Evangelical makes enemies, friends by opening door to gays
msnbc.comThen the 55-year-old pastor with spiked gray hair and blue jeans launches into his weekly welcome, a poem-like litany that includes the line "queer or straight here, there's no hate here."
MSNBC News"Highlands Church represents a breakout position, where you have a gay-affirming stance that moves beyond the traditional kind of liberal-conservative divide," said Mark Achtemeier, an associate professor at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary,
A Denver, Colorado evangelical minister has decided to open his church fully to the gay and lesbian community.
55 year old Reverend Mark Tidd has made it the policy of his ministry to be open to the gay community, and to allow "no hate" within its walls.
His church is less than a year old, and once might have been considered totally outside the evangelical protocol. But with younger generations comes increased social expansiveness, and the move Reverend Tidd has made may just be a wise one, both politically and in the religious sense.
Of course , some still have their reservations, and even their open hostility. Tidd expects this, and handles it with graceful stoicism. Tidd had to break away from his founding church and his Highlands Church became its independent ministry, due specifically to the disapproval of some in the evangelical community of what they called Tidd's "radical inclusion".
And indeed, within American national culture itself, there are many detractors. In the book, Dumbing Down: Essays in the Stripmining of American Culture (Norton Publishing, 1997) the prediction was made by an editor that, "People turn to religion for tradition; when they see their ministers and rabbis marrying gays, they will quietly divest themselves of their membership, and look elsewhere".
But for Tidd, this was the Christian thing to do: To keep being open to all, and to turn none away. He is a supporter of gay marriage, and would offer his evangelical blessing if it were made legal to do so. One of his associates is gay, and Tidd is proud of the status of his ministry, and that it numbers among those who can break the old bonds of tradition, while remaining true to the heart and spirit of the teachings of Christ.
DENVER - The auditorium lights turned low, the service begins with the familiar rhythms of church: children singing, hugs and handshakes of greeting, a plea for donations to fix the boiler.
Then the 55-year-old pastor with spiked gray hair and blue jeans launches into his weekly welcome, a poem-like litany that includes the line "queer or straight here, there's no hate here."
The Rev. Mark Tidd initially used the word "gay." But he changed it to "queer" because it's the preferred term of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people invited to participate fully at Highlands Church.
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