Millennial Evangelicals push for full inclusion of LGBT “Christians”

When Pastor Adam Phillips moved across the country with his wife two years ago and planted a new congregation in Portland, Ore., he was heeding the call of his Christian roots, an Evangelical Covenant tradition that today has a primary mission “to reach young people, engage a growing multiethnic population, and develop vibrant local churches that make disciples.”

“Pastor Adam,” as his congregation at Christ Church: Portland calls him, was well suited for such a mission. Young, familiar as much with Tumblr as with theological tomes, and a former director of faith mobilization for the ONE Campaign, the antipoverty group cofounded by U2’s Bono, Mr. Phillips brought a charisma and enthusiasm common to generations of evangelical ministers.

Phillips is also part of a growing movement of young Evangelicals who have come to support the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Christians in the church, including in leadership positions, he says. Though he does not perform same-sex marriages, which are strictly forbidden by his denomination, he has advocated that traditional church teachings on what he has called “celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage” be extended to, and expected of, LGBT Christians as well.

Because of these views, he says, in early February, leaders of the Chicago-based Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), a denomination begun by Swedish Pietists in 1885 and which ordained Phillips in 2007, told their church-planting pastor that they would no longer support his ministry. They withdrew their commitment of $150,000 a year for three years.

Across America, many Evangelicals, estimated to be about 25 percent of the US population and a potent political force, have been grappling with the swift-moving cultural changes that have transformed attitudes about LGBT people and have so far made same-sex marriage legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C.

As a group, Evangelicals remain by far those most opposed to same-sex marriage in the United States, a Pew Research poll found last September. But over the past decade, support has nearly doubled among this mostly conservative segment of Christianity. In 2004, 11 percent of white evangelical Protestants expressed support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry. By 2014, a younger generation of Evangelicals had pushed this figure to 21 percent, according to the Pew survey….

As a faith tradition, Evangelicals have defined themselves for centuries with a high view of the integrity and authority of Scripture. In both the Old and New Testaments, most argue, the Bible is clear in its condemnation of same-sex relationships as an affront to the natural, God-ordained order of human sexuality, expressed only within the confines of a marriage between a man and a woman.

“Some people want … [to] take a surgeon’s scalpel to the Word of God,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, in a response to the movement last year. He accuses the movement of trying to reinterpret “what the Bible clearly calls immorality.”

“This is infidelity to the gospel we’ve received,” Mr. Moore continues. “First of all, no one refusing to repent of sin – be it homosexuality or fornication or anything else – will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). This strategy leaves people in condemnation before the Judgment Seat of Christ, without reconciliation and without hope.”

– The Trumpet Online –

Canadian Mennonites Officiate First Same-Sex ‘Wedding’

Two Mennonite ministers in Canada have officiated the denomination’s first same-sex “wedding,” holding the service publicly in a “church” building in Saskatchewan.

Anita Retzlaff and Patrick Preheim of Nutana Park Mennonite Church officiated the ceremony for Craig Friesen and Matt Weins on Dec. 31, which was held at Osler Mennonite, the childhood congregation of Friesen.

“For us, a wedding is supposed to be a celebration of our commitment to each other in front of our faith communities, our other communities and God,” Friesen told CBC News. “It wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t get married in the Mennonite church.”

“Having these examples that someone doesn’t have to choose between their religion and who they’re attracted to, I think that’s important,” Wiens added.

The Mennonite Church in Canada officially opposes same-sex nuptials, but last year, leadership announced that it would allow each congregation to believe as they wish on the subject in order to keep congregations from leaving the denomination.

According to reports, Nutana Park Mennonite began discussing the issue of homosexuality 15 years ago, when some who were involved in the lifestyle urged the congregation to be more accepting. A group was soon formed on how ministers would respond to the issue.

We didn’t want to be asked by a couple and not be able to respond honestly where the congregation is at,” Preheim explained to the Star Phoenix.

The question was turned back to the congregation, and in October 2012, the Nutana bulletin began featuring an “inclusive statement,” which reads, “Nutana Park Mennonite Church welcomes into fellowship and membership all persons who confess faith in Jesus Christ without regard to their race, ethnic background, gender, age, sexual orientation, income, education, ability and other factors that give rise to discrimination and marginalization.”

Then, Retzlaff and Preheim agreed to “wed” Friesen and Weins, a move that was considered to be controversial as the majority of Mennonite ministers in Canada believe that homosexual behavior is a violation of the law of God.

As previously reported, while the Mennonite Church USA is also officially opposed to homosexuality, some have expressed frustration over what they perceive to be a passive attitude toward congregations that affirm the homosexual lifestyle. Last fall, a Mennonite congregation in Ohio voted to leave the Mennonite Church USA in part due to concerns over what it believes is a lack of discipline against those who engage in homosexual behavior.

“We felt that Mennonite Church USA and [our church] were going in different directions concerning scriptural authority and holiness,” Ross Miller, pastor of Hartville Mennonite Church in Lake, told the Mennonite World Review.

He advised that concerns about various aspects grew over a number of years, but when the Mountain States Conference, a division of the Mennonite Church USA, approved the ministerial license of a Colorado woman who identifies as a lesbian, it expedited matters and resulted in a recent vote to part ways.

“We felt there needed to be church discipline, and there hasn’t been,” Miller said, referencing disappointment that the Ohio Conference failed to pass a resolution urging the denomination headquarters to address the Mountain States’ actions, as well as a statement from an executive board member that he felt was less than satisfactory.

By: Heather Clark – Christian News Network –

City of Houston Demands Pastors Turn Over Sermons

By Todd Starnes – Tea Party Patriot News –

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”….

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said pastors around the nation should rally around the Houston ministers.

“The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state,” Perkins told me. ‘Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.”

….The pastors I(Starnes)spoke to tell me they will not comply with the subpoena – putting them at risk for a “fine or confinement, or both.”

Heaven forbid that should happen. But if it does, Christians across America should be willing to descend en masse upon Houston and join these brave men of God behind bars.

Pastor Welch compared the culture war skirmish to the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, fought in present-day Harris County, Texas. It was a decisive battle of the Texas Revolution….
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