Testimony - Nelson Walter
By Nelson Walter, May 11, 2018

Please take a moment to read this inspirational message by Nelson Walter, a member of the First Parish Church Open and Affirming Task Force.
 

Testimony by Nelson Walter

April 29, 2018

I’m Nelson Walter and I’m part of the committee evaluating whether it’s the right time for First Parish Church to make a statement that we are Open and Affirming of people of all sexual preferences and gender identities.  I strongly believe that becoming Open and Affirming is the right thing to do and that this is the right time to do it.   

We, as a church, should be accepting and inclusive of everyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (also known as LGBT).  And more than that, we as Christians need to stand up for people that are discriminated against. 

It is so disturbing to me that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people endure discrimination and violence every day.  Here are some examples: 

  • 4 out of 5 LGBT high school students reported experiencing harassment frequently in school based on their appearance or perceived sexual orientation. 
  • LBGT people are more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other minority group.  According to the FBI there are more hate crimes committed against LBGT people than against any other group; including Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Asians or Hispanics. 
  • More than 20% of lesbian and gay people experience hate crimes within their lifetimes.
  • And possibly most shocking, the number of organized anti-LGBT groups is growing in America (there are nearly twice as many anti LGBT groups as there were 7 years ago). 

Last month, we heard from three people about their own experiences of being discriminated against and the lack of acceptance they felt.  It reminds us that we as a church need to make a stand to end the bullying, harassment and bigotry that LGBT people face.

I believe that Jesus would want our Church to be a place where all people know that they can be safe and accepted, and we shouldn’t be afraid of making a statement in support of people of all gender identities and sexual preferences.  We, as Christians, need to be open about loving and accepting our neighbors.  

I also believe that Jesus wants us to take a stand for injustice in the world.  He wants us to stand up for what is right, and just and fair and kind.  As Christians, that‘s what we have done in the past, and that’s what we should continue to do.   

In the 1860s when the US was struggling to abolish slavery, there were some people both black and white that disagreed, and thought that it should be left alone.  But Christians helped lead the way to end slavery and it was the right thing to do.  

In the early 1900s, some women and some men thought that it was wrong to allow women to vote, but Christians helped lead the way for women’s suffrage and it was the right thing to do. 

In the 1960, some blacks and some whites thought that we shouldn’t address civil rights, but Christians helped lead the way to establish civil right protections for all races, and it was the right thing to do 

Today, some people may not believe that we should embrace people of all sexual orientation and gender identity, but I believe that it’s the right thing to do and we as Christians should help lead the way.  I believe that becoming an Open and Affirming Church is the right thing for First Parish Church to do, and that this is the right time to do it.  

Thank-you  

 

 

 



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