• What if you can't be

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About This Project

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“Abomination. “
“Unnatural. “
“Homosexuality is a choice.”

These are but some descriptors that many evangelical Christians use to condemn homosexuality.

But what happens when you’re at the crossroads? What happens when you happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) and….Christian? Does an LGBT person have to choose to be either Christian or gay?

While research shows that 58% of Americans say that homosexuality should be accepted by society, within the evangelical Protestant tradition, that statistic is strikingly different. Different denominations in the United States frequently regard homosexuality as sinful or immoral, based on certain biblical passages.

Not all churches are against homosexuality, nor do they “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” as is the common phrase among evangelical circles. Accepting and affirming churches are predominantly termed “mainline” churches and they are varied across the United States. In addition, because Christianity is used to deny rights to homosexuals and to justify the undesirability of same-sex relationships, the LGBT community has created LGBT affirming congregations.

For those within the LGBT community, the question of being “born this way,” is not up for debate and it’s not a matter of needing to change. It isn’t about behavior.

It is about identity. It is about personhood.

You are invited to meet five people in committed same-sex relationships from Church of the Holy SpiritSong (COHSS), an LGBT affirming church in Wilton Manors, Florida, who also happened to be Christian ministers in some form or other. They have decided there is no choice: they didn’t choose to be gay or lesbian, and they were called to be Christians.

Abomination? Unnatural? A choice?

Hardly.

These five people, and many others like them, have learned to live by the separation of church and hate.

Profiles

Leslie Rutland-Tipton

Pastor, COHSS

Leslie Rutland-Tipton was born and raised a “valley girl” in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. She earned her B.A. in Psychology in 1986 from San Diego State University before going on to serve in the Marine Corps, where she spent over ten years as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer. After serving for several years in the non-profit sector, she completed her pastoral education in 2007 and was ordained a reverend of the Christian faith. Currently the Senior Pastor at Church of the Holy SpiritSong in Wilton Manors, FL, Pastor Leslie is very active in church outreach and activities as well as the South Florida community. She resides in Miramar with her wonderful wife and many pets. She enjoys road biking and the beach.

Deanna Jaworski

Pastor, COHSSnj

Deanna received her spiritual calling in 1983 and served for years in the music ministry for the NJ District of the Assemblies of God. In 1987, she came out as a God-fearing born-again lesbian and was excommunicated from her denomination. Determined to continue to love God while being open about her sexuality, she moved to South Florida and served as Music Director for three LGBT- affirming congregations. In 1997, Rev. Deanna and Jill (her life partner since 1986) founded SpiritSong Ministries. In 1999, she founded Church of the Holy SpiritSong and served as Senior Pastor until 2007. In 2008, she followed God's calling to plant a new LGBT-affirming fellowship on the Jersey Shore: COHSS NJ.

Van Kendall

Former Deacon, COHSS

Van was born in Abilene, Texas to Van Kendall III and Julia Marie Kendall. He grew up in Dallas, Texas. Van graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN (1994) and obtained a Masters in Theological Studies from Christian Theological Seminary (1997). He grew up in the church and was preaching at an early age. His ministerial duties include: Ministerial Ordination at age 13; Pastor, West Elm St. Church of Christ-Terre Haute, IN (1992-1997); Assistant Minister, Hutchins Church of Christ – Dallas, TX (1997-1999) Van currently attends Church of the Holy Spirit Song, where he served as a deacon for three years. He lives with in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his partner, Steven Baumann.

Pat O'Brien & Dezhon Fields

Congregants, COHSS

Dezhon Fields-O’Brien was born in San Francisco, California. He currently travels throughout the country and abroad, performing as a singer, dancer, and actor. Openly gay since the age of 19, he was able to overcome many obstacles by coming to know Jesus Christ. Dezhon continues to learn and grow, trying to better himself as a Christian, who happens to be gay. Michael ‘Patrick’ Fields-O’Brien was born in Peru and grew up in Chicago. A father of 6, Pat was a devout Catholic for most of his life. Pat finally came to terms with his sexuality in 1996, after three years of seeking to overcome feelings that he may be gay. Pat and Dezhon met in 2012 and eventually had a holy union ceremony at COHSS.

God's life changing message is for all people
regardless of sexual orientation.

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