Australian Ministers Say Sorry to Gay Community

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February 15, 2008, 20:18

Hey Sandy……In Phillip Yancy’s book….Whats so amazing about Grace…..he talks about his friendship with Mel White (Soulforce) and how he accompanied him on a Pride March.

From that point on some people rejected him and he began getting hate mail.

I haven’t read the book for a few years but from what I remember Yancey doesn’t say that homosexuality is ok. His point with White was along the lines of the old, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner” line. His hate mail came from those in the “God hates fags.”camp.

But I do admire Philip Yancey. He seems to have a really practical outworking of his faith, unlike a lot of pentecostals whose faith is all yabber yabber yabber.

February 15, 2008, 20:29

if anyone has triggers that find hard to control……best to stay away from the comments on the 100 Revs site 😆 😆 😆 😆

I read them all. No-one’s said anything that I haven’t heard all my life.

Joined in 2007
February 15, 2008, 21:29

I believe that everyone has a constitutional right to their own opinion and freedom of expressing that opinion. Christians have as much right to be concerned about homosexualiy as gay people do. As far as I am concerned if something concerns God then it concerns the Christian follower whether or not that person happens to be homosexual themselves.

I do put homosexuality on par with instances of violence or abuse concerning two or more people, not because they are the same thing but because they both greive God. To normalise homosexuality or to stand by and allow it to happen does a diservice to gay people because it (forgive me for borrowing your term) brainwashes them into believing something that is untrue and not God’s best for them.

I agree with you about Yancey, I have read his stuff both in ‘Whats so Amazing About Grace’ and his editorials in Christianity Today, he is not and has never been theoretically pro gay. In the end his conclusions rest on the premise that we are saved through grace by faith and that homosexual Christians have those in equal mesure from God as heterosexual Christians, something I think we can all agree with.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
February 16, 2008, 00:55

I think the point i was making with Yancey was not that he had total turn around on his beliefs on homosexuality but that he was prepared to stand with a friend… matter what the consequences.

this is exactly what the 100 Revs are doing…….saying that they are sorry that the church has not acted as it should.

If you are familiar with the sexual diverstity acceptance index you’ll know that there is a 7 step process from hatred to advocacy. No one wakes up one morning and says gay is okay……..not even us who are gay…….its a process………the 100 revs is an encouraging sign that some are moving along the index.

Joined in 2007
February 17, 2008, 23:41

I look at my situation and although I feel ok about being Gay and Christian, there is still a process that I go through every day… some days I just don’t like me being a Christian and still Gay 😯 …. and other days I can be happy with being both 😆 .

I believe that Gay people who are Christian bring in colours that is so badly lacking 🙂 . We have a diverse range of abilities that enables us to push forward compared to a straight person 😀 … I like to believe that we have more passion and dedication 😆 . I could be wrong but that’s how I see it… and because of the attitudes we face, we strink back and hold our talents back 🙁 . For the 100 rev saying sorry to us would be a boost to me – if they can do that…. then what do I have to hide. 8)

I even went as far as when someone finds out that I am Gay and starts going weird… I can say well I have been coming here for years and you never had a problem but now you have a problem… grow up! 🙄

James (forgot his last name) came to our church and he brought up a hot potato about people who are gay… and how the church have a lot to answer for rejecting them… God so loved the world… that he gave his begotten son…. the world means everyone… I think he hit home but the leaders were the ones with the problem, not the people in the chuch… hmmmmm. 😮

So 100 saying sorry will be a lift… its a good start 🙂 … I think its important to uphold them because they will be facing the music because they are disagreeing with majority of leaders… if there was anyway we could march with them or somehow say thank you for taking the time to enable us to find hope as Gay and Christians. Hmmmmm ❓

I always know that God sees the big picture and we ae the little ones that makes up a fraction of that big picture… if God didn’t want Gay people well he would not have allowed it to happen. Sure freewill is there… but I didn’t have a choice of being straight so I am using my freewill to be Gay and follow God’s way with the best that is within me. ❗

Hmmmm any thoughts on these things.

Joined in 2006
April 25, 2008, 16:34

First Pentecostal minister in Australia to say Sorry

ABC Radio: Should Christian pastors be apologising to the Gay and Lesbian community?


It’s the 30th anniversay of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi-Gras – the parade that began as a homosexual rights protest and ended up a riot as police tried to arrest demonstrators.

A group calling themselves the “100 Revs” has gotten together for this year’s parade. Its a group of heterosexual ministers of religion, from across the denominations, marching in the parade to apologise to the gay and lesbian community.

Guests in this story:

Rev. Mike Hercock – Baptist pastor from Surry Hills

Rev Heather Mc Clelland -Baptist Minister from Woolloomooloo Baptist Fellowship

Kim Hammond – Pentecostal Pastor from the Junction Community Church, Melbourne

Listen in downloadable mp3 format

Joined in 2007
June 10, 2008, 02:12

And here’s the transcript of that radio interview… fascinating eh! 😀

Stephen Crittenden: See how a tiny prayer opens on to everything. Father John Pawlikowsy, and we’ll have a Jewish view on this story next week.

Well now to a story of a different kind of conversion. This year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and when the parade marches up Oxford Street, there’ll be an innovation: large group of Christian ministers will be marching, to apologise for the hostility their churches have displayed and continue to display, towards gay people. They’re calling themselves ‘100 Revs’, and so far, 55 of them have also signed an apology.

Well the gay community may not yet appreciate it, but this is a big deal for these clergymen, some of whom who have been threatened with disciplinary action if they march.

The Reverend Mike Hercock is a Baptist pastor based in Surry Hills. He’s the spokesman for the group. Mark, thanks for joining us. Is this a milestone, or just a small step towards one?

Mike Hercock: I think it is a milestone certainly for many ministers marching in Mardi Gras, and certainly even signing the statement, but it is a small step towards a change in attitude, there’s no doubt about that.

Stephen Crittenden: And so what do you think it will mean for the gay community in Sydney?

Mike Hercock: Well I hope it means I suppose some level of acknowledgment of wanting to change the attitude that has often been presented by the church, certainly of the level of hostility. I hope they see the heart of it being one of trying to show a different way forward for all of us.

Stephen Crittenden: Well you’ve had about 40 signatories so far; tell us how you went about approaching ministers of religion, but also the sort of response you’ve got form them and from the gay community.

Mike Hercock: Well the ministers of religion, we’re an interesting bunch, aren’t we, pastors. When it comes to controversial issues we really want to have a good dialogue with them, so it’s really come through relationship and through individuals contacting individuals, which is very slow, you know. We’d send out the statement of apology and then a week-and-a-half later we’d have a long list of reasons why and why not, and we want to have further discussion. So it was really important that it started that way. The ministers’ responses across the country and across the denominations, those that have really taken the time to have a look at the statement, have been very positive. They’ve really sat with the issue of how have we not been welcoming to the gay community, and virtually none of them have disagreed. And then specifically I think some of the ministers themselves have said actually this is quite a serious issue, we’ve really said very little, certainly positive, to this community and certainly addressing our own ownership of the hostility that’s gone on at times.

The gay community has been interesting, from my perspective, I think they’ve in general seen the heart of what we’re doing. We were actually contacted just recently from different people all over the world trying to ask questions in different gay groups, and I think the joke is that my last name is Hercock, and Reverend Hercock is marching in Mardi Gras is a bit of a joke.

Stephen Crittenden: I wasn’t going to raise that, Mike. But you’re saying you’re getting interest from the gay media around the world?

Mike Hercock: Yes, I think in general it’s been very positive. I mean there’s always some concerns about what we’re saying in the statement that may not be fully said or agreed upon, but in general people are seeing the heart of what we’re about.

Stephen Crittenden: You’re a married Baptist minister with children, what motivated you personally to get involved in a project like this?

Mike Hercock: I suppose on my arrival two years ago to Surry Hills, I had an opportunity to start meeting with the local people.

Stephen Crittenden: Where were you before that?

Mike Hercock: I was in South Melbourne Church of Christ, and I was a pastor down there for a number of years. I then came up here to start the work initially out of the restaurant that we’re in, and I suppose I met one particular guy who shared a little bit of his journey. He was at a local congregation, he had come in and had made an acceptance of his relationship with Christ and wanted to be baptised. And when it came out that he was struggling with his sexual identity being homosexual, they made it very clear that he couldn’t be baptised. And he was just a young guy, 21 years old, and he was sitting in front of me and yes, it was just very sad, what I saw in his eyes and his sense of being rejected and excluded. He was high risk in regards to his mental health in my estimation at that time, and also he was high risk in the way he was behaving sexually, because he felt so ashamed. And I just saw that that just was not what Jesus would have been about for this young man who was desperately trying to work these identity issues and trying to find a faith in the middle of it. And as I sat with him and started meeting other young men and women, the stories just started to flow out of rejection, of distress, and somehow those stories affected me, and I just started to share them with others.

Stephen Crittenden: So tell us about your own parish, because it’s an interesting parish. It started off in a very interesting, very famous in fact Sydney church building, the Baptist Tabernacle down in Burton Street, which many people would know, in I suppose, East Sydney. And you’ve moved to, what? You’ve bought a restaurant?

Mike Hercock: That’s right. We’re now in a restaurant called Table for Twenty, which was started up 18 months ago, which is a bit of a communal dining experience. Out of that building, we run “Upstairs Sticky”, which is where we run our gathering, or our church gathering, and then we run the restaurant there four evenings a week – Northern Italian food, a communal dining experience. And so for us it was about making a space where the community for a whole variety of reasons would engage us. We have a counseling service as well, so you might come and eat with us and dine with us, you might go to one of the counseling services, you might also come in for our homeless art exhibition that’s on once a year. So it started to embrace the whole idea of community.

Stephen Crittenden: Sounds like you’ve got a very sort of informal thing going though, it’s not like a traditional parish in the way it operates.

Mike Hercock: No, no actually it’s not. I mean just recently we started our church services for the year, and we started with what we call the bar ipstairs, we call “Sticky”, so it’s sticky issues, and it’s also sticky desert wines. So we have a liquor licence, I think we’re the only ones with a liquor licence around, churches that I know of, and so we open it as a church for the unchurched, as a transition space.

Stephen Crittenden: It sounds like a first to me, a Baptist Wine Bar!

Mike Hercock: I’m glad you find it humorous, others didn’t find it so.

Stephen Crittenden: I mean that’s a serious question though, many Baptists are very conservative on issues like this one, raising the question I guess, of whether it’s possible to offer an apology on behalf of institutions that probably none of which have reached that stage of making apologies themselves.

Mike Hercock: Well that’s right. I think we have put our neck out, there’s no doubt, but we’ve actually made the statement from individual ministers, not representing their denominations. So out of the number of ministers, 50 or so now, who are signing the apology from a cross-section of denominations, we recognise that as ministers we have some responsibility in this. And so we take it on individually. Although if you looked over those 50 or so ministers who have signed the apology, you would have hundreds of years of ministry experience across a broad range of churches, across the country. So it’s probably some reflection, but not all. And there’s definitely a number of churches who are doing some significantly good work in trying to reach out to the gay community as well. And it is hard, you don’t want to lump people all in together.

Stephen Crittenden: Just explain the timing of all of this. You’ve got a whole lot of people who’ve signed up, and they’re presumably going to march in the parade, and sign the apology, but the apology hasn’t been published yet with their names on it. When’s that going to happen?

Mike Hercock: Well what we’re hoping to do is after the march, set up a pro forma where they can just add their names that they want to have made public. Because our concern is that each minister undergoes a certain amount of scrutiny because of being attached to it, and then some –

Stephen Crittenden: Pressure, you’re saying?

Mike Hercock: Some pressure, yet. And so as it stands at the moment, if you go to the website, people then choose to email us with their name saying ‘We’re in support of this’.

Stephen Crittenden: Mike, I hope the audience is picking up on this, because I am only slowly (talking to you), starting to realise what a big deal this is for the people concerned. What pressure are people really under, individuals who’ve accepted to do this?

Mike Hercock: Well I mean certainly those who have accepted to march will possibly face some kind of discipline within their denomination. I think the question of whether people sign it or not is a separate question. Some individuals recognise the statement as itself to be truthful, but wouldn’t march, because of other reasons. So yes, there’s no doubt that there is a cost involved for every person who’s connected with what we’re doing at this stage.

Stephen Crittenden: We’ve been told that a number of Catholic and Anglican priests in Sydney have been warned by their bishops not to march, or risk losing their jobs. Can you confirm that?

Mike Hercock: I wouldn’t like to confirm the issues that are going on in particular denominations, because each minister’s having to take on board the cost for themselves, but there’s no doubt there’s been a cost for every minister who’s been attached to us. That’s just the nature of being involved with our various denominational heads.

Stephen Crittenden:I wonder f any od them considered marching in masks. I mean that is what used to happen in early Mardi Gras parades to prevent exactly that kind of individual retribution happening.

Mike Hercock: I do wish I had thought of that myself actually, because I think we would have a lot more marching if they could be more anonymous. But at the same time I also think about the person of Jesus, and I think sometimes we have to stand up and put our face to things. I think there is something to be said for putting your face to it.

Stephen Crittenden: A last question: what about Fred Nile’s accusation that you’re all piggy-backing on the Prime Minister’s apology to the Stolen Generation?

Mike Hercock: Well it’s completely misplaced. We’ve been working away on this for a year, we didn’t even know who would be in parliament at this time of the year, and I think it’s just a way of kind of misdirecting people’s attention. We’re really about something quite different.

Stephen Crittenden: Great to have you on the program.

Mike Hercock: A pleasure, a real pleasure.

Stephen Crittenden: Pastor Mike Hercock, and we’ll have the text of the apology and other details on our website.

Well that’s all for us. Maybe they should march with masks, that’s what they did in the old days to avoid retribution.

Further Information

Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem: full interview on Sundaynights with John Cleary

Dr John Pawlikowski (bio)

Nostrae Aetate (declaration on the Jews) on wiki

100Revs blogspot (apology to gays and lesbians)


Stephen Crittenden


Noel Debien

Radio National often provides links to external websites to complement program information. While producers have taken care with all selections, we can neither endorse nor take final responsibility for the content of those sites.

Joined in 2007
July 8, 2008, 14:40

I was just contacted this morning by a journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald doing a follow up 6 months on from 100Revs. It was very interesting and I felt I had a chance to say some positive things. I wonder though, if it will be printed since I am actually in Queensland and didn’t march in the parade.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 8, 2008, 14:51

thats great news….I just posted on your live journal not realising it was you.

who was the journalist…..and when is the article going in do you know.

Joined in 2007
July 8, 2008, 15:51

I am not very good at this Anthony, am I? 😳 I can’t recall the lady’s surname but her first name is Erin. I didn’t think to ask her when the article will be in the paper, but I just sent her a txt just now to ask.

I’ll keep you posted!

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