GLOUCESTER POINT, VIRGINIA. NANCY ORTH. APRIL 30, 2013. On Saturday, April 20, from 1 – 4 p.m., the Rev. Steve Parelli and Mr. Jose Ortiz of Other Sheep (www.othersheep.org), invited by the Church and Society Committee of Bethany United Methodist Church in Gloucester Point, Virginia presented a seminar entitled Talking Points – What you need to know and say when they say: “But the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality!” On Sunday, April 21, during the Sunday School hour, the Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz spoke to a group about the fallacies of the “ex-gay” movement.
Approximately 50 people attended the ‘Bible and homosexuality’ talk on Saturday including the minister of Bethany Church. Rev. Parelli, assisted by Mr. Ortiz, gave a scholarly, and very interesting, PowerPoint lecture on what have come to be known as the “Clobber Passages,” six references in the Bible commonly used to condemn homosexuals (Gen. 19, Lev. 18:22 and 22:13, Romans 1, I Cor. 6:9 and I:10, Jude 7). In an attempt to create an informal atmosphere this event was held in the church fellowship hall with refreshments provided. The attendees sat around tables and were given paper and pencils to write down questions or comments to ask at the end of the presentation. A ten-page handout of notes that followed the PowerPoint material was provided each attendee.
The audience, for the most part, was engaged and positively receptive. There were six people who negatively challenged Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz, by quoting scripture and condemning them as homosexual. This created some awkward moments but did not de-rail the afternoon. Rev. Parelli and the hosting committee did ask this group to allow him to stay on topic and offered to discuss their concerns after the presentation was over. Three of these attendees left before the end of the session and some of the others stayed afterwards and talked with Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz. There were also a number of people who had very positive comments about the talk and relayed these to Rev. Parelli, Mr. Ortiz, and members of the hosting committee.
The ‘Bible and homosexuality’ seminar was announced in the “Church News” section of the April 18 Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal. The general public was cordially invited. The larger amount of the attendees was from Bethany Church, a few were from the community at large.
On Sunday, April 21 Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz attended the early morning worship service prior to speaking to a Sunday School class about the fallacies of the “ex-gay” movement, including their own related experiences. This was well-received. After Sunday School Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz were taken to brunch at a nearby restaurant. Twelve church members accompanied them and continued the discussion.
The Church and Society Committee deemed the visit a success and has sent out a survey asking for input. Of course the survey is aimed at those who attended but also welcomes comments from any member of the congregation. These results will help the committee to answer the question “Where do we go from here?”
It was certainly a pleasure and privilege to have Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz visit Bethany. They were the perfect guests and very enjoyable to be around. They are welcomed back!
*Nancy Orth is the Chairperson of the Church and Society Committee, Bethany United Methodist Church, Gloucester Point, Virginia