A low point at High Point
The High Point Church of Arlington has hit a low point. Using the grieving of a family to drive home the message that High Point hates gays is inappropriate. If this is another “hate the sin but love the sinner” message, then where is the love?
Shame on Pastor Gary Simons and the leadership of High Point. Nowhere in the Gospels of Christ is there condemnation against LGBT people. There is, however, plenty of condemnation against religious hierarchies that put upon others to make them feel less than human. Jesus taught to love God and to love our neighbors even our gay neighbors and their grieving families.
Trinity Metropolitan Community Church of Arlington offers our heartfelt condolences to Cecil Sinclair’s mourning family and friends. We are praying for you in your loss. We are proud of you for not allowing this bigoted group (disguised as Christians) to sully the cherished memories of your beloved Cecil.
You may need a sympathetic ear or friend in the future to help you in your loss. We want to be available to you where you will be loved not judged. The memory of Cecil will be honored, not tarnished. You can expect dignity given to his name, not disparaging remarks.
Curtis L. Smith
Pastor, Trinity MCC in Arlington
Tragic and disturbing
The situation between the High Point Church and the family of Cecil Sinclair is both tragic and disturbing. It is disconcerting that poor communication led to such a burden on a loving family in a time of loss and grief.
As people of faith and leaders in the gay and lesbian community, we always hope that communities of faith will treat all people regardless of sexual orientation with dignity and respect, particularly in times of great need.
Freedom of religion is an American right and a human value we hold dear, and High Point Church is certainly entitled to its beliefs. However, we wholeheartedly reject and condemn the remarks made by High Point’s senior pastor, the Rev. Gary Simons, when he compared being gay to committing murder.
This is an egregious statement in any context. It is particularly reprehensible that Rev. Simons chose to offer his remarks so personally toward Mr. Sinclair within days of his death during his family’s greatest hour of need, and it is profoundly deplorable that the Rev. Simons directed his comparison so pointedly at a United States Navy veteran who served his country with honor and distinction.
It is our hope that Mr. Sinclair’s family, friends and loved ones have been able to celebrate his life in whatever way is meaningful to them. It is our hope, too, that communities of faith will work diligently to ensure that no grieving family in their midst endures scornful judgment or abject disdain at the hands of its leaders.
Patti Fink, president,
Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance
The Rev. Roger Wedell, co-chair,
HRC Dallas Religion and Faith Committee
The Rev. Michael Piazza, president,
Hope for Peace & Justice
The Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor,
Cathedral of Hope UCC
Ridiculous and un-Christian
An open letter to Pastor Gary Simons of High Point Church in Arlington:
Your argument to cancel a memorial service for a gay man, not to mention a war veteran, at your church based upon the fact that he was gay is not only completely ridiculous, but very much un-Christian, as well. Even if anyone were to concede that homosexuality is a sin (I don’t agree with that), whatever happened to “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”?
Do you think that God would find you blasphemous for denying respect to one of your “brothers”? Well, I think that God would offer unconditional love for all of us without the “Christian Yahtzee” rules that you feel apply.
Shame on you for teaching discrimination and hate to your church’s children.
You should teach love and acceptance, and for God to judge if and that’s a big if he/she feels it’s necessary. You are a disappointment to those who try to follow the word of God.
An Open Letter to High Point Church:
Regarding your decision to decline the services for Cecil Howard Sinclair, I think that it is abominable. Is this the message that you wish to convey to your children to offer unconditional love and support, and then to turn around, reconsider, and subsequently deny that offering?
I hope that some of the people who are supporting you take note of your actions and withdraw their support, be it financial or otherwise.
For the record, I am a heterosexual, non-religious female. But I do love. And I love unconditionally. I am no better or worse than the next person because of my religious beliefs or lack thereof; because of my education or lack thereof; or because of my financial status or lack thereof. It is actions such as yours that lead more people like myself away from the organized hypocrisy that you call religious freedom. May your God forgive you, because I do not. My condolences and blessings are with the family and friends of Mr. Sinclair, who have lost a man that they love, and that is all that matters.
Proud to have known Sinclair
The Organized Religion vs. GLBT Community Battle reaches new low as High Point Church in Arlington reneges on its commitment to hold funeral services for a gay war veteran. And I didn’t even know I was a part of the fray this time around!
In addition to being offended by pictures submitted for a video presentation showing affection between Cecil Sinclair and his life partner, church officials said they were concerned they did not know who was going to officiate the service and would not have control over the content. That someone was me! They never contacted me to ask what the content would be, so how would they know?
My former chorus, the Turtle Creek Chorale, provided the music, as Cecil was a member for many years. This is not new territory for the Chorale. We were banned from performing for a choral convention some years ago at First Baptist Church, Dallas. The church administrator said, “If there were a choir of adulterers in town, we wouldn’t let them sing at the church.”
But it is a huge leap from being compared to adulterers back then to murderers today, as Pastor Simons was quoted this week. I was asked by a reporter if I thought they were afraid of the choir. I said I didn’t think so. The Chorale sang “Amazing Grace,” hardly standard gay Pride rally music.
I knew Cecil for almost nine years. I remember very well his story of returning from Desert Shield, deciding he could no longer live a lie. He courageously came out, risking, and indeed losing, his biological family, most of whom belong to the Church of Christ. And I remember vividly every time one of them came back into his life because he either e-mailed me or phoned to rejoice that they had been reunited.
The memorial service on Aug. 9 was one of the most moving, love-filled experiences in memory. The room was literally packed standing room only. Every single person, including Cecil’s father, mother and sister shared thoughts emphasizing how much they loved him and how proud they were of him “just as he was.” The service exhibited a true Christian spirit that not even a local pastor could diminish or erase with words of hate.
These days are difficult. Even when we think we have made huge steps forward, we are reminded by the whiplash of such an experience that the steps have not been so great. It is most often the very people who preach the gospel who forget the truth at its base unconditional love and absence of judgment. Instead, they hurl their insults and retreat into their ignorance, fear and rigidity.
I was humbled to be in the presence of Cecil’s family and friends and honored to officiate at the service. Cecil never wavered from his belief that he had done the right thing in living a life of truth. His passing has made an enormous impact on countless people who have now read or heard his story and rejoiced in his life and in the legacy he has left. I am so proud to have known him and his family.
Tim Seelig, director,
Art for Peace & Justice
Remembering John Briggs’ legacy
I was sorry to read of John Briggs’ recent passing (“Deaths,” Dallas Voice, Aug. 3). While his health has been failing for some time, it feels sad to know the end has come. I remember John from more vigorous days, when he was a vital advocate for The Experience workshops in Dallas, and I was just beginning to lead them. Championing The Experience vision of personal and LGBT community empowerment, John was tireless in his support and leadership.
Among the gifts John leaves are the lives (too many to count) that have been touched, inspired and empowered, and the organizations that have been founded and thrive with expanded consciousness, due to the positive influence of The Experience workshops in Dallas and throughout the country. I am happy to say The Experience continues to be available nearby in Santa Fe, N.M., ensuring John Briggs’ legacy.
Honey Ward, facilitator for The Experience
Santa Fe, N.M.
Bravo to Leppert, Heinbaugh
Thank you for article about Chris Heinbaugh (Dallas mayor appoints openly gay TV reporter to lead staff,” Dallas Voice, Aug. 10).
As a longtime community leader and former Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance president, I worked with Chris on numerous stories and issues. Chris is the consummate professional. He is a man of character and honor. I know he will be an excellent chief of staff for Mayor Tom Leppert. This appointment shows the leadership and skill of Dallas’ new mayor. This selection along with other notable choices should alleviate any fear or concern over Mayor Leppert.
I encourage the GLBT community to step out and engage our elected officials in open dialogue. As a city we have a lot of major issues to tackle, such as economic development, crime, the Trinity River Project and others. Mayor Leppert and the new city council will achieve great things with your insight, support and guidance. Bravo to Mayor Leppert and Mr. Heinbaugh. I know the best is yet to come for Dallas and the GLBT Community.
A common-sense column
Thanks to Dale Carpenter for his column, OutRight, that appears regularly in the Dallas Voice. It is nice to read broad common sense in a publication that is often too narrowly focused.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 17, 2007