A small Toledo, Ohio church has jumped to the top of our Most Inspiring Churches list (Well, second from the stop…). Central United Methodist Church has begun displaying a controversial message on a billboard in downtown Toledo.
“Being Gay is a Gift from God.” Amen!
The decision to put up the message came about after the string of high-profile suicides across the country by gay teens over the past year. Central United Methodist wanted to make sure no Toledo teens would meet the same fate.
The Rev. Bill Barnard, Central’s part-time pastor, said the billboard message will be linked to a four-week sermon series, and the overall campaign goal is “to make a leap beyond tolerance.”
“Members of the congregation have experienced places and times where being lesbian or gay was tolerated — kind of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell, I know God forgives you,’” Barnard said. “We’re saying, ‘This is the way God created you. There’s nothing to forgive.’ “
But not everyone is receptive to this church’s message.
The Rev. Scott Ocke, pastor of Maumee United Methodist Church, is among those who disagree with Central’s billboard message.
“Our denomination says all persons are of sacred worth. It also says the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching. So we try to distinguish between what a person is and what they practice,” he said. He said that although gays are welcome at his church, the church has a responsibility to “help them move to a more biblical lifestyle.”
The Rev. Adam Read, assistant pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Ohio, also feels that the billboard sends the wrong message. He said that “the scriptures clearly condemn homosexuality as being a perversion of God’s plan as is stated clearly in Romans 1:26-27.” And, he said, if “God states that homosexuality is wrong, it is impossible for homosexuality to be a gift from God.”
While that same old hateful swan song will continue to be sung for the foreseeable future, it brings us great pride and joy to see churches like Central United Methodist and Douglass Boulevard Christian Church, who stopped signing marriage licenses until gays can marry legally as well, stand up for their LGBT parishioners.
Keep up the good work, y’all! Hallelujah!
True of False: Being gay is a gift from God?