ST.PAUL, MN – The Grace Community United Church of St. Paul says a “miracle” donation of $15,000 is keeping its doors open, after more than 70 percent of the congregation left the parish following its pastor’s endorsement of same-sex marriage.
The donation was a gift from the United Church of Christ in Dallas, a congregation consisting mostly of gay and lesbian members, in support of Grace Community’s pastor, Rev. Oliver White, who voted in 2005 to support the United Church of Christ’s endorsement of marriage equality. The minister says that his progressive interpretation of human rights has cost him and
“Some young people maybe age 12 or so were walking by,” White recently told local station WCCO-TV. “I said why don’t you all come to Sunday school this Sunday, and their response was, ‘We heard you are a gay church and we can’t come here,’” White recalled.
The mostly African-American congregation is affiliated with the Congregationalist church movement, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.
“We are not a gay church, we are church with a door that’s open to everybody,” White explained.
That sentiment cost White 150 members of his church, who said they could not support his belief that human rights and civil rights includes gay rights. “They take the bible very, very literally,” White noted of his former members.