In October 2012, Rev. Ceejay Agbayani headed the formation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight (LGBTS) Christian Church (which was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC on December 7, 2012). “The church was formed by members who are faithful to the mission and vision and goal of the church to serve the LGBTS community in Quezon City,” said Rev. Agbayani, adding that – in fact – the church “was formed after the irreconcilable differences of the members (with) foreign hands (that) wanted to take over the administration of the (older) church without proper consultation. We resisted, and (after the renaming of the church from its old identification), for peace and harmony among those who wanted to stay and continue (what we wanted to achieve), an independent and autonomous church for and by the Filipino LGBTS was formed.”
And what makes this group different from others also existing for the LGBT community? “The LGBTS Christian Church aims to be the safest place for the LGBTS people,” Rev. Agbayani said. “We envisioned for the church to be a sanctuary for those in need of a church home, so we always have an open door, open mind and hearts policy.”
As an “affirming and welcoming church, “the difference, I think, with us is that we are… not messianic church. We do not want to answer all the problems of the world. We only do what the church should do: to provide guidance to all believers, not imposing values but focus instead on experiential learning from the goodness that comes from God. The church must be the place for sinners who are looking for mercy and compassion and love, not a place for moralist and hypocrites,” Rev. Agbayani said.
Like many start-ups, the church also faces challenges – primary among these is “the maintenance of the chapel (particularly) its rentals and bills” since they have to raise at least P11,500 per month. As it is, “there are young LGBTs who stay and live at the chapel, and should we close, where will they go?” Thus, ensuring that the church has a “permanent place is a vital goal of the church,” Rev. Agbayani said.
As future plans, the LGBTS Christian Church is eyeing having a Lenten retreat in Puerto Galera (in Oriental Mindoro – largely considered as a gay mecca during the Holy Week) in March; and on May 5, it will host the annual LGBTS Flores de Mayo. It is also aiming to have cell groups from different cities in Metro Manila for expansion, just as it plans membership in the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.
Interested persons who want to join the LGBTS Christian Church may just attend seven to eight times in all its liturgical and non-liturgical activities within two months or so, for him/her to qualify for confirmation class, and then be inducted to the rite of confirmation on the Sunday immediately after the confirmation class. There are Sunday worship services at 5.ooPM; and Friday bible studies at 7.3oPM.
For more information on the LGBTS Christian Church, contact Rev. Ceejay Agbayani at (+63) 9152904310, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.lgbtschristianchurch.wordpress.com.