Evangelism in action

The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy, a priest in the Diocese of Bethlehem (PA) writes of what it was like for a number of congregations in that diocese to set up an evangelism event at a regional gathering of GLBT people.

He reports:

“Yesterday, about 40 members of the Diocese from six parishes (Grace, Allentown; Mediator, Allentown; St Andrew’s, Allentown; St. Anne’s, Trexlertown; Trinity, Bethlehem; and Trinity, Easton) hosted our booth at the Lehigh Valley Gay Pride event. It was a remarkable show of solidarity. Of the 40, only four or five were themselves gay. That sent a clear message that the Episcopal Church, not the gay members of the Episcopal Church, welcomes everyone into our community. Other parishes that contributed to the two-page ad in the Pride in the Park booklet and to the cost of the tent and materials were the Cathedral, Bethlehem; Christ Church, Stroudsburg; St. Margaret’s, Emmaus; and Trinity, Mt. Pocono; as well as the Safe Spaces Committee of the Diocese.

[…]The Episcopalians at our booth did not try to convince our visitors of any theological position about any issue, including the issues related to sexuality that trouble our Church and the Anglican Communion. (The staffers may not even have held the same position. They did not discuss it.) What our Sisters and Brothers did was extend a welcome to everyone who would receive it. They handed out brochures for all the congregations that sent them, as well as literature from Integrity concerning the conversation in our Church about GLBT people and their place in our common life.

At the entrance to the park, fundamentalist street preachers with large placards stationed themselves. They spewed hate and berated those who passed by. Our Diocese, along with a few other individual congregations of other denominations, painted a far more flattering picture of Christianity and offered a real Gospel witness. Whatever your view on issues of human sexuality, I think you would have been proud of our Brothers and Sisters. They represented us exceedingly well.”

Read the full article here.

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4 Comments
  1. John B. Chilton

    The presence of the Bethlehem folks at the Gay Pride March was laudable.

    Unfortunately, it is not yet correct to say the GLBT folks are welcome in TEC, though we may be more so in some places than in others.

    In no Diocese of TEC are GLBT folks allowed access to all the sacraments, including marriage (not second class “unions”; marriage), and in some places, we are heavily rejected and discriminated against still.

    And I would hate for those who might find a place in Bethlehem to have to learn about the debates over our equality at GenCon, such as the blatantly discriminatory BO33, or, worse, to have to read about Lambeth and the moral failure of Archbishop Williams. Those discussions and the actions of our HoB make it plain that GLBT folk are far from truly welcome in TEC.

    Perhaps Bethlehem should have said more accurately that GLBT folks are almost truly welcome there (even the caveat “whatever you think…” shows that welcome is compromised), though not so much in other places. That, at least, would have been honest.

    Bryant A. Hudson

    [posted on Bryant’s behalf.]

  2. Let me tell you something…every kind word of WELCOME and warm measure of generosity of spirit extended to LGBT people is an act of LOVE…CHRISTIAN Hospitality is much appreciated in a world running rampant with abusive thugs and bigots who damn us LGBT Christians/others to Hell…huge abrazos and eternal thanks to our brothers and sisters at TEC diocese of Bethlehem, Pa. who went out of their way to make us feel part of the fellowship at The Body of Christ.

    Mil Gracias Bethelehem!

  3. Libby House

    I volunteered to help transport the tables and chairs from the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem’s Booth at the Gay Pride event which Father Malloy describes. As I drove out of the designated area, I passed first a great number of police officers politely offering security and then volunteers with rainbow colored umbrellas who provided a safety barrier between those attending the event and the angry, screaming protesters carrying placards filled with threats and recriminations standing just outside. I must say the level of hatred in their voices startled me as I drove past. That kind of hate is both astounding and frightening, especially when one encounters it from those proclaiming the Gospel, the underlying theme of which is love. It made me very proud to be an Episcopalian, to be part of a tradition that respects and supports our right to understand things differently, that places more emphasis on struggling together with hard questions than pronouncing sure answers.

    Libby House

    Senior Warden, Grace Episcopal Church, Allentown, PA

    http://www.graceallentown.com

  4. tgflux

    In no Diocese of TEC are GLBT folks allowed access to all the sacraments, including marriage (not second class “unions”; marriage)

    Diocese of Los Angeles (has marriage equality in some parishes), at least, Bryant: we’re gettin’ there. :-)

    God bless TEC!

    JC Fisher

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