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article imageChurch changes anti-gay views after pastor's son comes out

By Brett Wilkins     Jun 2, 2014 in World
La Mirada - A Baptist church in Southern California has rejected its parent church's official anti-gay policy after the pastor's son came out as gay.
The Raw Story reports Danny Cortez, pastor of the New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, explained his congregation's shift in a letter to Christianity with Humanity blogger John Shore.
"I recently became gay-affirming after a 15-year journey of having multiple people in my congregation come out to me every year," wrote Cortez. "It was especially the testimony of my gay friends that helped me see how they have been marginalized that my eyes became open to the injustice that the church has wrought."
But it was a rap song, and a confession from close to home, that completed Cortez's transformation.
"I was driving in the car with my 15-year-old son Drew when a song on the radio came on," the pastor wrote. It was the popular pro-LGBT equality song "Same Love" by the hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
"He asked me why I was interested in it," Cortez continued. "I told him that I liked the song. He was startled and he asked me if I knew that the song's message was gay-affirming. I told him that I did know and that's why I liked the song. I also told him that I no longer believed what I used to believe."
"I could tell he was puzzled. So I asked him what he was thinking... He told me in a nervous voice, 'Dad, I'm gay.' My heart skipped a beat and I turned toward him and we gave one another the biggest and longest hug as we cried. And all I could tell him was that I loved him so much and that I accepted him just as he is."
"I couldn't help but think that my 15-year journey was in preparation for that moment," reflected Cortez. "If it wasn't for this 15-year journey and my change in theology, I may have destroyed my son through reparative therapy."
After informing his congregation that he no longer believed that homosexuality is a sin, church members voted on May 19 not to fire Cortez. Instead, they decided to become a "Third Way" congregation, which does not judge LGBT members.
"This is a huge step for a Southern Baptist church," exalted Cortez.
But not everyone approved of the shift, and numerous congregants have announced their intention to leave the church in protest.
New Heart Community Church could also find itself in trouble with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), whose official Baptist Faith and Message states that "Christians should oppose... all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality and pornography."
According to the SBC constitution, "churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior." Such congregations are excluded from SBC membership.
Individual Baptist churches and leaders have demonstrated great animosity toward LGBT individuals, with some pastors even calling for the imprisonment and killing of homosexuals.
Curtis Knapp, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, has called on the US government to kill gays in accordance with Biblical law.
Sean Harris, senior pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina has called for fathers to 'beat the gay' out of their homosexual sons.
Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina has advocated the imprisonment of LGBT people in concentration camps, where they would die off and presumably end homosexuality in America.
Other Baptist pastors have called for the criminal prosecution of gays and warned that allowing same-sex marriage will lead to marriages between "person and beast."
Pastor Cortez has a much more peaceful message.
"I pray that the church will no longer be segregated," he wrote in his letter. "I pray that those who have been marginalized would feel safe in our churches. I pray that we as a church would set aside our differences and learn what it means to be the body of Christ."
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said he expects the issue of New Heart Community Church and Cortez to be addressed at the Southern Baptist convention in Baltimore, Maryland next week.
"There is no 'Third Way,'" insisted Mohler. "A church will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviors and relationships are sinful, or it will affirm them. Eventually, every congregation in America will make a public declaration of its position on the issue. It is just a matter of time... before every congregation in the nation faces this test."
More about new heart community church, pastor danny cortez, Southern baptist convention, LGBT, Gay rights
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