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Pastor Curt Thomas has opened his own church after finding there was “no love” for him in traditional worship settings. His former church forced him out when they found out he was gay and Thomas decided it was to time to start his own ministry. In 2008, the pastor who is originally from Pasadena returned to Los Angeles having served in three other churches as youth pastor.
Before setting out to open the church known as Renewed Church of Los Angeles, Thomas was mentored by many gifted men of God. One man in particular was Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen III; it was under his tutelage that Thomas received the courage to develop his own church.
Bishop Allen is the founder and senior pastor of Vision Church of Atlanta where he serves with his partner, First Gentleman Rashad Burgess (First G). He is also the presiding bishop of the United Progressive Pentecostal Church Fellowship, which consists of leaders and ministries all joined to the same vision. It is under this covering where Renewed Church of Los Angeles abides.
Bishop Allen is part of the LGBT community and has been an openly gay pastor since his church was established in 2003. Being one of the premiere openly gay pastors Bishop Allen and his life partner caught a lot of grief from many of his colleagues but did not let others opinions stop him from walking in the realm he felt called to. Unlike several traditional worship settings many have said when they visited Bishop Allen and his First G’s church there is so much love in the building negativity has no room to flourish.
The Renewed Church of Los Angeles first opened its doors in October 2011 as a direct result of Bishop Allen’s influence. The church meets on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. for Praise and Worship, Bible enrichment and a weekly sermon. The church’s overarching theme is, “This is a place you can be you!!!” The mission of this church is to create an environment where all people are accepted, encouraged and enlightened through practical Bible lessons, worship and community involvement.
At Renewed Church everyone is accepted with unconditional love. This is a ministry that enforces the principle of acceptance because Jesus broke down the barriers that have divided people into categories of clean verses unclean. The only requirement to connect with God is a willing heart that is open to receive his unconditional love and forgiveness.
Everyone is worthy of God’s love and any faith community which excludes, judges or is intolerant of people is operating outside of the model exampled by Jesus.
The majority of the church’s congregation falls into the category of those who identify as same gender lovers (SGL) or homosexuals. Thomas says although Renewed Church welcomes homosexuals with open arms, sexuality has very little to do with the mission of the church as a whole.
It is not about being gay; it’s about your relationship with God which is much more important than your sexuality. We focus on your spirituality first and then your sexuality while most churches focus on your sexuality first.
Renewed Church is housed in the back of Jewel’s Catch One club. Members and visitors are ushered inside by way of a red carpet as they pass walls covered with photos of local black heroes within the LGBT community. These local heroes helped pave the way for the advancement of LGBT rights in the Los Angeles area. The photos are there to empower viewers that they too can make a difference in the community with God’s help.
Jewel’s Catch One opened its doors in 1972 as the nation’s first black gay and lesbian disco. Having evolved with the times, the venue now serves as both a high energy dance club and community center welcoming everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. The club also focuses on raising awareness and financial support for their alternative non-profit medical clinic, the Village Health Foundation.
The 35-year-old pastor is not afraid of any challenges that may arise from his position. He knows that his presence is necessary and that Renewed Church is a link in the chain of an awakening that has been slowly coming. Thomas said one of his challenges is being sensitive to each member’s gender identity and expression of their sexuality. It is important to address people respectfully and that includes being aware of how they identify themselves.
Pastor Curt Thomas has opened his own church after being ex-communicated from his previous church for being homosexual. Thomas said his church seeks to make homosexuality normal. He is a pastor who loves God, people and is boyfriend. No one that attends his ministry will ever have to worry about living a double life because he has an open door policy of service and understanding. His goal is to help eradicate the shame associated with homosexuality, especially among the household of faith.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)