P.E.I. church criticized for post about webinar designed to ‘protect’ children during Pride Month

A member of the Summerside church is speaking out against a social media post he calls “homophobia” and is looking for a new community of faith.

In the post, Summerside Community Church directed its followers to a webinar on June 17 that provides “practical advice for parents and grandparents to protect children from what is going on.” happens during Pride Month.”

The event included BC pastor Kevin Cavanaugh interviewing Wilna Van Beek, author of When gay comes homewho details his journey against same-sex attraction by embracing Jesus.

Stephen MacIsaac is a member of PEI’s LBGTQ+ community and has been with Summerside Community Church for several years. He said he was shocked and hurt by the post.

“The post they shared on Facebook was very homophobic in my eyes and heavily skewed towards conversion therapy,” MacIsaac said.

Conversion therapy refers to practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexuality, change an individual’s gender identity to transgender, or alter their gender expression to conform. with the sex they were assigned at birth.

It has been banned in PEI since 2019 and made illegal in Canada in 2021.

“I’m disappointed, you know, the leaders of the church you look up to and you go to when you need someone, some consolation – knowing that this is how they see myself and Everyone in the community is very disappointed.” MacIsaac said.

This post from Summerside Community Church, about a June 17 webinar offering advice on how to ‘protect’ children during Pride Month, has been removed from the organization’s public social media channels. this position. (CBC)

MacIsaac shared his own message of love and acceptance on social media sites after the post – and he even had a shirt made to promote that message when he joined. community. The t-shirt reads “LGBTQ+ or Straight, Jesus Loves All.”

He said he is currently looking for a new church to join where he will feel welcome for who he is.

“If I had realized this was how they see people in my situation, I would never have been to that church,” MacIsaac said. “They may apologize, but I still know how they feel. So they’ll waste their breath. I’m not going back.”

‘We Trust God’s Design’

A leader at Summerside Community Church did not offer an apology for the post, which has since been removed from the church’s website and social media.

Pastor Tracy Linkletter told CBC News that the purpose of the webinar was to provide a space for conversation about sexuality and gender from a Christian perspective. She said that everyone is welcome to attend her church.

Pastor Tracy Linkletter said: “We’re Catholics, so we trust God’s design for sex and gender, as shown in a photo posted on the Congregational Church website. Summerside copper. (Website / Summerside Community Church)

“We understand that, you know, people come from different perspectives. We understand that,” Linkletter said. “But we also understand that, just like we are Christians, so we trust God’s design for gender and sexuality. And that’s what we stand for, that’s design. But we welcome anyone to hear Jesus’ life-saving and life-changing message.”

The affiliate newsletter will not specify what she means by “God’s design for sex and sexuality,” or share her church’s views on talk therapy.

“There’s so much going on around conversion therapy that I don’t want to comment further on that,” Linkletter said.

She said the church received mixed responses when it posted about the event, and she understands that some people – including those outside of her church community – were unhappy with the post.

We always say, “There are many churches and we recommend finding a place where you feel safe and you feel at home.” That is very important to us.– Pastor Tracy Link

When informed that at least one member of her congregation plans to find a new place of worship, Linkletter said that sometimes happens.

“We’re an open community, we’re a loving community, and we recognize that people, you know, sometimes, you can tell that this isn’t the place,” Linkletter said.

“And we always say, ‘There are so many churches and we recommend finding a place where you feel safe and you feel at home.” That is very important to us. ”

Confusion and anxiety

For Scott Alan, youth program coordinator at PEERS Alliance, a group that supports members of the LGBTQ+ community, the tone of Summerside Community Church’s post caused some confusion – and worried.

Alan said: “We are wondering what they mean, how to protect children.

‘What do you think Jesus would do?’ ask Scott Alan, youth program coordinator at PEERS Alliance, a group that supports members of the LGBTQ+ community. ‘Will you cast the first stone? Or will he love and accept our community for who we are? ‘ (Jessica Doria-Brown / CBC)

“They are more than welcome when they have their beliefs. What interests us more is when they start pushing those beliefs onto society and making us all try to follow the rules and beliefs. We just want people to be who they are and express themselves,” says Alan.

He said it was disappointing to see a church alluding to children in need of protection from a celebration of diverse gender identities.

Alan said: “I grew up believing that church is a place for people to experience love, community and acceptance. So to witness the complete opposite from a church is a bit of a stretch. which is a bit annoying”.

He points out that a recent article in the Canadian Medical Journal reported that transgender and gay youth were five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than young adults who did not have suicidal thoughts. death. The article said they were also more likely to attempt suicide.

It’s important to have safe spaces where people are celebrated for who they are, says Alan.

“What do you think Jesus would do?” Alan said.

“Will He throw the first stone? Or will He love and accept our community for who we are in the hope that the Holy Spirit will work through us? And that’s really what I am.” will ask them,” he said.

How to get help

If you’re considering suicide and need immediate help, or you know someone who needs help right away, here are some resources.

  • Child Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or message through their website.
  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 or text (45645)
  • PEI helpline: 1-800-218-2885.

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