Gay Churches - How to find an inclusive Church

by Sam

Going on vacations, moving or just want to explore a new Church? Finding a Church that welcomes LGBTQ people without prejudice is not easy, here some things that might help you.

Finding the right Church for you can be difficult in the best of cases, but if you belong to a minority, meaning in this case, are gay, lesbian, transgender, bi or are simply questioning your sexual orientation, this can develop into a true challenge!
Or perhaps you are straight and would prefer to worship with a community as welcoming and inclusive as possible, because that is how you understand your personal faith?
Or you are curious about Christianity in general and would learn more about the different 'forms and shapes' in which it is available in? No matter what brought you here, I sincerely hope this article is useful for you!

Inclusive, welcoming, accepting and affirming

... what does all these buzz words mean when it comes to Churches?

Sadly there are many levels of how welcoming the different Churches and denominations are to non-straight people. Some denominations have 'outed' themselves as being inclusive on a national level, others vary in their degree of acceptance depending on the parish (and ministers!) and others are outright homophobic.

(c) me
(c) me

Oh, and to make this article easier to read, I will stick from now on to the abbreviation LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning). If I try to be too political correct and gender / orientation inclusive and spell it out every time, this article will become too long and too difficult to read, ok?

Back to the buzzwords:

Inclusive - Is a word that Churches use to describe themselves to signalize that they don't treat people differently based on gender, sexual orientation, race, color etc.

Welcoming - That can be a bit of a ambiquitous term, sometimes it means the same like 'inclusive', sometimes it means, 'yes, we welcome you, but we also will aim to change you if you are not like us'.

Affirming - That one is a step more than just inclusive, it means the Church in question aims to affirm and support LGBTQ people exactly as they are, encouraging them to live as they are and not to pretend to be somebody else.

MCC Church (UFMCC)

If you want to be 100% sure to be welcome as an LGBTQ, and equally as a straight person!, a MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) also known as UFMCC (Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches) is a sure-fire bet ;-) Founded in Los Angeles in 1969 as a Home Church with primary outreach and ministry to the LGBTQ community, it has now over 200 congregations in 37 countries, and counting. The majority of the members and clergy are LGBTQ, but they welcome also straight people. Apart of a strong emphasis for LGBTQ rights, both on a secular as on a Church level, MCC Churches are also known for their social work, outreach to the poor, Fair Trade support and they are part of the 'Make Poverty History' movement. It has both, women and men, in (senior) leadership positions and its Church directory can be found here:

MCC Churches

... can be recognized by this logo.
MCC
MCC

>MCC Congregations by Location<
Over 200 congregations in 37 countries worldwide.

Gay Church

... a good website to start your search.

If there is no MCC congregation nearby where you live and / or if you would prefer to worship with a more varied, not only 'rainbow-colored' community ;-), you will have to do some research first.

Gaychurch.org is an online directory of LGBT friendly churches and perhaps the best place to start your search. As it relies on user submitted content and recommendations, it might be worth to check things a bit more thoroughly before turning up at one of the Churches in your best Sunday dress, hand in hand with your same-sex-partner ;-) Things can change over time, for the better or the worse ...

This website lists not only 'typical gay' Churches, but also those that are simply welcoming and inclusive to everybody that comes through the door. Each entry has a link to that Church's website plus a short statement about its denominational affiliation.

Episcopal Church - Gay Friendly?

Also Episcopal congregations (ECUSA) come in all variations. A good place to start your search for an inclusive, Episcopal congregation, is a website called >Integrity<, which has a nice, map based search with links to the respective Church websites.

The Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) made world news in 2003 by electing and consecrating the Rev.Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. +Gene was, at that time, the first openly gay, and partnered, bishop in the Anglican communion. Whilst this led on one hand to a lot of tension in the wider Anglican communion, on the other hand it was a sign and symbol of hope for many.

Pro Gay Church

... tips for 'reading' Church websites

Rainbow banners or other 'we are an inclusive Church' banners, like the Integrity banner above, are an obvious give-away, but sometimes the hints might be more subtle ;-) When things don't seem to be clear, the best thing is to drop the minister in charge an email or message via the Church's website asking straight forward about how they feel about welcoming you in their community and if they see themselves as welcoming and affirming / inclusive or merely as welcoming. You might even spark a discussion that leads to some positive change ;-)

Gay Affirming Churches

... a long list in this Wikipedia article ;-)
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender affirming Christian denominations are Christian denominations that do not consider homosexuality or transgenderism to be sins. They include entire religious denominations, as well as individual ...

Gay and Christian?

Two good resources to get you started thinking. Click images for more details.
For The Bible Tells Me So
$24.95  $11.42
Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and C...
$18.00  $7.50

My Other Faith Related Articles:

Getting ordained online seems to be the latest craze on the internet. Some people think of it as a scam, whilst others believe it to be the best thing to have appeared on the net.
Updated: on 10/02/2012, Sam
 
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Sam on 03/11/2012

Thanks Jo! I am planning another one about which denominations are performing same sex blessings / marriages / weddings ;-)

JoHarrington on 03/11/2012

Go Sam! Great article about an important subject.

Shaz on 03/01/2012

Great article Sam, thanks :)



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