New York Times Profiles Pro-LGBT Black Church In Harlem
So often we devote blog space to reading fools of the cloth--which needs to be done mind you--that the stories of accepting houses of worship get overlooked. For those who don't I'm not religious (anymore anyway:), but I do feel if you have to worship somewhere, let it be place where you feel welcome. If you have time today, there's a short but sweet New York Times piece about Rivers at Rehoboth, a church in Harlem that has made ministry to black LGBTs part of its mission.
'"The congregation was formed by the merger of two churches, Rivers of Living Faith and Rehoboth Temple. The pastor of Rivers, Vanessa M. Brown, 41, is a lesbian, and the pastor of Rehoboth, Joseph Tolton, 45, is gay, and both were born and raised in Harlem. Their merged congregation rents space out of Grace Congregational Church on West 139th Street, where Mr. Tolton’s former church worshiped for four years.
Ms. Brown, the church’s senior pastor and Ms. Gause’s partner, preaches what she calls a “radically inclusive” message, while Mr. Tolton, the associate pastor, offers as a mantra the phrase “Gay by God.”
“God doesn’t make any junk,” Ms. Brown said. “He made us knowing who we were going to be before we were it.”
Mr. Tolton said that for over 20 years, he believed his sexual orientation was a spiritual demon from which he needed to be saved. As a young man, he asked clergy to pray for him to be straight.
Mr. Tolton said he left his church after a friend told him he could not be the best man at his wedding because he is gay.
“It broke my heart,” Mr. Tolton said.
Ms. Brown said she, too, struggled with the church’s stance on homosexuality.
She said she married a man who was gay, to help him cover up his sexuality and protect his image in the church. But Ms. Brown divorced him after growing tired of living a lie, she said.
“I was ruining my own self,” she said. “I wasn’t happy.”'