Elgin Churches Open Up to Gays, Lesbians

Article excerpt

Elgin churches open up to gays, lesbians

Over the past few years there has been a notable and amazing change in the policies of a number of progressive congregations in the Elgin area. I speak as a member of one such congregation, the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren. Our congregation has joined, unofficially, a number of other congregations in the Elgin area that are now "Welcoming" congregations. That is, they have made it known that lesbians and gays are welcome as friends and members.

This is an astonishing change. It was not very long ago that while gays and lesbians may have been welcomed, the congregations were reluctant to say so out loud. There are still many Christians and organizations that make it a part of their faith perspective that LGBT folks are destined for hell, or at least welcome unless they desire to change or deny their orientation.

As a former pastor and Church of the Brethren denominational executive, I have experienced the pain of coming out as a gay man -- and therefore was denied professional leadership in the church. It is, therefore, gratifying to know that there are congregations that have reached the conclusion that LGBT folks are valuable assets.

A few of the congregations in the Elgin area that are welcoming include the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, Unitarian Universalist, Christ the Lord Lutheran, Holy Trinity Lutheran, First Congregational United Church of Christ, St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Congregation Kneseth Israel and the Metropolitan Community Church.

After putting a rainbow bench in front of our church on Highland Avenue, several people visited, not because they are gay or lesbian, but because they saw the bench and wished to visit an open and welcoming community. …