Thursday, May 11, 2017

How Fear of Losing Funding Keeps LGBTQ-Affirming Pastors Quiet | Sojourners

How Fear of Losing Funding Keeps LGBTQ-Affirming Pastors Quiet | Sojourners

In October 2014, pastor Gary Hale was excited to start a new church. He moved his family from Seattle to San Jose, Calif., to plant the Bayshore Community Church, to the excitement of his home church and supporting evangelical community. In fact, more than 20 churches and evangelical organizations promised more than $300,000 dollars in support to launch the church.

But today, Hale has moved back to Seattle, and Bayshore Community Church has closed. After Hale and his staff became affirming of LGBTQ people, the project immediately lost $50,000 in pledged support, and more sponsors pulled out in the weeks following.

Hale told Sojourners that the leadership’s journey to LGBTQ affirmation began almost as soon as it was planted. Hale’s 23-person launch team, all friends from Seattle, included an openly gay man. Hale said for him that was a non-issue, but he didn’t give much thought to the theology around same-sex relationships. To the Southern Baptist Covention — and Hale — non-straight relationships were sinful.

But the fledgling church and its members were repeatedly confronted with the reality of LGBTQ Christians. Early on, the Bayshore Community Church team promoted the new church plant to residents of San Jose. At a fair at which the church had a booth, a lesbian couple walked up to the table and asked, “Can gay people come to your church?”

Again, Hale responded against as if it were a non-issue — of course gay people could come to Bayshore Community Church.

  

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