Peggy Campolo, a highly-visible advocate for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people within the church, will speak at Glendale Baptist Church on Sunday, November 20.
“I am an advocate for justice for God’s gay, bisexual and transgender children,” says Campolo, “not in spite of the fact that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but because of it.”
Campolo has been an advocate for justice for GLBT persons since 1994. She is a highly sought-after speaker at conferences, churches and colleges.
According to Dr. Amy Mears, one of Glendale’s co-pastors, the church invited Campolo to speak to the south Nashville congregation “to help us deal with the ‘what now?’ questions, rather than give in to the impulse to sit about patting ourselves on the back.”
Although the former Southern Baptist body has long welcomed GLBT persons, the church found itself the center of denominational controversy two years ago after inviting Rev. April Baker, an out lesbian, to join the church staff.
“It was at that moment that the church came out,” says Rev. Eileen Campbell-Reed, a member of the congregation. Mears explains, “Glendale is still in the process of adjusting to our new place in the Christian community of Nashville as a Baptist church that is welcoming and affirming of all persons.”
Campolo is a member of Soulforce, PFLAG and Evangelicals Concerned, and has served on the Council of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. She belongs to Central Baptist Church in Wayne, Pennsylvania, one of two “Welcoming and Affirming” congregations in the state.
Countering those who attack Campolo as being anti-family, she replies, “I believe in traditional family values, including the rights and responsibilities of marriage for all God’s children, not just those who happen to be straight.”
A graduate of Eastern University, Campolo is a writer and editor. She contributed to a book edited by Walker Wink entitled “Homosexuality and Christian Faith – Questions of Conscience for the Churches.”
“I want to let my GLBT brothers and sisters know that God loves them just as they are,” defends Campolo, “and I am committed to telling their stories to those who do not understand them – be those people their classmates, their parents, their churches, their pastors or their representatives in government.”
Campolo’s husband, Dr. Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern College in suburban Philadelphia, is a well-known and highly respected voice in evangelical Christianity today. Tony agrees with his wife that the church has to do a better job of welcoming gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, but the Campolos differ significantly on the issue of gay marriage.
While both of them believe such unions should be legally permissible in our pluralistic society, Peggy affirms such relationships , while Tony advises homosexual people to remain celibate.
“Many of us are intrigued by the differences in Peggy’s and her husband’s views on homosexuality,” notes Mears, “and in the ways that they maintain their connection in the face of different ways of understanding a question this volatile.”
Glendale Baptist Church is located at 1021 Glendale Lane in Nashville. The worship service begins at 10:30 AM.