Wednesday 2019-05-22

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‘GAY PASTORS CANNOT LEAD CONGREGANTS’

By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2019-05-15

THE Eswatini Conference of Churches has stated that there is no way a gay pastor can lead a congregation.

Conference of Churches President Bishop Steven Masilela maintained the organisation’s stand against members of the Lesbians Gay Bisexual Transsexual and Queer community, including those who are pastors.

The bishop made this comment after UK based Reverend Jide Macalaulay’s visit to the country, where he met with local pastors and other stakeholders. Macaulay is the founding Pastor and CEO of House of Rainbow.

He is openly gay and was forced to leave Nigeria after he came out about his sexual orientation. Macalaulay came to Eswatini after an invite by Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities founder Melusi Simelane. 

Bishop Masilela said he was out of the country when the Reverend Macalaulay came around and was still to enquire from those who attended the workshop on what transpired. 

Masilela said they made their point before on gay people and have not changed a bit on their stand. He said the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin.

This is contrary to what the UK based reverend said during his meeting with local pastors.

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 He said the Bible does not condone same sex relationships.  Masilela, on the other hand, made it clear that gay pastors have no business leading congregants. 

He said there can be no church that can be led by a gay pastor. Worth noting is that just recently, a pastor was kicked out of his church after it was discovered that he is gay. The pastor has still not been accepted back into his church. 

Speaking about the pastor’s visit, Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities founder Melusi Simelane said the issue of gay pastors is very controversial. He said the first thing to consider in this is the fact that sexuality and gender identity is a personal thing. He said only a person can self-proclaim their sexuality or gender identity. 

He said coupled with the scathing societal stigma and discrimination plus the continued denial of some human rights by state and non-state actors, this makes it even harder for any individual to own up to who they are, and ‘come out of the closet.’ 

“This is not special for anyone, even though it makes it even harder for people of faith, as there is often the misinterpretation of the scripture,” Simelane said. 

He said the issue here should be when will society open up their arms and be welcoming of people who are different from them? “We are all unique and we are all different, but we must remember one thing, we are all ‘children of the soil.’ So until we are a warm and welcoming society, people will continue to fear coming out”.

Speaking about the visit of Reverend Macalaulay, Simelane said as ESGM, they invited the good reverend as  part of their network building and skill mobilisation. He said during his stay in the country, the pastor not only spoke with local faith leaders but also  to a group of women who used to be part of an organisation that supports PLHIV.

Simelane said the women explained that though the organisation is under liquidation, they are starting a stronger and more people driven one. “The visit itself was a way of finding ways and means to work together as a community, and also see where House of Rainbow can partner with us in the future,” Simelane stated.

Speaking about pastors’ knowledge on LGBTQI issues, Simelane said he has noted that pastors were not well informed about those issues.

He said, however, there are some who are continuing to learn and engage. “However, the majority is still not informed, or at the very least misinformed. We will continue to work with them though in the journey to finding common ground,” Simelane said.

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