I live in a state with their own DOMA, a state with few protections for LGTB community. Imagine my surprise when I read this headline, Clergy Proclamation: Being Gay Not A Sin.
More than 100 ordained Christian ministers signed a proclamation which included an apology to the Gay community. Rev. Eric Elnes of Countryside Community Church said the proclamation came about because he and others "were just fed up with the popular notion that the Christian point of view is anti-gay."
The group includes leaders from a number of denominations including United Church of Christ, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Presbyterian Churches. The proclamation calls for an end to religious and civil discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“We believe homosexuality is not a sin. It’s not a birth defect or a choice. God created people this way. And if God created them this way, they need to be honored for who they are, and fully included in church life and wider society,” said Elnes.“We felt it was important for us to apologize for the times when we ourselves have been silent. Some of us have not always been on this side of the issue,” Elnes said.“
Rev. Eric Elnes is an interesting guy. He leads a church with 1500 members in an older middle class neighborhood.
Countryside Community Church, United Church of Christ is a wonderful place to find and worship God. We are an inclusive family of faith, welcoming all to our table of love and acceptance. We are diverse, yet united by Christ’s example. We care for one another, support one another and challenge one another to become all that God creates us to be. We work together to nurture our community and to promote peace and justice in our conflicted world.
Elnes is no stranger to pushing Gay rights, he used a similar proclamation in Arizona three years ago. At that time nine Catholic priests were ordered to remove their signatures from the document or be removed from the priesthood. What he learned after sharing his views, is a great many Christians share his beliefs even tho they aren't always vocal, which is why he felt the need to apologize.
Amy O’Connor, a board member of Omaha’s Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays group, PFLAG, said the proclamation is significant. “It’s pretty huge,” she said.
O’Connor heads the telephone helpline for the group and said without acceptance from family, church and the community, gay people often live isolated, sad lives.
O’Connor, whose 21-year-old son is gay, said as a Catholic, she’s had to deal with conflicting feelings and teachings about the acceptance of gays in the church.
“It’s not an issue of sexual orientation or gender identity. God loves everybody,” said O’Connor.
O’Connor’s son, Matthew Macchietto, said Elne’s efforts are bold. “It really does take one person or a small group of people to make a big impact. In 10, or 20 years, I think people will think, why wasn’t it always this way?” Macchietto said.
His partner, Brad Chapin, said issuing the proclamation is, "the Christian thing to do.”
“The whole point of Christianity is love and compassion,” said Chapin. Elnes said in ministering to gay, lesbian and transgendered people, he’s learned that he must first convince them that God doesn’t hate them before he can share the message that God loves them.
“It’s very clear and very simple. We want to be open to all people,” said Elnes.
The weather was perfect last night as they gathered at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge to show their acceptance of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people. Was hoping to find at least a picture on the local news but nothing. Nebraska currently has no LGBT anti-discrimination protections. Clearly there are good people here, sometimes it is hard to remember that fact when we can't even pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in the city. Perhaps next year.