Foundry Methodists Join in LGBT Self-Celebration

on October 16, 2019

Festooned with rainbow banners, Foundry United Methodist Church recently celebrated its 24th anniversary of affiliation with the unofficial LGBT caucus within the United Methodist Church with pomp and thinly-veiled jabs at traditionalists.

Liberal congregants in the northwest Washington, D.C. United Methodist church were jubilant during the September 23 service celebrating Foundry UMC’s anniversary of becoming part of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). A worship team and choirs wore rainbow sashes and mantles.

The service itself was filled with constant reminders of the goals of a reconciling church and LGBTQ advocacy. Few references were made to God outside of prayer and the occasional reference in a hymn focused around themes of inclusion. Absent was any sermon message from the Bible. Instead, three LGBTQ speakers spoke from the pulpit about their experiences as LGBTQ persons in the UMC. Gen Out Chorus, a choir for LGBTQ and allied teenagers, sang at the event. Gen Out Chorus is an outreach of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.

Though the celebration was broadly positive in tone, there was a brief jab simplistically caricaturing traditionalists during the children’s message.

“Did you know that some people think God’s love isn’t for everyone?” one of the worship leaders asked the children, implicitly denouncing those who do not affirm same-sex behaviors when the direct audience was likely unaware of the reference.

Gayle Tabor, an openly lesbian pastor from North Carolina, spoke of her experiences as a lesbian ministering in the UMC. Tabor gave a broad overview of her journey of faith, emphasizing when she and her partner felt accepted at a church with an open-minded pastor, only for the community to allegedly reject them when that pastor departed. Tabor eventually found a UMC church that affirmed her, but at GC2019 she felt a similar rejection from the UMC following passage of the Traditional Plan.

Tabor declared that she would remain a Christian, saying, “…I am compatible with my God, and I am compatible with whatever church he brings forth on this Earth.” The unspoken subtext of this declaration is that “whatever church he brings forth” refers only to churches which affirm her lifestyle.

Foundry congregants also heard from Philip Jefferson of North Carolina. Jefferson led with his family’s Methodist roots, growing up in a welcoming and wholesome Methodist environment. In graduate school, Jefferson realized he was gay. He quickly discovered the “discriminatory” language in the Book of Discipline. Eventually he located a church in Raleigh, North Carolina, that affirmed him and asked him to lead their effort to become a reconciling congregation.

“My acceptance in the Church has nothing to do with me being gay and everything to do with me being a child of God,” Jefferson affirmed, arguing for his affirmation throughout the church, independent of any repentance for his sexuality.

Tracy Collins, a gay man who currently attends Foundry, was the final speaker. Collins began with a long history of his family’s involvement with the UMC. He told of learning to “do” church in a welcoming environment, but he eventually learned that he was gay. Collins alleged that homophobia within the Moral Majority movement seeped into his local church, and he began to fall away, believing that there was no redemption for him as a man who identified as gay.

“I figured if I was going to Hell I shouldn’t beat myself up so badly on this side of the fire,” Collins recalled upon departing the church completely. Years later, while he was working in Washington, D.C. a friend led him to Foundry UMC, and Collins finally felt accepted in a church.

Following testimonies and hymns, the congregation was led in a “Reconciling Pledge,” in which the worship team made a series of statements on various Reconciling tenets, and the congregation responded “Yes, we do so affirm and agree.”

“Will you work towards intersectional justice… and affirm the vision of beloved community in which people of all ages, races, ethnicities, immigration statuses, gender identities, sexual orientations, marital statuses, economic conditions, and physical and mental abilities are welcomed fully into God’s love?” the final question asked of congregants.

The reconciliation service had few mentions of God, sporadically mentioned only in the context of occasional hymns and prayers displaced by stories of self-celebration.

  1. Comment by Steve on October 16, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Liberal clergy don’t like the Pledge of Allegiance, but regularly subject their congregations to spur of the moment improvised pledges. One has to wonder if the whole point isn’t to drive out all but the most brainwashed.

  2. Comment by Steve on October 16, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Its worth noting that they don’t like the creeds, either. Nope, the important thing is to make sure the congregation pledges allegiance to whatever clergy’s personal beliefs are at the moment. Most people will consign these forced pledges to the mental trash can immediately. Cheapens the whole idea of a pledge.

  3. Comment by William on October 16, 2019 at 11:52 am

    One can celebrate, one can robe up, one can espouse — but one cannot overturn the eternal Word of God. Rejecting Verse 11 is crux of their problem.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New International Version (NIV)

    9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  4. Comment by David on October 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    “The NIV does a particularly bad job at conveying these issues. Instead of translating the two terms separately, the NIV translators chose to merge μαλακός and ἀρσενοκοίτης together and translate them as “men who have sex with men.” They include a revealing footnote which says “The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.”

    The NIV all too conveniently ignores the scholarly uncertainty about these words, making it seem as if the definitions of μαλακός and ἀρσενοκοίτης are clearly referring to homosexuality, a conclusion that is, at best, dubious. Buoyed by agenda-driven translations such as the NIV and ESV, many Christians continue to wield an unfounded certainty about the meaning of these verses in order to condemn and marginalize LGBT people.”

  5. Comment by Joan Wesley on October 16, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    You are right that all people have a tendency to make the Bible say what they want it to say, especially when new words like homosexuality emerge. That is why it is imperative that we rely on the traditions of the entirety of the Judeo-Christian tradition to help us interpret the Bible.

  6. Comment by MJ on October 16, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    I agree, Joan. That’s why the NIV rendering is perfectly plausible.

  7. Comment by William on October 16, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Got it — all these people are wrong. Now, how did such a group of scholars come together and ALL sign off on something that was so wrong and agree to continue standing on the wrong with revisions of it going forward?

    The New International Version (NIV) is an English translation of the Bible first published in 1978 by Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society). The NIV was published to meet the need for a modern translation done by Bible scholars using the earliest, highest quality manuscripts available. Of equal importance was that the Bible be expressed in broadly understood modern English.
    A team of 15 biblical scholars, representing a variety of denominations, worked from the oldest copies of reliable texts, variously written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Each section was subjected to multiple translations and revisions, and those assessed in detail to produce the best option. Everyday Bible readers were used to provide feedback on ease of understanding and comprehensibility. Finally, plans were made to continue revision of the Bible as new discoveries were made and as changes in the use of the English language occurred.

  8. Comment by Loren J Golden on October 17, 2019 at 12:44 am

    The so-called “scholarly uncertainty” regarding the meaning of the Greek words arsenokoítæs (found in I Cor. 6.9 & I Tim. 1.10) and malakós (found in this particular sense only in I Cor. 6.9), of which you speak, is, in truth, proud unbelief on the part of certain individuals who have entered the academy, not with the purpose of genuinely understanding the Scriptures, but in order to subvert them, to cast doubt on their teachings, sowing unbelief in certain unpopular doctrines, in an effort to make profligate lifestyles acceptable to the Church of Jesus Christ.
    Much ink has been spilled by these so-called “scholars” on the fact that arsenokoítæs is rarely (if ever) found in use in Ancient Greek texts outside of Scripture.  It is, in fact, a compound word consisting of ársæn, meaning male, and koítæ, meaning bed, or more specifically, marriage bed (e.g., Heb. 13.4), which has a definite sexual connotation to it (e.g., Rom. 9.10, 13.13), as evidenced from the fact that our English word “coitus” is derived from it.  In his reference to arsenokoîtai as being among “the unrighteous (who) will not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6.9), and among “the lawless and disobedient” against whom “the law is…laid down” (I Tim. 1.9), Paul is drawing on the Septuagint translation of Lev. 18.22, which the NASB translates as, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”  The Septuagint literally renders this as, “(You shall) not sleep (koimáo) in a (marriage) bed (koítæ) with a male (ársæn) (as you would with) a female (gunaikeîos), it is a detestable thing (bdélugma).”
    Malakós, on the other hand, is well attested to in Ancient Greek literature.  Its basic meaning is “soft” (e.g., Mt. 11.8, Lk. 7.25), but it has a negative sexual connotation as “effeminate”, such as a catamite or a male prostitute, the willing recipient of male homosexual affections, which is what Paul has in view in I Cor. 6.9.
    Therefore, the Greek nouns malakós and arsenokoítæs in I Cor. 6.9 do, indeed, refer respectively to the passive and active partners in a male homosexual coupling.

  9. Comment by JR on October 16, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    The service sounds pretty nice.

    I’m not sure how you think some of the folks mentioned would possibly find a path to Jesus if there isn’t a church willing to consider them as equal children of God.

  10. Comment by MJ on October 16, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    They are more likely to find Jesus in a church that doesn’t celebrate their sin.

  11. Comment by JR on October 17, 2019 at 8:45 am

    *cough*cough* divorce *cough*cough*

  12. Comment by Loren J Golden on October 17, 2019 at 9:40 am

    What church do you know of that celebrates divorce?

  13. Comment by William on October 17, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Is it being suggested that the UMC correct its sometimes mishandling of divorce between a man and a woman by endorsing same-sex marriage?

  14. Comment by JR on October 17, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Hardly. Methodists used to be anti-divorce, to the point of bringing up pastors on charges if they were to divorce and remarry, i.e. “consecutive polygamy”.

    But I guess the parallel of ‘not being in a church that celebrates your sin’ is being missed, so I’ll spell it out.

    Jesus SPECIFICALLY points out the divorce issue. If ‘not celebrating the sin’ is a prerequisite for you, you should make sure that your church isn’t marrying anyone who is divorced (one exception on that noted by Jesus). You should make sure that your pastor hasn’t been divorced, not to mention remarried.

    You probably ought to be asking a lot of questions to unmarried couples who attend about premarital sex while you are at it.

    Of course, that kind of inquisitional stance tends to really push people away. Which is my point.

  15. Comment by Loren J Golden on October 17, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    You really do not understand the point of Church discipline, do you, JR?

  16. Comment by JR on October 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I’d love your take on it, to be honest. Even though I might disagree on many points.

  17. Comment by MJ on October 17, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Our handling of divorce has changed over the years, JR, but the UMC is still anti-divorce. Your snarky argument just doesn’t hold up.

  18. Comment by JR on October 18, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Not even close to correct.

    The UMC does want people who are married to remain married if at all possible. That’s not anti-divorce, that’s pro marriage.

    But the UMC doesn’t have any issue at all with divorced people getting remarried, or pastors getting divorced and remarried, or members getting divorced for reasons other than infidelity. They USED to, but the UMC has now spent 50 years ‘passing by on the other side’ when it comes to that issue.

    And to be clear, I don’t have a problem with that. It’s a different world than it used to be.

    BUT – and here’s the kicker, every time – if you stand by the point of “The BIBLE says…” it’s very specific what Jesus says about divorce.

    So be consistent. If you stand from that point of Biblical specificity, there’s one and only one answer.

    And there’s an obvious reason why those pushing the Traditionalist Plan in the UMC are hiding on this issue – they know it’s a loser for them. Tie the Traditionalist Plan also to divorce, and it’ll lose more than half it’s support.

  19. Comment by Lee D. Cary on October 16, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    The underlying meme of the LGBTQAI+ movement, since its inception, has claimed this: The UMC condones prejudice, and institutionally takes prejudicial actions, against LGBTQ persons.

    It’s long been the framework for the on-going debate that has consumed the denomination, leaving “Traditionalists” with a label given to persons who do not fit the profile of those who advance, who progress – i.e., the “progressives”.

    Those who initially frame a debate are the ones most likely to prevail over time.

    The most-noteworthy, historical, prejudicial behavior in the UMC is not now, nor has ever been, against LGBTQAI+ persons, neither laity nor clergy.

    The most widespread, long-running prejudicial behavior was, for the 25 years I was appointed, displayed with regard to race.

    It was a relatively rare exception when a black preacher was appointed to a white congregation. If that pattern has markedly changed, it happened in the 21st Century and I missed it.

    I entered seminary soon out of the US Army, where I had served with blacks, an Inuit Indian, an American-born Asian who looked so much like a Vietnamese that the Vietnamese would speak their language to him not knowing he didn’t know a word of it, and white soldiers. We relied upon, and trusted, each other. We had to.

    Among UM clergy, I don’t remember seeing that. Now I wonder why.

  20. Comment by William on October 18, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    “BUT – and here’s the kicker, every time – if you stand by the point of “The BIBLE says…” it’s very specific what Jesus says about divorce.” JR

    And, it would be the same specificity that Jesus says about marriage. Thanks for making this point.

  21. Comment by Fr Rob Bagwell - Duke Div Class of 1982 on October 20, 2019 at 1:34 am

    I disagree with both sides of this argument. I agree that the affirming folks are more focused on “rights and equality” than seemingly on God, many of such militants have been my friends, however the overtly Bible believing (as they call themselves and so do I call myself) take passages of scripture often out of cultural context and also pick and choose exegesis that reinforces their arguments. The problem as I see it is that neither focus on the main issue: Jesus. Both sides are guilty of idolatry of their positions. Jesus as he has revealed himself and communicated his love to us is above both houses of cards as I will call them. I am tired of those who do not worry about the salvation of souls, just belonging to their special interest community. If Jesus love, his salvation, commands and his example are not lived, believed and practiced, what difference is anything Paul said matter. If you do not love the LGBTQ believer and unbeliever, you are in sin. If you do not love and practice that love toward the more Conservative Christian believers who seem like they would not mnd if someone went to hell as long as they weren’t a “professing gay” as some call it, they are also in sin. Jesus did not die for our sexuality, he died for our sins. I grew up in a fundamentalist environment. From their perspective probably all of you writers are lost sinners. Let’s make the main thing, the main thing and stop these behaviors that grieve Holy Spirit and that would include some of the reporting of Mr Saine. Jesus help us poor sinners!

  22. Comment by Skipper on October 20, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Only Noah and his family saw the first rainbow. The Bible tells us the evil doers had all been destroyed well before it appeared in the sky. How ironic that those promoting sexual perversion today would wear rainbow colors. It’s as if they don’t know the whole story. Perhaps they chose not to read or just don’t care about having a good relationship with God. That is so hard to understand when God has done so much for us.

  23. Comment by John Smith on October 21, 2019 at 6:53 am

    However sinners saw the first rainbow. Do you really not understand the concepts used in advancing a message? Those that started this knew the message. Given the biblical ignorance of those in the pews, which is maintained by those in the pulpit they probably knew it better than the “christians”.

  24. Comment by Skipper on October 21, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Yes, sinners saw the first rainbow, but they were doing their best to follow the Lord, unlike the rest of mankind that drowned in the flood. I’m not sure what you are saying about “concepts used in advancing a message”. This movement used a pink triangle earlier, but now tries to use the rainbow. My point was how ironic that they want to use the rainbow, when that brings to mind the destruction of people doing significant evil in the eyes of the Lord.

  25. Comment by John Smith on October 22, 2019 at 4:59 am

    The rainbow brings to mind the destruction of people for evil to only a small and lessening portion of the population. Even in the bible for a christian it can be taken as a promise of protection and hope as it is supposed to point forward not back.

  26. Comment by Skipper on October 23, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Yes, a promise not to destroy the world again by water is hopeful. I remember a song “It’s Gonna Rain” by Charles Johnson. It goes “If something don’t happen to the hearts of man, The same thing is gonna happen again” and “God showed Noah the rainbow sign, It won’t be water but fire the next time.” It is such a shame that people tolerate evil as if it were good and even take pride in evil. God is still waiting and hoping they will repent and turn back to Him.

  27. Comment by John Smith on October 21, 2019 at 6:50 am

    If there were a UMC church in DC that did not celebrate the LBGTQX+ movement, that would be a story. This is normal for much of the UMC.

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