I just knew it was bound to happen! From the moment I heard Pastor Charles Worley’s hate-filled words at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC I just knew it was a matter of time! After all, Providence…Baptist…Carolina,,,obviously they are all the same! Right?
So it really was no surprised when I woke up to the following email this morning:
You are disgusting and should be ashamed of yourself. Jesus never meant for the Bible to be used to spew hate, anger, and lack of compassion. You should read a lot more and realize that homosexuality is not a choice. Can you please tell my why anyone would choose this? I know you have no valid answer. Maybe one day you will have a gay grandchild then maybe you won’t be so ignorant. You are a disgrace to your Church, Protestants, & your Congregation.
Of course, the first temptation is to just hit delete. After all, the writer “knows not what he does.” But too often that is what we do. We refuse to respond when people put words into the mouth of Jesus, or confuse us with complete idiots, or speak for a God that we don’t recognize! And so I decided to respond. (I know you are shocked!)
Here is my response:
Dear (name withheld)I really had wondered how long it would be before we received an email such as yours. Let me say that I completely understand your outrage at the remarks made by Charles Worsley the pastor of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC. My guess is that your email was directed to him, and not to Don Flowers, Pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Charleston, SC.I understand how such a mistake could be made. Any time a person sees “Baptist,” the assumption is that “they are all alike. Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Baptist come in all theological, political and ethical persuasions. That is the wonderful/horrible thing about being Baptist. We deeply value the freedom that each individual has to read and interpret scripture under the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is an individual interpretation–not a “Baptist interpretation.”With regard to Pastor Worley’s comments, I agree with you that they are disgusting, full of hate, anger and totally devoid of compassion. In short, they don’t have anything at all to do with Jesus! I say that as a Baptist minister, and even as the pastor of Providence. I dare say that there are no members of our congregation who would agree with his remarks.This is a different kind of congregation! if you take the time to view our website, www.providencecharleston.org, you will see that our vision statement, on the home page, clearly says, “to be a loving, inclusive, Christian community…” We do not have a litmus test concerning sexuality, obesity, greed, anger or any other issues concerning who is welcomed here. As I have said in a sermon, “Providence is open to all who know they are in need of the grace of God…and who does that not include?”
Perhaps my failure has been in allowing Pastor Worley to get the press while remaining silent, knowing/hoping that the world would see him as the homophobe that he is, rather than seeing him as a spokesperson for God and Baptists. Your email has awakened me to the realization that luxury is no longer possible. Thank you for your encouragement. I hope you will read the article by Dr. Bill Leonard who truly expresses the feelings of so many of us. http://www.abpnews.com/opinion/item/7444-a-baptist-shameIn the future, though, I hope that you will distinguish between individuals Baptist churches, pastors, towns and states. It is just as un-Christ-like to brand every Baptist as crazy!If you are ever in Charleston, SC, I hope you will come and worship with us at Providence to experience the kind of community that i truly believe you are seeking!Sincerely,Dr. Don Flowers, JrPastor