2015 was an important year for the LGBT community and as America looks forward hopefully to another year of progress in equality, one Methodist pastor is taking a somewhat unexpected stance. Coming out strongly against his church’s stance on homosexuality, he has decided the best way to really make sure he is heard is to take a stance in an unconventional way. To demonstrate how he feels the Methodist church treats the LGBT, he has made a pledge to sleep in a tent for 175 days straight.
Pastor Michael Tupper of the Parchment United Methodist Church in Parchment, Michigan is no stranger to the teachings of his church. After graduating from Olivet Nazarene University and St. Paul School of Theology, he went on to receive a Doctor of Ministry degree from the North Park Seminary. In other words, he knows what he is teaching. His tenure in Parchment began a little more recently, as he took over as the lead pastor in 2011. Since that time, he has worked on “pointing people to God’s heart, God’s kingdom and God’s community.” Of course, he has come to believe that his ability to do so is being limited by some outdated beliefs within the Methodist Church.
When looking at the current state of things, Pastor Tupper believes the Methodist Church is mistreating the LGBT community and that they “are being forced out of our church and into the cold.” As a powerful display of how this is occurring in the church around the world, Tupper decided on Nov. 30 that he would spend the next 175 nights sleeping out in the cold himself. With only a tent, he spends each night outside and doesn’t return indoors until the next morning around 6:30 a.m. Most nights, he sleeps outside his own home, but he has also been taking to the road, including sleeping in front of the Methodist headquarters in both Indianapolis and Madison, Wisconsin.
According to Tupper, he plans on also hitting up Des Moines, Iowa, Columbus, Ohio, and even head to the General Conference in May in Portland, Oregon with his tent. That showing could be especially important as some big hitters in the church are meeting their to discuss the official position on homosexual pastors. Ultimately, Rev. Michael Tupper hopes to stop the discrimination and open up the United Methodist church to allow for gay marriage and gay pastors as well.
Unfortunately, the good intentions of one pastor may not be enough to change the views of an entire church community. A set denomination of the Christian faith, the United Methodist Church was officially founded in 1968, but it traces its roots back to the Wesleyan Herritage and the original Methodist movement in 1784. From this, they received 24 “Articles of Religion,” which they use in addition to the bible to support their beliefs. Of course, the articles were voted on when introduced to America and included a 25th addition, so changes are possible.