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(Anglican) Church aims to reverse 'exclusivist' tendencies
Ottawa Citizen ^ | August 28, 2005 | Charles Enman

Posted on 08/28/2005 7:41:39 AM PDT by Loyalist

On Gay Pride Day today, St. John's Anglican Church on Elgin Street will use its main Sunday service to express solidarity with gay, lesbian and transgendered people.

For Rector Garth Bulmer, that solidarity is something that St. John's expresses all year round -- and has for years.

"We respect gay and lesbian people and make them, in every sense, full members of this congregation," he says. "Jesus said we must offer the full covenant to everyone, and that's what we're trying to do."

This is no new policy at St. John's.

As far back as 1997, the congregation declared itself "an open and affirming church," which, Rev. Bulmer says, is

"a kind of code used by many churches to say that they welcome gay and lesbian people as they would anyone else.

"The church has been an exclusivist institution for centuries, and the general opinion of our congregation is that that's got to change."

At Sunday's morning service, which begins at 10:15, a speaker will give a kind of "state of the church" address on the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Christian church. Special prayers will be said for those who suffer injustice on account of their sexual orientation.

Rev. Bulmer says St. John's has about 15 gay couples and about the same number of individual gay people who are "out," making up a little more than five per cent of its 800 members.

"These are people who know they can come here and be fully accepted, without reservation," he says.

He suspects there is a larger number of people who are attracted by St. John's reputation for tolerance, but who prefer, for whatever reason, not to announce their orientation.

Other Ottawa churches that very publicly welcome gay people include First United Church, Glebe-St. James United Church, the First Unitarian Congregation, and St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church.

Gordon Johnston, the organist and choirmaster at St. John's, is a gay man who has been in a committed relationship for 20 years. Twenty years ago, he was excommunicated from the Mormon Church because of his sexual orientation.

"It was hideous," he says. "I had devoted my whole life to the Mormon Church -- had even been guest organist at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. But once I declared my homosexuality, that was the end of me in the Mormon Church."

Mr. Johnston has written a history of St. John's relations with the gay community. He relates that the first rector had a son who, though known to be gay in an intolerant age, was well accepted by the congregation. In the 1960s and 1970s, St. John's was a preferred congregation for gay men in Centretown.

In the mid 1980s, under former rector Allen Box, St. John's began a ministry to people with AIDS, a population that, at the time, was mostly male homosexuals. (This ministry continues, though Rev. Bulmer stresses that AIDS is not a homosexual illness and on other continents strikes far more heterosexuals.)

Mr. Johnston observes that tolerance of homosexuality is growing quickly in North America, but he's of two minds about that speed. On one hand, he's bound to like it. On the other, "I fear that anything that changes quickly can unchange quickly. We have to be vigilant to see that we're not swept by the tide of right-wing conservatism in the United States."

Christians, he says, have to understand that to be Christ-like is to accept people who are different from oneself. "Christ kept hanging out with prostitutes, so where would we see him today? Maybe with drag queens. Or maybe not. But my point is that there's no one he would refuse to encounter."

Several times, St. John's has considered setting up a separate Bible study group for its gay and lesbian members, but Rev. Bulmer says the proposal has been rejected each time.

"The feeling is that our gay members just want to be part of the regular church. They came here for inclusion."

© The Ottawa Citizen 2005

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant; Moral Issues
KEYWORDS: anglican; ecusa; homosexualagenda; homosexuality; johngallienne; religiousleft
It's not really news that a particular Anglican parish has become a self-designated homosexual hangout.

What is newsworthy, but which this article does not discuss, is that this parish is so open and affirming that it hired a notorious convicted homosexual pedophile as an organist.

1 posted on 08/28/2005 7:41:50 AM PDT by Loyalist
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To: Loyalist

The issue is not "orientation" but behavior, which the Christian church has always believed to be sinful. There is not one word in this article about sin. All are welcome to come to Christ, but we are all sinners and all are called to repentance. Liberals simply deny the reality of sin and say that sinners need not struggle to leave aside their sins. That simply is not Christianity as it has ever existed. That is a new religion.

2 posted on 08/28/2005 4:20:55 PM PDT by Unam Sanctam
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To: Loyalist

Now, the only one excluded is God.

3 posted on 08/28/2005 5:39:42 PM PDT by aimhigh
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To: Loyalist
Christ kept hanging out with prostitutes, so where would we see him today? Maybe with drag queens.

This is probably true. But the question then comes, what would He say to them? What did he say to the prostitutes? That what they were doing was O.K.? Or would he say to the drag queens, "go and sin no more?"

4 posted on 08/29/2005 8:04:32 AM PDT by RonF
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