Nashville megachurch (and Carrie Underwood's church) declares full acceptance of LGBT people

Three years ago, American Idol winner and country superstar, Carrie Underwood spoke to The Independent in support of marriage equality. Raised Baptist, Underwood cited her faith as a reason for her support of LGBT people. She also talked about the nondenominational Christian Church she attends with her husband, pro hockey player Mike Fischer. Their church, according to Underwood, was welcoming and accepting of LGBT people, which influenced her decision to come out publicly in support of marriage equality.

As Underwood told The Independent in 2012:

"Our church is gay friendly," she explains. "Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or 'everyone has to be like me.' No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody."

That church she spoke of is GracePointe Church in Nashville, which at the time had placed limitations on the level of involvement that LGBT people could participate in church life. Since then, the church has been in a three-year discernment process about the role of LGBT people in the church. Now, TIME Magazine reports that the church has come out in support of LGBT people and their full participation in the church.

TIME reports:

“Our position that these siblings of ours, other than heterosexual, our position that these our siblings cannot have the full privileges of membership, but only partial membership, has changed,” he said, as many in the congregation stood to their feet in applause, and other sat in silence. “Full privileges are extended now to you with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill, and willingness. That is expected of all. Full membership means being able to serve in leadership and give all of your gifts and to receive all the sacraments; not only communion and baptism, but child dedication and marriage.”

The above quote is from a sermon delivered by Stan Mitchell, pastor of GracePointe, as he announced the fuller welcome of LGBT people within the congregation. This announcement has GracePointe becoming one of the few Evangelical megachurches to fully welcome LGBT people. Pastor Mitchell walked the congregation through the discernment process, using the Emmaus story from the book of Luke to illustrate how the church’s eyes were opened to the welcome to LGBT people.

"There is a growing number of churches taking steps to become more inclusive of all congregants,” said Ross Murray, Director of Programs at GLAAD. “When they examine scripture and their values, they see that their LGBT friends and family are created equally and loved just as they are. This leads to growing acceptance, both within church and in society."

Evangelicals have traditionally been less accepting than other churches, but that is changing. The movement for LGBT acceptance within the evangelical community has been building momentum, with people like Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, Rachel Held Evans, Kathy Baldock, and more recently, David Gushee speaking out. 

You can see the full sermon delivered by Pastor Stan Mitchell here: