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Church Packed For Gay Apology


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Church Packed For Gay Apology

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: November 21, 2005 12:01 am ET

(St. Paul, Minnesota) About 1,500 people filled a Minneapolis church on Sunday to hear the pastor apologize for the denomination's treatment of gays and lesbians.

The reconciling service was held at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, the largest Methodist church in the state.

Rev. Bruce Robbins, the church's senior pastor said he planned the service as a protest over two decisions by the Judicial Council, the denomination's version of the Supreme Court.

Last month, the Council voted to defrock Rev. Beth Stroud a Philadelphia area pastor who came out to her congregation and said she was in a long-term relationship with another woman. (story) The Council also voted to reinstate Virginia minister Rev. Ed Johnson Johnson, who had been suspended for denying a gay man membership to his church.

"We protest today two or more court decisions, and many more historically," Rev. Robbins told the congregation on Sunday.

"We cannot continue when people are excluded from exercising their gifts in the house of God and excluded from membership in church."

The Council's two rulings have also angered bishops in the United Methodist Church. Although the Judicial Council has the final word on church law, the denomination's Council of Bishops issued a unanimous declaration that homosexuality is not a barrier to church membership and that the church's rules "implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends."

"I am concerned that some pastors will refuse membership to those they deem unready due to sinfulness," wrote Minnesota Bishop Sally Dyck in a letter to the state's congregations. "Church membership is not earned but is a gift that God extends to all who will accept it."

United Methodist's Minnesota headquarters placed ads in state newspapers this weekend that read: "Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. The people of The United Methodist Church in Minnesota welcome everyone."

Many of those who attended Sunday's service in Minneapolis were from the LGBT community and not regular members of the church. They were made welcome by Hennepin Avenue regulars.

Ann Ness, the church's lay leader, said the service was the right thing to do.

"It was bold of our congregation, it was bold of our ministers, it was bold of our entire church," she said.

The Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus sang with the church choir.

©365Gay.com 2005


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