By Theresa D. McClellan
GIFT’s Faith Advocacy Coordinator
“Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign Coordinator
When you are a small community church with a mission to listen and be heard, what do you do?
If the church is the “Square-Inch Community,” you bring multi-textured music to the masses and raise the bar by highlighting tough social justice issues happening in our community.
So that’s exactly what Pastor Steve DeRuiter chose to do by creating the free “Inch Fest” concert. The concert will be 4 p.m to 10 p.m. Friday June 20 in a parking lot in the 1000 block of Wealthy Street SE across the street from the Sparrows Coffee House.
The event features six bands offering music styles from indie alternative, to folk to Christian hip-hop to punk. And when your not jammin’ with the sounds, you have the chance to get more involved with six local social justice groups – including GIFT – that will have information tables and representatives who work on tackling issues of affordable housing, sex trafﬁcking, safe neighborhoods, and safe and afﬁrming places to worship for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities.
“We want to promote local goodness,” said DeRuiter in explaining how he chose the participating social justice organizations. “Our church is really interested in promoting local business and justice organizations and art” said DeRuiter. His small church community meets Sundays in an upper room at the Inner City Christian Federation Bldg. at 920 Cherry St. SE.
The social justice organizations represented will include the Manasseh Project which is working on educating others on what is called the sex-slave industry occurring right here in West Michigan. The project is an outreach of Wedgewood Christian Services which is working to end the sexual exploitation of men, women and children.
“They have stats on how many of these victims are homeless and from the LGBT community, especially when LGBT kids get kicked out of their homes,” said DeRuiter.
Too often, LGBT youths and young adults are ostracized by their families – based on church teachings – and wind up disconnected and on the streets.
GIFT and the “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign, which works to spread the message that you can be gay and Christian, will also be present. Our persistent message of hope and afﬁrmation is crucial for youths and all who are told they are worthless and something to be dismissed just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.
To be able to spread our message of hope and afﬁrmation in the neighborhoods and on the streets of Grand Rapids is indeed a blessing for GIFT and for all those who will hear. Our website includes a growing list of inclusive churches and more churches are wanting to know how they can embrace all of God’s children. We regularly connect with people of faith who attest to the difference it has made in their lives to have found a supportive faith community.
Pastor DeRuiter is a Christian Reformed Church pastor whose small community of believers come from the parent church of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church. ”I want to ﬁgure out how we can best be a church for our LGBT brothers and sisters, even though our Christian Reformed Church has miles to travel. How can we approach this as a church? We have gay members, they just want to know how to be a disciple of Christ,” said the pastor.
So one way to reach out to multiple communities is to create a festival. He will not be preaching at the six-hour event. He will have free Bibles available and a box for prayer requests and literature about their church. It will mostly be multiple musicians, diverse information and a chance to get to know and learn about each other. There will also be vegan treats for sale.
Other justice groups expected are Safe Haven Ministries, which provides help for women in abusive relationships. The Inner City Christian Federation which helps create affordable housing and the East Hills Council of Neighborhoods which works on community development and building strong, safe, connected neighborhoods. Square Inch Church is in the East Hills neighborhood.
“We are letting people know we are a Christian community in this neighborhood and we aim to be a safe place for you. My prayer is that people will know who we are and seek out questions about us and the universe in a Christian context,” said DeRuiter.
He calls the expected music the “the Best local Band Lineup of the Summer.” They are:
Heartside Hooligans: http://heartsidehooligans.bandcamp.com/album/heartside-hooligans-2
Circle Maybe: http://circlemaybe.bandcamp.com/
Alert (hip hop from Chicago) http://www.facebook.com/thealertlive/app_204974879526524
The Soil and the Sun: http://thesoilandthesun.com/
Cains and Abels: http://cainsandabels.tumblr.com/
Ghost Heart: http://www.ghostheart.com/
For more information on Inch Fest, search “Inch Fest 7/20 Free Admission!” on Facebook.
Churches, please tell us of your programs and efforts to include the LGBT community and we will help spread the word on Theresaʼs Table. Send story ideas and church information to Theresa@GayChristianYes.org
Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
Gays In Faith Together (GIFT)
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Faith & Sexuality Series: Engaging our Sacred Texts
Join us for a Faith & Sexuality Series during our GRITS adult meetings on Wednesday evenings during the month of February. This series will be lead by Gregory Eran Gronbacher, a gay Jewish man with a passion for theological study and discourse.
We will be encouraged to engage the Scriptures in new ways and glean from the perspectives of one another. This series is sponsored by the Gay Christian? Yes! campaign and GIFT. It is free and open to the public!
Dates: 2/5, 2/12, 2/19, and 2/26
Location: 207 E. Fulton, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(Turn North onto Barclay, turn into the top parking lot and head down to the bottom parking lot. The door is closest to the sidewalk on Fulton.)
Identify. Tell me why. GCY!
Need to create your video? All it takes is a webcam and five minutes of your time.
Using YouTube (or another preferred video hosting site), you record a web or phone cam video of yourself. Just tell us who you are. LGBT+? Ally?
Tell me why.
Explain why the “Gay Christian? Yes!” message resonates with you. What is your story? How do you find yourself reconciling your spiritual walk, your involvement in a church community, and the various other aspects of your humanity? Allies too! What message of hope can you offer your Christian LGBT friends and neighbors?
Affirm that you are among those who unconditionally recognize the sacred worth of each person and fully welcome all into the life and community of the church by saying “Gay Christian? Yes!” and/or by making a whimsical sign with the GCY name and website to hold up at the end of your video
Submit a link to your video at Facebook.com/GayChristianYes
or via email:
More helpful hints can be found by clicking on "Videos" above, and then on "How to Upload and Share your video"
Make your video today, and join the many voices proclaiming:
"Gay Christian? YES!"
Donate to the Campaign
The “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign needs your financial support. Gays In Faith Together (GIFT) runs the Campaign. GIFT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. US donations are eligible for tax deduction. Send your check to
207 East Fulton
Grand Rapid, MI 49503
Or donate by credit card by clicking on this button:
Note that your donation is for the GCY Campaign.
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