Smile Politely

Champaign-Urbana Churches That Welcome the LGBT Community

I did a little soul searching this week and realized that I was turning into a curmudgeon. Yes, I have used a thick slab of this column space to whine and complain about a lot of things including Chief Illiniwek, Loren Tate, greedy ministers, the religious right, gun owners, and the like. But I don’t want to be one of those people that complain about everything.

That’s really not who I am.

After all, last Sunday was Easter and it is now officially Spring. It is time for rebirth, new beginnings, flowers, bunnies and all that crap. Thus, your Humble Heretic has decided to die to his old crotchety ways and be reborn into a kinder, gentler and humbler heretic.

At least for a little while.

In this article I will write nothing that is negative. I am going to write only of things that are good and positive. It’s going to be quite lovely.

In this article I am not going to write about what churches are doing wrong, but about what churches are doing right. You see, there actually are some churches in Champaign-Urbana that try to follow the teachings of Jesus by showing love, acceptance and kindness towards others.

So, for example, even though there are some churches in our community that are hostile towards gays and lesbians and create ministries designed to “cure” them of their homosexuality, I’m not going to talk about that. No, sir-ee, Bob! I’m going to talk about how some churches in our community do a wonderful job of welcoming members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

Here are a few of them:

Community United Church of Christ, which is located at 805 S. Sixth Street in Champaign, is a church that is open and affirming to the LGBT community. Not only does this church welcome gays and lesbians, but they offer Holy Unions as well. This is from their website:

A Holy Union ceremony at Community United Church of Christ is a wonderful way to publicly acknowledge God as a part of your relationship and to proclaim the steadfast, covenantal, and passionate love of God. Our church community is an open and affirming one, welcoming and encouraging same gender and different gender couples to enter into lifelong partnerships. In July 2005 the United Church of Christ as a denomination passed a resolution on marriage equality.

Mckinley Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 809 S. Fifth St. in Champaign. It is a member the More Light Presbyterians, a network of people seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Mckinley Presbyterian is also affiliated with The Center for Progressive Christianity which states:

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean we are Christians who…invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable…including…those of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Wesley Church and Foundation, is a part of the larger United Methodist denomination which, unfortunately, has not yet voted to ordain or marry gays and lesbians. However, the Wesley Foundation Student Ministry does try to be welcoming. One of their ministries is the Rainbow Coffeehouse, which is LGBT-inclusive and is open every Tuesday from 6:30–9:00 p.m. and hosted by the University of Illinois Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resources. The coffeehouse offers fair-trade coffee, organic tea, and free WiFi. It is located at the corner of the Wesley building at 1203 W. Green Street in Urbana. The sign out front says “Etc. Coffeehouse.”

These are just a few of the churches in C-U that are doing some good things for the LGBT community. I find that refreshing, don’t you? Churches like these make me proud and happy to be a Christian.

But these churches are not, by any means, the only ones doing good things in our community by reaching out to marginalized members of our society. If you know of other progressive churches, then post a comment to this article and let us know about them.

Thanks for reading. I am, as always,

Your Humble Heretic

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