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Church welcomes gay worshippers
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 1991 days ago | Monday, 7th January , 2008 , 02:43 [am] | International
|.|| North Hadley Congregational Church has formally joined the ranks of “open and affirming” churches that welcome people of all sexual orientations.
The recent vote
North Hadley Congregational Church has formally joined the ranks of “open and affirming” churches that welcome people of all sexual orientations.
The recent vote was the climax of a carefully thought-out process, according to interim pastor Rev. Beverly Prestwood-Taylor.
“It was the congregation’s initiative,” she said. “I just guided them through a process so they could talk about it in a little more depth.”
Although the vote cleared the way for the church to contact the national United Church of Christ, of which it is a member, so that the organization can put it on its register of open and affirming churches, the North Hadley congregation has had openly gay members for some time.
“The discussion at the North Hadley Congregational Church really equals that of society,” Prestwood-Taylor said. “You might have had friends who are gay but you didn’t talk about it.”
The United Church of Christ has embraced openly gay congregants since the mid-1980s on a national level, but individual congregations are free to determine their own policies. Prestwood-Taylor said a study group comprising about half the church’s members reviewed scriptures before painstakingly coming up with a statement.
“They looked at the scriptures and shed new light on them,” Prestwood-Taylor said. “There are certain scriptures people use as a hammer to bash gays and lesbians over the head, but that is not their original meaning.”
James M. Kentfield, a member of the congregation since 1945, said the church has traditionally tended to reach out to everyone.
“It goes back to the 1930s when relations between blacks and whites were not good,” he said, noting that the North Hadley church formed a cooperation with the largely black Hope Church in Amherst.
According to Prestwood-Taylor, 68 other churches in the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ have voted to become open and affirming since 1985, joining more than 700 such churches nationwide.masslive, Voice of a Nation