By SHARON GITTLEMAN
MADISON HEIGHTS –
While some peg LGBT people as ultra-liberals in all aspects of their lives – from faith to politics, the Reverend Rick Green knows better. Green leads the Praise Fellowship Christian Church in Madison Heights, a conservative sanctuary that recently expanded to accommodate its membership’s growth.
The house of worship more than doubled its size on Dec. 1, now taking up 2,800 square feet.
Another factor prompted the change – to ensure that its 40-member primarily gay, lesbian and transgendered congregation would have enough space to enjoy their religious-based social groups and gatherings.
“We have room for some children’s programming,” Green said. “We’ll be having a healthy living group focusing on issues like diet and exercise.”
Future activities include a spring conference about how to inspire the growth of churches and expand the Kingdom of God.
Praise Fellowship is protestant and affiliated with the Alliance of Christian Churches.
“Theologically, we’re a little on the conservative side, with the exception of homosexuality,” he said. “We believe in the inspiration of scripture. I guess you can classify us as evangelical. We believe in a personal relationship with Christ.”
Some parishioners have made Praise Fellowship their faith home after experiencing gay bashing at other churches.
Green believes bible passages that appear to condemn gay sexual relations are misinterpretations of scripture.
“Most of the so-called clobber passages used to beat up on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are actually talking about pagan temple worship,” he said. “In the ancient pagan fertility worship, part of that process was sexual relationships with temple prostitutes both male and female.”
The verses actually denounce the exaltation of things other than God, he said.
“It’s more an issue of idolatry,” said Green.
While members believe the bible is the divinely inspired, infallible word of God, and those who die without affirming Jesus as their savior endure an eternal separation from the Almighty, they are not entirely accepted as part of the conventional evangelical movement, he said.
“For the most part, we don’t have a lot of contact with mainline churches like the Baptists,” said Green.
Worshippers will find a familiar service in an unusual setting – inside the Farnum Plaza shopping center.
“For some people, having a different environment is a good thing,” he said. “We have people who are incredibly hurt by the traditional church.”
Services include contemporary praise music played on the piano, guitar and drums, lead by a worship team, Green said. A message or sermon is presented, followed by time dedicated to praying for people’s needs.
What is his church’s best quality?
“Our people are friendly and kind,” he said. “They never met a stranger. Anyone who comes in is welcome.”
Women play a big role at Praise Fellowship, from helping lead prayers to performing music during the service.
Everyone is invited to participate in social activities, including picnics, concerts, game nights and holiday outings, like the one church members recently took to Greenfield Village.
Worship services are held at 10 a.m., on Sundays at the church, which is located at 27627 John R. Road in Madison Heights. Small home fellowship groups also meet throughout the community.