Defending their homosexuality as “God-given” and a “blessing” constituents of the metropolitan Community Church of San Jose, California, have won a major victory for the gay-church movement. In December the Santa Clara County Council of Churches approved the congregation’s request for membership. After nine weeks of controversy, the council last month declined to rescind its action.

SCCCC executive director R. Kenneth Bell says it was probably the most difficult decision faced by the council during the eighteen years he’s been with it. At last count five churches had withdrawn from the council as a result of the decision, and several more were contemplating similar action.

The San Jose church is reportedly the seventh congregation in the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) network to be accepted into a local council of churches. Last year the New York City Council of Churches rejected a gay church, the first time it has ever turned down any application. Increasingly, MCC congregations are knocking at the doors of church councils, seeking acceptance—and acceptability. More confrontations like the kind that shattered the long-standing harmony within the SCCCC can be expected in the coming months.

In accepting the San Jose church, the SCCCC declared that the action “should not be construed as condoning homosexuality.” Rather, explained leaders, the council has traditionally accepted in love any church which affirms the constitutionally stated purpose and spirit of the council. This includes the desire to manifest oneness in Jesus Christ as divine Lord and Saviour and the agreement to cooperate with other bodies in the ministries of the council. Doctrinal matters and other grounds for passing judgment have been avoided intentionally, ...

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