Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The American Family Outing

This Father's Day weekend, several LGBT families will be visiting Saddleback Church, a local SoCal mega-church with Pastor Rick Warren, for fellowship and dialogue. It's part of "The American Family Outing" sponsored by Soulforce, the National Black Justice Coalition, COLAGE and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. The goal was to have LGBT families visit six influential mega-churches across the nation to help build understanding for people they may have heard or talked about but have never personally met before.

Many of you know that I'm a contributing writer for a local LGBT newsmagazine called the Blade. I recently wrote an article in this month's issue talking about "The American Family Outing". I also interviewed participant Kimrey Kotchick (pictured here with his partner Jeanie Moore). Check out my article here:

Blade - June 2008 Issue

Sure this is a controversial issue within the Church. This is what I've referred to before as "The Hot Zone" - that place where conversation about homosexuality and faith and God are no longer the unspeakable topic. The Church may disagree with itself about the issue but we should be able to have civil conversation about these things "in the light" so that being gay in the Church is no longer a taboo subject. The reality is that we are part of the Church and that we are in the congregations. We are not second-class Christians. For the sake of our friends and loved ones within our congregations that are suffering in the closet, we've got to create a safe atmosphere within our spiritual communities where people on a journey can process their thoughts with trusted friends (instead of turning to unhealthy outlets in secret). We cannot develop a healthy sexuality in secret. I believe that we need the input of our spiritual families.

While we may disagree, I think the key is being able to show hospitality towards one another. Hospitality is the tangible expression of love. Hospitality doesn't affirm or condemn the theology of those giving or receiving it. It simply expresses the love of God. As brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church, we are all called and known by our love.

That's why I'm inspired by what these families are doing through "The American Family Outing". They are simply asking these churches to allow them to worship the Lord with them and fellowship. It's an opportunity for these influential churches to extend and express hospitality. I'm taking a similar approach with the new Catalyst in that I'll be helping to connect people and families with one another to get to know each other personally. I believe that we are mutually changed through relationship.

Many LGBT families recently visited Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church, a mega-church near Chicago. You can read about that visit here. While some churches have welcomed these families, other mega-churches haven't been so warm and friendly. But it's a start! The more we can help people actually meet those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, then we can help eliminate stereotypes, false assumptions, and we can stop the demonizing.


Anonymous said...

Eric you are one of the most amazing men I know. I really appreciate you.
---Eric Hall

The Blogger said...


Great post. I didn't know much about this event.

Also enjoyed your article in blade!

-Steve (ps403)

Alexandra said...

Wow. This is really, really neat. I'm always surprised at how many Christians who have strong views against homosexuality have never met someone who identifies as LGBT. Cool. Thanks for sharing.