How to get in touch with the church in the US
LIVERPOOL, Ohio — There’s one person who could make you feel a little more comfortable in your own home.
And that person is Rev. Mark James, the head of the Methodists of America.
The Rev. James, who grew up in Ohio, is a minister in the Presbyterian Church of the United States.
He has been the minister of the Church of God in Christ in New Jersey for 35 years.
He’s also a regular guest on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday mornings.
“I have a little bit of a secret,” he said.
“If I say anything, I know I’m going to be judged and judged by God, and he’s going to look at me and say I’m not a good person, and I’m a bad person.
So I’m just going to keep it a secret.”
Rev. James says his congregation has been a part of America’s history for almost 300 years.
“It’s a beautiful country, it’s a land of opportunity, and we’re here to be part of that opportunity,” he explained.
In the 1950s, he joined the Methodist Church and soon found himself in the midst of controversy over how to deal with gays in his church.
“They weren’t really interested in being in that church, so they took the opportunity to get rid of me,” he recalled.
“They said, ‘This is the time to let us go.’
And I said, no, it doesn’t matter if we’re going to go away.
The way we’re teaching the gospel and how we’re building a church, we’re just going home.'”
In the 1960s, the church came under attack for its treatment of gays.
“There was a lot of fear in the country and people who were religious were scared to say, ‘Hey, I’m gay,'” he said, explaining how the church helped to heal people and get the community to the table.
“But it didn’t really solve the problem,” he added.
“The church was so scared, they couldn’t even say it to each other.”
In the 1980s, Rev. Louis Hinkle, the pastor of the Methodist Church of Southern Ohio, was forced to leave the church.
Hinkle says he left because the Methodism he grew up with in Ohio wasn’t in harmony with modern-day Christian beliefs.
“My life was destroyed,” Hinkle recalled.
“He came out of the church and went to a church that is in harmony to what the modern-time church is today, and that was a real mistake.”
In his time as pastor, Hinkle said the Methodisms church became a “living museum.”
“We had to go to a whole different culture, a whole new culture and a whole completely different world,” he continued.
“We had a huge transformation that we couldn’t really keep up with.”
After leaving the church, Hiley says he and his wife were moved to Los Angeles, where they were welcomed into a more accepting church.
In the years since, he’s become a prominent Christian commentator on American televangelists and has been featured on ABC’s “This Hour with George Stephanopoulos.”
“I had to grow out of my church and I needed to do that,” he admitted.
“But I feel blessed that I found the right place to live and to do what I love.”
Hinkle, who was baptized in Ohio in 1967, now lives in the United Kingdom.
His wife, who is a Methodist, is now married to a Presbyterian minister and has four children.
“A lot of people in the UK are quite shocked when they hear that we’re now in America,” he told ABC News.
“I’ve had to adjust and to change, because in the past it was like I was one of those people who didn’t change and just stayed the same.”
For the past 35 years, Rev James has been traveling the country preaching the gospel.
He says he’s received numerous letters from people across the country, from young people who’ve been looking for answers to a lot that’s happening in America.
“The world is so big and the world is moving at such a rapid pace,” he remarked.
“So the more we do, the more the world responds.”
Rev James says he doesn’t believe that the church’s recent decision to allow same-sex marriage in the U.S. will hurt people.
“If we do that, then it would just bring a little joy into the hearts of people who have already been looking at it, and people have already had some experience with it,” he noted.
“It doesn’t hurt anybody.”