FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Franklin church is making national headlines after its decision to be more inclusive of gay members.
GracePointe Church on Franklin Road, which had previously denied homosexuals full membership privileges, has changed its stance.
Pastor Stan Mitchell announced the decision Jan. 11 during a sermon now posted on the church’s website.
The pastor appeared emotional during the hour-long sermon, saying the decision came after years of difficult, sometimes painful, discussions and consideration.
“My soul has been stretched to the point that if I do not say what I say today, I cannot be here any longer,” Pastor Mitchell says.
Before, the position of the church was classically evangelical. Non-heterosexual people could be members, but they could not serve in leadership roles or lead worship.
“Our position that these siblings of ours, other than heterosexual, our position that these our siblings cannot have the full privileges of membership, but only partial membership, has changed,” he told his congregation. “Full privileges are extended now to you with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill, and willingness. That is expected of all.”
Mitchell also said some church members who strongly disagreed with the decision left the congregation before the official change was made, but others have since joined.
Chris Sanders, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told News 2 they’re “delighted” the church has had this conversation and come to this conclusion.
The Tennessee Equality Project works to advance the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Tennessee.
“God is big enough for everyone. We believe that,” Sanders explained. “We also believe that treating everyone equally within a congregation really is religious values at its best, so it makes a lot of sense to us.”Click here to watch Pastor Mitchell’s full sermon.