A Different Kind Of Catholic Church

By |2015-04-02T09:00:00-04:00April 2nd, 2015|Guides, Worship|

The ministerial staff of the Community of Christ the Good Shepherd. Photo by Rafael Pacheco

FERNDALE — The Catholic church is not exactly known for tolerance. But Community of Christ the Good Shepherd is not the typical Catholic church.
“We’re Catholic, but we’re not Roman Catholic,” said Father Kevin Kinsel. “So it’s about educating people that there are other churches that are Catholic that are not Roman Catholic.”
As their second anniversary approaches, informing people that they are an independent Catholic church continues to be a struggle.
“The hardest part is getting the word out that we’re here and we’re welcoming of all people,” said Father Harry Posner. “When a lot of people hear we’re Catholic, they think that we’re closed-minded or we’re not welcoming, or that we’re very black and white in our thinking. But that’s not the case. We’re non-judging. So we’ve shown tremendous growth (over the last two years) but it’s slow and it’s hard because there’s a lot of doubt in the community. People have been so marginalized by religion. So we’re offering another path, and that is that God loves you just as you are and you don’t have to fit into a picture perfect box to be loved.”
It’s true. All are welcome here.
“We felt the need within the Catholic community to have a church that was open to all people,” explained Posner, “so we have an open communion table where we welcome all people to the table regardless of sexual orientation, race, background or marital status. All people are valued and welcome.”
Though Kinsel and Posner, as well as Father Charles Blanchard, are gay, the three are adamant that the church congregation is diverse and they note that their two deacons are women.
“We wanted to establish a church where it was not a gay church per se but a church where everybody is an equal valued member,” Posner said. “We have almost as many straight people as we have LGBT people. It’s a community where everybody is valued.”
And people are responding to the approach.
“I think that the most rewarding aspect is that people come here and they’re satisfied,” said Blanchard. “They leave and they say, ‘Thank you for creating such a great home for me to worship in.’ I’ll give you an example. There’s a couple that were raised Roman Catholic. They were each married before and both of them lost their spouses. They wanted the sacramental blessing of a priest and yet Rome wouldn’t confer that because of the rules. That’s not the box in which we put people. It’s rewarding to be able to confer the sacraments to who we are as people to each other. That’s fulfilling to me.”
Still skeptical? Does it all sound a little too good to be true?
“I’ve heard some people doubt and say that we’re a ‘made up church,'” Posner said. “We are validly ordained Catholic priests. We are a valid church. Just because we’re outside of Rome does not diminish our validity. We truly are a Catholic church. We truly are a part of the Catholic tradition. We are just a fresh approach to the Catholic faith where we don’t marginalize people, we don’t separate people. We invite everyone to the church; everyone has a home here.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.