April 29, 2005
Palm Beach Post 

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lake Worth

The Rev. William Hamilton isn't gay, but some in his flock are. And he isn't a reckless renegade, out to subvert church authority. On the contrary, he feels strongly about following church leaders and staying in line with church doctrine.

All he is, he says, is a sinner like everyone else, trying to do what's right.

He caused something of a stir at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lake Worth when, several years ago, he initiated a 6 p.m. Saturday night service officiated by Canon Richard Nolan, that welcomes people who are gay. It's a small service that has held steady at a few dozen congregants.

Hamilton did it because he'd talked with people who'd been pushed away from other congregations, who were hurting, who were adrift on their spiritual journey. He felt their pain, he said, "and I truly believe that these people - whether they're gay or straight or homeless or anything else - are no worse than I am."

After praying about it, he spoke with the bishop, who didn't agree with his philosophy at the time, but gave him the go-ahead. When the Saturday evening services began, a few people left the church. That was painful for Hamilton, too.

The church should be a place of refuge, he said, a place of healing, not division. A place to be united in the peace of Jesus Christ. A place to seek God's will and support each other in trying to follow it.

"God is telling us he wants a relationship with us and he's asking us to walk with him," Hamilton said. "A lot of the time we forget what God asks us to do."


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