Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
DETROIT – Pastor Darlene C.A. Franklin does not court popularity. Having helmed Full Truth Fellowship of Christ Church for the past seven years now, she has steered the ministry toward a more Bible-based (read: stricter) approach.
Tops on that list: She verbally shuns promiscuity and preaches that sex is to be shared only between married couples, despite the fact that gays cannot legally marry in this state. She calls it “daring people to live holy.”
“I am changing what the mainstream thinks about gay people,” Franklin said. “I think we have to be responsible. The religious right believes that gay people are only about, ‘who are we going to get in the bed with next week.’ But we preach from the same Bible as mainstream America, which says, ‘do not fornicate.’
“So that means for gay people, too. The word of God applies to gay people, too.”
It’s a message that not everyone wants to hear, yet one that Franklin feels she’s been called to deliver.
“I don’t expect to be popular among the straight community, and I’m not too favored in some areas of the gay community for saying that, either,” she said. “But I believe that.
I think promiscuity opens us up for a lot of grief in our lives. For the HIV/AIDS crisis to be tempered in the community, it’s not a gay issue; it’s a moral issue. And the root of that is, we need to take care of our bodies, take care of vessels – and we need to line our lives up as best as we can according to the word of God. The Bible calls that ‘holy.'”
If the message is spurned by some sects of the LGBT community, it’s having an impact within Franklin’s own church. She obviously is both beloved and revered inside Full Truth, by new and old members alike.
“She is steadfast,” said Ronchele Andres, a ministerial candidate who is to be ordained in the fall. “She’s been steadfast for a lot of years, and that helps me see that there are going to be trials and tribulations in my path. But watching her helps me know that I can make it through.”
Andres also was attracted by Franklin’s message of strict adherence to biblical principles.
“We’ve lost members for that and gained them as well,” she said. “A lot of people don’t want to accept that ‘yes, I’m gay or lesbian, but I still have to live by the word of God.’ She’s preaching the word. She does not have a made-up gay bible.”
Yvonne Roundtree, and elder with the church, agreed.
“I love it because she makes us understand that just because we’re gay, that does not mean that we cannot live a holy life,” Roundtree said. “Living a holy life is what’s important to God, not who we love.”
The admiration that Franklin elicits likely has much to do with the fact that she takes credit for very little. Though she’s now, having recently earned her doctorate in divinity, officially known as Bishop-Elect Rev. Dr. Darlene C.A. Franklin, she is not caught up on titles. She is more concerned with nurturing the gifts of all of the members of her congregation than flaunting her own.
“I focus on helping people learn what God has gifted them with rather than people vying for positions and titles,” Franklin explained. “It’s about touching people one-on-one so they can find out why they’re here. If I can help people get in touch with that, they will remain. They may not remain at Full Truth, but they will remain living a life that honors God.
“We are all knights at the round table,” Franklin continued. “It takes all of our gifts to pastor a church. I’m not gifted with every gift. You have to follow that path that Christ set forth, and that is that we are all equally gifted. So in pushing people to serve within their gift and placing them in that area, that puts us all on equal footing.”
Embracing and nurturing the gifts of others, Frankin said, has helped the church to grow in dynamic ways. It has helped build extension churches in cities like Cincinnati and Minneapolis, becoming almost a denomination unto itself. Full Truth also is opening an accredited school at the church, Getting The Word Out Center for Biblical Studies, in the fall.
“We’ve come through great transition and really grown up,” Franklin said. “A church is like a family. We have all the age groups that serve to make up family and all the different types of people. We have Uncle Bob, who can only come over on Christmas. We have people that come in, and people that go back out. But if we would look at our church family as we do as our biological families, we would be more tolerant of others.
“I had to really learn that so I wouldn’t get all bent out of shape when people left and went to another church. Our first and foremost responsibility is to win people to the body of Christ, not Full Truth.”
To do that, Franklin is ready to see the church expand its outreach.
“Our foundation is solid enough to branch out into the broader community,” she said. “I’m truly excited about the things that are happening and that people are getting it. We have a responsibility to be active in this community and knowledgeable of the things that are going on. We need to be a voice in this community, and not just church that meets every Sunday. The sky’s the limit now.”