Black Pastor Comes Out of the Closet, His Congregation Kicks Him Out of the Church

This post, written by Pam Spaulding, originally appeared on Pam's House Blend

Those daring to come out in the conservative black church know that the price they may pay is very high -- social rejection by a circle of people that has always been their support system, their community.

When pastors step forward, either by coming out of the closet, or moving to provide open support for the church's LGBT worshippers, the judgment can be swift and harsh. The Denver Post's Lisa Kennedy takes a look at the dilemma in a lengthy piece that is worth the click. It takes a focused look at the sad perspective of churches that want to remain in denial, willing to cast out beloved leaders if they are gay or gay-affirming.
It had been just a few minutes more than 238 days since Reynolds, on Oct. 29, 2006, had delivered his final sermon as senior pastor of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, the church he was born into. His parents, Ledell and Mary, were founding members of the "E," as the faithful call their spiritual home. In 1992, he returned like a character from a Bible passage to become its minister.
The shared journey of pastor and flock came to an end when Reynolds revealed he was a "same-gender loving" man, a designation for gay and lesbian identity gaining favor among gay African-Americans.
..."We've chosen what we believe to be a biblical position," Pastor Cleveland Thompson said over the phone, explaining Emmanuel's decision not to speak about Reynolds.
As for the pastor himself, yes, he fell down. He wept. After he left EMBC, he was adrift. One year into his life as an openly gay man, the 46-year-old preacher would not claim yet to being found.
Kennedy spends a bit of time going over the travails of Ted Haggard and the media storm surrounding his mind-boggling outing, as well as that of Denver's Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel Church, which happened in the wake of Haggard's debacle. When "the fall" comes in the black church, the difference is that no one talks about it. If a pastor applies the tradition of civil rights advocacy for LGBTs, they are usually quietly shown the door, or there is an exodus from the congregation.
Conflicts over sexuality are on the rise. And - if Emmanuel can be held up as an example -preachers who wield the church's civil rights tradition on behalf of gay and lesbian people will be rebuffed by their members, if not sent packing.
But in contrast to the predominantly white churches, where the departures of gay clergy have been followed by everything from news conferences to extended homilies to the formation of restoration committees, black congregations are more likely to shed their gay preachers with a deafening silence.
...Those who do push the envelope receive a response as old as the Good Book: God's laws are unchanging; they must be obeyed, not debated.
But debate appears unavoidable. After wrestling to understand his son's coming out in relation to Scripture, the Rev. Dennis Meredith, minister at Atlanta's Tabernacle Baptist Church, challenged his congregation to become more accepting of gays and lesbians. Over the three years since, the church shed nearly 300 of its 1,100 members - and the financial pledges they brought.
The hypocrisy, of course, is rampant. There are plenty of gays and lesbians sitting in the pews, in the choir, directing the choir, for goodness sake. But in these churches, you're expected to sit there and listen to the homophobic bile spewing from the pulpit. Silence.

Read what happened to Rev. Reynolds when he came out to his congregation. It's painful -- and below the fold.
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