One Evangelical Pastor’s Journey to LGBTQ+ Affirmation

Rev. Daniel Kipp serves Elkhorn Hills UMC in Elkhorn, NE, and he has served Sabatha UMC (KS) and in youth ministry at Derby Woodlawn UMC (KS).

I am an Evangelical, “born again” in the Southern Baptist church, baptized in a Bible church, and preached my first sermon as a preteen in the Assemblies of God church (it was 45-minutes and 11-points of awesome sauce). I am also an LGBTQIA+ affirming United Methodist Elder.
How did this happen? The story is long but the answer is simple. I believe that part of God’s image, in whatever manner it is applied to the human soul, is revealed in human love. God’s presence burns brightly when one loves another selflessly.
Many have asked how I deal with the Biblical witness regarding human sexuality. For me, it is about circumcision passages like Galatians 5. “Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t matter in Christ Jesus, but faith working through love does matter. (Gal 5:6 CEB)” The root word for “working” is an intensified version of the word for “work.” In other words, it is energizing work. What matters is having our faith light up with love.
I believe that Kingdom living is about having the light of Christ living (and loving) in us. Therefore, the way that we choose to love as Christ has loved us matters. God is revealed through the love of strangers, friends, parents, children, and spouses. Each relationship offers a new angle to what love is and how God feels about humanity.
I’m awkward and clumsy when talking about God’s love revealed through the identity of others. I’ve been thankful for the grace offered to me by my queer siblings in Christ. I’m angry that I require such grace; so, I am dedicated to recognizing love in all the places it lights up and I will do better. Brandon Sanderson, writes, “Sometimes a hypocrite is nothing more than a [person] in the process of changing.” This has become a motto for me, I’m not afraid to be a hypocrite as long as I continue to grow and change. 
A year ago I told a friend that I was affirming but I hoped that my children weren’t queer because life would be harder for them. My friend looked at me with grace in their eyes and said that they couldn’t imagine their gay sibling without their spouse. I almost fell over. I had just said that I was affirming and in the next breath showed my need for growth.
I want the United Methodist Church to be a beacon declaring God’s presence in the world. Methodist churches should be hallowed harbors for people who are resisting evil, injustice, and oppression in their communities. I am committed to declaring the image of God in all people. I will continue to blunder and accept grace and work toward a church that is fully open to all. To those of you who continue to reveal God’s image to me, thank you.