You Can’t Escape The Degeneracy – Even in Church, or at Least a Lot of Them
Many Lancaster County houses of faith celebrate the worst
Let’s say you just arrived in Lancaster County, as I did, and you’re looking for just the right church home.
Now granted, few Christians of any stripe just pick a church like throwing a dart at a dartboard, but from what I was told when I arrived, Lancaster County has one of the highest concentrations per capita of Christian houses of worship this side of the Bible Belt, which was good news to the Southern transplant’s ear.
Imagine my surprise, then, when on a quick ride around town I saw as many rainbow flags around churches and Christian charities than the last time I visited San Francisco.
“Is this a church or the third place winner for best float in the annual Folsom Street Pride Parade?” I asked myself?
Now given, I already knew there are some denominations that openly embrace not just the sinner but the sin itself, not just tolerating but openly celebrating homosexuality and the sin of sodomy. So it would be provincial and small-minded of me to even be surprised that, for instance, a communitarian or United Methodist Church not only celebrates homosexuality but has gay clergy or performs same sex marriages, much less welcomes the sinner while condemning the sin.
Look, I’m not some rube who hasn’t traveled. I’ve traveled all over America and lived in Europe for the better part of last year. And having spent some time in Europe in a few countries that are considered very liberal on the gay thing, I still never once saw churches being so disrespectful of traditional family and faith, much less flying these in-your-face Skittles flags.
Can’t there be some escape – dare I say some sanctuary – from the constant onslaught of gay, lesbian and worse propaganda? Can there be a church where the minister isn’t a drag queen and the choir isn’t a bunch of transgenders, where gay marriages are performed?
I mean not even here, in the heart of a well-churched county, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch territory?
So this drove me to a survey of churches in Lancaster County, to find out which had traditional Christian values (condemning the sin, refusing the recognize gay marriage or ordain gay clergy), those which tolerated homosexuality and even homosexual clergy/marriages quietly, and those which openly celebrate and endorse the sodomite lifestyle.
The start of this was easy. Far too many churches openly – almost thirstily – advertise themselves in that last category. The worst offenders on this list come down to a rough dozen, primarily in the Lancaster city area.
The most heart-breaking for me at the very least in terms of appreciation for an older house of worship – and the one that was the most in your face about it – is the First Reformed United Church of Christ. It’s heartbreaking because this is one of the first and oldest churches in Lancaster, having been built when this was still the British colonies, back in 1736.
Now? Let them say it in their own words:
“No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome at First Reformed church! Although we’re one of Lancaster city’s first and oldest churches (1736), our Christian community has evolved toward radical inclusivity: families and individuals; well-established and just starting out; working and retired; gay and straight.”
The next biggest one in terms of open advocacy raised an eyebrow for me only because I’m new enough not to know the nuances of local faiths. It’s the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster. I’ll just let you read what and how they describe themselves on their own website, complete with an insipid apology.
“(CMCL) celebrates that we are a congregation with diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. We publicly affirm that all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are equally eligible for membership, baptism, marriage, volunteer leadership, employment and pastoral ministry. We lament the history of the institutional church in condemning and excluding lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and queer persons, and in condoning such discrimination by its silence. We commit ourselves to work diligently to end such oppression and discrimination.”
Apparently this is an outlier, as many Mennonite churches hold something close to the 1997 position adopted by the Lancaster Mennonite Conference position that holds marriage as between a man and a woman, and gays as people to be saved, not condemned.
Notably, the Lancaster Mennonite Conference left the Mennonite Church USA denomination in 2018 over this issue. So to know where a Mennonite church stands on the issue – if they’re part of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference, they don’t endorse gay marriage or clergy. If part of the Mennonite Church USA, they’re going to likely be pro-homosexual.
That the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster is pro-homosexual should surprise no one, nor the inclusion of the following as rainbow flag allegiant.
- First Reformed Church, UCC
- First United Methodist Church
- Grace Lutheran Church
- Otterbein United Methodist Church
- St. Peter’s United Church of Christ
- Grandview United Methodist Church
- Lancaster Friends Meeting
- Grace United Church of Christ
- Vision of Hope Metropolitan Community Church
But that’s just the ones openly promoting it. Consider it a list of the worst offenders.
Then there are others that fall in the “love the sinner, hate the sin” category where it’s tolerated but not endorsed. Most of the rest of the mainline protestant churches in Lancaster County fall into this category, as do the Catholic churches.
I say that primarily because the ones I contacted were somehwat cagey about the issue, neither endorsing nor condemning homosexuality openly, and they seemed largely adherent to their denominations’ prohibition on gay marriage and gay clergy. Which, when you think about it, makes some sense. If you want to bring a sinner into a church and get him to change his ways, you don’t tell him he’s not welcome at the door.
The three primary Catholic churches in Lancaster were cagey about the exact position of their church on the matter, but it is worth noting that the the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, which has jurisdiction over Lancaster County, does not recognize gay marriage or gay clergy, while still welcoming gays but condemning the sin at the same level as adultery.
The issue of whether to allow pastors to officiate at same-sex marriages or ordain gay or lesbian preachers has caused a split among United Methodist churches, and that split is found in Lancaster, too. Last year, the church’s General Council approved the Traditional Plan that continues those bans and enforces the prohibitions against pastors who violate the rules in the denomination’s Book of Discipline.
The Grandview United Methodist Church in Manheim township split from the United Methodist Church in February this year, in protest of sanctions against homosexuality by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church. So mark them as definitely flying that rainbow flag.
All in all, researching this got very discouraging. But even though I’m not even Orthodox, it was nice to see at least one church that won’t be entering a float in any pride parade.
The two Lancaster Orthodox churches – Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and the St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church of Lancaster – are the most hardcore in condemning the sin and not recognizing gay marriage or clergy. No if, and or but about it.
So there’s that.