the “He hates your sin” part. Instead of taking the first part and letting it transform the second part, they get upset at us, the messengers. We need to love them, as Jesus would, but firm, uncompromising love is hard for them to accept. That’s why it takes so many tries, so we can prove that we actually care about them.

    5. Gary Humble on Thu, November 05, 2009

      Ok, let’s play.  So, CindyK, what does that look like to you.  As a Christian, how do you show up at a gay pride march and show the love of Christ?

      Just asking.  I’d love to know how you would practically go about doing that at the march.

    6. CindyK on Fri, November 06, 2009

      Er… I have no desire to ‘play’.  smile  Thanks for the offer though… I guess.

      I said it was a personal opinion.  You don’t have to go anywhere that makes you uncomfortable.

    7. Sgillesp on Mon, November 09, 2009

      I think showing up to say I’m sorry is EXCELLENT - that’s how you go there to show the love of Jesus.

    8. Steve Long on Mon, November 09, 2009

      Maybe instead of making a very public and news creating statement about the hypocrisy of our brethern we can minister quietly in hospices for those dying of aids. Maybe we can get acquainted to people who do not see an eternal equation in their lives and build relationships and let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting on the ‘conviction’ end. We do beleive that this is one of the ministries of the Spirit don’t we. John 16:7, “7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;Jesus continually told those whom he helped not to tell anyone.”  It says here that the Spirit is the one to convict, not us. Seriously, NOT US. We just love.
      Ministering to needs is a private and wearying task but it must be aimed at giving God glory, not underlining the defects in others thinking about spiritual things. We have geen commanded by our Lord to love after the fashion of our creator who loved us while we were yet sinners. He gives rain even to the unjust farmer.
      We must quit making a public show of our love and become lovers of all people away from the spotlight. Jesus told many whom he helped and healed to keep his identity to themselves. The object of his efforts in separating his identity from God’s healing power in their lives was to glorify his Father and not himself.

    9. Michelle on Mon, November 16, 2009

      Wow, what a great act of love on the part of Jason Harper and Craig Gross! I’ve been digging into this great divide between the GLBT Community and the Evangelicals and the more I dig the more my heart breaks. I agree that we should put aside our adversions to their lifestyle, get to know them, introduce Jesus and let God do the heavy lifting (nicely put!!!)  I don’t agree with the statement ‘Love the Sinner, hate the sin’ at all with respect to the gay community.  First off, it’s extremely over used; almost bumper sticker kitch, now. What we are calling their sin IS their identification, not necessarily who they are, but how they are identified. We are, in turn, saying to them…we hate what identifies you…or we hate you. I’m not comfortable with that. This is very new to me, within the past year or so…so I am still developing love, compassion and grace. I am not perfect but someone in the church HAS to stand up and say ‘WHAT ARE WE DOING? Why are we turning our backs and thinking ‘someone else’ is going to reach them? It won’t happen if we thinkg ‘someone else’ is going to do it. It will take a bridge between both camps, but it can be done! : )

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