A popular church well known for trying to reform the gays is moving to town—so how should local LGBT folks react?
When we broke the news that a new branch of evangelic megachurch Mars Hill is moving to Sunnyside, the debate was immediate. Some queer community leaders, like the Q Center, extended the olive branch and asked Mars Hill's pastor to come meet with them for a respectful, private dialogue. Meanwhile, other queer groups vowed a picket and kiss-in for the first day of church.
Mars Hill cancelled its first day of services and still hasn't rescheduled. But now, both sides of the queer community are having a public town hall on the topic: The LGBTQ Community and the Evangelical Mega Church—An Exercise in Deep Democracy will be held next Wednesday, October 5th, and the Progress Works Institute at 2049 NW Hoyt (their event page says there's only room for 90 people, but more people are welcome to come for standing-room-only space).
On the peace and friendship side, Q Center Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones recognized the right of everyone in the United States to choose their beliefs and lifestyles. "For us to want to generically throw a blanket over their ability for free speech, we would not want that done to us," said McCullough-Jones, when the news was first announced.
Q Center public relations chief Logan Lynn blogged about his meeting with the Mars Hill crew. "My motivation comes from growing up in a fundamentalist Christian house in the Midwest, " says Lynn. "The idea of meeting with Mars Hill is not to change minds—they're not going to convince me to get back in the closet—the idea is to figure out how to coexist. I don't know if that's possible, but I have to try."
On the friendly-meetings-won't-help side, Just Out writer Daniel Borgen blogged the feelings of many in a post about how no amount of talking will get anti-gay Evangelicals to change their ways:
Per Logan, conversations were positive and civil, and both sides left with a “better understanding of the other perspective.” I don’t doubt staff at Q felt that way, and I don’t doubt the Hill people felt they did the Lord’s work by meeting with some homos. (Their website response implied as much.) Bonus: Maybe a meet and greet could improve their standing with local media.
Nothing we say or do can convince evangelicals we’re not degenerates—if we love, we automatically are.