SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–A national leader of the pro-homosexual Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches has been elected president of the 1.5 million-member California Council of Churches (CCC).
The election of Gwynne Guibord to the CCC’s highest office in January is the latest victory by homosexual activists’ in their quest for a place within the ecumenical church. The CCC represents the legislative concerns of 19 Protestant denominations. No Southern Baptist churches hold membership in the CCC, which is based in the state capital of Sacramento.
Guibord is the ecumenical officer of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) headquartered in West Hollywood, Calif. The UFMCC ordains homosexuals, conducts same-sex unions and advocates a number of pro-homosexual positions including legislation that would give sexual orientation the same civil rights protection under the law as religion, race and gender. So controversial is the UFMCC that even the liberal National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches have refused its request for membership.
“Her [Guibord’s] election came as no shock,” said Rob Zinn, a former president of the California Southern Baptist Convention, encompassing about 400,000 members in 1,800 congregations. “While the church has been asleep, these folks have moved into positions where they can call the shots.
“We’re fighting the homosexual movement on every front out here,” Zinn told Baptist Press, noting that the 7,000-member Emanuel Baptist Church in Highland where he is pastor was on the frontlines in California’s battle over Proposition 22, the statewide measure that won easy passage last May affirming legal marriage as between one man and one woman. Not long after the votes had been tallied, homosexual activists began a petition drive that failed to get the measure on last November’s election ballot. Then in early February homosexual activists in Los Angeles from the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund vowed to get sexual orientation special protection under federal law and to force public schools to teach homosexual history.
“Advances toward equality for lesbians, gay men and people with HIV and AIDS are at the cutting edge of civil rights law today,” Kevin Cathcart, Lambda executive director, has said. “In California and around the country, Lambda will drive many of these advances, both within and outside the courtroom.”
The election of Guibord, a lesbian, to the presidency of the California Council of Churches comes just three years after the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches gained admittance to the CCC and the Southern California Ecumenical Council despite concerns raised by Eastern Orthodox churches that threatened to withdraw.
The UFMCC’s acceptance of homosexuality “is not in accordance with the traditional Christian understanding of the homosexual lifestyle as immoral,” Father Michael Laffoon of St. Mark Antiochian Orthodox Church in Irvine said following the UFMCC’s admittance.
The 18 church bodies that make up the Southern California Ecumenical Council “would hate to lose the Orthodox Church, but I understand that they have to stand by their position,” the ecumenical council’s president, Sally Welch, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, said at the time. “The UFMCC met our basic criterion of belief in Jesus Christ as savior. I would always rather err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion.”
The CCC is one of five state councils in which the UFMCC has membership. The others are North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon and Hawaii.
Church historians trace the genesis of the homosexual movement in the church to 1968 with the founding of the UFMCC. Though far from a major denomination, the UFMCC has grown from one church with 12 members to more than 300 congregations and 45,000 members in 15 countries. It has become the fountainhead of homosexual activism and radical liberal theology in the ecumenical community. Its goals have been clearly articulated by Guibord and other leaders.
Founder Troy D. Perry predicts the UFMCC will total 70,000 members by 2003. “This diverse global body will be widely recognized as a prophetic light and driving force for an inclusive Christian spirituality which celebrates the integration of spirituality and human sexuality,” he has said.
The UFMCC has been a harsh critic of the SBC’s boycott of the Walt Disney Company and of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Southern Baptist from Mississippi, who said last year in a news interview that homosexuality is a sin. Perry denounced Lott, calling his remarks ignorant and full of “prejudice.”
“Bible-believing conservative churches are becoming the folks who are wrong,” Zinn noted. “We must share the gospel and if you’re going to share the gospel then you have to tell people that sin is wrong and that homosexuality is a sin.”
Perry and Guibord, whose ecclesiastical title is “Rev. Dr.,” are among the more than 2,000 religious leaders who endorsed the controversial declaration last year by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) that calls for the “full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination, and the blessing of same-sex unions.” It also called for a religious commitment to “sexual and reproductive rights,” including abortion and lifelong, age-appropriate sexuality education.”
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the document “yet one further sign of the increasing paganization of our culture sexually.”
“To the extent that its sub-biblical, pagan sexual mores are endorsed by those claiming to speak from a Judeo-Christian tradition, it illustrates the significant apostasy of many within formerly Christian traditions which have made that paganization possible,” Land said at the time.
Christians, he added, should address the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, which he called, “clear, forthright and substantial.”
Although the National Council of Churches has twice denied membership to the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the NCC and UFMCC have engaged in dialogue for the past 15 years due — in part — to the prodding of Guibord, who has addressed the NCC at its annual meetings.
“Homosexuality will not just disappear from the church,” Guibord told the NCC’s General Assembly in 1998. “We have filled the Christian church throughout its history and we always will. We have always been the priests and ministers and deacons, its choir directors, faithful workers, and Sunday school teachers. The difference now is that, despite it all, we’ve gotten healthier. We’ve come out of the closet into the light.”
Guibord also said homosexuality is a “normal variation of human diversity” and blamed pro-family groups for forcing young people into prostitution, drugs and alcohol abuse.
Guibord is not without influence. She was instrumental in convincing the National Council of Churches to abruptly withdraw its endorsement of an ecumenical statement its top officer signed in November in support of traditional marriage. The “Christian Declaration on Marriage” had been hailed as evidence of ecumenical cooperation. Others signing the document included Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Guibord serves on the 23-member executive board of The Interfaith Alliance (TIA), whose leaders frequently criticize the Southern Baptist Convention.
Guibord is the secretary of the TIA board, while David Currie, the board’s treasurer, is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a breakaway organization from the SBC unhappy with the convention’s conservative stances on theology and contemporary moral issues. Currie also is the director of Texas Baptists Committed, which is at the forefront of a movement to spawn “Mainstream Baptist” groups in state conventions to attract churches away from supporting the SBC.
“TIA is the classic wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Robert Knight, senior director of cultural studies for the Family Research Council, told Baptist Press. “They attempt to convey through the media that there is no traditional and widely accepted position on any of the issues. They sell the message of moral relativism in religious garb. The whole purpose is to create a smokescreen and to disarm religious people by conveying that there is far more confusion than what actually exists concerning issues like abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, school prayer, evolution, and pornography.
“Unable to discredit the tenets of Christianity, they instead try to capture Christianity’s moral mantle and use it to advance a radical, secular agenda. Their faith seems to be more geared toward big government and sexual access than it is toward God,” Knight said.
Guibord also is president-elect of a pro-abortion group named “Mobilization for the Human Family,” which has a link on The Interfaith Alliance’s Internet site, and has decried the efforts of organizations such as Exodus International, which helps homosexuals leave such a lifestyle.
Zinn said the struggle with homosexual activists is far from over and that there is only one answer to the problem: evangelism.
“We’re going to keep on being the church and winning people to Christ,” Zinn said. “We must go back to our heritage, to when we took the gospel to the culture rather than having the culture come and get it. We just had 77 people come to Christ in our FAITH [evangelism and discipleship] Institute about two weeks ago. If we will just take the gospel to the people, we will see people changed.”