The Rev. Jeff Hood is using Ash Wednesday this year as a way to reach out to Denton churches and help them become accepting of LGBT members.
Hood, who runs a small house church in Denton, said there are only three churches that welcome gays in the area. So he wrote a letter about being an accepting place and taped it to the doors of about 60 churches last night. He said he included all denominations to start a dialogue about how churches can be open and affirming to everyone in their community.
“The goal was for pastors to get to the church on Ash Wednesday and be faced with the question of equality,” he said. “With Ash Wednesday being a time of deep repentance and mourning of sins of the past, I thought that would be a good time to say this is what you did in the past and this is what is needed in the future.”
Hood, profiled recently by Religion Dispatches, moved to the area about a year ago. He said he was raised Southern Baptist and wasn’t accepting of gay people until his mentor pastor came out to him in 2007 before he passed away. Hood is now an LGBT advocate.
Hood started a Committee to Queer Denton Churches, an informal group to work with churches on being accepting of LGBT people. He is collaborating with Keep Denton Queer on this project and hopes to publish a list of churches that respond to the letter.
He gave them a week to reach out to him with their views and said he’s already heard back from several today that want to start a dialogue.
“You can’t say that you love the community and love your neighbor and keep your doors closed. There’s a need for accountability,” Hood said. “I think there’s a real need for people in Denton to know where they can go to church.”
Read his letter below.