Thursday, June 30, 2011

Halifax's first sodomite/lesbian church closes

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

As reported by Gwyneth Dunsford in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on June 26, 2011:

Halifax’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are without spiritual anchor after their church of 20 years closed on Sunday.

Around 50 people gathered at Safe Harbour Metropolitan Community Church on Veith Street to hold one last worship service. The congregation of 27 decided to disband on April 17 after a vote at their annual general meeting.

"We reached a point in our history where we realized we couldn’t go on," says Jane MacConnell, the vice-moderator of the church. "The biggest (reason) being the financial side of things."

Realizing they could not pay their pastor at least $36,000 a year, Safe Harbour decided to close. Since 2008, average attendance at services increased by a third, while donations decreased.

Treasurer Bob Fougere says it’s unrealistic to expect a congregation of 27 people to financially support a church, and that personality conflicts also contributed to the church’s closure.

"When you get involved with church, there is always internal politics that goes on," says Fougere. "But those internal politics are even more sensitive, the smaller (the church) gets."

The church has struggled since 2008, when its pastor of 17 years died. Rev. Darlene Young was integral in Safe Harbour’s success and replacing her proved difficult. Rev. Bob Bond was Safe Harbour’s interim pastor from early 2009 until January 2010.

"I was there as their intentional interim pastor and my role was to help (Safe Harbour) to have a healthy approach in filling the pulpit," says Bond, from his home in Kalamazoo, Mich.

In a letter dated March 2011, Bond questioned Safe Harbour’s approach in hiring his replacement, Rev. Jennifer Paty.

Bond wrote: "I believe the selection of (Paty) was for the wrong reasons. I knew from my arrival at (Safe Harbour) that some influential people in the congregation had decided on (Paty) as the next pastor for the church. . . . Power struggles were conducted to make certain the right people were in power positions to make this happen."

Paty left Safe Harbour in late April and refused to comment on the church’s closure or the circumstance around her hiring.

Bond says the congregation was informed about the church’s potential closure over Facebook. This move caused "significant hurt and anxiety" to churchgoers, states Bond in his letter.

"My concern is that the rumour mill . . . was depriving people of feeling that they were a part of the church and the decision-making," said Bond.

Fougere says the Facebook posts about Safe Harbour’s closure were written by people who had "no idea" what was going on.

"There is no doubt that closing the church will hurt people’s feelings," says Fougere. "But there was no power struggle in the church. There were interpersonal relationships that were difficult, but there was no power struggle per se."...

...Safe Harbour was the first church in HRM to accept lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. The denomination of Metropolitan Community Church was founded in 1969 to offer Christian fellowship to gays and lesbians who were not accepted by other faith communities.

In Canada, Safe Harbour was the only Metropolitan Community Church congregation east of Toronto...

...Tim Doufar has been a member of Safe Harbour since 1993, yet sees the church’s dissolution as a step forward for gay people.

"Thankfully (Safe Harbour) is closing," says Doufar. "When Troy Perry founded the (denomination) . . . he was hoping there would be no need for the (Universalist Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches). Now (gays) are accepted in my home church, the Anglican church."

Doufar said it’s only a matter of time before all churches accept gay people.

That does indeed seem a natural progression: the increasing acceptance of sexual deviance within mainline (and, eventually, evangelical) churches will make special sodomite/lesbian churches unnecessary.

As blogger Vox Day notes:

Let's see if the usual signs of the church death spiral are there. Female pastor? Check. "Reverend Darlene Young" and "Reverend Jennifer Paty". Homophilic? Check. "Safe Harbour was the first church in HRM to accept lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people."...Eventually, even the most would-be tolerant Christians are going to notice that once a church starts throwing out the clear teachings of the Bible, it leaps into the death spiral that killed Safe Harbour and is now in the process of relegating the Anglican church to the dustbin of history.
Vox Popoli, Killing the Churches, June 26, 2011

HT: Vox Popoli

1 comment:

  1. I think the real crux is this statement: "the increasing acceptance of sexual deviance within mainline (and, eventually, evangelical) churches will make special sodomite/lesbian churches unnecessary."

    How perfectly succinct!