I have to be careful when I publish a story having to do with religion and LGBT rights. Raised in the church, studying for 5 yrs in a private Seminary and just as left I became rebellious to god and any church. I am not rebellious to god but I am to religion. I have been inside and knew that many people behave like the GOP Senators on Trump's impeachment trial. I learned the law and the gospels, so I feel like I know these people and their behavior 100% is against their bible because they never obey everything but its always a pick and match and hell to those that don't agree with. Whether I like it or not I will publish if I feel it is relevant to some in our community, it will get published. I will not say anything about this particular story below and let you make your own mind.
Judy Putnam, Lansing State Journal
EAST LANSING — Jay Makowski is a married gay man, but the Methodist Church's official stance opposing same-sex marriage and homosexual lifestyles didn’t push him away from the church.
Instead, it drew him in.
Makowski, 40, of Lansing, said he joined the denomination four years ago after emailing a bishop who was under fire for performing a same-sex wedding in an act of civil disobedience in North Carolina.
The message of acceptance and equality from retired Bishop Melvin Talbert appealed to Makowski, who had a deep faith in God but not much of a religious upbringing.
The bishop responded to Makowski's email and it led to a phone call.
Talbert, who has compared the struggle for gay rights to the fight to end racial discrimination, suggested that Makowski try attending the University United Methodist Church in East Lansing or another local church where members generally oppose the traditionalist view against same-sex marriage.
Makowski chose the East Lansing church as closest to his home. He's now a lay leader, serving as the chair of the Board of Trustees and two other committees.
“Pastor says he’s Kirk and I’m Spock,” Makowski jokes.
The bitter division in the Methodist church came to a head at an international conference in St. Louis last February. The international United Methodist General Conference voted to continue the church’s ban on gay clergy and oppose same-sex marriage.
As a result, some Methodist churches, including Makowski's, even discussed leaving the denomination altogether.
Makowski said he was disappointed, but not angry, at the decision last year.
“These folks that have those views, I almost or do owe them a thank you. It’s pushed me more toward exploring what’s God’s love represents,” he said.
A new plan unveiled earlier this month would split the denomination in two – allowing traditionalists who oppose same-sex marriage to leave the denomination along with $25 million from the church coffers. That will be discussed at a May conference in Minneapolis.
Makowski supports that plan but wants to keep a relationship with the traditionalists in the Methodist Church.
“If we need to part, we need to part so we don’t spiral into that irrecoverable animosity,” he said.
He acknowledges the irony that he’s joined a denomination that rejects his marriage, even as he volunteers his time.
“I think for me it’s a little slap in the face that I’m giving so much yet I can’t get married here. But that’s not to say it’s in vain. …I don’t think that our imperfections as humans should prevent me from honoring and worshipping God as I see fit through my work at the church,” he said.
Makowski grew up in Detroit, Southfield, Redford, and Cheboygan. His family was Catholic but he recalls going to church just twice a year — Christmas and Easter. He did attend a Christian academy in grade school.
He came out as gay at age 20 while attending Michigan State University, though he knew in middle school, and perhaps even as early as kindergarten, that he was drawn to males. He said he wrongly assumed he wouldn’t be welcome at any church as a gay person.
“I thought that anybody that was in a church was hellfire and damnation if you were gay,” he said.
Though he earned a degree in civil engineering, Makowski works in food service at MSU, managing the culinary kitchen.
Six years ago, he married his longtime partner, Britt Auer, in a civil ceremony in Washington D.C., which allowed same-sex marriages in 2009, ahead of the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing such unions nationwide..
Though Auer doesn’t attend church with him, he’s supportive, Makowski said.
Rev. William Bills, a 32-year pastor, calls Makowski one of the “two best” lay leaders he’s known in his career.
Bills said he believes a split in the church is inevitable but it will take time to work through.
“We need to have some kind of separation at this point or the whole thing is going to come tumbling down,” he said.
Though he supports the proposal to split, he said he’s “not enthusiastic” about it.
“I have some issues with paying people $25 million to leave when they’ve been, in my opinion, behaving badly but I don’t think we have a whole lot of choice now,” he said.
Bills turned over the pulpit to Makowski after last year’s conference where Makowski talked about his life as a gay man. He tried to answer questions others might have about his life.
"I did not choose to be gay. I did not program myself. I was not influenced. I was not spurned by women. I did not have a lack of authoritative male figures in my life," he said.
"I did not lack any part of an ideal childhood, in my opinion, because it was a childhood always filled with love.
"I did have many challenges, but I cannot for the life of me understand how being poor, white, intellectually gifted, compassionate, or anything else could have made me this way," he said.
Instead, he pointed out, it was God.
Judy Putnam is a columnist with the Lansing State Journal