An Oklahoma City church takes stance, welcomes gay community

by Carla Hinton Published: April 5, 2012
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Heath said a committee of lay people was formed in 2010 to discuss issues of interest to the congregation and the treatment of homosexuals in the body of Christ became a topic of discussion. He said the group met several times, watched films and read books on the issue. He said in 2011, the group began talking with the congregation about the possibility of becoming known as an Open and Affirming congregation through the GLAD Alliance.

Heath said the congregation voted unanimously to be placed on the alliance's registry. He said the church has now placed the alliance's logo on its bulletins and its website. Heath said the church's marquee also notes its Open and Affirming status.

“We are in the process of spreading the word,” Heath said. He said the church has reached out to a gay student alliance group at the University of Central Oklahoma and members seemed very receptive.

Heath said about 100 of the more than 3,600 Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations in the U.S. and Canada have been recognized as Open and Affirming congregations and several hundred more are in the process of becoming formally recognized as such.

Barr said people often contact the alliance in search of a church that accepts lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual individuals as they are. She said many of them have had bad experiences at a church and it is disappointing to tell them that there are no such congregations close to them.

The Rev. Thomas R. Jewell, regional pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma, said while Edmond Trinity may be one of only two Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations in the state that have formally been recognized as Open and Affirming with the alliance, other Christian Church congregations in Oklahoma — there are about 170 — also are inclusive.

“We don't have any criteria for membership other than that they proclaim the ‘Good Confession' of Jesus Christ as savior,” Jewell said.

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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