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

Poor thing. Fortunately he's not worried about being kicked out of his job or his housing because he's gay.