We are thankful for the outpouring of stories offered by those who have signed the Chog Affirm statement. There is a common voice of allyship that has been heard and is affirmed through the signing. We are also aware of the discomfort this public initiative has caused many within the Church of God constituency, not the least of whom are our national and state leaders. As a team of persons deeply formed by the Church of God Movement we empathize with the weight of both positive and negative engagement the affirming online movement has stirred.
Posted June 2023...
The Church of God has been my home church for my whole life. My family has been in the church for four or five generations. It’s a movement I fell in love with and was ready to commit to ministry. After serving as a pastoral assistant, then Christian education director, then worship leader, in various congregations and states, I began my ordination journey with the goal of becoming a pastor and missionary with the Church of God. After six months in the Leadership Focus program, and after almost 30 years of being a part of the church, I was removed from the ordination process because of my queer-affirming views and asked to find a different denomination. I still love the Church of God, its message of unity, its emphasis on fellowship beyond the creed. While I’m no longer a part of a Church of God congregation, I’m very encouraged to see conversations like this taking place. I genuinely pray this leads to permanent change and acceptance in the church.
I sign this statement because I have been a personal witness to the deep trauma that has occurred from the exclusive practices of the church. Perhaps it is the church itself that holds back the winds of revival through its own attempts to push people into changing their lives instead of creating a safe and welcome space where the Spirit can work in people’s lives in any way God directs. I sign this statement because I choose to stand on the side of safe and welcome space and healing of trauma.
I did not grow up in church but my husband did. When we had children he very much wanted to raise them in the church. I resisted at first but eventually came to love the Lord and the church family. God has gifted us with two sons. One gay and one not. I can tell you with no hesitation that my son was born gay. Anyone who says gay is a choice has no idea what they are talking about. As a teenager, we watched him struggle with an intense anger born of the bullying and homophobia he experienced at the hands of his peers, his Christian biological family and his church family. He is now a happy, healthy gay man who loves the Lord. I have no idea how he could love the Lord after getting the message his whole life that who he is at his very core is not of God. I don’t know that I could do that. I have recently left the COG, in part, because of their stance on this issue and pray that somehow, someday COG will see the harm that their judgment, not the Lords, has caused so many.
I was the Youth Pastor at [a Church of God congregation] for almost two years. I attended church there a total of 8 years. My wife had attended church in that congregation since she was a baby. We left in [late] 2021. One of my convictions was that I wanted to create a space where a diverse group of students could come together and be vulnerable about their struggles. When I arrived, the youth group in place was 98% white, and there were 0 students who were openly questioning their attraction or gender. Without actively seeking those types of students, we began to attract them. By the time I left, 50% of our students were non-white students, and 25% were openly questioning their sexuality or gender. The fact that we were attracting a more diverse group as well as creating a space where the students could be open about who they are, looked like a win to me! However, it didn’t look like a win to some members and even members of our board. Attendance in the adult services were dwindling and I once even overheard someone say it was because of what was “going on” in our youth room. What we had created was a safe space for kids to worship and experience God no matter what kind of baggage they might be carrying with them. Finally one night I delivered a message that explained that there is little to nothing in the scriptures that condemns consensual same sex relationships. I posted all of our messages to our Facebook and/or Instagram pages. When this was found by one of our board members, they had all the evidence they needed to force my resignation. I assumed we would part ways soon anyway, and wanted to be sure that before I did, our kids knew that God loved them no matter what. Many of those kids left that church when I did. We had created an environment where openness and vulnerability was encouraged. Where being who you are was accepted and loved. Where no thought or idea was rejected, because it was theirs. The safe space that was created to learn and grow together was unique and beautiful. We accomplished so much that was then ripped away because progress was viewed as evil. Acceptance was viewed as evil. Love was viewed as evil. I left the CHOG and have since become a candidate for ministry in the United Methodist Church where my heart for creating space for all people to express themselves is valued and encouraged. I lament the fact that that space was taken away from those kids. Hopefully the work you all are doing will help reconcile what was lost.
I am the parent of a queer child who identifies as gay. I also am an ordained minister in the Church of God, college and seminary trained, who has given 25 years of ministry life to the work of ministry in church, college, and other educational work. I accepted this call to ministry at a CHOG Youth Convention when I was 15 years old. It is my life’s vocational work. I deeply grieve the knowledge that this work could be (and in some eyes already is) negated and that I am probably viewed with skepticism and face being ostracized by my faith community. Why? Because of my first ministry to my family, which includes fully loving my LGTBQ+ son. I have watched this child grow his entire life. He did not choose to be gay. It is who he is. So, I stand on behalf of other families like ours who are left to love and raise children like ours, with the added challenge of having to choose to either mask their situation, or break ties with the very community they need most. It is heart-breaking. I challenge all to, at the very least, listen and consider carefully the stories of persons who are experiencing life as or with a person in the LGTBQ+ community. Further, I challenge all to develop authentic relationships in persons within the community, so as to better hear and understand what the conversation is actually about.
I grew up in the fourth generation of a family deeply involved in the Church of God—a family of pastors, church-planters, and lay ministers. Through college and then seminary at Anderson, I was headed toward ministry as well. During that time, it became evident that in fear, the Church was drifting from its calling to be the body of Christ and to love like Jesus. The Church was circling the wagons, defining "us" and "them," and aligning itself with perceived vestiges of worldly power in the unholy wedding of evangelical Christianity and right-wing American politics. The Church's treatment of the LGBTQ+ community put this clearly and painfully on display. Increasingly, any love and goodness I witnessed in my faith community came in spite of the Church and its doctrines, not because of them. Finally, the cognitive dissonance of my conviction to love all people while calling myself a Christian became too great, and I left the Church and my faith in order to freely and fully love all humankind and the beautiful cosmos we inhabit together.
I was a pastors kid. I’ve been in church all of my life. I loved going to church. I loved singing and playing in the worship band, until I was told I was spiritually unfit due to the lifestyle I was living. Hearing that there wasn’t a seat at the table for me was crushing. I’ve since moved on and haven’t been to church since. Being rejected not only by your immediate family but also by your church family is devastating. Let’s put an end to this type of judgment and pain that continues on and is destroying individuals. For we are all made in the image of God.
As a Pastor in the Church of God I had countless LGBTQ+ people come to me asking if they could attend/be an active part of the church I pastored. These honestly seeking people and their humble requests led me to over a decade long reevaluation of how I viewed homosexuality and the Bible (and how to read it literately), My education also led me to science and to countless stories of those who identify as LGBTQ+. This journey of exploration led me to a greater understanding of the Gospel of Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and the Good News Jesus spoke of. My world expanded and with it the unfathomable capacity of the love of God. Little did I know that 10 years into this personal journey, our own daughter would come out as queer. When she did we were able to embrace her without reservation and assure her of the love of God for her and affirm her identity in Christ. I have since created an online community of faith and personally walk with/disciple several individuals of the LGBTQ+ community as they seek to grow in Christ. I believe wholeheartedly this is the way of Jesus and this must be the way of his Church. May love win!
We are 3rd generation COG. I was a faithful staff member of a 5 Star childcare program in Ohio. The first Christian center in the entire state to receive this honor. We brought in a million dollars a year for our church. I worked there for 21 years as a faithful servant, lay pastor, worship leader, My husband faithfully served as the sound technician. My last ten years I was the administrator of the program. I was ambushed by my youth pastors wife demanding that I reprimand or fire two of my staff members that she suspected were living a gay lifestyle. This never manifested in my ministry. They were faithful, hard working, ministry minded staff members who had real fruits. She called a meeting with me and the lead pastor saying “I refuse to be part of a church that has a ministry that serves a watered down gospel.” She then proceeded to say our money was “dirty and she wanted no part of it.” I looked to my pastor and he simply turned away. Not one word of affirmation for the work I’ve done or the faithfulness of our device. He even called her a “prophetess.” I resigned on the spot. I could not continue to support the judgement and hate. Ironically, these same people serve as lay leaders in their youth ministry. The double standard is sickening to me. We’ve left the Church of God for good.
I'm not a member of the LGBTQIA Communities, although I hope that I am a reliable Ally. Nonetheless, my own faith and involvement in any organized religion has slipped as I see people who claim Christ excluding or attempting to exclude others from the Body of Christ, as I see faith in Jesus being used to criticize, demonize, and attempt to control others. These are human reactions to the fear, vulnerability, and discomfort that being in community with others who are different from ourselves create. Ultimately, I do not believe that it matters if that discomfort is caused by differences in gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, skin color, language, age, national origin, or political beliefs. None of these differences justify exclusion, alienation, control, or abuse in the name of Jesus. I don't read the Ancient languages in which Scripture was written, and I think that I'm in the majority in that. I am relying upon the Translators' own interpretations to bring the Scripture into languages that I understand. I don't know much about the various versions \ editions of Ancient manuscripts which were chosen to be used in the Bible. And, I believe that I'm in the majority in that, too. So, I'm relying on decision-making made by people over centuries to even decide what goes into the Bible. Not just the books that are included in the typical Protestant or Catholic Bibles, but the various manuscript options chosen to use for those books. The more I learn about Biblical languages, archeology, and historic trends in Biblical interpretation, the more loosely I hold to my own understanding of Scripture. As an English-speaking American in 2023, I am reliant on the work and skills (as well as being subject to the biases of) countless scholars over the thousands of years of history that led to the Bibles to which I have access today. Continuing to attach human prerequisites of uniformity to faith and membership in the Body of Christ is harming Individuals and the Body. For those reasons, I join in the affirmation.
I am pleased that each of the CHOG congregations I pastored now have members who have come out of the closet and are fully accepted by their congregation. I am stunned to see so few ministers on your list. Now in the United Church of Christ we are Open and Affirming and joyfully take part in PRIDE events!
I grew up in the Church of God where we attended church every time there was a service of any kind. I knew from the time I was in the third grade that I was different and that I was attracted to boys although I knew nothing about sex or why I was different. As I grew older I found out that this was a sin so for all of my early teen years I prayed that God would forgive me for this horrible sin and take away my attraction to other males. I couldn't figure out why God wouldn't help me to overcome this sin in my life especially since it wasn't something that I chose or made a conscious decision to do. Many years ago I made peace with the fact that God made me gay and I am loved for who I am. There are so many scriptures that talk about sin that are ignored now like wearing clothing of mixed fabrics and a woman's period making her unclean until she asks forgiveness so I don't understand how we can still be so hung up on the gay issue.
I was raised in the Church of God, going to camps, state youth conventions, IYC’s, and 3SLI. Once I experienced my call to ministry I went to MACU and got my degree in Bible Theology and Pastoral Care. But it was during my time at MACU with some wonderful roommates that I began to question and re-examine my understanding of what it meant to live the gospel, to love as Jesus had loved, and this brought me to a place of inclusion and acceptance of LGBTQ persons. Seeing them as the beloved children of God that they are and knowing that God has welcomed them to God’s table as God has welcomed myself and others ... This was the start, of what would eventually lead me away from the Church of God and I ended up with the Disciples of Christ (not too far from my roots). I don’t know that I would return, but I’m so happy and proud to see people taking a stand and advocating for change, for inclusion, and for God’s Justice. And I want to join them in that fight because the Church of God shaped me and pushed me to where I am today and I want it to be better. And because I still have deeply fond memories of those camps, of those SYC’s and IYC’s and of MACU. I would love to see the Church of God become a space of welcome, of love, of God’s extravagant grace and mercy to all persons.
Since adolescence some of my dearest friends identified as queer, and I could never rectify that the God I worshipped didn't love them the same as he loved me. I questioned the Church when it became clear they wanted to try to dictate how and who to love based on "theology" that didn't exist. This led me down a path of questioning my entire faith and Christian education (christian high school and Anderson alumni), eventually leading to me leaving the Church altogether...
As a Church of God pastor for 38 years, I am so tired of seeing beautiful people drawn by the Holy Spirit to love Jesus, only to see the church throw obstacles in their path.
The Church of God didn't "form" me. On the contrary, it harmed me. It caused me to hide who I am. It nearly caused me to end my life. But this work here? This is God's work, the work of healing and reconciliation. To see some of my former professors sign their names to this? To see some of my seminary classmates sign? This is a gift. Do not underestimate how meaningful your signature may be to those of us who have been told there is no place for us among you.
I am the 3rd generation of my family to worship within the Church of God. Growing up, I spent many summers at Church of God Camps, Camp Meetings, Youth Choirs and Youth Conventions. I attended Anderson University and worked in CHOG Churches all of my adult life. Most recently, I was pushed out of my role at a CHOG church for doing a podcast with my gay friend. Of course the church never said this was the reason but it was clear that they wanted me out because my name was taken off the website before I could even resign. I have stopped attending this church for obvious reasons but my 2 youngest children still attend Youth Group there. Just a few months ago, I was told that I could not be a parent volunteer for a youth group fundraiser. I am hurt but not as hurt as my LGBTQIA+ friends must be. I only dipped my toe in a deep water of rejection and shame based treatment of the church. My long time church friends wouldn't even make eye contact with me anymore. I can no longer stay quiet in fear of not having the right words to defend what is on my heart. I am passionate about the next generation of believers and I encourage everyone to do their own research. Stop being afraid. When reading the statistics-remember: Every number has a name and every name is a dearly loved-uniquely created by God.
Love all, without exception! Jesus commands it and lived it! No man, faith, religion is judge. Our Creator is the one & only judge.
My husband and I have been gifted by God with 5 adopted children. Two daughters from the United States, a son from Korea, a son from India, and a son from Vietnam. From these children we have a daughter who has a gay son, a son who has a transgender son, and a daughter who has a daughter who is not sure of her gender. What a wonderful gift God has given us in these grandchildren. I graduated from Warner University in Lake Wales, and my husband and I are members of the United Church of Christ in New Smyrna Beach, Fl. This church is open and affirming. We are allies. We are blessed to be in an welcoming community. Praise God!!
Originally Posted Stories...
I believe the statement describes the kingdom. I have grown weary of some fellow believers being told they are not allowed full "membership" in the church community because it seems contrary to the Gospel. I appreciate the statement because it acknowledges freedom of conscience and my conscience, for years, has believed in full inclusion of the LGBTQI+ community. I simply need to proclaim my conscience and what I believe to be the good news.
Reason for signing: All previous attempts to have meaningful dialogue or acknowledge a willingness to recognize the sincere and prayerful considerations presented by this group and other individuals (publicly or in private) have failed. One would be hard-pressed to find a single family (within the CHOG movement, even) that is not facing this issue within the last generation or two. The longer we delay addressing it, the more it will fester, alienate family members, polarize congregations, and weaken our mission as the church and Christians, in general. "...and the greatest of these is Love."
For 60 years I have believed that homosexuality is not a choice. Homophobia is a choice.
I was defrocked by the Church of God in [my state] for expressing an LGBTQAI-affirming stance. Several members of my immediate family fall under the LGBTQAI umbrella.
My Christ-centered faith calls me into seeking justice for all God’s creation. I was raised as a Church of God pastor’s kid and was an active participant and leader in Church of God congregations until age 26. I was educated in a Church of God college. I left the Church of God because I could no longer reconcile my deep faith in Jesus with what I viewed as a lack of action by Church of God leadership to follow Jesus’ mission to “release the captives.” I still hold deep appreciation for the original progressive vision of the Church of God to cross barriers and to extend fellowship. I hope the [Church of God] will get back to its progressive roots.
I am a graduate of Anderson University and was raised in the Church of God, daughter of a minister and missionary of the church. I am a member of the LGBTQ community and know with all my heart that I am loved of God….My hope is the church of my childhood, could be the welcoming church of my adulthood.
My husband and I poured our lives into our local COG congregation for decades and flourished there. Then one of our kids came out as transgender. We have been on a difficult journey as a family, but God graciously brought us to a place of unconditional love for and affirmation of our child. We became aware of studies that show that suicidality and self harm is actually markedly higher in LGBTQ persons who come from a faith background than those who do not, because of the condemnation they feel from the church. I was serving on our church's Board of Servant Leaders and decided to share this information, along with our family's story at one of our meetings. Our pastor responded by preaching a [non-affirming] sermon … Over the subsequent weeks the majority of our leadership board and pastoral staff made it clear that they agree with this simplistic and damaging teaching regarding a very complex topic. … I resigned from the board, and my husband and I left the church, unable to support our pastor's leadership and the direction the church was headed. … We are grieving the loss of our church community. We still love "the Church of God" and pray this statement of conviction will be received with grace.
I believe that the current stance of the General Assembly is dogmatically man-made and particularly betrays the movement of the Holy Spirit and the biblical call to radical love and holy compassion. Our relevancy and witness as a movement is at stake. I have seen us lose too many individuals both lay and ordained because of our stance of non-affirmation.
The lack of affirmation of queer existence and relationships is a very large reason why I left the church.
I have seen the image of God reflected in the lived experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community, many of whom are my friends and also future chaplains/ministers/priests, in other denominations. … This is not only something the Church of God needs to change, but so many other traditions within Christianity. I do not see God or Jesus as looking down upon the queer community but affirming, loving, and standing with the queer community. As someone who has personally dealt with the pain caused by harmful church beliefs, I am always and forever in solidarity with others who are dealing with pain. … The Church of God was formative to my family's faith, … It is hard for me to connect or feel a part of the Church of God now when I know it excludes people who I love.
I am a queer (asexual lesbian) and nonbinary former student of Anderson University. I was not out while a student but was very aware of CHoG's position and knew it would be deeply unsafe for me to explore my gender or sexuality while at AU, let alone come out. Queer and trans students deserve to live full lives, free of shame and condemnation.
I am a queer transgender individual who has been out for 5 years now. My home church hurt me over and over again, my pastor would attack me and my family “indirectly” from the pulpit, but I was the only trans kid in our congregation. I walked away from God, thinking if this is what being a Christian is like, I’m done. But God found me again during my physical transition, and I realized that God was not imperfect, but people are. I know God loved me just how I was, and he loves me just as I am now.
I am the minister, chaplain, leader, and overall person I am today because of the Church of God Movement. This movement has formed me to value compassion, justice, and inclusion. This movement has also formed me to see and honor the unique, sacred divinity in each person, and this includes people of the LGBTQ community. I am grateful for this statement, and for the honor of adding my name alongside many others in affirmation. All of God's beloveds have an equal and honored place here.
I left the Church of God after graduation from [Anderson College] because it was not accepting of my being gay. I never felt so much guilt and self-hatred as that inflicted on me by the CofG in my home church. After years of healing from the damage, I am now an Episcopalian where everyone is welcomed on their own unique spiritual journey. I am in a 45-year happy relationship with my husband and thank God every day for being so blessed.
As someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community this means the world to me. I have struggled, and still struggle, with accepting who I am versus my faith. Recently, someone told me there doesn’t have to be a “versus”, and that is why I am signing this. For others who have struggled like me, who can hopefully find love and acceptance from others in the Church of God.
I was taught that the Church of God is where salvation makes you a member and that membership is determined by this alone. Therefore, all are welcome as the Creator God welcomes all. May we repent of our past condemnation of our siblings in Christ and welcome all into our fellowship as God does.
Christians have a long history of misinterpreting the "word" and weaponizing it to hurt other people. A quick look through history reveals this without question. We have missed the boat completely on women in ministry, slavery, divorce, and treatment of Jewish people just to name a few. We are doing the same thing again to attack, demean, marginalize, hurt and "other" LGBTQ people. I am a 4th generation Church of God person and am disgusted at how we are treating LGBTQ people from national leadership down to local leadership. People are leaving the church in record numbers in large part due to how we are treating this conversation. It is way past time to right this wrong with a sincere apology to and full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of our church at every level. Let's actually live and love like Jesus-the true Word of God.
I was formed by the Church of God. I left and am now a minister in another tradition. I am encouraged by the potential of the Church of God supporting this statement but more importantly supporting and fully welcoming and including GLBT+ people of God. …
I am [a] fourth generation formed by the Church of God, Anderson College graduate and served as youth pastor in two churches. In those years, as well as the three decades since, I have met, known and worshipped with several members of the LGBTQ community, as well as having several members in my extended family. What I have found is that these amazing people love our Lord with their whole heart, and seek to praise, worship, and follow Him as we all do. It is my understanding that God's grace is extended to All of us, and that They (the Trinity) offer their grace to all communities, and it befalls all of us to work out our salvation. I believe scripture supports this view of our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community.
I grew up in the CHOG, as did my parents and my parents' parents. I am a bisexual, transgender man. The lack of affirmation from the Church and the internalized homophobia/transphobia that was instilled in me has caused me so much harm, and I’ve seen how it has hurt so many others. It is truly absurd and so deeply harmful that the church continues to be non-affirming and teaches that the Bible says that same-sex relationships and gender diverse identities are sinful- that stance is not an intelligent nor accurate take from historical or theological studies. … Correct this mistake moving forward. Lives will be changed and saved. Broken hearts will be healed. Wholeness may actually be attainable. …
As a past ordained minister in the Church of God and as a current ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, I have given much of my life and support to the Church of God. After coming out as a gay man and having my ordination revoked as a result of my coming out, I understand the pain and hardship that not only I have felt, but my family. I have had a rich career in ministry and continue to have a strong faith, but I have refused to attend any organized [COG] church services after being rejected by the ones I felt closest to in my beliefs and standards. I believed that the Church of God theology was one of truth finding, truth telling, growth in spiritual understanding and in loving and accepting people in their quest for truth. … I fear we have missed the mark by refusing to be students of life. Instead of loving others we have become judges casting out those who could be our teachers. … Non-acceptance of LGBTIQ persons fuels the hatred and rejection of so many wonderful, creative, loving and spiritual people. …
As one who has been formed, trained, educated, and fostered in the Tradition of the Church of God (Anderson), and the father of a non-binary child, as well as friend and ally to many whose orientation has been silently tolerated or eschewed by the Movement I call home, I without reservation add myself as a signatory to this imperative statement of acceptance and affirmation.
This was a major part of why I transferred my ordination out of the Church of God, the church of my birth and rebirth and ordination. When I discovered that my spouse was most likely lgbtqia+, the only redemptive act that I could think of was to allow them to fully be themselves and live into who God had created them to be. We had to make the difficult decision to divorce even though my spouse was just beginning the work to accept themselves. We both needed to be able to live in authenticity for ourselves and for our children. I'm glad that we proceeded as we did because one of our children is also lgbtqia+. I support full LGBTQIA+ inclusion and reconciliation in all points of church life. We all have too many loved ones who are LGBTQIA+ who are fully God's beloved. They have been far more faithful, often staying in places where they were not welcomed, in order to stay connected to God.
Both of my children identify as LGBTQ+. I know without a doubt they were created by God and are loved by Jesus just as they are. Jesus calls us to "love our neighbor as ourself" regardless of how they identify. He preached about and modeled inclusion.
The Church has committed damage to so many with intolerance of good people. It is time to affirm that we are *all* made in God’s image.
I sign this to celebrate the survival of my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters who deserved better treatment from the ChoG and also in memory of those whose struggles brought about change.
I regretfully had to leave the CHOG to remain true to these convictions.
As a parent of a LGBTQ child, who was formed and attended [a] Church of God through high school, it saddens me to see her struggling with her faith. As a lesbian woman, the church she loved and grew up in is no longer a safe place for her.
I was born into and raised in the Church of God. I spent my youth summers at ChoG youth camps and ChoG camp meetings. I chose Anderson University over art school, to follow both a design career and God's calling. After school, I worked at a christian publishing company and was a youth counselor for over 6 years. I left it all. I walked away from a church that didn't love or support me. My entire life experience with the Church of God left me with nothing. Once I tore my life apart wrestling with the truths and fears of who I was, I found God was there, but the church was not. I found a God who loved me and a church that didn't. Today I have no doubt in God's love for all. And no church should take that away from anyone. I know so many devout Christian LGBTQ+ who grew up in the Church of God. They are beautiful faith-filled souls who have been shunned too long by a misguided church body.
The American Psychological Association states that ostracism and rejection of one’s sexuality are the top indicators of suffering among LGBTQ youth and adults. As those that claim to follow a healing God and claim the redemptive power of Jesus, we the church must be a place of comfort and acceptance for LGBTQ people.
This is a matter of social justice, which I believe is contained within the commandment to love my neighbor, and ultimately respectful of humans created in the image of God.
As someone who has been raised, attended, and worked in a COG church and university for the majority of my life, I can say that without a doubt, this doctrine is beyond toxic and has taken me years to unlearn. I continue to receive weekly therapy to combat the harmful ideology taught to me in my formative youth and young adult years, impacting my views on both myself and others who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community. In my relentless search for answers, I have continued, time after time, to find that the COG supports a belief that is not only harmful but just plain wrong. This is one of the biggest reasons I no longer find myself able to identify as a member of the COG movement or even with the Christian community at large.
I believe this statement gives opportunity to have difficult conversations without the fear of losing one’s job or credentials. I believe this statement gives opportunity to my friends who identify with the LGBTQ+ community to discover and lead out their faith in the local church. The Church of God has drawn a line in the sand, excluding room to explore, grow and discover God’s work through the LGBTQ+ community: in real lives, real people, God’s children. … God is working in my life, in my friend’s lives, regardless of gender/sexual orientation.
Growing up, I believed loving committed relationships only existed within the confines of heterosexual marriage. However, my time in seminary exposed me to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of my LGBTQ colleagues. It was impossible to ignore what God is doing in and through them. Like Peter's rooftop vision, my eyes were opened to what God has called clean. It was me who was calling people unclean. Although I no longer am part of a Church of God congregation, I was raised and participated in Church of God congregations for over 30 years, including serving in lay and professional leadership. I still care very deeply for the CHOG and have many relationships with those who consider themselves part of the CHOG. I want those within the Church of God to experience the blessing I continue to experience by having full and inclusive relationships with LGBTQ folks.
I was raised devoutly in the Church of God, the son of a pastor, and I graduated from Warner Pacific. I left the Church of God specifically because it was not queer-affirming, and this stance was cruel and senseless to me as much for Christological and theological reasons as for deeply personal ones. Today I am a practicing Episcopalian, a loving husband and father, a friend and family member to numerous wonderful LGBTQ folks, and, by the grace of God, am myself bisexual. For a variety of reasons and deep wounds my life in this church has given me, I can’t say that I will be back if you do this. But for old time’s sake, for the sake of the little closeted boy I was many years ago, I will implore you now as a grown man, a Christian and a father to do the right thing.
I would like to be on the right side of history before we are forced to admit that our God is too small.... I’m tired of making the Bible support [our] prejudices.
Why is it important for you
to sign this petition?
What has been your personal
experience with LGBTQ+ loved ones and its connection to the church?
Do you have a story to tell?