Josh Canfield writes…
“To our friends…
We’re writing this post in response to so many of you who have kindly reached out. You’ve been wondering why we have been getting so many hateful comments on all of our social media in the past week, in which some of you have been tagged or engaged.
The drama that is unfolding at the moment all revolves around the fact that we have been heavily involved in our church, Hillsong NYC. Josh has been with Hillsong for eight years in a variety of ways: choir director, vocal director, and worship team. I’ve been there since the beginning of our relationship, over three years ago, and eventually began singing in the choir and opening my apartment as the gathering place for a connect group for Hillsong members in the Broadway and theatrical communities.
We have been open and forthright about our relationship from the get-go.
Due to our openness and very public appearance together on CBC’s “Survivor”, we have been in conversation with Hillsong NYC’s lead pastors regarding the church’s non-LGBT affirming stance. Hillsong has many campuses around the world, many in places where gay marriage is now legal, so this has been an ongoing dialogue trying to figure out how and where we, as part of the LGBT community, fit in. As a church family, we have been wading through these uncharted waters of shifting culture and social change.
Several days ago some faceless, end-of-days blogger decided to attack us and our church for allowing us to serve when we are “unrepentantly embracing [our] sin” as homosexuals. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, most super-conservative news sources picked it up and ran with it — giving this man’s voice worldwide amplification it never should have had. Not to mention it worked up Christian communities around the world, as many look to our church as a model of modern Christianity to be emulated. (We’ve never been harassed in so many foreign languages before … and we live in NYC!)
This has now forced our church to globally reaffirm their hard stance as a non-LGBT-affirming institution and disallow any gays from being in a position of leadership within the church. It’s been frustrating and a bit crushing that one crazy person could interfere so easily with the healthy and steady dialogue we’ve been having, but in a new world of social media and instant exposure, we are left unsurprised. Thankfully we are led by pastors who are grace-filled and committed to continuing to try to discern God’s will on this matter.
All this being said, many of you ask: “why are you staying somewhere that doesn’t fully accept you?” This leaves us with a tough decision. If we, as gays, pack up and leave every church we feel less than welcomed in or where we feel spiritual resistance, how will there ever be growth? The flip side of this is: why would we, as part of the gay community who have been primarily outcast for all our lives, willingly subject ourselves to more marginalization? It’s been a lot to personally work though.
Many try to discredit biblical scholars and laymen alike who have shifted their stance from non-affirming to LGBT-affirming by saying “the only reason they have changed their mind is because they know a gay person”. This only confirms to us that personal relationships are transformative. This isn’t difficult to accept after one looks at this through the lens of personal relationship being a foundational tenet of the Christian faith.
After we inadvertently and unintentionally became public representatives for gay Christianity, we feel like we have been called and have a responsibility to continue to stand authentically in our truth — especially within the church family that we call home, Hillsong NYC — we are seeking the Lord, we are Christian, we are gay, and this is our journey.
We thank you for your concern, your prayers, and your support.
Big Smiles and 110% …
Reed and Josh”
Brian Houston writes…
“I wish to correct reports that Hillsong church has “an openly gay couple directing a choir” at our New York City campus.
Hillsong’s position on homosexuality and gay marriage has not changed and is consistent with Scripture.
As I have stated previously, I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.
Several months ago when one of our choir directors made an unexpected public statement regarding his engagement to a man who sometimes sang in the choir, it was a complete surprise to us as well.
It is my understanding that they have not been involved in an active leadership or ministry role since. That said, we still love them and acknowledge that they – like all of us – are on a journey, and our role as a church is to assist them on this journey with grace and compassion.”