by Paul L. Williams, Ph.D.
Flee from sexual immorality.
All other sins a man commits are outside his body,
but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
~1 Cor. 6: 18
Ready for a Christian take of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show?”
Then head off to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the United Church of Christ is sponsoring a “Growing Bold” gathering.
The event, according to UCC officials, will be a “celebration” of the denomination’s “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers” and a demand for “their full inclusion in church and society.”
The three day gathering gets underway June 22 at the Grand Rapids Crowne Royal Hotel. Registration fee is $150.00.
It is unknown whether President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will attend.
Mr. Obama has been an active member of the UCC since 1983 and a proponent of its doctrines. In 2007, he served as the keynote speaker at the denomination’s national convention.
The “Growing Bold” conference will feature an address by Reverend Julie Nemecek.
Rev. Nemecek has long, manicured fingernails and wears a curly brown wig, make-up, and dangling earrings.
But she is legally a man.
In 2007, Ms. Nemecek, then John Nemecek, was fired from her position as the Assistant Dean of Adult Studies at Spring Arbor University because she violated the terms of her contract with the conservative Methodist school by dressing as a woman and discussing with students and staff members her intention to change her gender.
The gender mender minister responded to the dismissal by filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity, claiming that the university had discriminated against her because of her sex and her “gender identity disorder.”
“Gender identity disorder is a psychological diagnosis of a medical condition,” she said. “Until I transitioned, I could not believe how happy I would become.”
In recent years, Rev. Nemecek has received hormone therapy and she has legally changed her name, However, she admits, the box on her driver’s license still must be checked “M” for male.
Julie and her wife Joanne
Rev. Nemecek and his wife Joanne are the parents of three grown sons.
Joanne, the pastor’s spouse, is a registered nurse, who is studying to be a social worker. She has not fully accepted the prospect of suddenly becoming a lesbian. Joanne said she grieves the loss of her husband after 36 years of marriage and is still working toward complete acceptance. “I am not as openly affectionate in public as I once was,” Joanne admits. “It still takes me back when, at a restaurant, they say ‘ladies’ or ask ‘two bills or one?’”
Along with the appearance of Reverend Nemecek, Reverend Hector Lopez, a minister from a small Latino church in southern California, who “experienced a passionate conversion” while performing a same-sex marriage, will offer a keynote address.
Also present at the podium will be Urvashi Vaid, the former Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who has been named one of Out magazines most influential men and women. Ms. Vaid lives in Manhattan and Provincetown, Massachusetts, with her partner comedian Kate Clinton.
Following the speeches and the “agape” sessions, those in attendance will be treated to a presentation of “All the Little Children,” a play about a gay man who returns to his church as a minister.
The activities at the UCC gathering mirror the faith of Mr. Obama, who upholds his denomination’s unorthodox take on Christian doctrine.
“When I read the Bible,” Mr. Obama has written, “I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion.”
If a man also lies with man,
as he lies with a woman,
both of them have committed an abomination:
they shall surely end up in death;
and their blood shall be upon them.
~ Leviticus 20:13