Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012 Page: 23 of 56
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St. Luke belongs on list of gay-affirming Methodist churches
Article on lawsuit raises questions
about whether predominantly
African-American congregations are
subject to different standards
Editor's Note: The number ofgay-affirming
Methodist churches in our Feb. 10 article wits based
on an online database maintained by
In a Feb. 10 article in Dallas Voice describing
a lawsuit filed against the St. Luke "Commu-
nity" United Methodist Church and our re-
cently resigned senior pastor, Tyrone Gordon,
contributing writer David Webb distinguished
St. Luke from the "six gay-affirming Methodist
churches in the Dallas area" and stated that the
"congregation includes someLGBT members."
Although Webb's statements were an attempt
to illustrate St. Luke as gay accessible, his com-
ments unintentionally reduced the congrega-
tion's track record of fighting for human rights,
social justice and inclusion.
As a member of St. Luke for nearly six years
and as an active member of the LGBT commu-
nity, this causes me to question the required ac-
tions needed in order to deem a church "gay af-
firming" — especially in light of St. Luke's efforts
not only for the liberation of its gay
members, but for all sexual minori-
ties Within the state of Texas.
A core value of the St. Luke "Com-
munity" United Methodist Church
is to be an advocate and a prophetic
voice in the community for all op-
pressed peoples. Although the mem-
bership is largely African American
and heterosexual, homosexuals are
included the churches understand-
ing of "Community."
In my opinion, St. Luke has not
only served as a place for spiritual
development, but also as a safe haven for mem-
bers, of the African-American LGBT community.
It was not uncommon for Pastor Gordon to
clarify God's inclusion of gays in his lineage
within his sermons. Gordon has preached ser-
mons where he stated, "Gay or straight, you're a
child of God," and, "The church needs gay fish
and straight fish." Gordon even facilitated the re-
moval of a member of the St. Luke ministerial
team a few years ago when she preached a . very
homophobic sermon. But these statements of gay
Christian identity and affirmation and creating a
safe space for sexual minorities didn't start with
His predecessor, Pastor Zan Wes-
ley Holmes, described by Webb as a
"a respected civil rights leader," was
also known to preach of and create
an environment of inclusion. Addi-
tionally, Pastor Holmes was an avid
supporter of the passage of hate
crimes legislation in Texas, a posi-
tion that he has stated he took not
only because of the crimes commit-
ted against racial minorities but also
because of those committed because
of one's sexual identity. Holmes'
support and work with State Rep. Helen Gid-
dings, a St. Luke member, led to the church being
vandalized in 2001.
The St. Luke church, under the leadership of
Pastor Holmes, was also a forerunner against the
fight of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic in Dallas. As an
early responder, the church created care teams to
provide aid and services to people living with
HIV and AIDS and made it a point not to dis-
criminate against the gay men who were dispro-
portionately affected by the epidemic.
AHEAD IK) THE
COURT OF PUBLIC
And this list does not include the very per-
sonal actions that Pastors Holmes and Gordon
have taken to provide pastoral care to St. Luke's:
LGBT membership, mv.seIt included.
Since the only requirement detailed for some-
thing to be considered "gay affirming" is to af-
firm gays, I wonder how only six local United
Methodist Churches acquired that designation—
or are there other requirements needed in order
to gain membership into the sisterhood? And are
the inclusionary practices of St. Luke not a valid
source of gay affirmation?
But more importantly, who gets to decide
what levels of affirmation are needed even for
consideration and are African American's and
other people of color left out of that conversation?
Surely that has been the case on other issues re-
lated to the wants and needs of the overall gay
community, such as things like marriage equality.
For me, my spirituality is based on my indi-
vidual relationship with my higher power and in
that same vein, I believe individuals determined
how their spiritual institutes affirm them based
on individual desire and need and multiple local
United Methodist institutes (more than six) can
potentially offer that. But if the very well docu-
mented gay affirming actions of the St. Luke
"Community" United Church does not position
it to be a source of affirmation for sexual minori-
ties, then we are working off of a broken metric
system — and it is our work to create an evalua-
tion and reworking of that structure.
The St. Luke Community United Methodist
Church has and continues to be a prophetic voice
for all oppressed people. That is partially the rea-
son many gay notables such as Dennis Coleman,
executive director of Equality Texas, continue to
call it their church home. And every Sunday
when we proclaim through song that "we are the
church that reaches up to God and out to every-
one," take it from me, gays are included. ■
Harold Stetmrd is artistic director ofFahari Arts
Insitute and editor in chief of BlacjOut Dallas. He can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Wright, John. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012, newspaper, February 17, 2012; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239207/m1/23/: accessed February 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.