Earlier this month, we had the happy news that the Beloved Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama elected lesbian pastor Rev Jennifer Sanders with a vote of 34-0.
At the time, Rev Sanders said: “Beloved has always been a congregation with a justice-oriented commitment in its interpretation of the faith. I work from a liberation theology perspective. It’s not a single-issue perspective. It’s about how we honor the presence of the Holy Spirit in every person.”
“It’s part of who I am, but it’s not the whole of what we do. My commitment to racial justice, to people with disabilities, my commitment to economic justice and environmental justice, are part of that, just as much a part of my commitment to rights for LGBTQ people.”
However, on the heels of this good news comes, unfortunately, something negative. AL.com have reported that the church held a day of silence earlier this week, which was disrupted by rather loud anti-LGBT protestors, combining disrespect and homophobia into a horrid little cocktail.
They brandished signs reading “Repent or perish”, while using a megaphone to disrupt the silence.
Rev Sanders, however, is dealing with these protests with a level of tact and grace that is quite impressive.
Speaking to AL.com, she said: “There has been condemnation from Biblical literalists in tones that can at best be described as disturbing. Yesterday, for five of the eight hours during Beloved’s community day of silent prayer and meditation, a family of street preachers with signs that said REPENT OR PERISH stood across the street with a megaphone making loud witness of their very narrow interpretation of scripture.”
“I went outside and spoke to them early on. They would not shake my hand or introduce themselves, though I did eventually learn their names from the wife. As the man, whose name is Jim, stood with his sign in my face, he kept hurling at me verses from the first chapter of Romans.”
“In the midst of his avalanche of words he said ’the Gospel has nothing to do with accepting people as they are.’ His accusation was that that’s what we do here. He was accusing us of accepting people as they are.” (The horror!) “Though their theology is violent, I do not think they are physically violent. They are street preachers of deep conviction and fierce spirit. If you encounter them, please be kind.”
Despite the abuse she has been receiving, Rev Sanders remained positive: “I and this church, separately and together, have received incredible support.”
Safe to say, the Reverend is one hell of a class act, and we can only hope that the protesters either get bored or see the error of their ways soon.