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An Oklahoma City church takes stance, welcomes gay community

by Carla Hinton Published: April 5, 2012

An Oklahoma City church has declared that it welcomes members of the gay community — and has no plans to preach against homosexuality.

Tuesday, the Rev. Don Heath, who is co-pastor of Edmond Trinity Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with his wife, Mary, said the congregation voted March 25 to become an Open and Affirming congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

He said some Christians use certain biblical Scriptures he called “the clobber passages” to condemn homosexuality. He said it is important to note the Bible was written by man and some passages “reflect the prejudice of the time” and not necessarily the inspired Word of God.

The metro-area church at 1400 NW 178 becomes only the second Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma to formally become an Open and Affirming congregation recognized by the Gay Lesbian and Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Alliance. Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tulsa is the other Oklahoma church that is listed in the alliance's Open and Affirming church registry.

Heath said he sent a letter about the church's decision to the denomination's leader, the Rev. Sharon Watkins, a former Oklahoma minister who now serves as general minister and presbyterian of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada, based in Indianapolis. He said his church was free to make the Open and Affirming choice on its own with no interference from the denomination's leaders.

“It's a congregational effort rather than a hierarchy saying this is the way it has to be,” he said.

‘Cupcakes and punch'

He said he is unsure how the community-at-large will react to the church's stance. He said his wife has said if the Rev. Fred Phelps of Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church — infamously known for protesting homosexuality — brings his church to protest against Edmond Trinity Christian Church, “she would bring them cupcakes and punch.”

Karen Barr, president of the GLAD Alliance, said it is an organization that keeps a registry of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations that formally vote to be known as Open and Affirming churches. She said the organization is independent of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination.

“Open and Affirming means that the church has intentionally considered that they wish to be known as a place where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals will be accepted as who they are, and where it will be acknowledged that they, too, are created in the image of God,” Barr, of Washington, D.C., said Tuesday.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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