Feb 4, 2009

A tale of two churches miles apart

It’s a tale of two churches: one accepting and loving towards all people, and the other intolerant and hateful. These churches are just a few miles apart in Brighton, but they are miles apart in philosophy.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Brighton is hosting a weekly coffeehouse-type program catering to the gay community, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. The Faith Action Network, or FAN, will kickoff with a special dinner from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 20 and on Friday evenings after that. Good for them.

Oceola Township residents Beth and Bob Duman have started up a chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and the Livingston County chapter plans on meeting monthly for the first time beginning on Feb. 22, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. PFLAG is a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and over 500 affiliates in the United States that promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends.

That good news brought out intolerant people like the Rev. Richard Alberta, senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brighton Township. Cornerstone is one of the most conservative mega-churches in Livingston County.

According to the P & A, Alberta said gay and lesbian relationships, even monogamous ones, are unhealthy, and he wants them to help any of their homosexual children to change their sexual orientation. It quoted him as saying: "The most frightening thing is, they themselves have no idea. While they are doing the 'right thing,' they are actually doing the wrong thing," Alberta said. "It is abominable, according to the word of God. They're literally playing with fire."

Livingston County has a history of intolerance, especially toward gays. That intolerance spawned the anti-gay hate group called the LOVE (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) PAC that sprang up in the spring of 2006 in response to a diversity flag hung by the Howell High School Diversity Club they mistakenly claim is a gay pride flag that promotes and endorses homosexuality. The group is has been quiet after its failed attempt at book banning and its failure to get anymore of its candidates on the school board. However, this may flush them out from under their rock.

The Livingston County PFLG group’s meetings will feature guest speakers and allow parents, relatives and friends, or their children, to interact and share stories in confidence. Anyone can join, and I plan on joining. Albert’s hateful comments remind me of the movie staring “Prayers for Bobby” staring Sigourney Weaver and shot right here in Michigan.

The move is about the true story of religious suburban housewife and mother Mary Griffith who struggles to accept her young son Bobby being gay. Her intolerance causes her son to committee suicide, and it leads her to question her faith. She held the same views as Alberta, but she evolves into a leading advocate for the gay community and their families.

St. Paul’s will feature live acoustic music, games, poetry and more. For more details, call (810) 229-2821.

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