Hillsong Church has been under attacks and criticisms when an openly gay couple were directing a choir at their New York Campus. The headline certainly stirred controversy-and attacks-against the church. Many automatically believed the story, perhaps because Hillsong Senior Pastor Brian Houston once said he would not take a public stand on gay issues and New York campus pastor Carl Lentz waffled on homosexuality.
Recently,there was a blog post written by Geoffrey Grider, who identified as a street preacher, published his now viral blog post on Hillsong NYC's openly gay and engaged members, Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly, on Sunday, Aug. 2.
In his post, shared more than 55,000 times via Facebook, Grider writes:
"Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly are a proudly-out homosexual couple who preach the gospel of the LGBT Agenda. They became 'engaged' last year and are planning a 'wedding' for sometime in 2016. They feel no conviction of any kind for the lifestyle they lead, and yet, shockingly, they are allowed to lead the worship choir during church services at Hillsong in New York City."
In the light of this news, Hillsong's senior pastor Brian Houston has articulated the church's stance that though the church welcomes gay couples, it does not affirm homosexuality as a lifestyle. "Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles. Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid. I recognise this one statement alone is upsetting to people on both sides of this discussion, which points to the complexity of the issue for churches all over the world.
I love and accept people on a personal level and if I lived next to a gay couple I would treat them with the same embrace I would any other neighbour because - surprise, surprise - not all my neighbours think like me. Everyone has the right to pursue happiness. I may totally disagree with you on what will bring people true happiness, and I will always teach and preach according to my personal convictions and the teachings of scripture, but I cannot make other people's choices for them - and quite frankly, I don't want to. That's not my job. Even God created humanity with a free will."
Therefore, does Hillsong support gay leaders? According to Houston, the answer is no. "So if you are gay, are you welcome at Hillsong Church? Of course! You are welcome to attend, worship with us, and participate as a congregation member with the assurance that you are personally included and accepted within our community. But (this is where it gets vexing), can you take an active leadership role? No."