Riff between Christian community and gay community too large

The decision to dismiss 20-year-old Colin Briggs from volunteer work at Crosspoint Wesleyan church strikes a particular chord with me. Monday afternoon, July 14, 2003 I got to experience this first hand at my own church, Sunset Church in Fredericton. I had served there in the music and youth departments for 10 years as a volunteer when I was called into the office to meet with the senior Pastoral staff and was told that I had been seen around town with members of the gay community. Under incredible pressure I confessed to the pastors that I had a problem, which was the only way I perceived the situation at the time. I was promptly informed that, even though I was not in an official position of leadership, being on the church platform with the music department put me in a perceived position of leadership, and I could no longer participate in any volunteer activities. Like in the Colin Briggs story, I was invited to continue attending regular church services. Sadly, the restrictions didn’t stop there as later that month I was informed that I could not travel with the church group to attend the annual Christian music festival in New Hampshire.

I’m happy to say that not every aspect of this story turned out negatively for me. Despite nearly committing suicide, I was able to overcome the adversities that I had faced and enrolled in the BA program at St. Thomas University, focusing on psychology. It was my hopes to gain some insight as to why I was the way I was. I became active in the UNB & STU LGBTQ group Spectrum, eventually becoming an executive member of the group and last year served as the executive director.

Upon 20 years of reflection, I am pleased to have grown in knowledge and in wisdom. I grew up in church and know church politics well. I cannot really blame my pastors for asking me to step away. They have a belief system that they hold to be sacred and true and for me to expect them to alter that would be unreasonable. I cannot, however, agree with the way they handled my situation and do not agree with the handling of the same situation for Briggs. There is too large of a rift between the [evangelical] Christian community and the gay community, insomuch that in the blink of an eye a gay parishioner seemingly becomes someone different to them. I strongly feel that if each ‘side’ would take the time to learn about each other, then situations such as mine and Colin’s would be less prevalent in our society. Throughout my own experience I have coined a phrase: “I cannot blame God for man’s ignorance” and I know that He [God] will accept me for who I am, even if His people do not.


John Staples

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