Rev. Dr. Ken Fong is the senior pastor at Evergreen Baptist Church of LA and a fellow bridge-builder between the Church and the LGBT community. His current project, a documentary film, will specifically focus on how to create a better way forward for the Church and Christians who identify as part of the LGBT community.
Pastor Ken also led a seminar on this topic at the Urbana 2012 missions conference. In sharing part of his journey, he recounts how in college he witnessed gay people being bullied. Even though he didn’t participate, he also didn’t come to their defense and now realizes that his silence “was an affront to God.” Pastor Ken now feels called to use his reputation for the benefit of those at the intersection of the Christian and LGBT communities. He acknowledges the two common church models: “welcoming and affirming” and “welcoming but not affirming,” but is content with neither. Instead, he proposes an “open and mutually transforming” construct, which he explains further:
“Church should be open to all sinners, but all sinners, straight and gay, when they come to church, they need to be open to the ongoing transforming work of God’s Holy Spirit. Now that doesn’t mean that all people who start off with same-sex attraction are one day going to be straight, but I think there are still some transformations in all of us that can occur.”
While some may be quick to dismiss this approach as a semantically disguised equivalent of “welcoming but not affirming,” to do so would be to miss the caring, loving heart behind Pastor Ken’s idea. To get a good glimpse, skip to about an hour and nine minutes into the seminar presentation where he tells the story of his interaction with a gay man who started coming to his church. Pastor Ken admits that as a church, they have certain expectations, but he is also honest about the fact that “when you meet real people that you’ve come to love, you find that you hold the expectations and these people’s lives kind of together in this tension.” Furthermore, he believes that the only important question is simply, “which way are you heading? Are you heading toward Jesus or away from Jesus?”
For those of you who listen to Pastor Ken’s presentation in its entirety, I’m sure you will have your criticisms as I have my own. However, I’ve chosen to withhold commentary on those for now in favor of highlighting the many admirable aspects of Pastor Ken’s undertaking. He seems to me a humble, obedient man willing to live in the tension without having all of the answers. He admits that this is not black and white and is in the process of trying to figure it out, as we all are. Thanks Pastor Ken!