Sunshine Cathedral is a ‘Treasure’

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Dear Editor,

I don’t understand your motive in joining those who would tear down a community treasure like Sunshine Cathedral by publishing the so-called “letter to the editor” in your publication of 8/21/13. We have also seen negative ads on this topic published by someone the author of this “letter” supports in various publications recently, but can certainly understand the financial incentive behind those.

You have previously been criticized for your negative reporting on community members and organizations and your response has been that you do it with the pure journalistic goal of informing people.  I see no information in the op-ed that you published on 8/21/13 that furthers that journalistic goal.

The full page “letter” says that the writer is seeking spiritual advice on how to handle unchristian behavior and then he goes on to name names, criticize and behave in an unchristian manner toward those he is writing about. I didn’t know that providing spiritual advice was the job of journalists.  Or is this person’s and your intent to get such advice from readers?

If so, let me offer some.

Whatever problems these individuals have with the Sunshine Cathedral it is an internal matter that apparently has been handled by the church. By their own admission they’ve gone to the highest authorities of the denomination about this and the denomination supports the local church. This should have ended there.

My partner and I have been members of Sunshine Cathedral for eight years.

We have been members long enough to experience the transition from the former pastor to the present.  The former pastor, Grant Lynn Ford, brought in Durrell Watkins, the current pastor, and recommended him to the board and congregation as his replacement when he chose to retire. The congregation approved the recommendation and we have been very happy with that decision since.

Have things changed since Durrell Watkins, Robert Griffin and their team joined the leadership of Sunshine Cathedral? Absolutely some things have changed. That is natural with a new leadership team. Have they changed for the better? Absolutely!

In a congregation made up of people from many different faiths (and no faith) backgrounds there will be differences in what people feel comfortable with in terms of liturgy and practice.

I give those in charge credit for making services appealing to people of all religious backgrounds by borrowing from and honoring all religious traditions, from varying vestments (and sometimes no vestments), hymns, readings, prayers; by recognizing “saints”/spiritual heroes from all traditions and secular society.

I don’t know about the veracity of the claim that the church has lost many members because of the new administration and their way of doing things.  It certainly doesn’t seem that way. Come join us on any given Sunday and you’ll see that the pews are full and that there’s tremendous positive energy flowing from the services.

I don’t understand the references to “drag queen” in connection with church services. The church is not just a worship center but a center for the arts, which is reflected in the official name. Along with many other excellent cultural and theatrical events during the year it presents and sponsors a drag show as a fundraiser to benefit community organizations twice a year. This has nothing to do with church services.

The church collects food for local food pantries, runs social service organizations that assist youth, provide counseling, day care services for seniors and many other services that benefit our community. A most important role for the church is its active commitment of support for LGBT people, partly by offering us a progressive, positive, practical message that affirms our gayness within Christianity and inoculates us against the negativity thrown at us from many mainstream Christian churches, political and other institutions worldwide. We have many straight allies, supporters and members. The church promotes and supports social justice worldwide.

As the gentleman writes - church can certainly be a place to go to feel closer to God and it’s OK to expect “that warm tingly feeling” (although I’m at a loss for how to justify that theologically or scripturally), but as we so often hear at Sunshine Cathedral – God expresses as us and in all of his creation; “there is not a spot where God is not”. Church is also a place to support one another in prayer, to learn, to manifest and experience Christ’s presence in community, to find strength to leave there and serve.

Sometimes the best way to heal is to sever a relationship, among people, with organizations. Sunshine Cathedral, like all churches and organizations, has a right to determine its membership. Your local retail establishment can legally refuse you service. There is nothing negative, no ill will intended when we say that we hold no one back, that it’s OK if you find that our church no longer meets your needs.

We bless you and your need to move on and pray that in the many, many churches representing so many traditions in our community you will find a good home.

Sunshine Cathedral doesn’t have many requirements for membership. There is the reasonable expectation that the church be supported, in all the meanings of that word; and that members commit to offering time, talent and treasure.

We recognize that beliefs are opinions rehearsed over a lifetime and that such opinions will change as we grow and learn. Such change may lead us in another direction.

The Metropolitan Community Church, of which Sunshine Cathedral is a member, is not a centralized church like Roman Catholicism. Local congregations have a great deal of freedom in determining their identifying traditions and what they choose to emphasize in apostolate and teaching. Some are more high church than others. They usually adopt the character, identity, religious traditions of their pastors and congregations.  Locally we have Sunshine Cathedral churches not just in Ft. Lauderdale but in Boynton Beach and Palm Beach. These are smaller churches, which may be a better fit for those looking for something different.

I ask those behind these efforts to please stop; no good can come of this. You need to reflect on whether you are building up or tearing down the body of Christ. It is extremely unchristian to name people and call them hypocrite, liar and other names in public media. There could be legal consequences.

I ask this publication to offer some journalistic balance. If you're truly interested in providing information then research and publish helpful and positive information about Sunshine Cathedral and the wonderful things it’s doing for our community.

Frank Marin

8/31/13Frank Marin

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