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Gay pastor feels he must step down because of bigoted congregation

I’m sure the pressure for Rev. Benjamin Reynolds, the senior pastor of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church and a civil rights advocate in Colorado Springs, was intense when he came out to his flock. It’s so sad that this man of faith, in his bid to create and “open and affirming” space for gays and lesbians to worship, knew that he would be rejected by those he led. This is the third-rail bigotry that the Democratic party is afraid to touch. (Gazette.com):

Reynolds, a longtime advocate for gay and lesbian rights, revealed his sexual identity during a church meeting last month. He announced his resignation during the same meeting.

“It’s not really a happy leaving,” Reynolds said Thursday. According to Deacon Kevin Hagans, Emmanuel’s director of operations, many church congregants feel that homosexuality runs counter to the Christian doctrines. “The church and Pastor Reynolds have a different view as far as homosexuality goes,” Hagans said.

…But Reynolds’ stance on gay issues — including making Emmanuel Baptist an “open and affirming” congregation for gays and lesbians — rubbed many of his congregants the wrong way, he said. That friction, not his sexual orientation, is what caused him to resign, he said.

Reynolds said it would have been difficult for him to remain once he revealed that he was gay, however.

I think the black church has a long way to go in this area,” he said. “The oppressed, when they feel a place where they’re free, they’ll find others who they’ll oppress.”

This is a tragedy. These people, these “Christians” cannot even stand to worship next to someone who is openly gay. In the end, Reynolds’ personal act of courage also represents a giant step forward. For the black church, which by and large has put its head in the sand about homosexuality in the community, Reynolds has shown himself to be a true leader. He, unlike many gays in the pews and behind the scenes in the church who sit quietly as gays are demonized in sermons, is willing to take a stand and force his former flock to confront their homophobia.

The church members were willing to worship and follow this man of faith all this time, yet nothing about him will have changed except their awareness that he is gay and that he sought to have a welcoming environment. They need to think long and hard about their narrow worldview — this won’t happen until more among them find the courage to come out.

In September, he appeared at a rally at the Denver City Hall backing a referendum that would create civil unions.

“I don’t think the Scriptures conflict – I think sometimes our interpretations can be too literal,” said the Rev. Benjamin Reynolds, senior pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. “At the same time, we make no concessions for where we are in the world, our culture, the context in which we live.”

Reynolds says he would like to return to the pulpit some day, but he plans to step back and take doctorate level theology classes for now.

Hat tip, Barbie Ann.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding