US: Ohio Methodist Church to launch LGBT-inclusive worship service

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A Methodist Church in the US state of Ohio is to launch a new worship service in April, which intends to be fully inclusive of the LGBT community, and to welcome those who may have felt unwelcome in other churches.

Reverend Bill Buckeye, the pastor of the Bay United Methodist Church in Bay Village, Ohio, will launch the service on 6 April.

Services, named Open Harbor, will take place on Saturday evenings, will offer coffee and fellowship to all, and is meant to be especially inclusive of members of the LGBT community who have felt excluded in other denominations, reports

The Reverend said: “This is a service where people of any sexual orientation or gender identity, they aren’t going to be driven out or told they are sinners or anything like that,”

“It will also be looking at the Christian faith through the lens of what is called progressive Christian faith, which is a very non-literal approach to the Bible. It’s more of a ‘layers of the onion,’ metaphorical meaning of those stories.”

He went on to say that the service should appeal to those with a scientific understanding of the world, and those who possibly doubt or question their faith, or stories in the Bible.

“We’re not going to be arguing for a seven-day literal story of creation, with seven 24-hour days,” Buckeye said. “It’s also a service meant for folks who have questions about faith and even doubts about faith, and are suspicious of the institutional church.”

The pastor intends to include drama, art, contemporary music and an interactive approach to the service, which he described as “progressive”, and said he had only received positive feedback. 

“So far, the feedback is positive,” he said of reactions from existing members of his congregation. “I haven’t heard any kind of negative reaction.”

He went on to say that he hoped the church would now provide a safe environment for members of the LGBT community, and said that he did not know of any similar services in the area.

Last weekend, a Methodist church in the US state of North Carolina, said that it would not conduct wedding ceremonies for straight couples until its pastors are able to officiate same-sex weddings as well.