The Bayside Breakthrough - first Pentecostal church to accept gays

October 19, 2009

The message I’ve been waiting to hear from a Pentecostal pulpit in Australia happened on the weekend.

Ps Rob Buckingham from Bayside Church in Melbourne preached a message of love and acceptance for GLBT people. At the Saturday night service the congregation gave him a standing ovation. 

It is so encouraging to find those within the Christian Church who have been willing to ask to important questions. There is definitely a new climate of questioning and humility in some circles. For this we are very grateful. The two questions many are asking are.

1. Has the churches attitude towards the GLBT community been reflective of God’s love

2. Is it possible that the churches beliefs about same sex orientation been in error

Some are beginning to say No to the first question and Yes to the second.

Whilst I’ve been in dialogue with many church leaders both in Australia and overseas, I’ve often wondered who’d be the first brave person to tell the truth about what they really feel and shared with my privately in a public setting like this.

The message preached by Pastor Rob Buckingham Real Christianity – the accepting Church’ at Bayside church in Melbourne. During the sermon Ps Rob Buckingham dispelled many of the myths about gay and lesbian people and also that the Sodom and Gomorrah story has nothing to do with homosexuality as we know it today. Not only is the message a global first, the entire congregation gave him a standing ovation at the conclusion of the message. Bayside is to be congratulated for their courage in being the first to say:
“Bayside Church is a place where everyone is welcome. We believe that God loves everyone and that He sent His Son Jesus to bring salvation (through His death and resurrection) to all of humanity. A study of the life of Jesus clearly reveals His love and care towards those who are often marginalized by the rest of society. Bayside Church welcomes GLBT people to find God’s love and grace and to worship Him freely within our community.” 

God has given Ps Rob the insight, courage and grace to create a new world for so many of Gods damaged GLBT people that will bring healing and empower others to do things better in the future. This message will literally save lives and contribute enormously to end the unnecessary suffering experienced by GLBT people who are still in churches as well as those who have left.

Sincerely from my heart Rob I want to say thank you……and on behalf of the many 1,000’s of us who have struggled to find answers to the perceived conflict between our faith and our sexuality…often in a hostile environment…….I also say thank you.

A standing ovation….is a powerful affirmation by the congregation of Pastor Rob’s message. The same thing happened to the 100 Revs who marched in the Mardi Gras parade in 2008. People stood to their feet and applauded the brave ministers who were marching to indicate they were sorry for the churches treatment of attitude towards the GLBT community

Whilst some like to focus on the negatives and the right wing Christian extremists….we should realise that behind the scenes a quiet revolution is happening. Every now and then it surfaces as it did this weekend. Congratulations to Ps Rob Buckingham and Bayside Church. …..and of course a thank you to those who are still in the questioning stage……how can we serve you as you seek greater understanding about our lives.

First Bayside, then another church will take the step, then another, then another, till we reach the tipping point and an entire Pentecostal denomination welcomes GLBT people. My belief is that Australia will lead the way with this issue. For many of us though it can’t come soon enough because every day we wait people suffer unnecessarily and lives are lost through suicide.

This ground breaking event was reported also and welcomed in the gay press here "Church advocates for gay acceptance" 

© Anthony Venn-Brown 
Twitter: @gayambassador 
Facebook: Anthony Venn-Brown - A Life of Unlearning
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Anthony Venn-Brown is the co-founder and former leader of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning', details his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man. Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and  was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award. He is also the founder and director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.

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