Palm Beach Post Letter - August 28, 2003

Letters to the Editor: Critics of gay bishop forget that God welcomes all people

Thursday, August 28, 2003

In response to two recent letters criticizing the election of a gay Episcopalian bishop -- "Local Episcopalians torture church's theology," Aug. 18, and "Gay bishop not pleasing to God's eyes, only man's," Aug. 16: I think the church is in good shape. Southeast Florida Bishop Leo Frade made a man's decision in keeping with God's belief. All of us are his children.

I spent 23 years in the military, and no one said I was serving for just straight people. I believe I was serving for all Americans, black, yellow, Cuban, Mexican, Guatemalan, Haitian and every other person. That includes gays and lesbians.

My wife and I serve as lay readers and chalice bearers at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Lake Worth. The church also hosts an Integrity service on the second Saturday of every month. Since its inception, I have served at every service for the past couple of years and am very proud that they have me. Yes, some couples left the church when the Integrity group started, but I believe those people to be un-Christian and not true believers in God's word. We have about 50 to 60 people attend the service on the second Saturday of each month, followed by a supper. About five to eight straight couples come to the service, and some bring their children. So we lost about eight to 10 people but gained 40 or 50 more. It shows me that our church is open to all people, not just those who think the church is for them alone.

I find the gays and lesbians to be thoughtful, well-educated and true to their beliefs. Some have unions that have lasted longer -- one, 42 years -- than most straight couples' marriages. My wife and I have been married 50 years this year, and we believe that every person has the right to attend a church of his or her choosing and worship God just as we do.

What makes some people think that there isn't a gay man or a lesbian sitting in church where they attend? The church will continue to grow when everyone realizes that it's God's church, not ours.

JOHN VIVIAN

Lantana