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Calgary pastor calls First Baptist’s plan to reject non-heterosexual members ‘hurtful’

Click to play video: '‘It’s hurtful’: Calgary pastor on First Baptist’s plan to reject ‘non-heterosexual’ members' ‘It’s hurtful’: Calgary pastor on First Baptist’s plan to reject ‘non-heterosexual’ members
WATCH: Calgary's LGBTQ2S+ community is expressing concern over what it believes are archaic views when it comes to religion. The pastor at First Baptist Church is rejecting the stance of some congregations. Jill Croteau reports – Feb 7, 2022

A move by Calgary’s First Baptist Church has hit a real nerve with other faith communities in the city.

The downtown church has a sign outside that reads “Everyone is welcome.”

But a recent letter by the pastor addressed to their congregation contradicts that notion.

Lead pastor Norm Derkson said the church disagrees with other churches that are accepting of those with non-heterosexual lifestyles.

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He explored the possibility of rejecting membership to those in the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Keith Murray is a candidate for ordained ministry and works at Hillhurst United Church. They said the message of exclusion is harmful.

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Sign outside First Baptist Church. Global News

“There are a lot of communities who believe the only way to be accepted by the creator is to not be gay and not be trans,” Murray said. “I see the pushback and I’m all for freedom of belief, but when that belief imposes on the ability to express who they are and love who they love, that’s when we need to protect people.”

The pastor at First Baptist didn’t respond to Global News inquiries. In the letter, Derkson advised The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC) that a meeting was needed to discuss the matter.  The CBWC states it has a biblical view of marriage.

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“While the vast majority of churches would not affirm the practice of these few, the number of churches choosing to welcome and affirm these members is growing, and as a result the point of tension is on whether the denomination has any right to bring correction on individual churches, in light of our view on church autonomy,” Derkson wrote.

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Murray’s own personal journey with identity and faith has led him to make it his mission to accept all followers of faith.

Hillhurst United Church raised a Pride flag to show its support for LGBTQ2S+ community. Global News

“My first love had internalized a lot of the language from the church that this message, ‘You don’t belong.’ He took that to heart and took his life,” Murray recalled.

“I remember at the funeral seeing his mother and she was asking the minister, ‘Did his soul go to hell?’ He wouldn’t say one way or another but said, ‘We can pray for his soul.'”

“I knew god wasn’t the kind of god that would send someone struggling in this life to an eternity of torture in the next.”

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Vince Klassen is the co-lead pastor at Friends Church. He wants to remind LGBTQ2S+ community that they are welcome.

“My first thought was, this is 2022. How is it that we are having this conversation? It doesn’t matter who you love, how you express it, where you’re from how many people who love how does that matter?”

“First Baptist is in a tough place. They are from a traditional place that doesn’t welcome everyone,” Klassen said. “I don’t know how they’re going to navigate this.”

“I do this work for those whose voices are gone and to help those in this world to find a voice to find the truth that they are loved,” Murray said.

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