St. Paul Pastor Oliver White makes The Atlantic’s ‘brave thinkers’ list

Oliver White, pastor of a now-foreclosed church in St. Paul, is among a list of  The Atlantic magazine’s “brave thinkers of 2012.”

The list — which includes a huge cross section of people ranging from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Fawzia Koofi, a corruption-fighting woman who is a member of the Afghanistan parliament,  to scientists — cites those the magazine says have shown willingness to risk “their reputations, fortunes, and lives in pursuit of big ideas.’’

White, who for 22 years headed the predominantly African American United Church of Christ in St. Paul, saw members of his church fall away when both the UCC and White came out in support of gay marriage.

“I thought my congregation was with me, but I immediately lost two-thirds of my members,’’ said White of his advocacy of gay marriage in the Atlantic article.

 The loss of members multiplied financial problems in the church, which ultimately was foreclosed. White is seeking to raise money to purchase a church in a “different kind of neighborhood.’’

His position on gay marriage is not shared by many — perhaps most — Twin Cities black pastors.

“The other minister tell me, ‘Oliver, this is not a civil-rights issue like we went through 50 years ago,’ ’’ White said in the article. “But it is. When you preach against the gays and lesbians, that’s discrimination, pure and simple.’’’

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 10/28/2012 - 04:31 pm.

    Prophets in the Wilderness

    “Unearned suffering is redemptive,” said the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    The Reverend Oliver White, whom I know and admire, is not only a brave thinker. I call him a prophet in the wilderness. And the minority of congregants who have stuck with him while so many others turned away also deserve praise for their courage and endurance in hard times.

    People who stand up for the rights of others and are made to suffer for it are the unsung heroes of our time. They walk a difficult road, but they lead the way to a brighter future for everyone. I pray that they know that Christ is with them. Jesus spent some time in the wilderness, too.

    I also pray that this small community of faith, torn apart today by controversy, will one day be reconciled, as Jacob was with Esau. Jesus knew that telling the truth would cause discord, that even bringing Good News would separate people painfully from one another, like a sword. But that is not the end of the story. The end comes when all people are reconciled in the peaceful city of God, and none are excluded because of who they were born to be, whether that is white or black, male or female, or gay or straight. Keep your eyes on that prize, Pastor White!

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