Volunteer application: Are you gay? Check YES or NO

13 06 2008

Gay volunteersI read this article yesterday that really rubbed me the wrong way.  The article is found in a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender news site, so I realize it is not necessarily an unbiased account.  But, still, I am frustrated by what I read.

If you don’t have time to read the article, let me boil it down for you: A couple of guys showed up to volunteer at a free hotmeal program at a neighborhood church.  They felt this was a good way to give back to a ministry that had once provided them a free meal when they themselves were in need.  They were there just long enough to unload a truck of food before abruptly being questioned about whether or not they were gay.  When they acknowledged their homosexuality, they were immediately asked to leave.

What’s up with that?  Is that really the right message the church wants to send?

Let’s all stop and think for just a second.

The church should be trying to minister to those in their community who are in need.  The church is supposed to be a place where all types of people can come together in love and service to God.  In short, the church is supposed to be an outpouring of God’s love to the people in its community.  So, how exactly are the actions that this church took in line with that purpose?

It’s not like these guys showed up wanting to preach a sermon or teach a Sunday School class.  It’s not like they were enlisting to sing in the choir on Sunday.  No, these guys were simply looking for a place to give back to the community they are a part of.

Someone please pinch me and tell me there is more to the story than what is written here.  Were they doing something that warranted the internal investigation that the meal director felt obligated to conduct?  Was it something they did?  Was it something they said?  Surely, they were kissing in front of children or talking dirty to homeless men in the food line.  It’s got to be something like that, right?  Something that makes them ineligible for volunteer service to the hungry. 

It’s got to be something more than the simple fact that these guys are gay.

Maybe the church needs to add a section in their volunteer application form.  Are you gay?  Check YES or NO.  Oh wait, they don’t have a volunteer application form.  That’s because, up until now, there were no specific eligibility requirements to volunteer at the free hotmeal program.

I really think this church needs a giant do-over.  If they could just stop and think for one second about the real message they want to send before taking action, I am confident they could have handled this better.

Here’s an idea.  How about loving and ministering to these guys?  What a golden opportunity to love and care for some guys who would probably not have ever entered through the front doors of their church for any other reason.  How about reaching out to them, befriending them, and partnering with them to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of people that surround them?  How about working to build a little trust in these guys so that they feel at ease enough to invite their friends to come with them the next time?  How about using this situation as a launching pad to start reaching out to other homosexuals in the community?

But no, a golden opportunity is missed.  Missed because of fear and because of arrogant righteousness.  And, even given a chance at a do-over, I am not convinced that things would be handled any differently.

Maybe the leaders at this church need to go back and re-read the letter to pastors put out by the Nazarene Board of General Superintendents (I blogged about it here).

I think the guys’ quotes tell me all I need to hear:

“I said, ‘I don’t know how this has anything to do with feeding the homeless or people in need,'” Erichsen says.

“They just outed us and came right out and said we were not wanted there,” Footh says. “This was one of the ugliest things like this to ever happen to us. They made us feel like we are not good enough to help other people because of our sexual orientation, and to me that is totally wrong.”

So, anybody, like me, think this church just lost its only chance to have any positive impact on these guys’ lives?  Anybody, like me, wonder if their own church would act in the exact same way?

And, we wonder why people think the church is full of hypocrites.  To change its perception, the church is going to have to change its ways.  This was a missed opportunity to get started.

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5 responses

13 06 2008
jodistiegelmeyer

That’s very unfortunate! I’d like to say, “I can’t believe they would do that!” But, unfortunately, I think there are many, many churches out there who believe this would be the appropriate action to take. I just hope, for their sakes, that when judgment day comes, they have changed their way of thinking. Otherwise, I’m afraid they’ll hear God say to them, “Excuse me, but did you love my children? I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave.”

14 06 2008
Sarah

That is just sad. I would be so disappointed if my church did that. I would hope they weren’t judgemental like that. I hope some of the people at that church see that they shouldn’t have turned them away and change things.

14 06 2008
David

I totally agree with your position here. Anyone can preach to the choir….it takes a real compassionate Christian to preach to the others.

I would like to think my church would not do the same thing as was done to Erichsen and Footh…..but I am not completely convinced!!!….and that is way beyond sad!!!

16 06 2008
BuffaloNickel

Just so everyone knows, I welcome all comments. However, comments that could be considered offensive to anyone or any group of people will not be approved. Everyone has a right to their opinions and I have no problem approving comments from all sides of a subject, but I draw the line at comments that are derrogatory and/or offensive.

17 09 2008
Ray Boltz is gay « BuffaloNickel

[…] an intriguing dichotomy of almost opposing view-points.  On another occasion, I read about a gay couple who were asked to leave from a homeless meal program at a local church because they were gay.  […]

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