We want FULL INCLUSION, not CRUMBS
We want FULL INCLUSION, not CRUMBS
I am Pastor Marvel Souza in the Reconciling Methodist Church of Brazil. My ministerial life began 23 years ago, when I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to start my teachings in a Brazilian Methodist church
There, I developed my first works based on my then recently acquired theology background. After I served as a layman for five years, I was consecrated to deacon, having served for six years with dedication, dynamism and responsibility. At that time, I introduced a course to prepare seminarians, which was more successful than I expected. It was offered in a number of churches. Furthermore, I led a small congregation in a rural farming area around the Brazilian capital for a year and a half. I became an Elder in this church and then its pastor, and I taught theology at a seminary.
I fell in love with a friend, a musician in a large Pentecostal conference and, like me, a man.
When we met, we had a number of challenges to face - He sang at his Pentecostal church and I was a pastor and theology teacher. However, we understood that full inclusion requires faces, courage, presence, spirituality and boldness, specially in Brazil where an LGBTQ person is killed every 16 hours..
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU NEED TO DECIDE BETWEEN WHAT YOU LIKE AND WHAT YOU LOVE?
We decided for love!
We were rejected, persecuted and threatened, but we got together to resist and overcame all that challenges. In 2013, something happened that completely changed our lives. I signed a contract with the Brazilian Biblical Society to be the first openly gay Pastor to write commentaries for a Portuguese Bible Version. This work brings comments related with the Ecclesiastic Full Inclusion of all LGBTQIA+ people through the perspective of the Message of Grace. The reaction to this work in social media and the press resulted from the fact that the Brazilian Biblical Society supported the publication by allowing me to use one of their copyrighted versions of Biblical texts (VARC). This bible was called by the sensationalist press as the “Gay Bible”, but the true name is Commented Bible Grace upon Grace.
The Reconciling Church in Brazil and Argentina...
Amid controversies and persecution due to the Bible Project, I was still leading a church. During this time, a friend of mine told me about Reconciling Ministries Network. I got in contact with the Rev. Doc. Israel Alvaran to be listed as the first Reconciling Methodist Church in Brazil. As we were listed as Reconciling Church the number of LGBTQ members increased and recently we opened three more congregations in Brazil and one in Córdoba Argentina.
The Methodist Church IPEG has been making efforts to reach the needs of everyone, offering public worship services to all in the Christian community, regardless of gender, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, social status or language. We also provide pastoral care and follow-up, assistance to the homeless, offer language courses (English, Japanese, Portuguese) and on-line Theology courses. We perform same-sex wedding ceremonies (since 2018 we performed 11 wedding ceremonies), provide psychological support and promote events related to the struggle for full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ worshipers. In one such event, we hosted Reverend Israel (Izzy) Alvaran from the Reconciling Ministries Network as a presenter at the Methodist Church IPEG's November 2018 Conference. Izzy remained with us for 10 days, preaching the Gospel of Love, Grace and Reconciliation.
Recently, we held our Second Reconciling Conference based on the theme “IF INCLUSION IS NOT UNCONDITIONAL, THERE IS NO INCLUSION.” We experinced three days of communion, worship, group discussion, preaching, and a lot of fun.
As an affirming and Reconciling Church we are determined not to accept crumbs nor to be marginalized. We affirm that we are no longer slaves of fear, but that we are all children of God.