Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Gay-Affirming Pentacostal Church Opens in Cedar Rapids, IA

You all know that I regularly visit the discussion boards at the Gay Christian Network. One of the things that irks me is when GCN regulars worship at churches that will literally kick them to the curb if they ever find out that they are gay, or gay married, or gay-affirming, or anything but ex-gay. I mean, these folks are supporting religious institutions that will turn against them and cast them out. Meanwhile, they criticize faith communities such as the United Church of Christ and the Metropolitan Community Church that actually will support them and nurture the development of their identities as gay Christians. But I understand their dilemma. They have spiritual needs that are better met by charismatic worship practices. And unfortunately those churches tend to be anti-gay.

There is a third option and it bugs me that more LGBT Christians and straight allies rarely consider: Start a new church that fits your worship needs, but also remains affirming to all. I'm glad to announce that a nearby group of charismatics in Cedar Rapids, IA, have actually done that:
The Rev. Tony White and his partner, Scott Niskanen, know what it’s like to be turned away from the church, and from those leading a Christian life. “There are some hateful people out there, and some of those hateful people are behind the doors of the church,” White said.

That’s why White, a former truck driver, and Niskanen, a retired music teacher, started Showers of Blessings Pentecostal Church, open to anyone but with a specific aim of letting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community know “they are loved,” White said.

“The other night I preached — and this really is the foundation of Showers of Blessings — about John 3:16: ‘That God so loved the world, that he have his only begotten son Jesus Christ, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,’” White said. “I am a ‘whosoever.’ We are all, ‘whosoevers.’”

The church is part of a growing denomination, the Affirming Pentecostal Church, International, and Apostolic Pentecostal denomination founded in Indiana in 2010. Unlike most other Apostolic churches, APCI is LGBT-affirming. Their doctrine, however, follows the same beliefs as most other Apostolic Pentecostal churches.
Showers of Blessings is a small church and so far its worship size has grown to nine.

But it's a start. And it's an important start. It's time for LGBT Christians, our friends, and our families to assume our rightful seat within the collective brotherhood of Christ.

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