2014 Oklahoma LGBTQQIA College Summit

2014 LGBTQQIA College Summit

Nazarene Ally will be in attendance at the 3rd annual Oklahoma LGBTQQIA College Summit presented by The Equality Network Institute.

The summit will be held in the Main Building at Oklahoma City Community College on Saturday, March 1st, from 10am until 5:30pm.

According to TEN Institute, “panelists will include Professor Toby Beauchamp, representatives from The Equality Network, Oklahomans for Equality, Cimarron Alliance, and students, faculty, and staff from universities and colleges around the state.”

To register for the Summit, go to http://tinyurl.com/2014CollegeSummit. Registration is free and includes lunch and a t-shirt.

We hope to see you there!

Let Them Eat Cake

Huffington Post

Let Them Eat Cake: Homosexuality and the Church’s Image Problem
By Jake O’Bannon

An article like this warrants full disclosure up front. So let me tell you who I am.

I am a 22-year-old male from Oklahoma. I have been raised in the Nazarene church and still attend the same church today. I am straight and engaged to be married in July of 2014. I do not have a lot of gay friends, and I don’t often see the ones that I do have. I have never felt judged, silenced, bullied, or denied because of my sexual orientation.

That’s who I am. As you can tell, I lack life experience when it comes to homosexuality. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion on it. And as a Christian in today’s culture I think it’s a topic that needs to be talked about more than ever. Which the church having a major role in the current homosexuality debate, the question must be asked: How is it doing?

To answer that question I think it’s best to look at it through the scope of someone in the LGBT community. Again, as you noticed above, I am a terrible example for that, but I’m going to try. If I were an LGBT person, the church is not the first place I would want to go. You may have heard the stat, but according to a study by the Barna Group in the book “Unchristian,” 91% of non-churchgoers between the ages of 16-29 believe that the church is antihomosexual, and 80% of churchgoers believe the same.  That was the number one answer given by participants in the survey when asked what they think about the church.

No matter what you think about that statistic, there is no denying that there is an image problem. Even if you agree that the church is antihomosexual and believe that to be right, you’re still part of a group that is losing followers for coming off as judgmental. It’s a touchy subject, but there must be a better solution.

I once heard a story about a Christian man in Colorado who owned a cake shop. He sold a cake to two men one day, but when he found out that the two men were gay and the cake was for their wedding, he refused to give them their cake. The case even went to court because the man continued to refuse their business. Now you might have read that and agreed with the shop owner. If you did my response to you is that’s foolish. Also, it’s part of the reason why young people are leaving the church.

Let me ask you this: What is the worst thing that could have happened if he gave them the cake? To some it might be that they feel affirmed in their sexuality and they “don’t change.” To that I would say that if your goal is to change people, denying them a cake isn’t the way you’re going to do it.

But what is the worst thing that could happen if he didn’t give them the cake? That’s easy, because it only takes a Google search to find out how damaging it can be for a Christian to deny a gay couple their wedding cake. Articles from ABC News to the Huffington Post were published about the story; the story of a Christian man being judgmental. Thousands of people around the world read it. And we wonder where the 91% number comes from…

Our job on this Earth is not to play the judge. It just isn’t. The man who did not give that couple a cake is destroying the very faith he confesses to follow.

There is no better quote for this issue than the words of Billy Graham when he said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” No matter what your personal views on homosexuality are, it’s time for Christians to stop playing the role of judge and start making cakes.

Open Door Blog

Jake O’Bannon, special contributor to Nazarene Ally,  is a 2013 graduate of Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. He is now pursuing a degree in law from Oklahoma City University. Jake enjoys ushering at church, and going on dates with his new fiance. Jake is also a founder of OpenDoor, a blog developed to “be viewed as a type of paradigm shift. OpenDoor consists of a group of Christian young people who see problems with our world and are willing to talk about them.” This article was first published on “OpenDoor Blog” on January 3rd, 2014. Posted with permission.

2013 – A Look Back

2012 - A Look Back

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In addition to being viewed by over 40,000 times this year, Nazarene Ally was able to complete a few of our 2013 goals. These included doubling the number of Facebook “likes” (which we did by May) and just about doubled the Twitter followers too!

Thank you for making 2013 so memorable! We look forward to an even better 2014!

Click here to see the complete report.

Statement of Support for United Methodist Rev. Frank Schaefer

Schaefer Statement Pic

Norman, Okla. – Earlier this week, our sister Wesleyan denomination, The United Methodist Church (UMC), held a church trial to decide the future of Rev. Frank Schaefer for officiating at his gay son’s wedding. He was suspended for 30 days after which he will be defrocked if he does not fully intend to obey all of the Book of Discipline for the UMC.

During these times of growing polarization between believers, we need to acknowledge that the Church, is hurting, broken and in need of the redeeming work of Christ. We find healing and reconciliation when we share the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. Christ has set the table and invited all to partake. How do should we respond when a person or group of people feel as if they are lesser at the same table? We should respond in love. Love for his son caused Rev. Schaefer to act and love calls us, the Body of Christ, to act by erasing the superficial lines that divide us (e.g. social economic status, cultural bias, gender or sexual orientation). Love does not discriminate. Love does not play favorites. Love will not only win, it will prevail.

Nazarene Ally applauds the efforts of allies, such as Rev. Schaefer, who not only preaches love, but also puts it into practice. His words and deeds are the embodiment of Christ bringing about the Kingdom. We thanks those in our sister organization, Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), for their efforts to expose this trial and verdict for what it is, but also provide a model for how a denomination can move forward as more RMN communities are being added daily. Nazarene Ally again calls upon the Church of the Nazarene to look into ways that bring about reconciliation between LGBTQ Nazarenes, and the Nazarene Church.

Our prayers are with Rev. Schaefer, and his family during this period of reflection that they will not lose hope during this difficult time. We also pray for our counterparts in the RMN and the UMC, that through the broken body and shed blood, we can all come to the Table and find reconciliation.

Spirit Day 2013

Spirit Day 2013

Join Nazarene AllyGLAAD, and millions of people all over the world by wearing purple Thursday, October 17th. According to GLAAD’s website,” Spirit Day was started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives.” Nazarene Ally is pleased to be a Spirit Day Faith Partner for the second time.

For more information on how to participate in Spirit Day 2013, or way to speak up against bullying please visit www.glaad.org/spiritday

The 28th General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene

General Assembly 2013

UPDATE 7/19/2013: 

Message from our founder, Ty McCarthy, concerning the General Assembly passage of Christian Action Resolutions 701, 702, 703 & 705:

“With the 28th General Assembly now behind us, we will continue the daily work of building a safe Nazarene Church for all. I am not at all surprised these resolutions easily passed. Although I am a bit disappointed, it just makes our work that much more difficult.

We, the Nazarenes, have gone away from our roots. Our tradition used to be purposefully including those that society marginalized. A hundred years later, it is the Church that is doing the marginalizing of LGBT people, as society is moving toward inclusion and equality. Nazarene Ally will continue to promote necessary conversations that foster civil discussion. Sharing our experiences and stories is path we started on; this is the path we will continue down. It is always the slower path, but it is the only path that allows for reconciliation to take place. The hope is that people will see the gap the Church has created between its policy and practice. Sharing our stories will expose the illogical nature of these resolutions.

I remain hopeful that the Assembly’s referral of 703, to study human sexuality over the next quadrennial will bring us to a better place as a Church. A study of this magnitude cannot be one sided. To not use the knowledge and expertise of Nazarene Ally would be a huge missed opportunity for the Church. We extend an open and willing attitude towards participating in this study over the next four years. Even though, at the end of the day, we [LGBT Nazarenes] are still viewed under the current language of being a “perversion” that are, “subject to the wrath of God” (Manual P. 37), I am still optimistic for future of the Church of the Nazarene and the next General Assembly in 2017.

We can build a better Church by working together and by approaching complex issues of faith and human sexuality by still being salt and light. I am absolutely positive that this can be done. Our slogan is truer today, than it ever has been: We can do better.”

General Assembly News:

All votes on 701, 702, 703 & 705. All are up for voting on the floor. Only 703 is amended and referred to the Board of General Superintendents. The General Assembly votes to approve measures 701, 702, & 705 and referred 703 to the board of General Superintentents.

701 – Two kinds of sexual immorality (Human and homosexual)
702 – Entertainment – Nazarenes only can watch TV/Movies that support “traditional Biblical marriage”
703 – A stronger statement against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
705 – Marriage is only between one man and one woman.

United States Supreme Court News:

SCOTUS throws out Prop 8 on issue of standing, and DOMA is ruled unconstitutional! Marriage resumes in California, and 1,138 federal laws now apply equally to gay and straight couples.

General Assembly 2013

Use ScriptureUse TraditionUse ReasonUse Experience

The Welcoming Project turns 2!

The Welcoming Project

Join us in Norman, Oklahoma from 2-4pm on Saturday, April 20th, to celebrate The Welcoming Project’s 2nd Anniversary!

Nazarene Ally staff will be on hand to talk, answer questions, build relationships, eat cake and take donations!  We hope to see you there! Nazarene Ally has partnered with The Welcoming Project May 2012.

For more information you can visit the Welcoming Project online: click here

The Welcoming Project 2nd Anniversary Party

Nazarenes Could Learn From Boy Scout Decision on Gays

Boys Scouts

TyOklahoma City, Okla. — The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have announced they will be delaying a revised policy on gay members and leaders until May. The longer they wait to make a decision the longer current gay boy scouts have to wait to have a gay role model in their lives. Positive role models come in all shapes and sizes, and that includes gays. When organizations, like the Boy Scouts, discriminate against anyone, it teaches the next generation within that organization that discrimination is acceptable and just. Is this really the kind of message that the Boys Scouts wants to be sending?

The Church of the Nazarene (COTN), too, could learn from how the BSA handles this issue. Like the Boy Scouts, my church works with youth from 6th to 12th grade. Instead of tying knots and starting fires, they are gathering to worship together and hear from the Gospel. And like the Boys Scouts, my church, the COTN, does not let openly gay or lesbian people serve in leadership roles. Church youth groups need positive role models too, and just like the Boy Scouts, they need to be aware of the dangerous message they are sending to the gay and lesbian students through their ban on openly gay youth workers. Whether they’re a troop leader or a youth worker, these mentors play an invaluable role in a teen’s lives. Having a mentor allows teens to see beyond the present and talk to someone who has been through it all before, which helps to give that teen a future.

I grew up in a church where there were no openly gay individuals in leadership. So I had no template of what a gay Christian looked liked. Before I came out, I had worked for a rather large Nazarene church in Oklahoma City. Still closeted, I let the fear of people finding me out keep me from being an exemplar to the other closeted teens in the youth group. After leaving that job, I couldn’t help but think that I failed those kids. I failed to let them know that they didn’t have to choose between their church and their sexuality. The idea of being gay and Christian just isn’t compatible for vast majority of the people in the COTN. Coming-out usually means leaving the church. A few found new denominations to call home; most stop attending church altogether. I had no one to look up to as a role model for being a gay Nazarene, and I hadn’t given the kids in my youth group one to look up to, either…

Like the BSA, the COTN has an opportunity in June to change its policy. The 28th General Assembly of the Nazarene Church is the “supreme doctrine-formulating, lawmaking, and elective authority” of the church and is taking place in Indianapolis, Ind. No doubt that any attempt to change the Manual, the governing book for the Nazarene Church, would be met with strong resistance. Maybe all we’ll learn from the Boy Scouts is to kick-the-can down to the next General Assembly in 2017.

Thankfully there are churches that are open and affirming to the LGBT community. Someday, my denomination will be one of them. We Nazarenes need to realize that Christ sees a person’s heart and not a person’s sexual orientation. To help that process, I created Nazarene Ally to help network other gay and lesbian Nazarenes with each other and with straight allies. I wanted to let people know they didn’t have to choose between their faith or their sexual orientation.

When the BSA allows gay men to be troop leaders, they will give hope and a future to closeted scouts. Suddenly the message they are sending the next generation of scout’s changes from promoting discrimination to abhorring it. When my church changes its anti-gay policy, it will be doing the same thing. I still hold out hope that the COTN is not too far behind the Boy Scouts. If anyone has the potential to prove to my church its stance on gays and lesbians needs reevaluation, it’s the Scout that says, ‘I’m an Eagle Scout, and I’m gay.”

Nazarene Ally Founder, Ty McCarthy, wrote this piece for the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender monthly newspaper in the South Central USA.

This article was published in the March 2013 issue of The Gayly (The Gayly.com). The Gayly is the LGBT paper for Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita, Arkansas, North Texas, and Kansas City.

Holiness Today

Holiness Today

The following is an email I sent into Holiness Today in reply to an article printed in the September/October 2011 issue. You can read the full text of the article here:

http://www.ncnnews.com/nphweb/html/ht/article.jsp?id=10010813

11/1/11

Dear Mr. David J. Felter, Editor-in-Chief:

I’m a long time subscriber and reader of Holiness Today.

I disagree with many of the points you made in your reply to the question. I would hope that your presence at the wedding would show your support to your friend, just like it would for your heterosexual friends. The very fact that we ask this question shows us, the Church of the Nazarene, how very little we know, and understand about homosexuals. The church, by policy and its members, treat homosexuals as second class members [of society]. Chances are the last wedding you went to both the bride and the groom ‘sinned’ at one point in their lives. But there were no hang ups in the crowd. The very asking of the question reveals there is bigotry in the Church. What better place, then that moment-at the same-sex wedding, would be a better opportunity to show them grace, dignity and holy love, all while reducing bigotry.

Also to the matter of heresy. Who are the heretics to you refer? All homosexuals? The homosexual-Christians in the Church? Or the Church that recognizes that homosexuals? I am not offended at being called a heretic. I am however offended that it was dropped so casually and lightly. This word has a very loaded history, with life and death consequences. A heresy in the early Church meant schism. I do not want to split off from the Church of the Nazarene at all; therefore, I am not a heretic. Please don’t burn me at the stake.

Further along in history we find it switches to mean “against orthodoxy”. You may have caught me there, I am anything but Orthodox. I’m a Nazarene after all, and we were begot by a long line of parent denominations. All thinking their kids were heretics. Everyone but the Roman Catholics are heretics. And even the Eastern Orthodox think both the Protestants and Roman Catholics are heretics. And to belabor the point more, the Jews think Christians are just a Jewish heresy anyway.

The established Church has also called women pastors heretics, and yet the Church of the Nazarene has always supported female pastors. So “He who is without Hersey…”

Let’s be very clear on this: homosexuality is not a heresy.

The Church of the Nazarene has NEVER issued a Manual Statement or a “Pastoral Perspective” saying homosexuality is heretical. And furthermore, we do not believe that other Christian Churches are heretics when their beliefs differ from ours. For example, we do not believe that those who speak in tongues are heretic just because we do not speak in tongues.

Homosexuality is a word that has shifted meaning over time too. So please, I ask you to update your dictionary, homosexuals are no more a threat to Christians, civilization, marriage, or the Church of the Nazarene than a gain of sand is to a tire on the road.

I may not have changed your mind, but I hope that I have shed some light on a subject that is dangerously under discussed.

Respectfully submitted,

-A Gay Nazarene

The Invisible Line

You aren’t really sure where that line is until you’ve crossed it. I hope I haven’t here with this letter. I am admittedly short-tempered. (It will be my downfall.) I know I should be “like a duck” and let it roll off me, as I was taught in Youth Group but it is hard for me to be silent when I read such an obvious examples of bigotry, and discrimination.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Maybe I misunderstood him. Maybe this wasn’t a battle worth picking. Maybe I should let more things go than I do. Maybe I sweated a small thing. I guess in the end it boils down to how I ‘pick my battles’ so to speak. If I was [too] rude, I apologize. But we [The Church of the Nazarene] have got to be very careful about the advice we give and think of the implications.

But this is the very thing that we are trying to eliminate. Is there going to be a question “Should I let my kids play with kids of same-sex couples at the park?” or “Should I tip my openly gay waiter at Applebee’s?” Very extreme, but you get the idea. At what point does it end? Who is supposed to speak out when the Church crosses the line?

Maybe my temper flared just a little higher than the Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken sandwich, because the question and Mr. Felter’s answer hit a little too close to home. I want to get married someday. I want all my family and friends to be there, and I want all my husband’s family and friends to be there too. Do the relationships I have with my Nazarene-friends and family members not supersede the rhetoric coming out from behind Nazarene pulpits? Again another example of when people put a face to the hate it makes it much harder for them. A fact I am preparing to deal with in the near future.

Maybe I did cross the line. My prayer is that my family and friends and, chiefly, the Holy Spirit will call me out when I do. Speaking the truth in love is a fine line to walk down, and I don’t want to fall off it. Maybe someday I’ll learn better what battles to pick. But maybe someday, and I hope soon, this whole issue will be over with because we as a Church have made the right call. (I’m starting to sound like Little Orphan Annie with all these ‘maybes.’) Below is the reply I got from Holiness Today.

11/7/11

Dear Neal:

Thank you for your letter to the editor and insights into the “Q & A” column in September/October.

We appreciate your feedback.

Sincerely,

The Holiness Today Editorial Staff

An Open Letter to the Church of the Nazarene

An Open Letter to the Church of the Nazarene

October 11th may just be another day in October for you, but for many people around the country it is the day they “come out of the closet” and tell their family and friends they are gay. This is a day that starts the process of being fully honest with themselves, and with the people they care about. It is marked by great personal anxiety because being gay is still subject to ridicule, bullying, and discrimination even in 2011.

In 2010, we saw tragic reports of teens being bullied because of their sexuality and then committing suicide. It was October 11, 2010, that I started a blog because I could no longer stand in the shadows as a closeted Nazarene pastor; I needed to act. I needed to know that our Church was doing something it. If family, friends and school reject them, then they could find refuge in the Church. It is a platform for reform. It is a wake up call to the Church that we are leaving people out.

Let me begin by saying that I love this Church! Nazarenes are awesome! I hear stories all the time from my local church and from around the world that makes me, dare I say, proud to be a Nazarene. But I don’t need to tell you how awesome this Church is and can be. This letter isn’t an ultimatum or threat. It was written with love with the intent to make this Church as great as God wants it to be and aware of the growing problem of homophobia that is entering many evangelical churches.

It is because I love the Church of the Nazarene, it pains me greatly to see how the Church is handling the issue of homosexuality. I would like to someday preach from the pulpit without hiding anything from my congregation. I don’t think we, Nazarenes, are ready for that just yet. But we can take baby steps to get there; we need to begin with welcoming those who have nowhere else to go.

Homosexuality is not a sin. The notion that one cannot be homosexual and Christian needs to end. Sexuality is not the root of sin, it is neither Original nor Personal as our Manual describes. Homosexuals, and heterosexuals alike, are only sinners because we are human. That notion creates policy that picks and chooses who gets to know Christ. It is dangerously close to legalism. Statements that single homosexuality out (e.g. only thing in the manual that is subject to the “wrath of God”) highlight that there is still some homophobic tendencies in the Church of the Nazarene. Fixing this problem is greater than just a policy fix at General Assembly (although removing the final paragraph of 37 and places in Nazarene Colleges and University’s student handbook where there is discrimination would be nice.)

We all need to work together to eliminate homophobia in our denomination. We all need to work to be a ‘salt and light’ Church that seeks out those who are struggling with their personal sexuality and point them towards Jesus. Our policies set the tone for local leaders. Instead of exclusion, we need to practice inclusion. Let us move forward, together, so that our children don’t have to worry about how we will react when they come out, for they will already know that they are loved. If they are bullied because of their sexuality, or for any reason for that matter, they will know that they are safe inside the doors and inside the arms of the people who make up the Church of the Nazarene. Let’s do this together so that no more have to feel hopeless. Every Nazarene worldwide should be an Ally!

Let’s start with actions and work our way up to a policy of inclusion, actions which fall 100% in line with John Wesley’s social holiness. After all we are holiness church. Holiness is greater than keeping Christians in, and sinners out. Jesus flipped the notion of ‘insiders and outsiders’ on its head when he proclaimed the ‘favorable year of the Lord.’

“But what about scripture?” I will not make any pretense that I am the greatest expert on this subject, but I do know a few things.

1) Scripture is complex. Paul makes statements that aren’t really ‘politically correct’ about slaves, women and homosexuals, but we make caveats for slaves and women, so why not homosexuals too? Does it make sense to focus on the seven times it is referred to and pay less attention to the other more frequently referenced prohibitions? Jesus is silent on the subject.

2) Keep scripture in context. Homosexuality in the Bible was different from it is in 2011. Just like Jesus’ agricultural rooted parables need some extra digging to figure out the context was (especially to those who live in cities, far removed from the ancient Jewish rural lifestyles.) Let’s do the same for the passages on homosexuality to figure out what is really going on, instead of taking TV preacher’s word for it. Much more can be said, but I will leave that up to the theologians like Walter Wink and Tony Campolo.

This letter will by no means solve things over night. And I realize that it will fall on mostly deaf ears. But there are hurting homosexual teens in my youth group that I am not able to share my testimony with at risk of losing my job. This young generation needs good Gay-Christian role models that they can look to as they navigate life, just like the heterosexual students have. We need to make that unpopular move and say, “It is okay to be gay, and Jesus loves you just as you are”. It will be highly unpopular, but it is the right thing to do. So how can you help?

1)    Local churches can get involved in Nazarene Ally. A program based off the Gay-Straight Ally system. (http://community.pflag.org/document.doc?id=139)

2)    Draft a resolution for General Assembly 2013 that puts the Church of the Nazarene on record as a denomination where it’s okay to be Christian and Gay.

3)    Simply talk about it. Have an open and honest discussion about it.

4)    Put your foot down. “If you see something, say something.” Being silent when someone is belittle homosexuals doesn’t help anyone. You maybe a minority in our traditionally conservative church, but speaking out against injustice is always the right thing to do.

5)    Act redemptively. There is a growing gap between the Church and the homosexual community; we need to find ways to bridge that in a loving, redemptive way.

Again, this was written out of love, and a call for a small correction on an otherwise amazing course God has planned for this great Church. Thank you for reading this letter.

I’m a Nazarene and I am gay. I’m not the only one. 

The Gay Nazarene