ST.PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A St. Paul church says a “miracle” $15,000 donation is helping it keep its doors open.
The Grace Community United Church started to suffer financially when they lost more than 70 percent of their congregation following the pastor’s endorsement of same-sex marriage.
The largely African-American Congregationalist church says they have experienced the high cost of supporting same-sex marriage.
“Some young people, maybe age 12 or so were walking by … I said why don’t you all come to Sunday school this Sunday, and their response was, ‘We heard you are a gay church and we can’t come here,'” the Rev. Oliver White said.
It was in 2005 when White voted in favor of the United Church of Christ’s endorsement of same-sex marriage. Ever since, he says he’s been explaining the decision.
“We are not a gay church, we are church with a door that’s open to everybody,” White said.
It was a sentiment 150 former congregation members said they wouldn’t stand by.
“They take the bible very, very literally,” White said.
Despite the backlash, White, who calls himself a country preacher, is still continuing to preach what he believes is the right thing.
Last Sunday, White presented the $15,000 check from a United Church of Christ in Dallas made up mostly of gays and lesbians.
“I had to get on a life support machine following that,” White said.
For their congregation, it was one big step closer to keeping their commitment and their church alive.
“All I could think of…is God is still speaking,” said Frances Goodlow, a parishioner.
WCCO-TV tried to reach out to congregants who left the church. WCCO also asked if Minnesota for Marriage or the Minnesota Family Council wanted to release a statement.
Although the organizations didn’t respond, their websites reflect beliefs centered on the idea that marriage is between a man and a woman.