While religion and homosexuality don’t have the best track record in the pages of history, there are a few people throughout the Valley who are working to change that. Over the next coming weeks, BGHV will be introducing you to some of the people who have devoted their lives to helping our LGBTQ community find and foster their spiritual side.
Paul Kimmerling is a member at Christ the King Episcopal church in Stone Ridge. Raised as a Catholic, Kimmerling made the switch to Episcopalian to embrace a more open spiritual environment. His original congregation (and greater faith, for that matter) had no gay or female ordained leadership, nor were there any conversations happening about the acceptance of either of these parties into the body of Christ. He was refreshed to see that the American Episcopalian church and Worldwide Anglican Communion were actively engaged in conversations about the place of the LGBTQ community in the greater Episcopalian community.
Christ the King is an Episcopalian congregation – meaning, in a nutshell, that they’re individuals with Christian values who are seeking to build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ while being aware of and maintaining conversations about modern social, cultural and political issues. This formula makes for a faith whose stance is based not on dogmatic truth, but instead on the synergy of intellectual exploration, consideration of current events and bible study. Rather than living by strict biblical guidelines, the church’s position in the world is about living life as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ that is encouraged to think and be honest in the exploration and engagement of life. Acting on this belief, the General Convention (the church’s national governing body) changed canon law in 1996 to provide that no one shall be denied an equal place in the life and worship of the Church because of sexual orientation. This effectively legalized ordination of openly gay and lesbian people and opened the door to the blessing of same sex unions. Arguably, this canon law covers same sex marriage, but the issue has not been fully resolved. The Diocese of New York, however, passed a resolution calling on the state legislature to legalize gay marriage, at last year’s diocesan convention.
As an individual congregation, Christ The King has had proudly carried a 20 year reputation of leadership in the community; their record includes a retired openly gay rector and a healthy percentage of LGBTQ attendees. Their current rector, the Rev. Alison Quin, joined a cadre of other Episcopal clergy and church members in the last 2 Pride parades in New Paltz. [It should be noted that not all Episcopalian churches agree with the stance that Christ The King and other outspoken churches and leaders have taken (reference Gene Robinson) and some have broken away from the larger church; this accounts for only a handful of congregations, however.]
Christ The King does not have any rules about participation. Anyone is welcome to attend and communion is offered to all baptized Christians that wish to accept it. Above all, Kimmerling says, “love and compassion abound regardless of the details of one’s personal life”. The church hosts one service during the summer months (July & August) on Sunday morning at 9a. After Labor Day, services will be held at 8a (this will be a quieter, spoken ceremony) and 10a (this will be a livelier service featuring music). If you’re interested in attending services at Christ The King, check out this Sunday, July 12th, which will feature a brunch after the service to help welcome the recent influx of new members to the congregation.