Jamaica's gays worship in the closet, by Micah Fink, Global Post
- KINGSTON, Jamaica — It takes just 15 minutes to set up an underground church.
Two boxes and a white sheet make up the pulpit. The altar is a card table. Folding chairs constitute the pews. Then Rev. Robert Griffin, a solidly built gay American minister in his mid-40s, unpacks a battered cardboard box; inside is a wooden chalice, two candle holders, a communion plate and a dog-eared copy of the King James Bible. Add a pianist warming up on an electric keyboard and suddenly an empty meeting room is transformed into the Kingston branch of the Sunshine Cathedral, Jamaica’s only gay church.
“We call it church in a box,” said Griffin, who travels to Jamaica once a month from Florida to hold services for Jamaica’s gay community. He helped found this congregation five years ago after reading a Human Rights Watch report about institutionalized anti-gay violence in Jamaica.
“We were asked to come in to create a safe place for people — the gay and lesbian community — to come together and worship,” he said, explaining that the Sunshine Cathedral, with 147 active members organized into four branches around the island, is now an affiliate of his home denomination, the Metropolitan Community Churches. This gay-friendly church, founded in Los Angeles in 1968 by an enterprising Pentecostal minister in response to being defrocked for being gay, today serves as a focal point for congregations emerging around the world. Read More