Adventist Congregations on Both Coasts Reach Out To LGBT Communities After Orlando Shooting

Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Florida and California have reached out to LGBT+ communities in the wake of yesterday's massacre at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida. The shooting claimed the lives of fifty people and wounded fifty-three more.

The Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church in Apopka, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Geoff Paterson, announced on Facebook that it would hold free funeral services for any of the victims of the shooting. The announcement said,

"If you or someone you know needs a place to hold a funeral service in conjunction with the #thePulse Shootings, please call our church office at 407.869.0680. We will host your service (for free) and stream it live on the Internet for those who might not be able to attend in person. #prayforOrlando #FLC #FLCOnline

In response to a Facebook comment asking whether it pertained only to LGBT victims of the shooting, Forest Lake responded, "We want to be clear that this offer is for any victims of the shooting, but we want to be especially clear that we include the LGBT community."

The idea originated in a conversation between Young Adult Pastor Bernie Anderson and his wife Christina, a Child Life Specialist at Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando. Christina said that chaplains at Nemours were hearing that some of the victims' families were worried that they wouldn't have churches to hold services for their loved ones killed in the attack. A brief phone call to Geoff Paterson was all it took to green-light the idea. 

Delwin Finch, Pastor for Forest Lake's Web Ministries, says that as of press time, there haven't been inquiries from family members, but the Facebook announcement generated hundreds of appreciative comments and thousands of likes and shares. The full list of victims is only now being released, and funeral plans might still be in the initial planning stages, Finch pointed out.

"This isn't an idle offer either, we already have all the logistics in place just waiting for a call," Finch said.

On the opposite coast, the Glendale City Adventist Church in Glendale, California will host a community vigil to honor the victims tomorrow (Tuesday, June 14). From 11:00 am to 7:30 pm, the doors of the sanctuary will be open for mourning and reflection. At 7:30 pm, the church will host a service of remembrance. A media release for the event provided the following:

The Glendale City Church, in conjunction with a growing number of Glendale congregations like Central Avenue Church and First Congregational Church of Glendale, UCC, is hosting a Community Vigil to honor the memory of and stand in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando shooting. The organizers of the vigil believe it is important to provide a local space for mourning since this tragedy touches many lives right here in our city. Todd Leonard, pastor at Glendale City Church also says, “It is clear that there are forces at work to perpetuate hatred against the LGBT community, against our country’s Latino population and to turn our anger at the shooter into anger against all Muslims. In addition to mourning the victims, our vigil tomorrow night is a tangible promise that we as Glendale citizens will commit to work towards peace, love and justice towards all.”

The ecumenical vigil will include music, prayer and reflections from community members along with a candle-lighting for each of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The event will take place on Tuesday, June 14 at 7:30 pm on the Glendale City Church campus located at 610 E California Ave., Glendale. The church sanctuary will also be open that day from 11:00 am to 7:30 pm for those who would like to come to grieve and remember in silence.

The Glendale City Church has long been a welcoming and inclusive church with a sizeable LGBT+ membership. 

 

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7502
5 Likes

this is a nice gesture by the forest lake church…

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This warms the cockles of my heart and makes me proud for being an SDA. No doubt our church has members who are “good Samaritans” and able to show what Christianity is all about by leading through their examples.

“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” Edgar A. Guest

16 Likes

Wonderful gesture by the Forest Lake Church. If any family takes up the offer, it would be nice to see a follow-up story.

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Forest City SDA Spanish as well…
Thanks to these churches, Im proud of this movement. with 1 church like these in each country, Christ would return in a year.
Seeking and saving, reaching out, not just warming benches, but extending the church to the community, Love this! God continue to bless them.

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Marlon
WHEN!! Did ALL of the Florida SDA churches invite with Open Arms, Welcome with FULL INCLUSION the Gays, the Lesbians, the Transgenders into Membership in the Seventh day Adventist church?
THIS is a wonderful gesture — providing a Seventh day Adventist Pastor to assist with the grieving and shock that is there for those surviving family and friends.
AND perhaps even to allow, this one time, A Rainbow Flag, or Rainbow Other within an Adventist church.
BUT, where was the Seventh day Adventist church when all these persons were living and breathing? They certainly WERE NOT invited in when standing upright, breathing, talking.
THIS is certainly a question every one could ask. Every one SHOULD ASK!!

Robin-- I am familiar with Pastor Todd Leonard of Glendale. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he was the pastor of the Canton, GA church a number of years ago. That was when he became acquainted with SDA Kinship. I had a gay Episcopal friend I took there to introduce him to SDAs.
The Connect Church, that meets in the Collegedale Adventist Academy chapel is also gay friendly. Their pastor is the one who wrote the materials for the S.S. lessons on Matthew.

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Steve Mga,
I am proud to report that the congregation of which I am a member,
(and have been since 1977), under four successive senior pastors,
and for many years, has had an outreach to the Los Angeles LGBT
community.

The Glendale City Church, in Glendale California has for years welcomed members of the LGBT community and even paid for weekly welcomes in
Los Angeles gay media publications, inviting former or current Adventists who were gay/lesbian to our Sabbath services.

Even some of our more elderly long term members, who demographically would tend to be more conservative and therefore homophobic, were fervent and demonstrative in their welcome to these newcomers.

I am proud of our loving members but even more proud of our courageous pastors, who took a lot of adverse vitriolic, venomous, vituperative, and hateful
input from certain unloving toxic individuals who like the Pharisees of old,
found Christ’s outreach to marginalized people incomprehensible.

6 Likes

After Orlando, the words from the (THE CARPENTERS LYRICS) “The End Of The World” make more sense:

“Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
’Cause you don’t love me anymore?

Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when I lost your love

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why ev’rything is the same as it was
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine crying?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye

Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye.”

Current research has found that threatened self-esteem is associated with a wide range of heightened violent and aggressive behaviors. When people are insulted, as opposed to praised, they are more likely to force another person to listen to react violently. Whether it is as a means of promoting our groups, or ourselves, we tend to be more aggressive when our self-worth has been challenged and we are not feeling particularly positive about ourselves.

When our self-esteem is threatened, we are more likely to compare ourselves to people we think are worse off than us, to see other people as having more negative traits, to degrade people who aren’t members of our groups, and to become more directly aggressive towards people in general.

When you insult or criticize someone else, it may say more about how you are feeling about yourself than the other person. The way we reduce persons to labels and stereotype persons is cruel.

Insecurity over ourselves drives much of the cruelty and violence in the world. It does feel like it is the end of the world…come Lord Jesus…please come!

“ I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why ev’rything is the same as it was
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does”

3 Likes

These churches are a standard to live up to in showing mercy, grace, love, acceptance!

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If one believes and/or accepts the OT and NT views on homophoblc behavoir and the fate of those who engage in such acts is it not hypocritical to offer support especially when these people are usually not welcome in many congregations.

If homosexuality is the sin so many denominations say it is the reality is that these victims died suddenly and unrepentant and are spiritually lost with no hope of eternal salvation.Not saying I agree to such a view but it is the logical conclusion if one follows the letter of the various writers of Scripture.

I would think many would find the platitudes being offered by some denominations very offensive especially when so many of the LGBT are openly condemned in so many church creeds.

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Just Maybe, some healing might come from this horribly tragic event. God cannot heal our hearts unless they are open to everyone.

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In my opinion, the NAD is not capable of standing up for Biblical principle. At best, they offer a watered down minimalist approach to shared Biblical values. I suggest they should have said something like this:

“We as Seven-day Adventist, a faith based church, share in the sorrow over the loss of human life at the Gay Bar in Tampa. Most of those who lost their life had just started on their journey, having done nothing to deserve this. We decry in strongest terms any violence toward the innocent and unsuspecting.

As faith based Christians while we hold to the Eden model of family as ideal, we believe in freedom of conscience for every individual to choose their own path. We wish all the world’s faith leaders would embrace the Jeffersonian model: “Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens…are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion.”

We offer professional counseling and a resource hotline for the Tampa Area victims and families. Can we be of service to you? 1-800-000-000

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Love the approach, Frank…offer condolences and then REAL help.

Wonderfully written.

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As one who leans conservative, especially on the issue of homosexuality, I fully agree with what these churches have done. Even though Scripture does not condone the same-sex sexual acts these victims may have been planning to engage in, Scripture is equally clear that we are not to judge or condemn a sinner’s family members for the sins of their relative. (Ezek. 18) To close the church doors on these people would hurt only the family members; God tells us that when family and friends come to honor a decedent, the dead man does not know it. (Job 14:21; Eccl. 9:5).

These scriptural principles lead me to conclude that funerals are for the benefit of the surviving family members, and that no family should ever be denied a respectful and healing memorial service for its loved one. Why should not all churches give their space to grieving relatives and friends of saints, practicing LGBTs, or vicious criminals? It is a fitting community outreach. It is important to let all know that the purpose of such a service is to help the living, the families and the friends heal. No one is all bad or all good. It is appropriate to uphold whatever goodness others experienced from the life of the decedent, as well as to warn all from departing from that path

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As tragic as the events in Orlando were, these 76 who died in WACO following a siege by the ATF will stand in my memory as a reminder of those to whom the Adventist Church did not reach out. The Church put as much distance between themselves and these victims as possible. The greatest sin is to tarnish the brand.

Chanel Andrade, 1, American
Jennifer Andrade, 19, American
Katherine Andrade, 24, American
George Bennett, 35, British
Susan Benta, 31, British
Mary Jean Borst, 49, American
Pablo Cohen, 38, Israeli
Abedowalo Davies, 30, British
Shari Doyle, 18, American
Beverly Elliot, 30, British
Doris Fagan, 51, British
Yvette Fagan, 32, British
Lisa Marie Farris, 24, American
Raymond Friesen, 76, Canadian
Sandra Hardial, 27, British
Diana Henry, 28, British
Paulina Henry, 24, British
Phillip Henry, 22, British
Stephen Henry, 26, British
Vanessa Henry, 19, British
Zilla Henry, 55, British
Novellette Hipsman, 36, Canadian
Floyd Houtman, 61, American
Sherri Jewell, 43, American
David M. Jones, 38, American
Bobbie Lane Koresh, 2, American
Cyrus Koresh, 8, American
David Koresh, 33, American
Rachel Koresh, 24, American
Star Koresh, 6, American
Jeffery Little, 32, American
Nicole Gent Little (pregnant), 24, Australian
Dayland Lord Gent, 3, Australian[72]
Paiges Gent,[73] 1, American
Livingston Malcolm, 26, British
Anita Martin, 18, American
Diane Martin, 41, British
Lisa Martin, 13, American
Sheila Martin, Jr., 15, American
Wayne Martin, Jr., 20, American
Wayne Martin, Sr., 42, American
Abigail Martinez, 11, American
Audrey Martinez, 13, American
Crystal Martinez, 3, American
Isaiah Martinez, 4, American
Joseph Martinez, 8, American
Julliete Martinez, 30, American
John-Mark McBean, 27, British
Bernadette Monbelly, 31, British
Melissa Morrison, 6, British
Rosemary Morrison, 29, British
Sonia Murray, 29, American
Theresa Nobrega, 48, British
James Riddle, 32, American
Rebecca Saipaia, 24, Filipino[74]
Judy Schneider, 41, American
Steve Schneider, 43, American
Mayanah Schneider, 2, American
Clifford Sellors, 33, British
Scott Kojiro Sonobe, 35, American
Floracita Sonobe, 34, Filipino
Aisha Gyrfas Summers (pregnant), 17, Australian
Gregory Summers, 28, American
Startle Summers, 1, American
Hollywood Sylvia, 1, American
Lorraine Sylvia, 40, American
Rachel Sylvia, 12, American
Chica Jones, 2, American
Michelle Jones Thibodeau, 18, American
Serenity Jones, 4, American
Little One Jones, 2, American
Margarida Vaega, 47, New Zealander
Neal Vaega, 38, New Zealander
Mark H. Wendell, 40, American

13 Likes

I couldn’t agree more! The SDA church’s lack of trying to intervene and help the situation is one of the most cowardly acts that I’ve ever seen.

And yes, you are right. Tarnishing the “brand” is the greatest sin. Prime directive #1 seems to be to protect the SDA church above all else.

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If church funerals were only held for non-sinners, were would we all be buried? Remember, for hundreds of years many were excluded from church cemeteries for that reason. Funerals or neither the time nor place to warn of sin.

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I think you meant “homosexual behavior.” I like your mis-speak, because I think it also by implication applies.

I would tend to agree with you on the issue of hypocrisy, although I suspect we disagree on the interpretation of the scriptures.

I would suspect that under any Christian morality, whether it condemns homosexuality or not, it’s likely that at least one of the fifty people killed wasn’t right with God when they died.

on the other hand, you rightly point out that Christians (and Adventists in particular) seem to treat eternal salvation as some sort of musical chairs, where the only thing that matters is what you happen to be doing when the music stops. that seems inconsistent with a just God, let alone a merciful One.

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The SDA church continues to cause damage to lbgti people with its language and its policies. Pausing to offer the funerals is a nice gesture and certainly better than not offering, but if I were gay, I would not want to be laid to rest in an environment that preached damaging things, even if they did pause from the damage they were doing to offer a nice gesture.

People are trying to bury loved ones who died partly because some religions teach that their loved ones were a particularly bad type of sinner. I think it would be understandable if they passed on the offer, and if any decided to take the churches up on it, it would be a breath-taking act of grace on their part.

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The fact that this “gesture of kindness” is newsworthy on this blog sounds like self-congratulatory Pharisees, Who opportunistically show compassion in public but cross the street when passing the Samaritan. Tell me we are willing to go the next step and offer fellowship to the GLBT community and I might get interested. A token effort like “free funerals.” has a high potential of creating collateral damage becuase of our church’s fundamental rejection of gays and lesbians. We selectively cling desperately to the condemnation of a primitive Old Testament society when it comes to sexual orientation but we discard other Old Testament cultural trappings (like stoning adulterers).

Imagine the hypocrisy exposed in this hypothetical conversation:

“Pastor that funeral service was wonderful and your community welcoming, My partner and I would like to join your church and ask you to perform our marriage next summer… Given what has happened we really see the value of commitment to each other and a faith community.”

"Um, you are welcome to attend our church but you can’t get married and I can’t perform the wedding. "

“But Marriage is legal.”

"Actually, as a church we opposed that law and actively promoted our members to work against it’s passage. SDAs even filed a Amicus Brief against DOMA. But you can come here whenever you want but until you “give up” that one sin, you can’t be a member of our church.

Oh by the way, I read in the Old Testament…

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

7 Likes