I caught an article in the Post-Gazette about the impending relocation of a local non-traditional faith community — the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community. It seems someone sold the Goodwill Building so the Hot Metal folks are in search of a worship space.
The Hot Metal Community is more street than avenue. Founded by two kind of irreverant preachers, the group ministers to the poor and attracts individuals who don't fit in with mainstream visions of Christianity.
I had heard of this community and thought it was kind of cool to take a Christian message to the streets and use non-traditional means to help people access God. I mistakenly assumed the church had a bit of a progressive bent. Until I read this passage in the article:
Hot Metal is theologically conservative but encourages open discussion of difficult issues. At Bible Fight Club, held in the basement of a tattoo parlor, participants must argue for their own interpretation of a divisive biblical issue.
“We try to foster dialogue. We work at how we can hold opposing views on things like homosexuality but still love each other and claim Jesus as Lord,” Rev. Eddings said.
THINGS like homosexuality? Huh. Well, I guess if they get a chance to talk it out in Bible Fight Club then a little thing like oppressing an entire group of human beings based on an inherent part of their identity isn't anything to be worried about. After all, they feed the hungry. I wonder if there is a Christian equivalent to a carbon footprint — 15 meals offsets one gut punch to a homosexual?
You know what I think? The Hot Metal Faith Community is a tricked out version of Bishop Duncan's Episcopal Church — give Peter Akinola some tattoos and a few piercings and he'd be right at home. Actually, a better analogy might be the satire “Saved” which punctured the whole Christian teen-culture scene.
I guess you can't judge a gay-ally by their tattoos.
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Actually, it's 16 meals.
and this would be one of the great arguments that would be wanted at Bible fight club. Maybe you should show up one night.
Which would be a great argument? The fact that conservative Christian cults continue to brainwash otherwise thoughtful and caring adults? The scary affinity between the Hot Metal Folks and Archbishop Peter Akinola? The fact that homosexual women and men are not “things?” The frightening resurgence of “indulgences?”
Or equating thoughtful debate with “fighting”?
I can tell you from personal experience that Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community is VERY accepting of gays; many regularly attend and participate in some of the group's activities (both on Sunday and out in the community). The quote in the paper, about “things like homosexuality” – he wasn't saying homosexuality was a bad thing; he was saying was an example of the type of subject that has been debated at Bible Fight Club. Its current, topical, and virtually everyone has an opinion. At Bible Fight Club (yes, I've been a few times), topics are suggested by the attendees, and everyone is encouraged to debate it, like, do you agree/disagree, do you think there's any Biblical references that back up your opinion, etc. Its totally unlike anything I've ever experienced with any other church. Most of the folks there either haven't been to church since they were a kid (gee, wonder why?), or have never been. Its a good bunch; don't take that statement about “theologically conservative” too literally; they're very open-minded.
Wow- judging us and labeling us before you've gotten to know us. Boy, that really sucks. And I wish we were all beyond this, don't you?
In short, I'm unsure why the article writer decided to label us as 'theologically conservative'. We're simply trying to follow Christ, who we believe is neither conservative or liberal. The funny part is that when you truly try to be like Jesus, the conservatives accuse you of being liberal because you're hanging out with 'those people' and the liberals accuse you of being a judgmental conservative because you're seeking holiness and righteousness and justice. Can't win. Which I guess is appropriate because it didn't work out for Jesus either.
Our congregation is made up of people- just like you and just like me. Real people with differing opinions and backgrounds and theologies. We don't really care who you are- you are welcome. If you need proof, we've had people who identify themselves as 'gay' on our board of directors. Our church has sponsored events side by side with those in the homosexual community. And personally, my uncle Mike, who I was very close to, was gay and died in 1990. He had AIDS. And finally, up until a month ago, we've shared the same chairs at the Goodwill building. It's too bad that we had to be kicked out and its too bad that the outrageous bingo had to be kicked out. I believe both events were doing needed work on the South Side. And I believe that we were both kicked out because we were judged without being truly known. So, we're all in the same boat.
Our church presses on. I would love to invite you to be part of our community, but judging by your blog, I'm concerned that you'll come and judge us without making the effort of really getting to know us. And we don't need that crap.
Have peace and stop looking for hate where there is none,
Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community
Wow. I cannot believe I am reading a pastor tell someone she isn't welcome in his church because you don't like her opinion. I thought you were supposed to be the cool church, but you sound as rigid and defensive as any Baptist I know. You are the one who gave the interview, Reverend Jim. Your response here shows that you have a very immature faith community. “If you are not with us you are against us” is not part of the Gospel. It is more consistent with a cult to try and isolate people who have individual opinions.
I won't be dropping in anytime soon.