Evangelical pastor for full inclusion


Ken Wilson’s new book, “A Letter to My Congregation: An Evangelical Pastor’s Path to Embracing People who are Gay, Lesbian and Transgender into the Company of Jesus” is discussed in an interview with Religion Dispatches’ Candace Chellew-Hodge.

From the interview:

Q: So, how are you living out your new idea of accepting LGBT people into your own congregation, based on your study of Romans 14 and 15 that calls for acceptance of everyone even when there are deep disagreements?

Right when I was ready to “cross the Rubicon,” so to speak, on this issue with my congregation, I received an email from a lesbian woman who told us she and her partner were having their first child and they had not found a church they wanted to attend. They wanted to know if they would be accepted. They didn’t ask if they’d be welcomed, they asked if they would be accepted. In Romans 14, the word is “acceptance,” so this was our test case.

Our answer has to be yes or no—you can’t partially accept a person.

The gay and lesbian people who come to our church require courage, especially if they go to churches in the evangelical orbit. What they find here are people with differing views on this but those who come have found a home and a sense of belonging. However, I have to be extra alert as the pastor to make sure it is a safe place for them.

I try to be honest with the gay and lesbian people who come that it’s not a resolved issue within our church, but gay and lesbian people are used to that. But the gay and lesbian people who come are the most amazing people. The amount of love they have for Jesus to go through that process of reconciling their spirituality and sexuality is incredible. As a pastor, you’re not used to that.

The straight people who come believe the church has won the sweepstakes when they join because they can go down to any other church, so they’re looking for a church to deliver their niche needs. For gay and lesbian people, all they want is to belong and if you’re willing to accept them it’s like the original Gentiles coming to faith.

There’s so much God-activity in all of this and pastors who aren’t welcoming these people are missing out.

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Paul Woodrum
Paul Woodrum

I don't know. Somehow all this evangelical straight talk suggests gay people are dreadfully needy and that all they want is to belong, to be embraced, to be accepted by straight people sounds a tad -- well, a lot -- condescending. How about justice, equality, and love?

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