A group of gay-affirming Pentecostal ministers and churches meet in Columbus this weekend for an annual conference focused on being “openly gay and openly Christian.”
Reconciling Pentecostals International was founded in 2000 to affirm all people, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, said Bishop Randy Duncan, chief presiding presbyter.
He said the network of a half-dozen U.S. churches and about 20 ministers includes many clergy members and congregants who were active in mainline churches until their sexuality became an issue.
One of those people is the Rev. Kelly Cross, senior pastor of Master’s Commission New Covenant Church on the South Side, which is hosting the weekend conference. Cross worshipped at Lutheran and Southern Baptist communities before choosing a charismatic Pentecostal-type church.
“I discovered who I was and went through a real rough time and really struggled,” she said. She formed her church 10 years ago to provide a worship place for people facing the same challenges.
The congregation of about 40 members welcomes people of all orientations, and Cross wants it to be a haven for gay youth who might feel bullied or condemned elsewhere.
“It’s important that they would have a place to find God … and be affirmed for who they are and not rejected,” she said.