LGBTQ at ELPC
God’s love is unconditional.
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. (Romans 2:1, NRSV)
At ELPC, we seek to be a fully inclusive church, trusting in a gospel that does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. Through education, testimonies, and advocacy, we strive to live out a faith that respects the God-given gifts of our human sexuality, and fights to prevent social bias and any discrimination aimed at gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender persons. The love of Christ is for all of creation; and even with our diverse personalities, genetic make-ups, and relationship histories, God is consistent in offering us hope, grace, and salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit.
GOD CREATED YOU. GOD LOVES YOU. BE YOURSELF.
The LGBTQ Ministry has two regular meetings. One is a quarterly business meeting to continue the work we have started in prayerfully and intentionally forming this ministry. The other is a monthly spiritual gathering where we focus on relationships, education, and spiritual growth. Please consult the weekly bulletin, website calendar, or with Wil for times and locations.
All people are welcome to be involved with the LGBTQ Ministry at ELPC. Please contact Wil Forrest (firstname.lastname@example.org; 412.441.3800 x114) for more info and/or to get on the distribution list.
As part of Pride Month, ELPC participates in the annual PrideFest, a wonderful witness opportunity for the church. We carry an ELPC banner with many members walking with us showing the LGBTQ community that our church truly stands for radical hospitality. We also have a booth set up to provide information and to answer questions about our church.
Also during June, ELPC proudly participates in Circle of Faith Pittsburgh, which is a public witness to welcome and inclusion for LGBTQIA persons, their families, and allies by varied faith communities. It is for all who believe God’s love is inclusive and that all are welcome into the “family circle” that their faith communities offer. In 2013, more than 250 people gathered and marched in Highland Park. In 2014, we had a strong showing of support and inclusion as we gathered in Market Square.
The Christian church has long struggled with discussing the topic of human sexuality with openness and integrity. Part of this is our general discomfort with such a personal subject matter. The other part is that there are a modest number of passages in the bible that express negative views about same-gender sexual orientation. These passages, in their original Hebrew and Greek languages, predominantly speak about examples of violent homosexual rape and prostitution. However, some modern readers have taken these verses out of context and used them to offer general statements that would suggest that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people are not welcome in church communities.
We are saved by grace, not by the law. As Paul affirmed in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek; we are to live in our diverse cultures with a common spirit of faith.
To live as members of one another in all our words and deeds, intimate or otherwise, is to become the living body of Christ in the world. Our church seeks to be a welcoming place for friends and allies of the LGBTQ community, and a living, prophetic advocate for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
The Lambda Foundation of Pittsburgh awarded a plaque of recognition to ELPC for its “continued inclusivity of sexual minorities and for the leadership of its current pastor, the Rev. Dr. Randall K. Bush.” Lambda recognized the historical progress within ELPC, with the movement to advocate for LGBTQ persons beginning two decades ago with The Rev. J. Richard Szeremany and The Rev. Robert Chesnut, both now retired, and continuing today with the efforts of Rev. Bush. In particular, Lambda cited Rev. Bush’s efforts to advocate for LGBTQ equality at the Presbytery level. Two of our members serve as officers with Lambda.
The Dignity & Respect Campaign of Greater PIttsburgh named ELPC a Dignity & Respect Champion. The Dignity and Respect Campaign recognized Rev. Bush, as well as Rev. Patrice Fowler-Searcy, Rev. Heather Schoenewolf, and Rev. Mary Lynn Callahan for their “endeavors to create an environment where everyone is welcomed and valued regardless of race, culture, ability, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” The Campaign highlighted ELPC’s dedication to the community during the tumultuous 1960s and 70s in East Liberty. Read the entire story here (click on the image of Pastors Randy, Heather, Mary Lynn, and Patrice).