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The United Methodist Battle Over LGBTQ People Comes to Rural Northwest Ohio

gay marriage

The United Methodist Church is facing a split over the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of their congregations. Some churches are inclusive, others are not. Those who oppose LGBTQ people — and make no mistake about it, they ARE hatefully opposing real, flesh and blood people; people who are Christians — are leaving the Methodist denomination and either starting new sects, joining Fundamentalist Methodist denominations, or becoming independent churches.

One such church is Asbury United Methodist Church in Williams Center, Ohio. Asbury, a rural congregation of twenty or so people, has left the Methodist denomination, becoming an independent church named Calvary Community Church of Williams Center. Thomas N. Graves is listed as the church’s pastor.

Calvary Community posted the following on Facebook (their account is currently marked private):

Our Name has Changed to: Calvary Community Church of Williams Center

We have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church, as of April 16, 2023.

We as a church would like to express some of our views to you, our community.

We want to minister to our community and families.

MATTHEW 5:13-16

We believe that The Family Can Be Redeemed by Restoring:

  • Marriage, which God created to be between one man and one woman only
  • The family unit of Father, Mother and Children as He has ordained it
  • Parents Authority over raising their own Children without government encroachment
  • Abolishing abortion, addressing sexual promiscuity, and acknowledging the harms of pornography

We see the Church’s Part in the Restoration of our Culture by:

  • Being Biblically Correct and not Politically Correct
  • Exercising our God-given right and using our voice
  • Refusing to be silenced and marginalized
  • Learning to love in Spirit and truth those with unbiblical doctrines and ideologies
  • Maintaining religious freedom as ordained by God and refusing state/governmental intervention on matters of conscience

We believe our government Can be Restored by:

  • Upholding the foundational, Judeo-Christian operating system of America.
  • Understanding that God is first. We, the people, answer to God-government answers to us.
  • Understanding that government originates with everyone, if we govern ourselves according to the Word of God, all will fall into place.

Those are our beliefs, come join us to bring them into the life of this community.

Pastor Tom [Graves]

christians condemn gays

Graves’ word salad is just his way of saying that Calvary Community is a homophobic Christian nationalist congregation, most of whom voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Graves’ manifesto is a call to theocracy — God rule. Graves says “come join us.” However, LGBTQ people, liberals, progressives, and people different from him are not welcome. Graves wants a monoculture where his peculiar version of Christianity rules supreme.

Graves says that if “we govern ourselves according to the Word of God, all will fall in place.” I assume the good pastor supports stoning to death sodomites, adulterers, fornicators, rebellious sons, and anyone who worships any other God except his. Keeping it real! Thus saith the Lord.

Small Methodist churches dot the rural Ohio landscape. I suspect more congregations will come out of the closet in the coming weeks and months. I say, good for them. No more hiding their bigotry, racism, and homophobia. The only question I have is whether other local Methodist churches will take a stand against bigots such as Graves and his merry band of Christians, and say, everyone is welcome here.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    I know a woman pastor in the Methodist Church in Michigan. She and many others were very disappointed that the church hadn’t come out in favor of LGBTQ+ rights. Apparently the denomination is going to be split apart anyway.

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    ‘Good morning,’ I said brightly to as acquaintance in the UK not long ago. He shook his head and said, ‘It’s not, the methodist church had just voted to allow same sex marriage. I’m not homophobic but that’s a step too far. We will have to leave’. The couple have been pastoring methodist churches for 50years were missionaries and narrowly escaped death in Uganda in Idi Amin’s time. Then my Anglican friend, a pillar of her parish church for years told me the same. Priests in Wales can opt into performing same sex weddings and hers had just announced he was going to do that. ‘I’m not homophobic’ she said, ‘but that’s a step too far, we’re going to another parish where the vicar won’t do them.’ ISTM that both these folk were showing their bigotry that they had kept hidden. Now, suddenly they had a grievance on which to show it, legitimately in their eyes, they could make a public stand for it…..and, to me anyway put all that nasty homophobia on display. Whilst probably still saying they love LGBTQTIA folk really. Yuck.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Matilda, If I had a nickel for everytime I’ve heard, “I’m not (fill in the blank), but things have gone too far,” I could move you, Bruce, Polly, their kids and a bunch of other people to villas on the Cote d’Azur.

    When I hear such things, or about the church Bruce wrote about, I can almost feel something like respect for the Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. At least he and his congregation said, “God Hates Fags.” Of course, they were ascribing their own hatred to their all-loving God. Still, though it’s more honest than “I’m not a homophobe, but…”

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    My aunt is overjoyed that her church has a new pastor who has decided that God wanted him to declare their church to be open and affirming of LGBTQ people. A lot of members left, including the previous senior pastor, but my aunt says their nondenominational church in the Nashville area is now a safe haven for LGBTQ Christians. I feel like that’s a small win in a state that has recently legislated hard against Trans people and Drag Performers.

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Bruce Gerencser