Church opens up to LGBT customers
On a sunny day, the new Solid Rock Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., is packed with the people who call it home.
But there’s a problem: For some, the LGBT community is unwelcome.
The church, which was founded by a group of gay men in 1990, is a one-stop shop for gay people seeking spiritual healing, according to church officials.
The gay community, which is welcome, is not.
“They come here and they want to come, and we’re like, ‘Oh, well, we’re not here,'” said Michael Smith, who is in his mid-30s and is married with children.
“We’re not there.”
The church was founded to address the need for healing after years of internal turmoil.
Smith said the church’s new mission is to “take care of the needs of those who have gone through the same things we have.”
The newly opened church opened for business Wednesday, and members are sharing their experience at the new location.
The building is a new addition to the city’s downtown, which has been the site of several large-scale gentrification projects in recent years.
The owners said they didn’t want the LGBT population to feel unwelcome because they’re not the majority.
“If you have the same skin color, we have the exact same needs,” said Rev. James L. Williams, who oversees the church.
“And we’re welcoming to all people, gay and straight.”
The new church is part of the church network that also includes a counseling center and a mental health clinic.
“There’s a lot of people out there who are struggling with mental illness, and the LGBT folks are the ones who are at risk of losing their lives and going through that,” said Matthew Clements, who owns a car dealership in the city.
“It’s a shame that we’re losing out on a lot and it’s a big shame.”
Williams said he has personally seen people seeking counseling, but the church has not opened a counseling hotline to serve the community.
The new pastor, Rev. Jim Wright, is the church leader who said he will work to ensure the church is welcoming to people who come to church.
Wright said he wants to work with the LGBT Community to develop a process that will allow them to be welcomed and have their needs met.
“I want to see a process where we have people who are ready to come,” Wright said.
“The process that I’m going to be implementing, I’m not sure yet what it is.”
Wright said the goal is to open the new church by April, and then he will decide whether to move to another location.
He said the city is looking at other ways to accommodate the church and is looking into ways to help relocate other church properties.
“People have been saying to me that we’ve lost our identity, that we don’t belong here,” Wright told ABC News.
“This is our community.
We want to be here, and that’s where we want to stay.”
For decades, the church was a destination for gay men who wanted to connect with people in their lives.
A number of the men have died in the past decade from AIDS and other health problems, but a number of members are alive and well, and a number have been married.
Church officials said they believe the church would not have opened in Washington without a new focus on healing and offering a positive atmosphere.
“At some point, the majority of people in this community have to go through a change, so this is the time for the church to be open,” Wright added.
“That’s why we’re going to have a welcoming church.
We are going to try to be that place that everyone can go and be that center of support.”
The decision to open a church was made by the church community, and not by Wright, said church president Rev. Matthew Williams.
“Our hearts are very heavy.
We have a lot to deal with here.
We know that it is going to take some time, but we’re just trying to take care of ourselves as best we can,” he said.
For the past few years, the city of Washington has seen a spike in gentrification, as the city has grown into one of the nation’s largest and most expensive real estate markets.
Many have come to the area looking for a safe, affordable place to live.
The city has also been hit by a series of high-profile murders and other violent crimes in recent months, including the fatal shooting of a man who police say was carrying a fake gun, which he used to rob a nearby bar.
Some have come for work, but some have been coming for a night to share a sexual relationship or just for a quiet place to pray.
“I don’t know how we can live in a world that we cannot come to,” said Joseph Smith, the man who died after his pickup truck was robbed in January.
Smith was a young man who had a girlfriend and was planning to marry. When