surferguy's picture

surferguy

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Looking for an Inclusive, Biblical, Spirit Filled United Church in Toronto! Does one exist???

I have a dilema!  Does anyone know of an "inclusive" united church in Toronto, that is accepting of all sexual orientations (all people), but that also is more conservative in nature, preaching and worship.  I have been searching for a church home that I can feel fed in and one in which I can feel that connection to God in Christ.

As a gay person, do I need to go back into the closet to join a Biblically based, real Spirit filled church????

It seems to me that all the United Churches that I have visited in Toronto are all "inclusive," but are dead or dying.  The only messages that I am getting from the pulpit are ones of Social Justice.  I do know that there needs to be a balance.

I believe in the Living Christ and I do sense a total absence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the worship. I am not looking for a "fundamentalist" congregation, but just one that I feel worships the Living God through its praise, messages, and it's witness in the world. 

Am I asking for something that just doesn't exist?  I have attended the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto on numerous occasions as well and it is a political/social justice church and even more liberal than the United Churches.  I do not want to belong to a "gay club."

Can anyone give me direction or your thoughts?

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IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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Hi Surferguy,

 

Welcome to WCafe.

 

I wish I could help you but Toronto is far from my area. If you were in my town our United Church would welcome you and I would give you a big welcoming hug.

 

Our church preaches the biblical message of Jesus and is very Spirit driven. Our Pastor speaks with the authority of the Holy Spirit within him. Our church has grown so much since he came to be our Pastor. The younger families have increased so much and it is very lively watching the little ones run around.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

blackbelt's picture

blackbelt

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surferguy wrote:

Can anyone give me direction or your thoughts?

hi surferguy,

man it sounds like you know where to find your answer, are you listening ? let him lead you, he wont fail you

sighsnootles's picture

sighsnootles

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i'm in ottawa, otherwise i'd help you... but good luck in your search!!

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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Yes,

 

Tyr Kingsway Lambton United.

 

It is at the corner of Prince Edward and The Kingsway, closest subway Old Mill or Royal York

 

The minster Rev Hugh Reid, is the most amzing guy.  We love him.  His sermons are second to none.

 

Large, vibrant congregation.

 

Join us.  Mens' club meets the first Thursday of each month for dinner and a speaker.  Next month  "Canoe building"

sighsnootles's picture

sighsnootles

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canoe building?!?!  man, i wish i could be there for that one...

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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Try Eastminister or Trinity St Pauls

seeler's picture

seeler

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Inclusive but not concerned about social justice?

 

I'm not sure I understand.

kenziedark's picture

kenziedark

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 When I was there, I went to the Metropolitan United Church (downtown).  The archetecutal style is more traditional, and ornate.  Reminds me more of a Catholic church.  But still an inclusive church.  Full of organ music, an amazing choir, and occasionally a brass band.  But it was an older congregation.  Is that what you're looking for?

Cantor's picture

Cantor

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Thanks for mentioning Metropolitan United - it does have older people but lots of younger adults, couples, and a growing number of children.  The teenagers and university age youth have a band with guitars and drums, but the worship is fairly traditional (More Voices is used as well as Voices United). The preaching is terrific. Metropolitan has a full-time community services program with food bank, clothing bank, Out of the Cold lunches, counselling, housing advocacy, etc.

kenziedark's picture

kenziedark

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 Good to hear that the younger crowd is growing.  I went there for several years when I was a young adult in the late 90s/early 2000s.  I loved the church, and as you said the preaching was terrific, but I didn't feel that there were a lot of younger people that I could connect with at the time.

Kinst's picture

Kinst

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kenziedark wrote:
When I was there, I went to the Metropolitan United Church (downtown)

I went there a couple weeks ago, they have a really good service. The dude (reverend? priest?) was tearing up recounting how the holy spirit saved him from alcohol problems. I thought it was pretty spiritual and biblical. They're kind of obsessed with music; there was jazz, the bell piano tower, a band and a gigantic orchestral choir. I like it there, I'll go back when I have a weekend off some time.

seeler's picture

seeler

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Ok, I don't live in Toronto.  Are Metropolitian Community Church and Metropolitian United church two different churches?

cjms's picture

cjms

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Most definitely, seeler...cms

paradox3's picture

paradox3

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Yes, MCC is a denomination.  There are two congregations here in Toronto... Toronto MCC and Christos MCC.

Cantor's picture

Cantor

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 Metropolitan United is affirming - one of the ministers is openly gay - and has many gay members (some formerly from MCC and Christos).  The affirming issue is non-existent at Metropolitan United, as all are accepted regardless of sexual orientation, economic status, race, ethnicity - a diverse congregation.

Bassic's picture

Bassic

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I attended Metropolitan UC for 4 months while on a co-op work term in ~'94.  The above all rings true.

 

At that time I had not yet learned the bass; I was a choirster through and through.  What I was very impressed at was how welcoming the choir was to me.  Choirs are usually very open, but ones with EIGHT paid soloists can be a bit intimidating.  No problem here.  I joined in, sang some of the toughest (and fantastic) choral pieces of my life.  I just blended in and went along for the ride.

 

My wife (girlfriend at the time) attended Bloor St. United in the mid-'90's.  At the time they had really good young careers group, and regularly did after church walks where people in the group would share their favorite Toronto parks/neighboorhoods.  Very good socially.  

lambdaur12's picture

lambdaur12

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You need a place where you feel comfortable but often finding the right one can be a dilema. For someone like myself, it isn't a problem as I was baptised and confirmed into the Anglican Faith. I don't always agree with what I see and hear but I feel if I don't like it, I am NOT going to run and find another church. And the Anglican Church has had some controversy over the years.

I might add we are somewhere between the Ultra conservative and wide open liberals in the teachings of the Gospels. The one part I do like is that we do not demand that you agree with all the teachings. For example we have been wrestling with the issue of same sex marriage and from what I gather have said Ok let's do it. You don't have to agree and no one will admonish you for not agreeiiing

Don

 

Boie's picture

Boie

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I just registered in WC but have been reading most of the Religion and Faith discussions for few months now.  This one prompted me to comment because I am now at a stage of finding the church where my beliefs are somehow nourished and hopefully be able to contribute in return. I am from Roman Catholic tradition but for decades, have gradually peeled off the many dogmas inherent in this tradition. Attending a RC mass no longer inspires me. I consider myself a liberal Christian but again that term is relative. I've been church shopping around east Toronto - Anglican and United Church, including West Hill United but none seem to suit what I'm looking for. It sounds selfish but I guess it's natural to seek a spiritually nourishing congregation. Theology of Marcus Borg et.al challenges me; am not sure if there's a church in Toronto that's along his theology.

Any leads will be appreciated.

 

Kinst's picture

Kinst

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Welcome to Wondercaf Boie!

paradox3's picture

paradox3

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Hi Boie, 

 

Hello to a fellow east end Toronto person!  I transferred my membership from West Hill to Ebenezer United three years ago, and I am very happy there.  The congregation is smaller than WHUC, which appealed to me because I wanted to get to know people quickly. 

 

They have made me and my family most welcome.  The congregation is culturally diverse.  Theologically speaking, there is a range of perspectives, but we share a commitment to discipleship (a set of guidelines has been developed).  I favour the theology of Marcus Borg myself, and Ebenezer is a very good fit for me.  Our minister preached a series of sermons on Heart of Christianity last spring.

 

St Mark's United identifies as "progressive and inclusive", and has recently become an Affirming congregation.  The worship style is a little more casual than Ebenezer's.  There is now a fairly large contingent of former West Hill members at St Mark's.  From a theological point of view, St Mark's doesn't lean as far to the left as WHUC.

 

You might also be interested in Pathways, located in Markham.

 

Let us know how your search turns out.  I don't think you are being selfish at all, by the way.

 

 

 

 

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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All the UCC mentioned would be at home with Borg - Eastminster's minister is panentheist/process/ mystic. 

Boie's picture

Boie

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Thanks to all especially to Paradox3. I'll visit first the websites of  Ebenezer, Pathways and St. Mark's, if any. Beginning to enjoy WC community and hope I'll be able to post comments in the other threads.

surferguy's picture

surferguy

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Metropolitan is great!

We attended there faithfully every Sunday for four years.  One reason we couldn't stay was that the music director really favours baroque and music by Bach.  Far too much for our liking!  The whole music program was a little too stuffy for our taste. We craved to hear more Gospel music.

surferguy's picture

surferguy

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Hi Seeler,

Thanks for your question regarding my post:                                                                                                                               "Inclusive but not concerned about social justice?

 I'm not sure I understand"

I have just found that most of the United Churches that I have visited in Toronto are totally preocupied with Social Justice.  I am just saying that there needs to be a balance.  I grew up in the United Church and have had these topics shoved down our throats so much that me and my family always felt quilty and that we weren't doing enough to help society.  When I was a teen, my parents also wrestled with whether they could stay in the United Church, because they weren't being fed spiritually. 

I do know that since then, thousands and thousands of good people have left the church.  Makes you wonder!

seeler's picture

seeler

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Surfer - yes, we did have an interim minister once who really shoved the social justice issue down our throats - we couldn't celebrate anything without having the guilt  Thanksgiving just became another World Food Day, not a time to feel thankful for the gifts we have but to feel guilty that we had more than someone somewhere else in the world.

 

Nor, could he understand our worries.  The church roof leaked - something serious in Canadian weather.  We were worried about how to repair or replace it.  While most of our congregation were financially comfortable, some were struggling to put food on the table - but we were told how much better off we were than people in third world countries.  Hunger is hunger, weather in Canada or Haiti (his favourite).

 

But I wouldn't characterize most of the UCC that I have attended as being that way.  Unfortunately you don't live in Fredericton.  I could recommend Wilmot United.  It does a lot of outreach and social service work, but it also has balance.  It has study groups, spirituality groups, retreats, fellowship and fantastic worship services - the music is varied and fantastic. 

 

 

seeler's picture

seeler

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I'm sure there are exceptions but it just seems to me that an open-minded inclusive church is most likely to also be concerned about social justice.

and

I also tend to think that the type of Biblically literal, gospel oriented church that you are looking for is going to have a difficult time accepting you for who you are.

IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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seeler wrote:

I'm sure there are exceptions but it just seems to me that an open-minded inclusive church is most likely to also be concerned about social justice.

and

I also tend to think that the type of Biblically literal, gospel oriented church that you are looking for is going to have a difficult time accepting you for who you are.

 

I happen to disagree with you seeler.

 

I believe that most Biblically literal, gospel oriented churches will welcome him with open arms and hearts.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

retiredrev's picture

retiredrev

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surferguy wrote:

I have a dilema!  Does anyone know of an "inclusive" united church in Toronto, that is accepting of all sexual orientations (all people), but that also is more conservative in nature, preaching and worship. 

Does it exist?  Probably not!  Mais, c'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?  (Maybe it's a good time to church plant and start your own.)  Heck, I know of a church years ago that wouldn't accept a disabled child because their kids might 'catch' what he 'had'. (He had cerebral palsy).  You're always going to find a certain degree of prejudice on whatever basis including sexual orientation in any group.  Find a church that has a group to which you can gravitate comfortably and go from there.  Bon chance! 

Witch's picture

Witch

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IBelieve wrote:

seeler wrote:

I'm sure there are exceptions but it just seems to me that an open-minded inclusive church is most likely to also be concerned about social justice.

and

I also tend to think that the type of Biblically literal, gospel oriented church that you are looking for is going to have a difficult time accepting you for who you are.

 

I happen to disagree with you seeler.

 

I believe that most Biblically literal, gospel oriented churches will welcome him with open arms and hearts.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

 

Perhaps, but I get the feeling he also doesn't want to go to a church that condemns homosexuality.

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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 I just sent you a wondermail, Surferguy.  

 

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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Witch wrote:

IBelieve wrote:

seeler wrote:

I'm sure there are exceptions but it just seems to me that an open-minded inclusive church is most likely to also be concerned about social justice.

and

I also tend to think that the type of Biblically literal, gospel oriented church that you are looking for is going to have a difficult time accepting you for who you are.

 

 

I happen to disagree with you seeler.

 

I believe that most Biblically literal, gospel oriented churches will welcome him with open arms and hearts.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

 

Perhaps, but I get the feeling he also doesn't want to go to a church that condemns homosexuality.

 

Yep - I'd agree there is a difference between being loved & encouraged to change; and being welcomed & embraced for who you are.  And maybe you, Surferguy can talk more about your faith, and how you see things.  That would be a great conversation.

seeler's picture

seeler

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[quote=IBelieve]

IBelieve, you state:

 

I believe that most Biblically literal, gospel oriented churches will welcome him with open arms and hearts.

 

They would welcome him - but would they accept, affirm and celebrate who he is? 

 

or would they welcome him only to pray for him to deny who he is and to try to change him?

 

Would he be welcome to bring his same-sex partner to church?  Would they be welcomed as a couple?  Would they be accepted into the full life of the church?  Would they be able to get married in the church and have their union blessed?

 

If you can answer these questions positively, then I am wrong about many Biblical literate, gospel oriented churches.

IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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seeler wrote:

IBelieve wrote:

IBelieve, you state:

 

I believe that most Biblically literal, gospel oriented churches will welcome him with open arms and hearts.

 

They would welcome him - but would they accept, affirm and celebrate who he is? 

 

Yes, He is a creation of God and equal to everyone else.

 

or would they welcome him only to pray for him to deny who he is and to try to change him?

 

You sound very cynical with a statement like that.

 

Would he be welcome to bring his same-sex partner to church? 

 

Yes.

 

Would they be welcomed as a couple? 

 

Yes.

 

Would they be accepted into the full life of the church? 

 

Yes.

 

Would they be able to get married in the church and have their union blessed?

 

No. Remember this is a biblically based church. This decision has nothing to do with loving them. I love surferguy! I know you don't agree but you are wrong.

 

If you can answer these questions positively, then I am wrong about many Biblical literate, gospel oriented churches.

Witch's picture

Witch

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So as long as he doesn't try to live openly in the church as a same-sex couple with all the rights and privileges afforded to any married couple, he's welcome, even in his sin?

 

You very nicely iced over your prejudice, Ibelieve.

 

And as for "Remember this is a biblically based church.", I invite you to remember that there are biblically bases churches that do marry same-sex couples.

 

I guess the Holy Spirit just gives them a more loving interpretation of the Bible

carolla's picture

carolla

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Hi Surferguy - a couple more to add to your list - Emmanuel Howard Park UC (in the High Park/Parkdale area)  and Bloor Street United (near Bloor & St. George).  I do think you'll find a fair bit of social justice action at each of these - which would be biblically based of course, and I also have the sense that they'd definitely welcome you. 

surferguy's picture

surferguy

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Thanks everyone for your comments.

I do have a question for IBelieve:

Can you please give me the names of some of those inclusive/accepting biblical churches that you are speaking about in the Toronto area?  My (same sex) partner and I would love to visit them.

Carolla, I have visited both churches that you mentioned and I did hear total social justice oriented sermons, but the name of  Jesus was hardly mentioned in their worship.  I am looking for a Christ Centered congregation. One that lifts up the name of Jesus. One that feeds the soul, inspiring you to go out and carry on God's work in this hurting world.  There needs to be a balance.

I am coming to the realization that I may not find what I am looking for in the United Church and if such a congregaton exists, God will lead me there.

Peace!

 

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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try mine.  Kingsway lambton united.  you will never hear a better sermon.

IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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surferguy wrote:

Thanks everyone for your comments.

I do have a question for IBelieve:

Can you please give me the names of some of those inclusive/accepting biblical churches that you are speaking about in the Toronto area?  My (same sex) partner and I would love to visit them.

..

I am coming to the realization that I may not find what I am looking for in the United Church and if such a congregaton exists, God will lead me there.

 

Hi Surferguy,

 

Sorry, I am not familiar with any churches in the Toronto area. The only one that would be close, Belleville,  I recommended in a wondermail because the pastor is a close friend of mine.

 

You'd be welcome here, in a minute, but it is very far from Toronto.

 

I'll keep you in my prayers that you and your friend find one that shares the biblical love of Jesus and not the new age definition which leaves parts out in order to feel good. You are right. God will lead you to where you need to be. Not people.

 

I know what you are going through as I have been in the same situation with some friends of mine. The love of the Lord covered it all.

 

 

Be Blessed,

IB

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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IBelieve the question is - will a same sex couple be welcome as they are - or do they have to do love the sinner hate sin - that is homesexuality not a sin - it is part of God's good creation?  If you can say yes to this, then your church is different from most conservative churches.

IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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Panentheism wrote:

IBelieve the question is - will a same sex couple be welcome as they are - or do they have to do love the sinner hate sin - that is homesexuality not a sin - it is part of God's good creation?  If you can say yes to this, then your church is different from most conservative churches.

 

They would be welcome as they are. Any sin, they may have, is between them and God just as it is with me and God.

 

Our church does not do same sex marriages because we believe it is not fashioned by God. We use the bible as our guide on this and out of all the times marriage is mentioned in the bible it is between a male and female. There never is any mention of a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman. The description is very simple.

 

We do not condemn these people by not performing this ritual. It is a biblical standard that we believe and practice.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

Witch's picture

Witch

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If they get married somewhere else, would you welcome them as a married couple?

 

If a heterosexual couple got married somewhere else, would they be welcome as a married couple?

 

In other words, flowery speech aside, will you hold to your prejudice?

 

I don't think yours is the inclusive, biblical, Spirit filled church that Surfurguy is looking for.

MadMonk's picture

MadMonk

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Eglinton St George's.

birthstone_'s picture

birthstone_

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 Gee folks - i smell a group field trip coming on.  lol- wouldn't that be fun - we could host one another, even separately (though I work on most Sundays)

I hear pride & passion & enthusiasm for our congregations!!  Such a relief 

IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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Witch wrote:

If they get married somewhere else, would you welcome them as a married couple?

 

If a heterosexual couple got married somewhere else, would they be welcome as a married couple?

 

In other words, flowery speech aside, will you hold to your prejudice?

 

I don't think yours is the inclusive, biblical, Spirit filled church that Surfurguy is looking for.

 

Yes, they would be welcome in whatever configuration they want to show up in!

 

They are people, created by God, and loved by me and our church.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

Witch's picture

Witch

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IBelieve wrote:

Witch wrote:

If they get married somewhere else, would you welcome them as a married couple?

 

If a heterosexual couple got married somewhere else, would they be welcome as a married couple?

 

In other words, flowery speech aside, will you hold to your prejudice?

 

I don't think yours is the inclusive, biblical, Spirit filled church that Surfurguy is looking for.

 

Yes, they would be welcome in whatever configuration they want to show up in!

 

They are people, created by God, and loved by me and our church.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

 

That's not what I asked. I know you would welcome them as individuals. What I'm trying to find out, and what you seem to be avoiding being specific about, is whether you'd welcome them as a married couple.

 

Would they be welcomed as a married couple?

 

When classes for young married couples were held, would they be invited?

 

Would they be introduced as a married couple to other people in the church?

 

Would thier marriage anniversary be announced from the pulpit as a celebration of marriage?

 

Do please be specific

IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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Witch wrote:

IBelieve wrote:

Witch wrote:

If they get married somewhere else, would you welcome them as a married couple?

 

If a heterosexual couple got married somewhere else, would they be welcome as a married couple?

 

In other words, flowery speech aside, will you hold to your prejudice?

 

I don't think yours is the inclusive, biblical, Spirit filled church that Surfurguy is looking for.

 

Yes, they would be welcome in whatever configuration they want to show up in!

 

They are people, created by God, and loved by me and our church.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

 

That's not what I asked. I know you would welcome them as individuals. What I'm trying to find out, and what you seem to be avoiding being specific about, is whether you'd welcome them as a married couple.

 

Would they be welcomed as a married couple?

 

When classes for young married couples were held, would they be invited?

 

Would they be introduced as a married couple to other people in the church?

 

Would thier marriage anniversary be announced from the pulpit as a celebration of marriage?

 

Do please be specific

 

I would welcome them however they wished to come.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

IBelieve's picture

IBelieve

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IBelieve wrote:

Witch wrote:

IBelieve wrote:

Witch wrote:

If they get married somewhere else, would you welcome them as a married couple?

 

If a heterosexual couple got married somewhere else, would they be welcome as a married couple?

 

In other words, flowery speech aside, will you hold to your prejudice?

 

I don't think yours is the inclusive, biblical, Spirit filled church that Surfurguy is looking for.

 

Yes, they would be welcome in whatever configuration they want to show up in!

 

They are people, created by God, and loved by me and our church.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

 

That's not what I asked. I know you would welcome them as individuals. What I'm trying to find out, and what you seem to be avoiding being specific about, is whether you'd welcome them as a married couple.

 

Would they be welcomed as a married couple?

 

When classes for young married couples were held, would they be invited?

 

Would they be introduced as a married couple to other people in the church?

 

Would thier marriage anniversary be announced from the pulpit as a celebration of marriage?

 

Do please be specific

 

Not avoiding anything except in your mind.

I would welcome them however they wished to come.

 

Be Blessed,

IB

Witch's picture

Witch

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Please answer the questions

Pilgrims Progress's picture

Pilgrims Progress

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Hi Surferguy,

I'm from Australia (where we like surfing) - but whilst in Toronto earlier in the year I attended Bloor St. United.

 

I was made feel welcome - and I'm sure you would be too.

Tabitha's picture

Tabitha

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OK-men's dinner and talk on canoeing building?

Gee if only I could attend!! sigh!

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