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A question posted on the Columbia, Mo., page on Reddit asked for information on gay-friendly churches in town, and this seems like a good time to answer it, given that June is LGBT Pride Month.
According to gaychurch.org, a website database for LGBTQ-welcoming churches, there are multiple options in Columbia for churchgoers to find a congregation they are comfortable in regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
We’ve listed churches here that are both registered online and recommended by users in the Reddit thread. (Note: This story reflects local congregations, not necessarily the official stances of the denominations represented.)
Want to share your own experience or see your faith community included? Comment below with your suggestions, or email submissions@ColumbiaMissourian.com.
Missouri United Methodist Church
The Missouri United Methodist Church was often mentioned when talking about welcoming congregations. The church hosts the Open Door Ministry, a meeting space for LGBTQ individuals and allies to find support within a faith-based environment. Elisabeth Sobczak, who organizes Open Door Ministry along with her wife, said the group has also shifted focus toward educating the community on LGBTQ and faith issues. Open Door Ministry meets every third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in Room CLC 107/109.
Columbia United Church of Christ
While the United Church of Christ congregation in Columbia does not officially hold the label of "open and affirming" based on the larger organization's guidelines, there is still an open welcome message posted in the Sunday programs every week. Pastor Steven E. Swope said the congregation is "intentionally welcoming" to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTQ. Swope has also had experience working with multiple open and affirming UCC congregations prior to moving to Missouri.
Along with traditional Sunday services, there are 8 a.m. alternative services on Sundays for people who prefer a more informal and "laid back" form of worship. More information can be found at columbiaucc.com.
Rock Bridge Christian Church
At Rock Bridge Christian Church, affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, social justice is a staple. They are labeled an "open and affirming" church as well as a member of the Columbia Peace Coalition. Their motto "Come as you are; grow as you serve" extends to their membership as well as their pastor, Maureen Dickmann, who openly identifies as a lesbian.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia sports a rainbow chalice, the symbol for LGBTQ welcoming churches by the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Columbia congregation was recognized as open and welcoming in 2005. The congregation has also housed The Center Project, mid-Missouri's LGBTQ community space, before it opened its own office and has received a Catalyst Award from the MU LGBTQ Resource Center. They also participate in Mid-Missouri PrideFest each year. One of their members wrote a reflection on her LGBTQ identity and her faith for the Missourian.
For more information regarding services check out uuchurch.net.
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Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.