The gay-oriented Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando, founded in 1979, sees about 250 people regularly attend its Sunday mass. Few of them are young people! Which means if it wants to live longer than most newspapers, it’s gonna have to get the youngins. But how?
With less than 10 percent of parishioners in their 20s and 30s, Joy Metropolitan faces the same fate as any gay-backed institution that made sense and thrived just a couple decades ago. But young gays today, with their iPhones and Facebook comings out, don’t need a gay-specific church to find god, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Or something.
Moreover, gay churches don’t have the built-in ability to attract families with children, teenagers with youth programs, and young people with church services like rock concerts. There are no “crying rooms” for babies at Joy MCC or Sunday-school classrooms or a day-care center during the week.
“Joy MCC is going to have to change and adapt or they are not going to be around,” said Randy Stephens, executive director of Orlando’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Central Florida. Young people are more fluid about their sexuality and less defined by their sexual orientation, Stephens said. They neither need nor crave the sanctuary that the gay church provided previous generations.
“What I’m finding is they don’t want to go to a church where they are segregated by their sexuality,” said the Rev. Jenn Stiles Williams, who has about 50 young gays in her contemporary service at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando. “Their relationship with God is first, but they want a church where they can be who they are and not have to hide it.”
Maybe if they put the Bible on iPads and slipped ’em in the back of the pews? Just be sure to turn the volume down when you multi-task over to Grindr, everyone.