Ryan Bell, the Senior Pastor of the Hollywood Adventist Church, an evangelical, Seventh-day Adventist congregation was asked to step down last month. Bell has served the church for eight years and was asked to leave due to his support of marriage equality and his association with other 7th Day Adventists who believe that it is time for the church to broaden its acceptance of LGBT congregants and their families.
Bell has spent his entire life devoted to his spiritual community. However, he realizes and acknowledges that "sometimes people grow in ways that are incompatible with the institutions they have been a part of."
This is clearly becoming the case for many 7th Day Adventists (both LGBT and straight allies) who cherish the traditions of their religion, but part ways with archaic traditions and views on social issues; including the exclusion of women from church leadership roles and acceptance of LGBT people. The progressive factions of the 7th Day Adventist church are truly at odds with the patriarchal majority.
I applaud Bell, a straight ally, with a wife and two children, for his willingness to take a stand for love and equality even at great personal expense. It is this kind of leadership and integrity that moves mountains. It takes tremendous courage to stand up for what you believe in and yet if we don't muster up the courage our world will not change. I invite us to look into our own lives and ask ourselves "Have I taken a stand today for what matters most to me or have I chosen to play it safe and not rock the boat?"