Shuck and Jive

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Dilemma of Being Gay and Christian in Northeast Tennessee

I received an e-mail about a Christian gay couple who want to attend a church but are looking for one with a charismatic worship style. That is no easy find near our mountain.

We have had a number of lgbt people (and straight folks) attend our congregation because they know we are inclusive. Some have found a home with us. Others appreciate our inclusivity but our worship style is not one in which they are comfortable. We are Presbyterian after all (stand up, sit down, sing hymns). I do think we are kind of fun, though.

Here is the dilemma for those who are gay and Christian in East Tennessee. Do you attend a congregation that suits your worship style but regards you as a second-class citizen
(or worse) or do you attend a congregation whose worship style isn't your cup of tea but affirms you as a person?

(I would choose the second option).

Most churches (in fact nearly all) have horrendous views regarding homosexuality (ie. "sinful sexual behavior and lifestyle rooted in man’s depravity.") The only congregations that are openly and publicly
inclusive (in other words they say it) are the Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and us.

If I am wrong, I will be the first to refer people to your congregation. I will be thrilled to list your congregation on the PFLAG website and blog as long as you can affirm the PFLAG vision statement.

We, the parents, families and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, celebrate diversity and envision a society that embraces everyone, including those of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Only with respect, dignity and equality for all will we reach our full potential as human beings, individually and collectively. PFLAG welcomes the participation and support of all who share in, and hope to realize this vision.
Even if you are an inclusive clergyperson and your congregation has not taken that step, I will include you and gladly refer people to you and to your congregation.

Neither First Presbyterian nor HVUUC can be all things to all people, gay and straight.

Here is an opportunity for congregations of the Tri-Cities. Consider it an evangelism opportunity. The field is ripe for harvest as they say. LGBT folks are looking for congregations that will welcome them and not condemn them. That can't be too hard, can it?

Consider it a challenge. Take me up on it.


  1. It is interesting that many lbgt folk will go to a conservative church because of the worship style, knowing that the theology of that place doesn't allow for their acceptance. Style is an issue here, and it's not always easy to know how to resolve it.

  2. If ALL the people who felt excluded from their church stopped attending (and tithing), I wonder how long it would take for those churches to feel inclined toward inclusiveness...