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Letters to the Editor: Why supporting the LGBTQ community is the Christian thing to do

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE — Beacon editor Anthony DeFeo, left, and his girlfriend, Ally Gardner, both members of Collective and Collective Cares, prepare to march in the Dec. 2 DeLand Christmas Parade with the DeLand Pride entry. The display of support for the LGBTQ community was criticized by a Beacon reader whose letter was published in the Dec. 7-10 edition, prompting the responses published here.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE — Beacon editor Anthony DeFeo, left, and his girlfriend, Ally Gardner, both members of Collective and Collective Cares, prepare to march in the Dec. 2 DeLand Christmas Parade with the DeLand Pride entry. The display of support for the LGBTQ community was criticized by a Beacon reader whose letter was published in the Dec. 7-10 edition, prompting the responses published here.

BEACON PHOTO/MATT GARRETT

Why would a church support the LGBTQ community?

Editor, The Beacon:

Regarding the letter to the editor in the Dec. 7 issue, Collective’s community statement celebrates and calls for diversity, good questions and generative conversations that don’t make assumptions, all in the spirit of love and grace.

Different perspectives, civil discourse and even disagreements are among the most valuable practices in the Christian faith.

As a congregation fully supportive of the LGBTQ community, we understand our theology and core values differ from other churches and practices. This is not new in the Christian conversation.

We wanted to clarify a few things:

First, Collective (the church) founded, but is a separate organization from Collective Cares, an “LGBTQ Safe Zone & Ally Community.”

Second, Collective was one of five organizations marching with the DeLand Pride Network, including New Church Family, DeLand Pride, DeLand High School Gay-Straight Alliance and Collective Cares.

Third, there was no float at the beginning of the parade to our knowledge. All five groups marched together and were group No. 90, not near the beginning. No float, just people marching with Christmas lights, wreaths, Santa hats, Christmas music, families with kids in wagons, dogs and glow sticks … like most of the rest of the parade, except for the rainbow flags and banner.

Fourth, this “supposed” church isn’t “always thinking about and promoting gay sexuality.” This generalization is false, clearly known by anyone who’s participated in the rich fabric of our diverse congregation, or gotten to know any of the magnificent LGBTQ Christians for whom Collective is their church.

Finally, this was a community parade, in which all members of the community were invited to participate both by representing their organizations and by celebrating Christmas as a community.

We don’t believe “Collective made the DeLand Christmas Parade a gay-pride parade.” We do believe both the Christian faith and DeLand are better for the inclusion of our LGBTQ community.

Why would a Christian church promote full acceptance and solidarity, the dignity and full human goodness of LGBTQ persons as members of the church and of our community?

More than a commercialized holiday, the biblical Christmas story is one of welcoming the stranger, radical hospitality and safety for those in danger so that love can be born: Think shepherds, astrologers, unwed mothers and vulnerable children (Jesus).

For LGBTQ folks, so often outcast, isolated, and subject to violent prejudice, being welcomed is a bit like a Christmas miracle in a world full of inns with no vacancies.

Our sincere hope is that this question is a gift that generates further conversation. It has been for us and, we believe, for our beautiful town.

For further conversation or to learn more about what Collective is like, please join us for Christmas Eve services at 5 or 7 p.m. on Dec. 24, call us at 386-626-3036, or visit www.WeAreCollectiveChurch.com.

Grace & Peace,

Collective community


For Christmas, remember Jesus’ most basic teaching

Editor, The Beacon:

In response to the letter to the editor from Ryan Gorman published in the Dec. 7-10 edition:

Everyone has the right to not only their opinion, but the right to voice that opinion. You do, and so do DeLand Pride, Collective Cares, DeLand High School Gay-Straight Alliance and the Collective Church.

Please don’t try to disguise what you are protesting. Collective did not have a float, they had several people, which included gay people and straight people, walking in the parade. Because just like Jesus, they welcome everyone.

They were carrying their Collective banner and followed by the LGBTQ community group Collective Cares, DeLand Pride, and the DeLand High School GSA. They were wearing Santa hats and carried Christmas lights and, yes, a pride flag and the DeLand Pride Network and Collective Cares banners to identify themselves.

Just like all the other groups in the parade: the Boy Scouts, the car clubs, the auto dealers, the marching bands, Rotary, all things that have nothing to do with Christmas walked in the parade and carried a banner or sign to identify themselves.

Rotary carries a giant American flag, which has nothing to do with Christmas. Most of the parade is filled with groups and businesses that have nothing to do with Christmas. They are businesses that are promoting their business or groups promoting their groups. They dress up or decorate themselves or their cars or floats to fit into the parade, but they have nothing to do with Christmas, otherwise.

So please stop pretending you are protesting that Collective was trying to turn the Christmas Parade into a gay-pride parade. They were doing exactly the same thing as everyone else walking in the parade. And just like you, they have every right to do so.

What you are actually protesting is gay people. You are protesting that Collective Church welcomes everyone and not just those who only accept people exactly like themselves, and you are protesting that gay people had the nerve to show themselves in public. Pretty hateful.

Pretty sure hate is the very thing Jesus taught against. There are endless quotes in the Bible about do unto others, love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemies, whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Nowhere do those quotes end in, “except gay people.” Nowhere.

So, if you want to keep Christ in Christmas, maybe you should start with his most basic teaching. Love.

Dagny Robertson

DeLand

— Robertson is founder of DeLand Pride and a very proud mother of a spectacular son who also happens to be gay.


Compassion, love are at the core of Christianity

Editor, The Beacon:

It was very disheartening to read the letter to the editor in the Dec. 7 issue written by Mr. Ryan Gorman regarding an LGBTQ support organization walking in the DeLand Christmas Parade.

I do, however, applaud The Beacon for publishing the letter, not just in the interest of presenting all sides of an issue, but also because the letter demonstrates to readers that bigotry and a significant lack of understanding still do exist in our community.

Mr. Gorman felt it necessary to insult a group walking in the DeLand Christmas Parade. The group, Collective Cares, is a part of Collective Church, and it works as an open cadre of pastors and peers who offer education to the community and caring support to members of the LGBTQ community.

Mr. Gorman took it upon himself to disparage the work of Collective and its very status as a religious community and church. He obviously knows nothing about the church, and the remarks demonstrate a definite lack of the caring, compassion and love that are at the actual core of Christianity.

Collective Cares does bravely exist to do much good in our community, but actually would not need to exist if there were not so many Mr. Gormans living among us.

Collective Church is an institution that opens its arms to all members of the community to unconditionally share God’s word and His love. Many attend just because they have been so unwelcome in other houses of worship.

I would offer that Mr. Gorman attend some Sunday evening to see for himself. Maybe his eyes will be opened to what the message is truly about!

The Rotary Club did an outstanding job organizing and executing this year’s parade.

It was not a “Gay Pride Parade.” It was an evening of community spirit and abounding enjoyment for all who believe in what the season is truly all about!

Those who cheered every float, group and band, including Collective Cares, and the smiling faces of thousands of children shined a wonderful light on our wonderful town.

William McIntyre

DeLand

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