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Tremont Temple, which will host ex-gay conference, not welcoming to gays

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kweerwolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 01:17 AM
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Tremont Temple, which will host ex-gay conference, not welcoming to gays
In the past two months Tremont Temple Baptist Church, located in downtown Boston, has been the site of protests by two different LGBT groups, the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry and, for its involvement with Focus on the Family (FOF), a national religious right organization that will sponsor a massive ex-gay conference at the church Oct. 29. Church officials have insisted that their church is not anti-gay and that they are just renting out the space for the ex-gay conference, but an incident five years ago suggests that the church has not historically been gay friendly.

The church's former musical director alleges he was asked to resign for being gay. Five years ago Thomas Jones, who had spent 14 years as musical director for Tremont Temple Baptist Church, went to lunch with the church's new interim pastor, Ronald Mansdoerfer, in April 2000, little realizing that he was walking into a trap. Under the previous pastor, Rev. Charles Hendricks, who hired him in 1986, Jones made a career for himself at Tremont Temple. While he never discussed his sexuality on the job, he said many in the church knew he was gay and no one seemed to have a problem with it. When Mansdoerfer stepped in for Hendricks there was every indication that the warm and welcoming climate would continue, particularly when he invited Jones to lunch, ostensibly to get to know him better. Jones said Mansdoerfer asked him questions during lunch about his personal life and relationships, and Jones felt comfortable enough to tell him about his partner. Everything went downhill from there, Jones said.

"I told him this and it was a setup. He said, 'I thought so. This will never do.' And within hours he had drawn up my resignation," Jones said.

Jones said he refused to resign, and for eight months he and church leadership engaged in a cold war as Jones ignored repeated demands to step down. Throughout this period Jones said he learned that church leaders had first investigated his sexuality at the request of some parishioners, who learned that a family in the church with a child struggling with their sexuality had gone to Jones for advice. After eight months, Jones resigned, and he said he never discussed his reason for leaving but made it clear to parishioners during his final service that it was not by choice.
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