Facebook, Metro City Church
Metro City Church pastor Jeremy Schossau.
Protestors are planning a Thursday night demonstration at the Riverview campus of Metro City Church after the organization announced it would host an "Unashamed Identity Workshop" class for "girls only (by birth), aged 12-16" who think they may be gay, bisexual, or transgender.
The six-week, $200 program sparked the ire of locals who are saying the classes are tantamount to conversion therapy, the practice of trying to convert someone to heterosexuality through therapy and prayer.
In a post on Metro City Church's website, the classes were described as offering to "help your girl be unashamed of her true sexual identity given to her by God at birth through thoughtful, relevant and biblical counsel." While the post has since been removed from the church's website, some are still have concerns.
Sara Cunningham, an Oklahoma City resident, saw a friend post about the classes on Facebook, that's when she began calling on the Michigan LGBTQ community to take action. Cunningham's post, shown below, has been shared nearly 1,900 times.
Cunningham says she identifies as a Christian, and has a son who is gay. She says her family was alienated from their home church after her son chose to come out.
"Parents shouldn't have to choose between their church and their children," Cunningham tells Metro Times
Cunningham is now an advocate for LGBTQ rights and has written a book, How We Sleep At Night,
about her family's struggle with the backlash of her son's coming out. She says it is possible to be Christian and gay.
"Parents need to be aware of the shame ministry," Cunningham says. "The church is not made up of mental health professionals and many children end up depressed and self-harming. Pressure needs to be placed on the church and the protests may make people aware that this is going on."
But Metro City Church
head pastor, Jeremy Schossau says the programming was not conversion therapy, or at least, not what he believes to be conversion therapy. Additionally, he says he is confounded by the angry response the program has elicited from the community.
Schossau responded to our questions via email and asked that we print his answers in full.
"Over the past week we have gotten thousands and thousands of emails and messages. The vast majority are filled with vulgarity, hate, and threats of all kinds. What we find incredibly odd is there is no seeking to understand what we are truly doing. Only the assumption that we are practicing some sort of conversion therapy. People are acting like we are forcing people into our church office so that we can spit on them, beat them over the head with the Bible, judge them or shame them. Nothing is further from the truth. These are folks who are seeking us out. These are folks who are questioning their sexual identity or maybe they are in the gay or lesbian community and they are just not comfortable there. They think maybe that they don’t want to be there. And they are seeking out conversation. We are about conversation but conversion is totally up to the person. Again, nobody is forcing them to be there. These are people who are usually already in our church. Let me ask a question: Who would seek out a counselor or mentoring from somebody that hated them or forced them to change? That’s silly. People don’t do that. Virtually all of the thousands of emails assume that we are forcing and judging and hating people. Simply not true. The hypocrisy of the gay community is so incredible because they are not seeking to understand and making totally wrong assumptions," Schossau says.
The pastor also says the church will still hold similar workshops, if the need arises.
"Yes, we plan to host workshops or do personal mentoring if people want that" he tells us. "It is their choice. If folks are asking for it we will offer it."
The protest is planned for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8 at the Riverview Campus by the Metro Detroit Political Action Network.