Affirming Houston Congregations Celebrate Feb. 20th as ‘Bring Your Gay Teen to Church’ Day
Religious leaders of many Houston-area churches hosted special services to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens and their parents into their congregations on Sunday, Feb. 20.
This historic ecumenical effort brought together affirming churches, including Covenant Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Metropolitan Community, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, and Quaker congregations.
It all started in the “corner forum” of Northwest Community UU Church, when they exchanged ideas about what they could do to celebrate National Standing on the Side of Love Day. Broken-hearted over the suicide of a gay teen from their part of town, they asked, “What if we made a special invitation to LGBTQ teens and their parents to come to our church?”
Allied with other welcoming churches, the event spread across Houston.
The website for this event — http://bringyourgayteentochurch.com — hosted by the Houston Clergy Council, corrected the misconception that religion automatically condemns homosexuality.
It read: “All of the churches listed on this website are welcoming, affirming, inclusive churches. We don’t believe homosexuality is a sin, nor do we believe your teen needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘changed.’ We think your child is a miracle. Just the way they are.”
The event was widely covered in the media. The Houston Chronicle article was the most read story for most of Saturday, and feeds from the story were picked up by many local newspapers, religious news sites, GLBTQ websites/newspapers, Huffingtonpost, and Christianity Today. The story received at least 100 retweets and was picked up by many bloggers.
The Houston Chronicle reported:
“We think it’s important for families to know there’s a safe place to go to worship,” said Jim Bankston, senior minister at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “Families who have gay members want to make sure they feel welcome in church and aren’t bashed in any way.”
Joanna Crawford, a seminary student at the Houston Graduate School of Theology, said the idea came up after the suicide last fall of Asher Brown, a Cypress-area eighth-grader who killed himself after what his parents said were years of bullying and taunts that he was gay.
“We don’t need a special day,” said the Rev. Adam Robinson, assistant minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston. “The GLBT folks are welcome every day.”
Proclaiming a special day is mainly a way to spread the word, he said.
“It’s for the parent who doesn’t know what to do with their teen that is experiencing a different sexuality, who is wondering whether they’ll be accepted in a faith-based environment,” Robinson said.