Friday, November 16, 2007

Gay couples trigger debate at church

This story shows all too well the second class status gays receive at even tolerant parishes (It also makes me almost want to have a picture of Raymond and me taken for First Lutheran's next directory just to be perverse. I'm bad, I know). It is interesting that the Star-Telegram online poll ( shows that the largest number of readers voting favor having the gay couples' photos included in the directory. Here are some story highlights, but check out the full story so you can cast your online vote):
FORT WORTH -- A new pictorial directory was supposed to be part of Broadway Baptist Church's 125th birthday celebration. Established in 1882 near the infamous Hell's Half Acre, where gamblers and prostitutes once thrived, the church wanted to sing the praises of its missions and its members by publishing a book that included information about its programs and a directory featuring yearbook-style photographs of its members and families.

But since three gay couples asked to have their pictures included, Broadway Baptist has been involved in an increasingly divisive struggle over whether allowing the portraits to appear would be an endorsement of homosexuality by the congregation. The church will vote in December on a proposal to allow gay members to appear in individual photos, but not as couples. The directory is scheduled to be distributed next year. In that statement, [Pastor] Younger said that the church has had gay members for decades but that no couple had ever been pictured in the directory. He said to change directions would understandably be "troubling to many."

On the other hand, Younger wrote that other church members think that the congregation's gays, who "worship, serve and give just like everyone else," should not be treated like "second-class members." He went on to say that Broadway Baptist for years has had an "amazing policy on including gay people." "It's not a policy that a committee came up with, or the staff or the deacons," he wrote. "It's an unwritten policy that came out of the shared life of this congregation, a policy I believe was inspired by the Spirit. This has allowed us to be a congregation where the conversation can take place about being gay and being Christians."

David Reed, president of the Tarrant County Lesbian and Gay Alliance, said Broadway Baptist has struggled with the issue of gays in the church since the early 1990s, when Shoemaker was its pastor. "They have always dealt with it badly," he said. "They have always avoided the issue. They have always wanted to straddle this fence and never advocate on behalf of the gay members they know they have."

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