Grace UMC: A church with a different message for gays

Posted on 23 Apr 2009 at 1:08pm
By The Rev. Diana Holbert Special Contribtor

When the marquee outside First Baptist Church on Nov. 8, 2008 displayed the sermon title "Why Gay Is Not OK," I knew that I wanted to respond.

I had no wish to argue or even defend. Instead, I resolved to champion biblical teachings that offer the opposite message, e.g. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

I have been pastor for 10 months of a 106-year old, wonderfully diverse congregation in the most sacred space in Dallas: Grace United Methodist Church, on the corner of Haskell and Junius.

In this gorgeous 1903 structure, we worship with gay and straight, families and singles, elderly and young, rich and poor, home owners and homeless, black and white, refugees and Daughters of the American Revolution, and Democrats and Republicans. We believe that out of many, God makes us one.
I love being the pastor here.

On May 17, I will preach a sermon entitled "Why Gay is OK," based on Acts 10.
The Bible is a book that has been used falsely to condemn in Jesus’ name – anathema to the One who was said to have come into the world not to condemn the world but so that the world might be saved (John 3:17).

For years, gay people have given up on organized religion because it has condemned them. At Grace this simply does not happen.

For years gay people have had their self-esteem eroded by church and culture. One of our members has said, "Gay people have often compensated by having perfect bodies, owning the most expensive things, being workaholics."

At Grace all are welcome. All are loved. All are encouraged to grow in faith and service.

In the end, gay people want what everyone wants:
We all want to belong, to be loved, to serve, to look beyond ourselves to purpose and meaning in the world as offered by the grace of God.

In the end, gay people want a church that they can call home and be themselves. Grace United Methodist Church surely does offer that — and more.

The Rev. Diana Holbert is pastor of Grace United Methodst Church, 4105 Junius St. in Dallas. Sunday morning services start with Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. followed by worship service at 10:50 a.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 24, 2009.

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