Time for us to move forward

Posted 6/12/19

It was said.It was extremely insensitive.The person who said it needs to step down.For more than a week now, I have continued to receive the question, “What do you think about what was said?” My …

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Time for us to move forward

Posted

It was said.

It was extremely insensitive.

The person who said it needs to step down.

For more than a week now, I have continued to receive the question, “What do you think about what was said?” My response has been something along the lines of those three sentences every time that I have been asked about it.

With the Carbon Hill City Council set to meet on Monday, I expect it will be another week or so before there is any true resolution to the issue. Either the mayor of that municipality will stay put or he will resign. Once that decision is clear, the “news” aspect of the story will be over.

The true legacy of any news story is if it affects change in a community in some way. For Walker County as a whole, I would like to think that we could take this moment, this small amount of time that gained us international notoriety for a terrible reason, and turn it into a positive

Our community has needed to have this conversation for some time. As someone who has been threatened with violence in the past for advocating for LGBTQ+ individuals in our area, I have first-hand experience of the hatred that can be in the hearts of who I feel are misled people.

One positive aspect from this incident that has already become a reality is the formation of a Walker County LGBTQ Awareness Group. That group can be found on Facebook, but it is also in the process of coming up with a meeting place, so those members of our community have a place for themselves and their families to seek support. I would hope this group could act as a bridge to build relationships in our area between the LGBTQ+ community and the members of our community who have had little to no contact with gay and lesbian individuals. A little bit of getting to know each other can go a long way in calming fears that each group has about the other.

Throughout the last week, I was most impressed with Scott McCullar, pastor at First Baptist Church in Carbon Hill. In full disclosure, Scott is a close friend. We eat lunch together fairly often. We do not agree on everything, and one of the areas where we disagree is the interpretation of some scripture concerning homosexuality. Scott is a very conservative person with a conservative take on scripture, and I tend to be a little more progressive on certain theological issues. With that said, we respect each other’s opinions and we have had some great conversations on areas of spirituality where we agree and disagree.

Now that I’ve admitted that we are friends, which is something that might catch old Bro. Scott some flack, I want to publicly share my response to him after I read his column in the Saturday edition of the Daily Mountain Eagle. I said, “That’s is as good a response that a traditional marriage supporting, Baptist preacher could have.”

While standing up for his convictions, Scott showed love and compassion for all individuals in his response. That is something that most people who have commented on the DME Facebook posts about this issue could learn a thing or two about.

Whether we are spiritual or not, as a human being, I believe we show our true colors by the way we treat other human beings (and animals). No matter the situation, kindness should be our guiding factor. For us Christ followers, that kindness comes from our understanding of Jesus and his teachings, such as loving our neighbor. Our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door. Our neighbor is the person God has puts right in front of us at any given time. And no matter how different, how inconvenient or how unexpected those people might be, we are called to love. And if we are not coming into contact with people who are different from us, we need to get out more, so we can experience what it is like to show that kind of love and kindness.

A segment of the population in Walker County might be shocked to find out that people who consider themselves as LGBTQ+ live, work and even worship here. Some might even share similar thoughts to what started this whole mess. If you do, I feel for you. You are missing out on getting to know some incredible people, many of whom do some incredible things for our community.

It is time for us to move forward Walker County. A person I hear quoted fairly often in our community, especially on Sundays, talked about how people should know his followers by the love they have for each other. Maybe the next time our area is featured on CNN, BBC or Fox News, it might be for that reason.

James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle.com.