While the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C has reneged on its promise to halt its social services programs in the city after the City Council passed gay marriage legislation, three churches in Michigan just can’t handle even a neutral stance on homosexuality, and are thus pulling out of a homeless services consortium.
Kalamazoo’s Martha’s Table, which counts eight churches among its prayer-and-food program, is hosted by the Protestant/United Church of Christ parish at First Congregational Church. And because First Congregational Church dared support LGBT tolerance — by backing Kalamazoo’s transgender protection ordinance — Martha’s Table is seeing three churches make a swift exit, because they don’t want to be part of anything that another LGBT-tolerant church is involved with.
Agape Christian Church and Word for Life Church of God plan to withdraw from Martha’s Table at the end of the year, and Centerpoint Church (formerly Third Reformed Church) has already done so, [First Congregational pastor Rev. Matt Laney, pictured] said.
“The founding principle of Martha’s Table was that churches would come together and put aside their differences in light of what unites us, which is our common commitment to serve Christ and others,” Laney said. “But now this difference has risen above our common commitment to serving Christ.”
Laney said representatives of all three churches have been “very clear” that they don’t want to be “guilty by association” with First Congregational and its inclusiveness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, said Laney, who publicly supported an ordinance passed by Kalamazoo voters in November that protects GLBT people from discrimination in housing, jobs and accommodations.
“To me, it’s incredibly disappointing,” Laney said. “That’s the best word I can give it. It’s also mystifying. I was very shocked and surprised when they pulled out.”
It’s unclear whether the three churches leaving Martha’s Table will join another homeless services group, or will contribute to starving Kalamazoo’s most needy.