An increasing number of churches are becoming LGBTQ+ inclusive
“Gay” and “religious” are two words that are generally not associated with each other in a positive light. Countless stories have been told of how people from the LGBTQ+ community have felt excluded and often traumatized by their church since they were taught it is “sinful” to be their most genuine self. Many of them grew up going to church and feel confused and ashamed of who they are. While church may provide a spiritual and joyful experience for some, others walk away with scars.
But some churches are demonstrating that LGBTQ+ people can still find a safe space to practice their religion. Los Altos United Methodist Church is one of those places. At this church, who you are is welcomed and celebrated.
LAUMC is a part of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a group that gives United Methodist churches the tools to become affirming to all. Its mission is to “advance justice and inclusion for all LGBTQ people in The United Methodist Church and beyond.” Despite a church’s history, where they may have upheld traditional beliefs about homosexuality, they can choose to change.
Not all Methodists feel this way though. At the 2019 General Conference, where official policy is set for the entire denomination, a vote to affirm homosexuality was rejected by a slim margin. Those who were in favor of the proposition, such as LAUMC, have continued to practice what they believe: accepting all people, regardless of their sexuality.
Some churches advertise that they are welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, but do not allow gay pastors or permit the marriage of LGBTQ+ couples. LAUMC does not follow these doctrines and instead allows LGBTQ+ involvement at every level of the church. Sam Blewis, an associate pastor at LAUMC, is a part of the LGBTQ+ community herself. Not only is she a strong presence at the church, but she started Front Porch — a ministry of LAUMC — to connect people to God and each other in the local community, creating a safe environment for everyone.
Blewis talks about the intersection of religion and the LGBTQ+ community, as well as LAUMC’s decision to become a reconciling church about 10 years ago, in this interview:
There are more churches that are welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community than people may know. Below is a map showing these churches in both the Peninsula and South Bay parts of the Bay Area. To see what affirming churches are in your area, check out www.gaychurch.org, where you can additionally find educational resources on the topic of religion and sexuality.
These churches, along with LAUMC, have demonstrated that being LGBTQ+ and Christian are not mutually exclusive. Religion can be truly transformative in peoples’ lives, giving them hope, joy, peace, and connection to others. LAUMC does not believe that who you are should dictate your ability to have these experiences. Affirming and reconciling churches are paving the way for members of the LGBTQ+ community to find a loving home in the church.