Comments

  1. Mark says

    I love it. Boycott the church. Wonder how many other incidents like this happen that aren’t covered in the media.

    In 1998, I remember my mom telling me about how she walked out of her church because of the hate speech. She had attended for more than 20 years and she got fed up. I thanked her, of course, but knew in the back of my mind that it was only one person’s actions and probably wouldn’t amount to much.

    Today, with 80% of a congregation abandoning their church – WOW, how far we have come.

  2. Gregory In Seattle says

    So? They chose to flee rather than stay and confront the bigoted pastor. They chose to flee rather than confront the bishop who appointed the bigoted pastor. They chose to flee rather than actually work for change in their church.

    That makes them abject cowards, not allies. You will understand why I don’t give a flying fk.

  3. Jack M says

    @Gregory, I don’t think you get the point. Leaving (not fleeing) the congregation sent a very loud and clear message to the church. Working within the system takes a long time; doing something like this took courage, not cowardice.

  4. says

    Adam’s interests might be better served if he simply gave up on ridiculous ancient superstitions used to justify bigotry and intolerance.

    The reason Sky Monster does not hate teh gays is that there is no Sky Monster.

  5. Michael W. says

    80% of the church members choosing to leave will certainly hurt the church, mostly in the checkbook. Without those tithes, the church will not be able to pay the mortgage on all the buildings and land they’ve acquired or the salaries of its employees. I think simply leaving is a great thing to do.

  6. norseman says

    I think there’s a disproportionately large percentage of gay men serving in the music programs of most churches. That’s just a personal observation from having worked in the field – I have no hard data to back it up. While I recognize the right of any religious organization to hold fast to their beliefs even to the point of hiring/firing, I think churches who do will find themselves singing along with pre-recorded/pre-programed music. Good that this congregation made a stand. I hope that they are withholding their offerings/pledges during their absence. Hitting them in the pocketbook is the only thing likely to really get their attention.

  7. johnny says

    Without a weekly cash injection (offering plate every Sunday) this church will go under in no time.

    Leaving was the fastest and strongest way to make a point: Put him back in or GO UNDER.

  8. says

    What did they expect? The man-made laws of this “church” state that no gay person can be in a position of authority. If they disagree, they shouldn’t be a member of this “church” in the first place. 20 percent of this “church” stayed. Just quit going to churches that are bigoted and hate gays. It’s like all the numb skulls supporting the new pope. He hasn’t changed his mind about gays going to hell, he is just not saying it as clearly as all other popes. Catholics, REAL Catholics, don’t believe in homosexuality. If you are gay and attending these churches, you are a hypocrite and you’re probably surrounded by hypocrites. That’s my opinion.

  9. EchtKultig says

    “Adam’s interests might be better served if he simply gave up on ridiculous ancient superstitions used to justify bigotry and intolerance.”

    A valid point, but some gay organists/choir directors just love the work, and, since there aren’t exactly any secular humanist churches, they have no choice if they want to be in that field.

  10. says

    Chances are that the 80% who left the church didn’t stop attending church altogether, they moved to other, more accepting Methodist churches or to different denominations. So actually this is very effective way to protest the new pastor’s actions.

    I’d imagine that a lot of the anger that motivated those people to leave was as much about the new pastor’s dictatorial style as it is about the treatment of the choral director. The guy is barely in the door and already he’s firing people who have FAR longer and deeper ties to the congregation than he does, imposing his own views on the congregation before he even gets there? That tends not to go over so well

  11. oncemorewithfeeling says

    Yes, you can be gay and a christian. You can also be gay and a serial killer.

    How about taking this opportunity to finally rid your life of all this fairy tale nonsense and start being gay and rational, instead?

  12. Chris says

    I am a the Director of Music and choir director at a UMC church in a town fifteen miles from Alexandria. I have worked and worshiped in this church for more than a decade. Ten years ago, our organist and pianist were a couple, and their relationship was presented to the congregants by the minister as an example of God’s love working in their lives. This was rather controversial, as public opinion on the issue was very different in 2004. Just this past weekend, our current pastor spoke out against Indiana’s HJR-3. She reported yesterday at our staff meeting that she had not received a single negative response. She also shared that there is some confusion amongst church leaders as to why this is happening in Alexandria in the first place, as there is no UMC policy prohibiting gay people from being a part of any aspect of involvement in church leadership, outside of ordination.

    It’s worthy of note that a great deal of American Methodists strongly oppose its policies on same-sex ministers and marriage. Efforts to make changes (real and linguistic) to the UMC Book of Discipline regarding the “gay issues” have been scuttled at recent UMC general conferences by an alliance of pastors from Africa and the southeast portion of America.

    I realize that there are some who think it’s just crazy for a gay person to work in a church, but I can only attest to the support and kindness I have been shown in the Methodist church as a musician, church leader, and human being. I have been unequivocally embraced and loved by the people in my church. The winds of change are blowing quickly through the church, and the larger UMC is coming around. I pray that the awful situation in Alexandria results in continued conversation about the importance of openness and equality within the UMC body.

  13. woodroad34 says

    I was just reading today an article about how religion is being attacked all over the world–not religious freedom, but the organization of religion. The only place the organization of religion is safe is the Americas (why, I don’t know–religion’s fairly nasty here, too). Religion has become the downer of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; it’s become a corporate/political power; it desperately squashes humanity’s hopes and is a corrupt institution. It’s lost it’s moral edge, it’s compass, it’s compassion and it’s ability to enlighten and push humanity forward. It could go away tomorrow and I doubt most people would care…in fact, they’d probably dance in the street to see the wicked old witch dead.

  14. Paul R says

    I’m with Caliban, it’s kind of hard to believe that 4 out of 5 people quit a church over a single incident. The interim monster must have already caused unrest.

    But I’m also with those who don’t understand why people work for organizations (churches, schools, bakeries, whatever) that hate them.

  15. Raybob says

    Who cares if the UMC splits? I was a lifelong Episcopalian AND a church musician – I’ve sun for hire in the choirs of churches I’ve been members of since I was about 16.

    When TWO of the Diocese’ Bishops in which I had been a member wrote letters to the Diocese explaining that even though the conference of Bishops had approved liturgy for blessings of same-sex unions, they weren’t going to allow it in THEIR Diocese.

    I left, taking my money, support, and talent with me. When asked to sing a wedding again, I responded that I would when *I* could get married in my own church, the one I was baptized and confirmed in.

    I frankly don’t care if the church splits and drowns and goes out of business. If they are this bullheaded and can’t adapt, then they need to go the way of all organisms who fail to adapt to new environmental conditions: extinction.

  16. reality says

    Methodists are not allowed to choose their ministers, so people have a right to leave the church if the minister is bigoted and preaching hate in the church.

  17. Chevytexas says

    It’s always good to gave the local perspective, so many thanks Chris. The UMC has had division before, not unlike mant mainstream denominations. In the South, Methodists hire their ministers, ‘calling’ them so this congregation would fire the minister, from their Board of Stewards, in more traditional parishes. A superintendent and bishop must have some agenda larger than Alexandria, In. to support firing not one but two employees. Very sad.

  18. andrew says

    Gay Protestant Choral Directors are about as common as Gay Roman Catholic Priests: Namely, the great majority. If gays stopped directing their choirs or saying their Masses, you could turn all these churches into Seven Elevens of CVS Pharmacies. What a joke!!!

  19. Howard B says

    @ Chris. Like you, my experience with church has been overwhelming positive. As an openly gay man, I have experienced first hand the kindness, love, and support of so many wonderful people at my local Congregational Church.

    It saddens me that so many people have had such negative experiences with other churches that All churches are branded with the hate label.

    Just like people, churches come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Some of them good, some of them bad.

  20. says

    interestingly enough – this mass exodus from the church is exactly how the church denomination i was raised in, The United Church of Canada, came to be! people from different faith groups or denominations were no longer satisfied or fulfilled by the limitations of their church, and left – and came together to form a new, non-dogmatic, non-exclusive, non-prejudicial place of faith and congregation.

  21. BETTY says

    @Gregory: how do you know they didn’t confront the pastor and make their feelings known and then boycott the church? Coward? Says the “man” anonymously sitting behind his keyboard passing judgement on a group of people, who in that act of standing up to their pastor have done more than you will probably ever do. What exactly have you done to promote justice and equality? Anything?

  22. Seattle Mike says

    ChevyTexas, I’m afraid that’s incorrect when you say that UM churches in the American South hire their ministers. The bishop appoints them to one-year renewable terms that usually start in June or July. A pastor can be removed by the bishop under extreme circumstances prior to that one year renewal (and this situation SCREAMS of extreme circumstances).

    Although the individual congregations of UM churches get a chance to meet the prospective new pastors and although they do pay the salaries, the congregations do NOT get to hire a pastor based on a call system.

    In this instance, it’s possible that both the bishop and the district superintendent are fiercely conservative and are trying to remake this congregation in their image, hence the appointment of this jerk.

    And just to restate a very important point, the official UM position applies only to ordained clergy, since they are the only ones “appointed” to serve. Others (such as music directors) are directly hired by the congregation and can be as gay as a garden party, if that’s what the congregation wants.

  23. deke says

    The UMC may be “coming around”, but it’s at a glacial pace. I left the UMC in the late ’60s because gay people were recognized as something less than fully human. I’ve never looked back. There are plenty of other places within Christianity where one can be accepted a fully human. The UMC is failing on many counts. With five miles of where I’ve lived for the past 35 years, five UMC churches have closed. Perhaps that is an expression of God’s will.

  24. Buckie says

    Churches change because the people that go to them change.

    It’s a good thing when people create change within an organization.

    And if an organization refuses to change, it folds. It’s simple.

  25. Bill says

    @Gregory In Seattle: while it was quite some years ago, at one point I was in some shared housing where the guy officially on the lease turned out to be a real jerk and pretty dishonest. He wanted something unreasonable in a discussion with everyone living there. I refused, so he told me I had 30 days notice and then tried to intimidate the next guy. At that point, I simply said, “You know, we really don’t have to put up with this. We can all just look for another place to rent and move there.” Someone immediately started to look at ads, and the jerk suddenly realized that he was about to be stuck finding a whole new collection of house-mates and could end up having to spend quite a lot of money during a transition.

    If 80% leave, the people higher up in the organization are going to notice because there will be a lot of red ink on the balance sheet. As they say, “Money talks.”

  26. DB says

    God bless the congregation for following Christ’s teachings, rather than the sinful example of the interim pastor. Though twelfth-generation Methodists and the descendants of circuit riders, my family has mostly converted from Methodism to the United Church of Christ and to Episcopalianism as a direct result of the United Methodist Church’s abandonment of Christ’s extravagant welcome. My husband and I were married in the UCC, something that would have been difficult in a UM church. The pastor of our home UCC congregation is openly gay and her sexual orientation would never be considered controversial in the United Church of Christ. I pray that Methodism turns towards God and away from human prejudice.

  27. Shlomo says

    I’m not quite sure how a Church operates or even if all denominations operate the same way.

    However, in a Synagogue the Rabbi and the Cantor serve at pleasure of the congregation. In most cases their contracts need to be renewed every year. If a Rabbi does something wildly unpopular he would finish his contract, but then not be renewed.

    Also, the congregation does all the hiring, so the Rabbi really would not have had the final say on such a matter.

    Lastly, in all major Jewish denominations (except Orthodox) it is not acceptable to discriminate on the basis if sexual orientation.

  28. FFS says

    Protestant churches are weird. It’s strange to me how one d-bag minister can run a church like his own little Fiefdom. Why is that silly homo wasting his time in church of all places?

    @Woodroad34: That’s the way organized religion has always been. The only thing that separates organized religion from the mafia is belief in an imaginary friend.

  29. says

    As for how often this happens: I think this happens a lot especially when the church musician is closeted or semi-closeted. They get him (or her) to resign and the choir and congregation never know why they left. That kind of thing happens a great deal.

    As for the people who think the congregation should have stayed around to try to affect change inside the church…that doesn’t work. Organizations like churches understand only the loss of donations and participation. They leadership got the message quickly when 4/5 of the church walked out. In most churches, that’s enough to make it no longer economically viable (depending on how big the donations are of the people who remain). They should follow this musician to a church that will welcome his talents and skills. I’m happy to see people take action rather than apologize with the lame “we’re not all like that”. If you stay and continue to donate in a bigoted church then you ARE like that. You just don’t want to admit it.

  30. pauleky says

    @SteveRider – couldn’t agree more.

    @Javier – can’t handle a little truth? If your faith is strong, why does a little criticism hurt your feelings? And “atheist rants?” As opposed to the spewing of right-wing religious freaks? Wow…

  31. scott says

    Article is misleading in that the UMC does NOT prevent local congregations from hiring lay people who are gay. UMC polity does prevent the denomination feo ORDAINING self avowed, practicing homosexuals. You do not have to be ordained to be a director of music. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee is responsible for hiring pisitions filled by lay people. The Bishop is responsible for appointing pastors. So this firing was Not based on the Book of Disciplne as it says nothing about lay workers who are gay.

  32. Bill says

    @Gregory In Seattle : as “middle management,” their bishop has a fair bit of responsibility for finances – making sure that churches are bring in enough revenue. When one loses 80 percent of its congregation, and hence roughly 80% of its income, the bishop is going to notice that.

    The pastor who caused the problem is going to have a hard time finding another appointment.

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