K’zoo Churches: we can’t be seen with tolerant Christians
December 17th, 2009
Some things are so spiteful and full of malice that I – as cynical as I can be – still am shocked. I shouldn’t be surprised that nastiness can raise its head, but it does shame me how often downright meanness comes trotting along waving the “Christian” label.
Take as example a situation that is happening in Kalamazoo, MI. Eight churches had joined together to provide food for the homeless. They would provide food and religious support hoping to gradually draw the homeless back into society.
But then in June the city council of Kalamazoo voted to ban housing and employment discrimination against LGBT people. And some of the churches in Kalamazoo said, “Treat all God’s children with dignity? Yeah, I think we can get behind that.” But when the voters of Kalamazoo passed the non-discrimination ordinance with 62% of the vote, this became too much for some anti-gay ministers.
So they decided that they just couldn’t serve food to the homeless with someone who thought that gay people should not be, well, homeless. And because some of the other Martha’s Table participants supported the ordinance, then they took their ladles and went home.(Mlive)
Martha’s Table, through which eight churches have provided Sunday afternoon worship and meals for the needy at First Congregational Church, is losing three of the churches because of the issue of homosexuality, even though the ecumenical ministry takes no position on it, said the Rev. Matt Laney, pastor of First Congregational.
Agape Christian Church and Word for Life Church of God plan to withdraw from Martha’s Table at the end of the year, and Centerpoint Church (formerly Third Reformed Church) has already done so, Laney said.
For them, it wasn’t about caring for the needy. It was about using the food as a bribe to “bring souls to Christ”. (WWMT)
[Word For Life Church of God’s Pastor Jeff McNally] says that helping the homeless alongside supporters of the ordinance is something the bible just won’t let him do.
“I don’t feel comfortable recommending people that I love and I care about, that I’m trying to lead to Christ, to go to a church that I feel that may lead them astray with their interpretation of the scriptures,” said McNalley.
The remaining five will continue to, as they put it, in their “commitment to serve Christ and others.” And at least one is a conservative church that still is able to but anti-gay activism as secondary to helping others.
A pastor from another church in the Reformed, or Calvinist, tradition, the Rev. Ken Baker of Third Christian Reformed, said his church will continue its commitment to Martha’s Table.
“I feel very sad about the decision of three partner churches to pull out,” Baker said. “Everything about the ministry of Martha’s Table reflects the heart of Jesus, who came to preach good news to the poor. Surely, all our churches would agree that mercy and compassion were at the heart of the ministry of Jesus.”
He noted that his denomination takes a “theologically conservative” position on homosexuality, interpreting the Bible to say the practice is wrong but that it is not a sin to have a homosexual disposition. “But I fail to see how our integrity is violated by participating in Martha’s Table,” he said.
I marvel at the three who left. What, exactly, do they think faith, religion, and Christianity are all about? At this season, Christians speak of joy to the world, of peace on earth, of God’s love, of goodness, of kindness, of charity. How do they reconcile that with a decision to not feed the hungry because another church thinks that gay people shouldn’t be fired or evicted for being gay?
I am a Christian but I don’t pretend to be a theologian. I have no great insights about the nature of what comes after this life – if anything – and I certainly can’t preach with any certainty about the nature of any deities.
But I do know what is moral, what is ethical, what is good and what is right. And I know that I want nothing to do with the spiteful, angry, hate-filled god those three churches serve.