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Church’s special service for gay community

Wesley Methodist Church opened its doors to Bermuda's gay community and their supporters for a special service.

Members of the Rainbow Alliance, Out Bermuda and the Human Rights Commission were among more than 130 people who attended the event in Hamilton on Sunday.

Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, a member of the church's board and director of LGBTQ charity Out Bermuda, said the service was as “an olive branch”.

“We are affirming of all people, so there are no barriers in coming to our church. Our doors are open,” he said, adding that the church does not have a formal stance on same-sex marriage. “Being a Christian and being gay are not mutually exclusive. Those two parts of you can live in harmony.

“The two greatest commandments in the Bible are to love the Lord with all your heart and to love your neighbour as yourself.

“Everything else has to be read through that lens.”

Ravi Pachai said last weekend's mass shooting in Orlando, which targeted the city's gay community, had strengthened his desire to attend the service.

“We were welcomed with open arms by all members of the congregation and were thankful for the time they took to get to know the visitors,” he said.

“There doesn't always have to be a divide between LGBTQ issues and religion.

“I look forward to watching Wesley Methodist lead our community on this issue and applaud them for welcoming everyone into the dialogue.”

Nikki Bowers said the service was an emotional experience.

“As the same-sex marriage referendum draws nearer and the conversation degenerates into one which skirts hate speech, this service was a necessary respite from my hostile island home,” she said. “Human beings have a deep desire to be loved wholly without conditions, and it is clear that Wesley Methodist believes that LGBT people are worthy of that love.”

Quinton Butterfield, of the Human Rights Commission, said: “It was very refreshing to be in a place where you do not immediately feel judged and destined for hell.

“I have not felt such a welcoming Christian congregation in a very long time, maybe ever.

“This experience has truly shown me that there are some people in this world that show unconditional love and acceptance for all.”

Jasen Moniz, chairwoman of the official board at Wesley Methodist board, said: “I'm very proud to belong to a church which is willing to take a stand.

“The LGBTQ community needs safe spaces to gather in, and after the Orlando shooting there must be a huge sense of loss of safety.

“Churches need to be safe places for groups that have been marginalised to gather, and be accepted and loved unconditionally.”

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Warm welcome: Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, a member of the church's board and director of Out Bermuda, says being a Christian and being gay are not mutually exclusive (File photograph)

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Published June 18, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 18, 2016 at 2:18 am)

Church’s special service for gay community

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