LGBTQ Community Finds Spiritual Home at Wilshire Baptist in Dallas

Faith and sexuality are rarely used in the same sentence, but one Baptist church in Dallas is jump-starting the conversation.

Late last year, Wilshire Baptist Church became one of the first churches in North Texas to grant full membership to the LGBTQ community.

Every week, ministers say they're seeing new faces in the pews, people like Matthew King.

King served in southern Baptist churches for years.

He says he was shunned when he divorced his wife of 27 years and came out as a gay man.

"I used to feel condemned," he said. "Once I did come out, there was no place for me to come and serve. Didn't feel comfortable worshiping. I felt just kind of shameful."

Unwilling to turn the page on his calling in life, King kept his faith. He spent the past nine years searching for a church that would accept him and allow him serve.

"They wanted me to be a member but not really fully to the point where I could do it," he said.

Then in November, Wilshire Baptist Church voted to give gays and lesbians full membership rights.

It didn't sit well with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which broke its ties with the church. Since the decision, about 200 of the church's 1,500 members have left.

"We hate to hear that. We don't want people to leave, but at the same time if that's their conviction, we bless them to do that," said minister Tiffany Wright.

The decision has also been a light guiding many people back to church.

"Overwhelmingly from guests and new members, we just hear, 'Thank you for making this be a part of who you are,'" Wright said.

King joined the church in January.

"For me they put feet to their words. It wasn't just, 'Oh, we accept you.' They've given me an opportunity to serve," King said, allowing him to fulfill his purpose in life in a place where body and soul can finally be at peace.

While it has lost about 200 members, Wilshire Baptist says it's added about 30 new members and is seeing new faces every week.

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