Tony Gutierrez, AP
Now everybody in America can know about the sleazy way the High Point Non-Denominational “Church” treated the family of Navy Veteran Cecil Sinclair.
First they cancel his funeral just 24 hours before the event and create a nightmare of rejection and prejudice for the family. Second, they ridicule him and his family further by saying publicly that they do not want to be associated with “pictures of him kissing and embracing.” And, finally, in the greatest of all of their acts of kindness, they offer to pay for a service in a community center and throw in the video and food as a comfort for the mourners.
After all, his brother is their janitor. The family is not a stranger to them, just the family of the hired help? Not exactly the Jericho road.
And 22 percent of the “good Christians” out there in America agree with them…
Who do you side with?
|The veteran’s family||
Note on Poll Results
Total Votes: 234,551
ARLINGTON, Texas (Aug. 10) – A megachurch canceled a memorial service for a Navy veteran 24 hours before it was to start because the deceased was gay.
Photo Gallery: ‘Slap in the Face’
Tony Gutierrez, AP
“It’s a slap in the face,” Kathleen Wright said after a church in Texas canceled her brother’s memorial service because he was gay. “It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry he died, but he’s gay so we can’t help you.”
Officials at the nondenominational High Point Church knew that Cecil Howard Sinclair was gay when they offered to host his service, said his sister, Kathleen Wright. But after his obituary listed his life partner as one of his survivors, she said, it was called off.
“It’s a slap in the face. It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry he died, but he’s gay so we can’t help you,”‘ she said Friday.
Wright said High Point offered to hold the service for Sinclair because their brother is a janitor there. Sinclair, who served in the first Gulf War, died Monday at age 46 from an infection after surgery to prepare him for a heart transplant.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Gary Simons, said no one knew Sinclair, who was not a church member, was gay until the day before the Thursday service, when staff members putting together his video tribute saw pictures of men “engaging in clear affection, kissing and embracing.”
Simons said the church believes homosexuality is a sin, and it would have appeared to endorse that lifestyle if the service had been held there.
“We did decline to host the service – not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle,” Simons told The Associated Press. “Had we known it on the day they first spoke about it – yes, we would have declined then. It’s not that we didn’t love the family.”
Simons said the decision had nothing to do with the obituary. He said the church offered to pay for another site for the service, made the video and provided food for more than 100 relatives and friends.
“Even though we could not condone that lifestyle, we went above and beyond for the family through many acts of love and kindness,” Simons said.
Wright called the church’s claim about the pictures “a bold-faced lie.” She said she provided numerous family pictures of Sinclair, including some with his partner, but said none showed men kissing or hugging.
The 5,000-member High Point Church was founded in 2000 by Simons and his wife, April, whose brother is Joel Osteen, well-known pastor of the 38,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston. Now High Point meets in a 432,000-square-foot facility in Arlington, near Dallas.
Wright said relatives declined the church’s offer to hold the service at a community center because they felt it was an inappropriate venue. It ultimately was held at a funeral home, but the cancellation still lingered in some minds, she said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
A letter to another blog, gives the partner’s perspective:
August 11th, 2007 | LINK
I am the partner of Cecil Sinclair who passed. It is unfortunate that the church has decided to tell untruths in order to make themselves feel better, or make their side of the story into a saner response. Hopefully more of the truth will come out in future articles or investigations.
First of all, let me start by stating that it was a member of the church who offered the use of their facility to us, on behalf of his brother who is/was a member of their congregation. I was introduced to this man as Cecil’s partner. To my knowledge, this person at least was fully aware that we were living openly as a couple. This same member of the church, when were later advised that we could not use the facilities, on his own, with money from his own pocket, not church coffers, went and procured another facility for the funeral. The church did not do so. At no time did a member of the church contact us to indicate that they had a problem with any part of the service we were planning. We never had contact with the minister or any of the administration.
On Tuesday morning, we gave the church a total of 83 various pictures of Cecil that were forwarded to us by various members of his family. Of those, not a single one showed a man hugging or kissing another man, nor were there any overtly homosexual references. Cecil’s sister Kathleen sat and worked with the two people preparing the video and went through all of the photos with them. There was only one photo which would be considered offensive, as it was a picture of him in his early 20s making a rude gesture at his best friend who was taking the photo. We removed it and never asked that it be included. It was just overlooked in the rush to get things done. These individuals went through all the other photos, which were pictures of family gatherings, birthday parties, vacations, etc. At no time was anything expressed to her or us that they had a disagreement with any of the other photos.
Cecil’s brother Lee, who was the member of the church, asked that we include a call to prayer near the beginning of the services, as well as a call for salvation at the end. We immediately agreed to this because it meant so much to his brother personally. We even asked if they wanted to have their own minister conduct it, or if our officiator could. Our officiator was a baptist minister. There was no objection raised, so we assumed that it was OK.
On Wednesday evening about 6pm, we received a call. The person on the line put Cecil’s brother Lee, who is mentally impaired, onto the phone. Lee informed us that something had gone wrong, and then someone else got on the phone. That person informed us that a terrible string of errors was made, and that the service could no longer be held at their facility. We never spoke to the pastor nor anyone from his administration directly. It was all done through middlemen. When we requested to know why we could no longer use their facility, there was no answer. They simply stated a mistake was made.
Later that night, while we were scrambling to find another location, Cecil’s niece called back to the church and demanded an explanation. It was at that time a very long string of excuses began to form. First she was told that it was because we were bringing in outside food, which they didn’t allow. Then we were told it was because there was construction going on nearby which they felt would be too obtrusive. We said we didn’t think it would interfere. Then we were told it was because there was a scheduling conflict. When asked was other event was being held that was conflicting, the call was disconnected.
The remembrance we held for Cecil I felt was wonderful. We started with a brief welcome by the officiator. A song (For the Fallen) was sung. Cecil’s obituary was read. We then played the video which was about 10 minutes long, showing him from childhood, graduation, his naval service, and family gatherings, especially those from his 46th birthday, which had just been on the 5th of July. The officiator then read from personal family statements and remembrances of him. His mother, father, uncle and sister had all contributed personal insights into his life that they were not able to state themselves due to grief. A time was then allowed for individuals to come to the mike and offer their own personal remembrances of him. The chorale then sang another song (Amazing Grace). Closing remarks were made by the officiator and we then moved to the light meal that had been prepared. Meat and cheese sandwiches, cakes, and cookies. Only a small amount of this was offered by the church, most was either brought by family or friends.
To me personally, I have no problem with the church turning us away. My problem is with the method in which they did it. I happen to know several other members of that church who are also gay, and they had no idea that their church held that opinion on this topic either. If they had told us right away, or even on Tuesday that they were not comfortable with the service, we would have been more than willing to try and come to some sort of compromise, or we could have changed venues. We were never given that option. Someone in a position of power made the decision to cut us off, and didn’t even have the moral courage to tell us the truth to our faces.
Hopefully your reading this helps to make sense of what occurred. I fully understand the church’s right to deny us the use of their facilities. I also served in the military, (US Army, 1987-2002), and I have fought to defend their freedom of religion and freedom of choice.
If just one couple or family can be saved from having to suffer the same as we did, I would consider all this to have been worthwhile. I truly believe all congregations need to have more open communication between all their members, so that the person who had initially welcomed us into their church would have known that is was not acceptable in the eyes of their leaders, and the entire issue would have been avoided. If we had known from the beginning we were not welcome, or the offer had never been made, we would have just continued making the same arrangements we finally had in the end. Nothing we did for Cecil’s remembrance ceremony was changed, other than the location.
I loved Cecil truly and deeply, and I am sorry that anyone considers a truly heartfelt, emotional, even spiritual connection to another human being to be sinful, simply because that love is between two people of the same sex.
[edited to insert paragraph breaks for readability - Jim B.]
And here is the cleansed version of what happened………provided by the AFA
Statement by High Point Church in Dallas, Texas
Mr. Cecil Sinclair was not a member of High Point Church. Neither was anyone in his family except for the deceased’s brother, Lee Sinclair who is an employee of the church.
Lee recently requested the church to pray for his brother who was ill. The church prayed for Mr. Sinclair both enthusiastically and faithfully.
Lee called an employee of the church to inform him that his brother was in the hospital in critical condition. When the High Point Church employee arrived at the hospital, Mr. Sinclair had already passed. The church employee reached out to the family and tried to comfort them the best he could. The church did offer the family, free of charge, the use of its facility for the memorial service. It was not clear at this time that the family desired a memorial service that would openly celebrate the homosexual lifestyle of Mr. Sinclair.
The family requested that the church produce a video of Mr. Sinclair’s life for the memorial service. When the photos were presented to the church the day before the scheduled memorial service, there were some inappropriate images that alerted the church to the homosexuality of Mr. Sinclair. One photo showed a man with his hand touching another man’s genitalia. The phrase “like hugs and kisses” used by a staff member to describe to the pastor the blatant homosexual reference was mild at best.
The family desired an associate of an openly homosexual choir to officiate the service and for the choir to sing. They also desired an open microphone format to allow anyone in attendance to speak. High Point Church ministers would not be directing or have control over what was said or emphasized. It became clear to the church staff that the family was requesting an openly homosexual service at High Point Church – which is not our policy to allow.
The decision was made to retract the offer to host the memorial service based on the fact that the service requested would be an openly homosexual service celebrating the homosexual lifestyle. It is important to emphasize that this was not a funeral service with a body to be buried, but a memorial service. The family was informed of the decision.
The decision had nothing to do with the fact that Mr. Sinclair was a veteran. High Point does now, and has always, supported our men and women in the military. This decision was not based on hate, or discrimination, but upon principle and policy.
Allowing an openly homosexual service in our facility would condone homosexuality as a lifestyle. We could not allow the homosexual lifestyle to be celebrated, flaunted or glorified in our church facility. We could not put inappropriate images on our screens or subject our members and possibly even our children to an openly homosexual service. We cannot condone what the Word of God condemns.
The issue was not whether we would hold a memorial service for someone in a lifestyle of sin. We have assisted many families in this regard. The issue was whether we would allow an openly homosexual service that celebrated and emphasized homosexuality in our church. We love the homosexual, but cannot condone the homosexual lifestyle. We could not allow homosexuality to be glorified in this house of worship.
To assist the family in securing another location, an alternative venue was paid for – which the family declined. We produced for the family the memorial video they requested without the inappropriate photos. We also prepared and delivered food for the family and one hundred relatives and friends. Our love for the family was demonstrated over and again in our many acts of kindness and concern. Many of our faithful members spent hours cooking and preparing the meals and our staff worked diligently to meet the needs of the family.
Several of our staff members went to the memorial service in support of the family. The tone of the service did confirm our concerns. The church believes that the right decision was made and holds firm to its convictions concerning homosexuality.
It is our desire to always demonstrate the love of Christ to all people in both word and deed. We would hope that the Sinclair family and the homosexual community would see our love for them through the many acts of kindness and outreach that we have extended to them. We realize that they may not agree with our convictions, but hope that they would respect them.
We do love and pray for the Sinclair family and ask God’s strength and comfort to be with them during this difficult time.
Sounds like continued disrespect and hogwashing to me!