Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bless tonight's 7 p.m. National Coming Out Day Service

By Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
"Gay Christian? Yes!" Campaign

There is an excitement in the air as we ready for tonight's National Coming Out Day service at St. John's United Church of Christ, 1934 Bridge St. NW.

The hard work of the programming committee of the "Gay Christian? Yes!" Campaign is evident. The songs, the message, the creation of a sense of togetherness, purpose, family, solidarity and love is not by chance.

On this day we ask everyone to COME OUT! Show who you are. Embrace all that God has made you, be that lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, ally.

One friend wrote on his Facebook page that he is coming out as a heterosexual who strongly supports the LGBT community.
I like that. That takes guts.

Others are considering coming out as Christian members of the LGBT community. This is another action that takes guts for there are those who say you cannot be a person of faith and LGBT. Some of those voices come from within the LGBT community, from people who have been so bullied from the pulpit they say why embrace your oppressor?

Others are pondering is it safe? Can I tell my sister, my mother, my father, my pastor, my Christian college counselor. I'm tired of walking on eggshells and telling so many lies to fit in. I, too, want to celebrate the love of someone who looks like me.

My heart goes out to those on that journey. Those first steps are excruciating. But the joy, the freedom, the reality that God makes no mistakes and the reality that there are places of worship that will embrace you, walk with you and who will ask you to walk with them as they learn their way. That is truly a blessing.

That is one of the joys of this "Gay Christian? Yes!" Campaign as more churches and individuals come on board to see how they can help,learn and walk with their congregation.

Come to tonight's service and you will hear stories from those coming out, you will hear music from the West Michigan Gay Men's Chorus that will make your heart soar. You will hear a gospel song that comes from my story. "I Want You to Know My God" a song I wrote more than a decade ago in response to a well-meaning pastor who informed me that my love of another woman was "not of God."

But my relationship with God told me a different story and as I came out to my pastor and shared my story, my faith and continued mutual dialogs, I saw the power of God as my pastor eventually held up the Bible and told the congregation, "this is a book of love, do not use it to beat up people."

We all have stories. Feel the poignancy, the power and the blessing of National Coming Out Day as celebrated in a church setting and stay afterwards for fellowship and learn more about our host church St. John's UCC led by the Rev. Bill Lyons, learn about out other gay-friendly churches and learn about the "Gay Christian? Yes!" Campaign.

The song I will sing with the Plymouth Chorus is also the kickoff of a song contest, a search for songs expressing the faith journey of LGBT Christians in all the ways that we are: Blues, Christian, Folk,Gospel,Indie, Jazz, Rock. The songwriter's contest will culminate in a concert in 2012.

Come Out and be blessed.