It’s been a stunning rise and fall for Kevin Johnson, the pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church: He started the year preparing to run a campaign for mayor. Those plans were quickly abandoned, but now he’s losing his pulpit, one of the most high-profile in the city.
The Inquirer reports that David Norse, 27, has been ordained by Broad Street Ministry as the city’s first openly gay minister. “While David’s sexual orientation is an important part of his identity, he sees himself first and foremost as someone called to pastor God’s people,” said the Rev. Bill Golderer, the church’s senior pastor. “He is very much into this being a dimension of who he is, but not the sum total.” The congregation is part of Presbyterian Church USA, which in 2011 voted to allow ordination of openly gay and lesbian members.
Here’s another happy story to end the year with. I just got an email and press release from Broad Street Ministry (BSM) Covening Minister Bill Golderer, who shared that on January 5 BSM will ordain David Norse, Philadelphia’s first openly gay male Presbyterian minister. From the release:
Rev. Frank Schaefer — the man who was defrocked by the Methodist Church last week after officiating the marriage of his gay son — has been offered a job Bishop Minerva G. Carcano to join the Church’s California-Pacific Annual Conference. If he accepts, he would serve over an area that covers California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. LGBTQ Nation reports:
There’s a story in the current issue of City Paper about a gay man who was asked to leave Circle of Hope, a progressive church that prides itself on open-minded philosophies geared toward young worshippers, because he was “speaking too openly about homosexuality.”
Andrew Stahler says he began attending the church in 2009. He was an active member, attending sermons regularly, and was assured that his sexuality was not an issue. But things changed at OutFest that same year. The article reports:
Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush stirred some controversy this month when his lawyer, Wally Zimilong, sent a letter to a woman, Haley Dervinis, opposed to his latest project: four single-family homes around 20th and Annin. The letter cautioned her not to libel or slander Feibush with disparaging comments in an upcoming zoning hearing, and was, to our eyes, a fairly ridiculous cease-and-desist scare tactic. It worked–she was scared. The letter got press as a threat, and Feibush came off as a bully trying to censor her.
At the hearing, Dervinis was certainly not alone in her opposition, and now, according to Jan Ransom of the Daily News, the Zoning Board has denied Feibush’s petition to go beyond the current zoning, which is for three homes rather than four.
Yet another house of worship goes the way of all Philly churches: this time, it’s St. John the Evangelist at Third and Reed, which cannot withstand the power of the wrecking ball. Hidden City Daily broke the story that a developer purchased it quickly after closure to demolish it and use the land for town homes. When Naked Philly wrote about the demolition, a commenter bemoaned the church’s fate:
I had my first communion, confirmation and first wedding in this church. My family was a active member for years. I remember holiday shows, Bingos, Easter services, the Christmas Bazaar, fundraising shows that I participated in, my grandparents funerals……all of the truly important events in my life happened at this church. I wish I had known it was coming down, I would have asked to maybe take some of the glassware or stained glass windows. My father served on the alter and I was in the children’s chior. I loved this church….I am truly saddened to see it go.