800 Pack Kalamazoo, MI Forum on the Bible and Homosexuality
In Kalamazoo Michigan, where an anti-discrimination ordinance based on sexual orientation will go before voters in November, 800 people packed the Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites for a forum with six local pastors about the Bible and homosexuality:
"A panel of six area pastors — three who believe same-sex relationships violate biblical teaching and three who say Scripture does not support that conclusion — spent two hours giving their perspectives and answering questions posed by the audience and each other. The Rev. Matthew Laney, pastor of Kalamazoo’s First Congregational United Church of Christ, said the scriptural debate on homosexuality focuses primarily on seven passages of the Bible’s 31,000 verses. 'It’s only .002 percent of the entire Bible, an incredibly small slice,' Laney said. 'Sexual orientation is not a choice; it’s not a disorder. It’s part of God’s diverse creation.' The Rev. Dr. Douglas Vernon, senior pastor of Kalamazoo’s First United Methodist Church, agreed, saying the Bible may be taken 'very seriously' but not always literally. 'We believe there is no one right way to interpret Scripture,' Vernon said. The Rev. John Byl, pastor of Immanuel Fellowship Church, and the Rev. Dr. Paul Naumann, of St. Michael Lutheran Church, disagreed, saying the literal words are relevant and timeless. But all three ministers who argued homosexuality is a Biblical violation called for, as Byl put it, 'a church that doesn’t shut down those who struggle with this sin.' .. 'God is grieved by how the Christian church has handled this issue,' said the Rev. Dr. Jeff Porte, of Kalamazoo’s Third Reformed Church. 'We’re sorry for the way we have treated the gay community and people who find themselves challenged.' But Porte said he also is obliged to “speak the truth” and call homosexuality a sin."
The forum was privately sponsored by Kalamazoo business owners and Republican activists Lorence and Nancy Wenke, M Live reports:
"Wenke is a Republican and former Michigan House member who is running for the state Senate in 2010. Wenke said that sponsoring Monday’s forum — at a cost of about $3,500 for the venue, advertising and materials — probably cost him some conservative votes."
Poor thing. Fortunately he's not worried about being kicked out of his job or his housing because he's gay.