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Congregations find each other

Timothy Kincaid

December 4th, 2013

There’s an interesting story out of Minnesota about a pastor of a predominantly African American church who lost most of his congregation after voting for recognition of marriage equality in the United Church of Christ denomination. (Star Tribune)

[Oliver] White’s struggling, nearly 20-year-old congregation saw its situation worsen in 2005 when he voted with a majority of delegates in favor of a resolution supporting gay marriage at a national UCC assembly. His vote didn’t go over well with most of the 320 Grace Community members, White said. Membership dropped to nearly 100, he says.

(Fox)

Last July, the church White led for 22 years — Grace United Community Church of Christ in St. Paul — closed its doors after two thirds of the congregation left because White voiced his support for same-sex marriage.

For more than a year and without much success, White searched for a place for his remaining members to worship. Then, he called Clark Memorial United Church of Christ in South St. Paul –where the older, shrinking congregation was looking for ways to save its building.

“She said, ‘We need you and you need us. Quid pro quo,'” White recalled. “I said, ‘They got a building and I got a young congregation. Maybe this could work.'”

Mysterious ways.

(Star Tribune)

White’s predominantly black congregation, Grace Community, now worships alongside the mostly white members of Clark Memorial Church in South St. Paul in an unusual partnership that grew out of both congregations’ advocacy for gay rights.

“I have to scratch my head and wonder, ‘Oliver, what are you doing there?’ ” said White, 71, during a recent interview. “Then I come to realize, we’re all people and if I can be an advocate for the LGBT community, then why can’t I be an advocate for bringing people together in one accord, which is what I’m trying to do.”

I’m sure the very different worship traditions are new and challenging to both congregations, but also probably quite exciting.

Comments

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Michael C
December 4th, 2013 | LINK

Two churches enter into an interracial marriage because they believe gay couples should be allowed to marry. I love the twin cities.

I recall being so impressed with White’s strength and determination as his congregation turned it’s back on him. It takes a great man to risk everything to do what’s right.

The Lauderdale
December 4th, 2013 | LINK

“I’m sure the very different worship traditions are new and challenging to both congregations, but I’m also probably quite exciting.”

Oh, you’re always exciting.

Timothy Kincaid
December 4th, 2013 | LINK

He he

Honest mistake. Fixed now

Stefan
December 5th, 2013 | LINK

“Two churches enter into an interracial marriage because they believe gay couples should be allowed to marry. I love the twin cities.”

It’s comments like this that make me so proud to call myself a lifelong Minnesotan.

DN
December 5th, 2013 | LINK

… And my comment was deleted. Any chance I could get an explanation as to why?

DN
December 5th, 2013 | LINK

… And never mind! Wrong thread.

Ren
December 8th, 2013 | LINK

Greetings from a twin citizen.

Surprising news to me as UCC is generally regarded as a progressive denomination.

It brings to mind the show Heretics on This American Life. ​Carlton Pearson was another African American pastor whose congregation dwindled after preaching his evolving views on Hell.

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