Coming Out Bi Creates Rift with Church of God

I was scrolling through Facebook— I saw this headline that someone shared. Thought, certainly this couldn’t be—Oh, yes, it is my hometown, Sullivan, Illinois.

They ousted a youth leader because she came out as bisexual to support the LGBTQ community.  

It wasn’t that long ago that another church made another couple choices, ending with their sign with a message that read: ‘Turn or Burn.’

‘Let us continue to love one another.’

The Sullivan Church of God didn’t just bring in their board of elders but also Zach Schaefer, Regional Director of Illinois Ministries, which is the parent organization of Sullivan Church of God. At least the former youth leader was informed he was regional director.

‘Do we love each other, everyone, deeply?’ 

Schaefer recently returned to his hometown of Vandalia ‘s Church of God as their interim pastor. Perhaps, being back home has been a catalyst. 

‘Through loving each other God lives within us.’

During that meeting with the now former youth leader, she was interrupted by Schaefer. 

‘The perfect love of God expels all fear.’

Did scripture intend for us to interrupt another? Or, is there fear of loving people that are LGBTQ, seeing and embracing them as human beings, that is the problem?

‘Let us continue to love one another.’ 

Schaefer also is the Executive Director of Camp Warren. Camp Warren offers camps from grades 3rd through 12th. 

In my research, I found literature as to Illinois Ministries guidance on marriage equality. It appears to be written to apply more broadly where necessary.

I feel for people that hear these messages. It must be confusing on some level, conscious or otherwise, because having listened to a few hours of Mr. Schaefer, I understand how great he is at connecting to people through his speech and message.

If you listen to him, it’s a message about love. How confusing.

Just days later after delivering that message about love, he drove into my hometown, walked into the Church of God and wouldn’t even listen to a mother he not only had a predisposition to disagree with but he also didn’t love enough to have an open mind to hear her expressions of love and devotion to Christ. 

We have to listen so closely to these messages to hear the double speak and the one-way pain on the double standard highway of judgment. To hear the broken promises. To be aware of what has been said, what is being done, and what the outcomes will be.

We just cannot sit idly by. We can. We see what happens when no one speaks up.

The quotes above are all lines that Schaefer spoke during his messages on Easter and last Sunday.

He would be the first to self-deprecate. Who wouldn’t in that position? It’s part of finding common ground with an audience. 

If you’re willing to give yourself room for growth as a way to build rapport and find common ground, wouldn’t there be a little bit of room for growth on this issue? Is there at least enough to listen to the heartfelt, intentional words and scriptures of someone who has worked and volunteered in your church?

I think there’s love enough. We must believe enough in the love of others and that their belief will see them through to the end of the task given to them by this moment. This moment requires more of us than we often feel we have to give. We should strive to give it anyway.

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