greensboro nc gay friendly church
College Park is NOT your typical baptist Church in Greensboro, NC. It has been affirming and welcoming of gay Christians for many years. The church has many gay and lesbian members, in addition to gay/lesbian leadership, deacons and staff members. In early 2012, we fought hard against passage of Amendment One in NC. Read more about that and listen to Michael's Amendment One sermons. We also organized and hosted a big rally - see videos and photos.
"Prejudice and discrimination against Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered persons is morally repugnant and the very opposite of God's love." - Rev Michael Usey
Also see our Bible Study: The Bible and Homosexuality.
Gay Baptists dismayed by church stance
From Greensboro News & Record, back in November 2005
By Nancy H. McLaughlin, Staff Writer
As N.C. Baptists exclude churches from their association that are “affirming” to homosexuals, Mark File, a gay deacon in his Baptist church, wonders if they’ve given any thought to what Jesus would think.
“They’re going to be heroes when they get back to their churches,” File said of the overwhelming number of conservative “messengers” who met in Winston-Salem earlier this week as part of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The group agreed to kick out member churches that knowingly approve of homosexual behavior.
“I don’t see anywhere in Jesus’ teaching that 'these’ certain people are not welcome in church,” said File, a member of College Park Baptist Church, which belongs to the state convention.
“I don’t remember a list.”
The Rev. Stan Welch, the incoming president of the convention, said Baptists can’t just sit idly by while homosexuals remain unrepentant. So earlier this week, the largest religious organization in the state, with 1.2 million members, asked its board to work on a written policy to reflect its vote. It is the second-largest Baptist group in the country.
Two years ago, the convention expelled a church for baptizing two gay men.
“In a day when Hollywood, when on TV shows, in life and sports, when people are coming out of the closet ... it’s made the church deal with it,” Welch said. “We are not going to sweep it under the rug. Everything in our culture has pushed it to the forefront.”
Baptists aren’t alone in struggling with the issue of gays and spirituality. In recent years, Methodists, the United Church of Christ, Presbyterians and Reform Jews all have re-examined their views on homosexuality and same-sex commitment services. Two years ago, Episcopalians ordained an openly gay man living with his partner as a bishop of the church.
Many gay Christians already hear their churches condemn them, so this isn’t totally a surprise, said Cheryl Bridges, a Quaker with a master’s degree in divinity from Wake Forest University. She and her partner made vows to each other in their Quaker congregation last year.
“I just keep saying, 'How long, oh Lord, are we going to have to be just a loving compassionate presence to those who would damn us to their hell?’” Bridges said.
Bridges’ master thesis looked at how churches are addressing homosexuality and working to become “welcoming” places of worship.
“It’s not easy for these congregations to get to this point ... and some never make it,” she said. “I felt really sad that there are denominations that insist 'we are not dialoguing on this.’”
The dissenters at this year’s annual Baptist convention were small but vocal.
“If we write a policy (on homosexuality), it seems only fair and right that we write a policy on every sin in the Bible,” said Rob Helton, one of more than 3,500 messengers attending the convention.
Some of those who pushed for the policy said they did so in a spirit of tough love — that while any kind of sin is sin, homosexuality is an unrepentant sin, and without repentance, gay believers won’t make it into heaven.
“What a horrible statement,” File said. “I just think it’s also a horrible lesson to have for your children — having your children in a church that says 'these’ people are not welcome. Basically, they are telling them they should also not be welcomed in your house or as your friend. There’s enough prejudice and bigotry out there, we don’t need a church to preach it.”
Unlike other denominations, which adhere to a hierarchy of leadership, Baptists have always reveled in their autonomy — with each congregation making its own decisions, said File, who grew up in the Baptist faith.
“I’ve talked to gay Christians who have contemplated suicide because of their church,” File said. “They were taught their whole life to believe what the church is teaching them — but they can’t change who they are. When something like this happens, all of those memories come back.”
The church is supposed to be a place of refuge for those who want to seek a relationship with God — not a place of politics, said Tom Hardin, a gay Baptist who taught school for 30 years in Greensboro before retiring.
As a public school teacher, Hardin “felt apprehension all the time, that someone would say, 'You’re gay, we don’t want you to teach our children.’
“Although deep down, maybe everybody knew about my sexuality, it was certainly something I didn’t talk about in school. It’s not something I talk about at church,’’ he said. “I think if anyone is stepping back in time, it’s the state convention. I see more and more acceptance in the public eye.”
The group’s action will only hurt itself, said Darryl Waisner of High Point, a gay former Baptist.
“I know that there are mainline Christian groups in North Carolina that will accept Christians who happen to be gay — they even accept women in leadership roles,” Waisner said. “So, this group has only alienated itself from people. ...
“God is still in control and has never once stopped loving us for who we have been created to be,” Waisner said.
Come visit to find out more about our gay-friendly Greensboro, NC church!