Minnesota minister Oliver White, who has lost much of his congregation over his support for marriage equality, is getting help in raising funds to try to keep his church open.
In February, White’s Grace Community United Church in St. Paul received a $15,000 gift from the predominantly LGBT Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, which like Grace is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Now the pro-LGBT interfaith group Believe Out Loud, a San Francisco entrepreneur, and others are raising funds for Grace Church, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
The predominantly African-American church needs to raise $200,000 by June 30 to pay off a high-interest loan. About 20% of that has come in to date, White told the Pioneer Press last week.
Joseph Ward, director of Believe Out Loud, has raised several thousand dollars for the church through his group’s website, and San Franciscan Nick Warshaw has set up a fund-raising website at Rally.org/gcucc. John Ong, a gay graphic designer and podcaster in Kansas City, Mo., recently devoted a show to White. And White is asking supporters to give as little as $1 each to help keep the church afloat.
In 2005, White voted to support a marriage equality resolution at the United Church of Christ’s national meeting. Within a few weeks, two thirds of his congregation left. Some Sundays the attendance is 20 or fewer.
On the podcast with Ong, White emphasized that his church welcomes all, and he was philosophical about its struggle. “If we are not successful, I am not going to feel that we are defeated,” he said. “I’ve often said if one person has been turned around, if their thinking has been turned around, and they are no longer homophobic, and they can reach out and love their brothers and their sisters as they love themselves, unconditionally, without labeling them in any way, then losing the church will not be in vain.”