The longer I progress in my faith journey the more questions I have and less answers or less easy answers.
On November 11th I begin "church" upstairs in a gay bar. As part of the initial chat with the owner I told her that my name was on a statement called "100 Revs". If you look at the list you'll see me at no. 73
The basic details of the statement are:
"As ministers of various churches and denominations we recognize that the churches we belong to, and the church in general, have not been places of welcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people."
"We are deeply sorry and ask for the forgiveness of the GLBT community. We long that the church would be a place of welcome for all people and commit ourselves to pursuing this goal."
One of most important points in terms of communicating this statement to the wider Christian community is this - "We ARE NOT making a statement on the biblical position on gay and lesbian relationships."
The fact that I am starting church in a gay pub is a complete act of God's purposes. I prayed for a venue and happened to pick the owner of "The Gateway" up in my taxi. I honestly explained who I was and what I wanted to do and she responded very graciously and generously.
One of oldest friends (we have known each other for over 20 years) is in a long-term loving lesbian relationship and now my brother-in-law has recently come out as gay. In fact, last night I popped in for coffee with himself and his partner.
Yesterday at a family lunch the church plans came up in discussion and there were some statements to the effect that of course homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so and what happens when this arises as part of the church conversation. I think it was a surprise to my in-laws and other relatives to hear that my position is not so clear cut.
I will blog more on this over the coming days and weeks as I continue this journey but the point I made was that, firstly, I am concerned about people and not ideas as such. I appreciate scripture and I honour the Bible as the word of God but I am concerned at how selectively Christians pick and choose which Scriptures to take seriously and which to contextualize and which to simply ignore.
My ministry was nearly destroyed by lies and gossip and yet neither the people who wrote letters spreading the lies nor the people who received those letters and cut my family off have ever been disciplined or spoken to in any way and yet the Church is content to stand on the sidelines and condemn gay people. Yes, this is an emotive issue and, no, I haven't got clear answers but I do know that God has called me to love my neighbor.