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Canada

‘I’m afraid for other people’: Ontario woman in same-sex relationship told by church she’s not welcome

A Bowmanville, Ont., woman is speaking out after receiving a registered letter from her church telling her that she is no longer a member because she says she is in a same-sex relationship.

Kimberley Mills told Global News she has been attending the Calvary Baptist Church in Oshawa regularly for around four years and served as a youth leader. She has been involved with her partner for some time and spoke about her relationship with members of the congregation during a roundtable.

However, Mills said she was stunned when she received the letter on Monday.

“I regret to inform you that the leadership of Calvary Baptist Church removed you from the membership … It was brought to our attention that you have chosen to live in disobedience to the scriptures,” a letter by Deacon Chairman Dr. Tim Wagner and dated on Oct. 30 said, citing church policy and scripture.

“It was brought to our attention that you have chosen to live in disobedience to the scriptures, specifically disregarding the warning of 1 Corinthians 6:9, in spite of repeated efforts by other believers in your life.

“Kim, we are exercising our responsibilities to follow the biblical instructions toward the goal of your repentance and full restoration to your walk with Christ and his church fellowship … Please know that this was not entered into lightly and we pray for your full restoration.”

Mills told Global News she posted the letter on Facebook, wanting to get her frustration “off her chest.”

“At first I was shocked when I read it and I kind of thought, ‘This actually happens?’ As the day continued, I started getting a little bit more frustrated and hurt and I really just felt this is the problem,” she said.

“Why didn’t somebody come to my home? Why didn’t they request to have this conversation in person? So yeah, I was a little hurt I received this in the mail.”

When asked about how she interpreted the church was praying for her “full restoration,” Mills said she takes it as she should “pray the gay away.”

“I think in their minds, me being with a woman is not acceptable and that until I make other life choices, I’m not welcome as a member,” she said.

“It makes me feel that they feel there is something wrong with me. I think that God has designed me to be a certain way, and God loves me just the way I am, so why is the church saying otherwise?”

Mills said she wanted to speak out about the decision in an effort to raise awareness about intolerance, and how these types of decisions can affect others.

“I feel that this is a perfect example of why people maybe aren’t able to share really what’s happening in their lives. I think the only difference is between myself and the rest of the congregation is I’m very open about where I’m at in my life and what things are happening in my life,” she said.

“It does force people to maybe not speak to somebody who can offer them advice or support, and maybe they’re not sharing things at all. I think that it is a huge problem, especially youth when they are so vulnerable at that age, aren’t able to just be who they are and be feeling that they are accepted or loved for who they are.

“I’m afraid for other people. Maybe this will shed some light for people and to be a little more open. God loves us just the way we are.”

Mills noted she isn’t upset about the decision, but said she takes the letter as a form of judgement. Since sharing her story online, she said she has received many messages of support.

“I shared it with a few friends and I think they were more mad for me. I’m not doing this because I’m mad. I’m doing this because I think we need to bring awareness that this sort of stuff is still happening … in 2018,” she said.

“I understand that there is some scripture in there to kind of back what they believe, but I think that if you take the bible as a whole, there is a lot of scripture about love and loving each other and not judging because the bible clearly states that it’s not our right to judge and only God has that right.”

Global News attempted to speak with a Calvary Baptist Church representative multiple times, but no one was available for comment.

Meanwhile, Mills said she doesn’t expect the church to welcome her back. She said she is looking for a new spiritual home and said she recently spoke with a minister at a United church.

“A lot would have to change in order for me to consider going back to a church that is just willing to, I feel, judge and discriminate people. And it’s just not a church I want to belong to,” Mills said.

“When my conscience tells me something is not right, I have to go with that. And I don’t feel that this is right.”

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