An Ontario woman is speaking out against her now former church after she says she came out as gay.
For the past three years, Kimberley Mills says she’s been a faithful parishioner, youth leader and regularly attended small fellowship groups at Calvary Baptist Church in Oshawa, Ont., 60 km east of Toronto.
She said she knew that coming out would be difficult as she had heard sermons condemning and criticizing homosexuality.
“I knew by sharing that I was in a relationship with a woman would be something that was not accepted,” she told CTV Toronto. But Mills adds that “I happily shared when I was ready.”
In an interview with CTVNews.ca, she says she decided to come out because “I was living with my partner, basically in secret.” Mills said that she had already come out privately to her friends in the church and even in her fellowship groups.
However, she wasn’t prepared for how the church leadership responded.
She received a letter in the mail from her now former church telling her she had been removed from and no longer welcome at the church, effectively immediately.
“It was brought to our attention that you have chosen to live in disobedience to the scriptures,” the letter, signed by Deacon Chairman Tim Wagner, reads.
“Kim, we are exercising our responsibilities to follow the biblical instructions toward the goal of your repentance and full restoration to walk with Christ and his church fellowship,” the letter went on to say.
The letter references several bible verses, including 1 Corinthians 6:9 which reads: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.”
Mills said she was saddened because she had felt at home and made friends there over the years.
“My first reaction was kind of shock, then it went into hurt and then it went into needing to say something about this,” she said.
She took to Facebook to share her story. Her partner, Meghan Fowler, said the positive responses eventually became overwhelming.
“We have gotten so much love and support, more than anyone could ever ask for,” she said. “It was wonderful to see,” she told CTV Toronto.
The couple said they’ve found another church which has been welcoming.
“The (new) reverend basically said, ‘Come as you are. We love you for who you are. God has designed you that way and you don’t have to change to be a part of our church family.’ That’s what I think Christianity is all about,” she said.
CTVNews.ca reached out to the Calvary Baptist Church for further comment, but our requests have so far gone unanswered.
With a report from CTV Toronto