SCMP.COM 2002-07-01 

 Unity call as gay Christian group marks 10th birthday 


       Hong Kong's only gay Christian fellowship celebrates its 10th anniversary today.


The Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship, supported privately by the Reverend Fung Chi-wood, a former Democratic Party legislator, operates out of a commercial building in Sheung Wan where it holds weekly services for a 100-strong congregation.


Michael Lai Chung-keung, 41, founded the non-denominational fellowship 10 years ago with friends after he was kicked out of his church because other members could not accept him for being openly gay.


Mr Lai said his vision for the group's future was to liaise more closely with local churches and engage them in dialogue on the issue of homosexuality and the need for unity in faith.


The reason why we come here is not because we want to be separate from the traditional Church but because we are not accepted by them, he said.


Last September, the fellowship held its first baptism for 10 people with the collaboration of St John's Cathedral.


A congregation member, who declined to be named, said he had attended counselling sessions at his former church so people could talk him out of committing this sin [of homosexuality].


After several sessions they saw no progress and told me not to come any more - I felt like they were rejecting me on behalf of God, he said.


Some churches now ask before baptism if you are gay. A lot of people feel they do not want to lie at the moment of accepting Christ, but if you don't lie, they won't baptise you. The Christian Church is a family and we are all brothers and sisters - it is very painful to live a lie with your family.


Louise, a lesbian member of the congregation, said it was still widely believed among local Christians that homosexuality was a sin or a sickness. But even if it is a sin, so what? she asked. Who has not committed a sin? And isn't the important thing that you want to build a relationship with God to face your situation in life with strength?


The Reverend Fung has been delivering sermons and providing other services and support to the group privately for several years.


The majority of churches cannot accept gays or lesbians because they think they should get rid of this sinful behaviour before claiming to be Christians. But my view is that homosexuality is not a sin nor is it a choice - it is natural, he said.


Many Christians are sinners because they choose to sin. Today there are many Christians who behave in ways they would not have been allowed to in biblical times, such as using birth control or women who are not subordinate to men - they are not treated as sinners and rejected from the Church.