Welcoming Community Network

Welcoming Community Network

Timeline: RLDS/Community of Christ and Sexual Orientation Issues

1954 (April)

  • First recorded dealings with the subject of Homosexuality
    Apostle C. George Mesley resigned from the Quorum of Twelve, surrounding his homosexual orientation. (Mesley silenced later in year. In 1974 reinstated to High Priest)

1961/62

  • Standing High Council considers homosexuality issue.
    Recommendations presented to First Presidency.
  • First Presidency sends letter to pastors stating homosexuals should not be ordained to the priesthood.
    At no time is this presented to the church for adoption into church law or resolutions.

1971

  • Portions of the 1961/62 recommendations were published in the Saints Herald, Question Time. Rebuttals followed.

1978

  • First Presidency appoints a Human Sexuality Committee. (No gays on the committee)

1980

  • First Presidency appoints a Human Sexuality Task Force, which continues the work of the committee. Series of Saints Herald articles published. An interim draft was suggested:
    1. It advocated acceptance of homosexuality and responsible covenant relations.
    2. It left open the ordination of gays under those circumstances.
    3. It called for civil rights advocacy for gays by the church.
    The First Presidency eliminated the committee's suggesting that the church accept committed homosexual relationships and advocate for civil rights for gays, keeping only the modified proposal that allowed for homosexuals in the priesthood if they are celibate.

1982

  • First Presidency presents Standing High Council policy still used to today (enforced inconsistently in some areas).

1983

  • Presence of GALA begins in Kansas City. (Developed from loose association with Affirmation, the LDS GLBT support organization)

1984

  • Toronto gay members link with Kansas City members, official start of GALA begins. Small gatherings in homes begin on a regular basis.

1987

  • First GALA retreat held on RLDS campgrounds, in Michigan.
  • First GALA officers elected, Allan Fiscus president. (Because of this retreat, and its success, GALA has had access to church facilities around the USA and Canada.)
  • Meeting with First Presidency, GALA refused permission to use church name in any advertising. Legal action threatened.
  • Matt Naylor teaches about homosexuality at a South Pacific Leaders Conference; President Wallace B. Smith is in attendance.

1990-1992

  • Human Diversity Committee works on, present, policy. This committee has an openly gay member, GALA's second president, Curt Filer.
  • GALA/PFLAG has presence at World Conference, hidden in the Urban Ministries display
  • First AIDS Memorial Service held during Conference.
  • WC Human Diversity Resolution 1226 adopted by Conference delegates.

1993

  • Appointee Matt Naylor presented a paper at the Theology Colloquy at Graceland in which he argued for an open policy. The article was printed in Justice or Just Us-"The Testimony of Seven Neighbors".
  • Several gay and lesbian church plants in Australia in the 90's

1994

  • Boise Idaho Congregation opens its doors to MCC. (Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches)
  • First welcoming congregations are formed:
    • Peace Chapel (Berkley, CA)
    • Peace Chapel (Kansas City, MO)

1996

  • Pasco Washington Congregation opens its doors to MCC.
  • St Paul, Minneapolis Congregation adopts "welcoming" mission statement.
  • Aaron Sherer (student) "outs" himself at Graceland College, Peace Colloquy.
    (Graceland's policy was prejudicial/ discriminating)

1997

  • Board of Graceland College Board adds "sexuality orientation" to diversity statement. (48-8: 2 negatives were from LDS).
  • A Gay-Straight Alliance forms at Graceland College.

1998

  • First "GALA" booth at World Conference.
  • President W. Grant McMurray takes a stand for gay acceptance during his March 29th sermon.
  • Temple School Class on Human Sexuality released.
  • A welcoming church plant, which would become Basilea: An Open Door Community of Christ (Orange, CA), is formed by a group of members after congregational discord about celebrating Solidarity Sunday - a faith-based anti-gay violence initiative.
  • St. Paul, MN congregation brings "welcoming" mission statement resolution to District Conference

1999

  • GALA worship service in "The Temple" during a retreat in the Kansas City area.
  • Graceland College Professor, Bill Russell, presents: “Homosexuals in the RLDS Church: A Progress Report” at the Sunstone Symposium.

2000

  • Michigan Region appoints a Program Leader for Gay and Lesbian Ministries, (cover about 96 congregations, in MI, IN, ONT.)
  • GALA has larger presence in World Conference. (Booth, AIDS service, PFLAG, and worship services).
  • High Priest Quorum passed a resolution urging the First: Presidency to declare a moratorium on priesthood silencing of gay priesthood members while dialogue continues in the church.
  • Michigan begins a series of workshops, "Understanding Homosexuality in Our Faith", for all pastors and leaders in the Michigan Region.
  • Temple School Class on "Homosexuality And The Church" released.

2001

  • Greater Los Angeles Stake

2002

  • January - GALA Executive Council and Board of Directors have formal discussion with First Presidency regarding pending issues, World Conference, and establish direct relationship
  • Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR), a non-profit ecumenical organization is created. GALA becomes contributing member, further develops the Welcoming Community Network (WCN - a grassroots process for congregational affiliation), and trains volunteers in faith based organizational skills.
  • John Billings calls several people to begin organization of "Welcoming Church Program", retreat held at Berkley congregation
  • April - World Conference
    • Shower of Stoles Project displayed at Conference
    • President Grant McMurray addresses sexual orientation and ordination of gays and lesbians in his sermon at World Conference
    • Two resolutions to set aside the 1982 Statement on Homosexuality are presented, G-5 Review of Policy on Homosexuality (submitted by Greater Los Angeles Stake) and G-7 Homosexuality (submitted by British Columbia District). Neither is adopted.
  • June - Greater Los Angeles Stake presents a Shower of Stoles display at Stake Conference and has the South Coast Chorale (gay/straight chorus from Long Beach) provide Ministry of Music for the worship service.
  • August - President McMurray attended the GALA retreat over Labor Day weekend.
  • October - The World Church Leadership Council releases its statement on "Community, Common Consent, and the Issue of Homosexuality"

2003

  • Listening Circles are established to help cultivate an understanding about Homosexuality in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Official representation by GALA in Welcoming Church Program Leaders Network - John Billings.
  • GALA creates National Field Coordinator position and employs Sharon P. Troyer, Ph.D. as a half-time consultant.

2004

  • April - Seven resolutions regarding homosexuality are submitted at World Conference. Resolution G-13 submitted, by the First Presidency, calling for two additional years to allow for further participation in Listen Circles and further exploration by the Committee on Homosexuality and the Church is adopted.
  • September - GALA celebrates its twentieth anniversary in retreat at Camp Doniphan in Excelsior Springs, MO.

2005

  • December - WCN joins with members of Reconciling in Christ (a program of Lutherans Concerned/North America) and the Reconciling Ministry Network (of the United Method Church) in co-sponsoring an Ecumenical Core Leadership Training at the Temple.

2007

  • January - WCN becomes an organization on its own electing a working board of directors.
  • March - The Committee on Homosexuality and the Church submits its report to World Conference. The report contains no recommendations for action but does suggest values and principles to encourage further learning about the meaning of love and community in the world.
  • April - WCN publishes a response to the report applauding the call to uphold the inestimable worth of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Community of Christ congregations.


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