By Brandon Ramey
The Crosspoint Wesleyan Church on Fredericton’s North Side dismissed a young volunteer earlier this week because he is gay.
Colin Briggs, 20, has volunteered at the church since 2011. He also worked as a camp counselor for two years. During his last year of high school in 2011, he joined a mission to Haiti.
Pastor Mark Brewer asked Briggs to stop by the church on September 18 for a meeting. The youth pastor, Nathalie Estey, was also present.
To his shock, they asked Briggs to stop his volunteer activities. They said he was welcome to continue attending church services.
“We felt it would be in the best interest of him and the church if he stopped serving,” said Brewer. This would “avoid any potential uproar that may be caused if families were to find out an openly gay male was working in the children’s ministry.”
“I felt disappointed. Personally and towards the church.” said Briggs.
Caitlin Sowers, 20, a fellow volunteer in the church’s child ministry, said the church’s actions shocked her.
“My heart hurt when I first heard about it,” she said, adding that Briggs is “hilarious, creative and great with the kids.”
In an interview, the pastor was asked what the difference was between attending church and volunteering there.
He hesitated, then said, “Having an openly gay male working in the children’s ministry may cause some parents to feel uncomfortable.”
He insisted that the church works hard to ensure they are reaching and loving everyone.
Sowers disagrees. She feels that sexual orientation should not influence how the church treats people.
“I don’t think it’s right to allow peoples’ stigma to influence the churches decision,” said Sowers. “The church should not be influenced by hatred.”
“These are two huge parts of my life and I just wish they could co-exist.” Briggs said.
Brandon Ramey is a second year journalism student at St. Thomas University.
Clarification: The full name of the church was omitted in a previous version of this story.
Editor: Patrick Lowe