Sunday, June 14, 2009

Szymon Niemiec: Poland's gay Saint Francis?

Or is he one of Poland's great future social and political leaders?

[Reverend] Szymon Niemiec is an author, human rights activist, journalist, photographer and minister and has worked his entire adult life assisting others in need.

His social projects also include assisting helping persons with disabilities. Szymon created “Equality Parade ” in Poland with the inclusive universal gay pride theme. Szymon also managed Poland’s first gay cultural association ILGCN Poland and proposed initiatives for freedom and equality for all citizens to the Polish government.

In 2007 Szymon campaigned for a Warsaw, Poland parliament seat however was unsuccessful – nonetheless he campaigned as the nation only open homosexual candidate on a minor political party ticket. ~Friends of Szymon
The following account was written by Szymon back in early 2008, and portrays his very difficult yet deeply rewarding struggle as a gay Christian in Poland. Five months later, in November 9, 2008, Niemiec's became Pastor of the Free Reformed Church of Poland. ~Madison Reed


"They hate me for my love, but I pray for them."


When couple months ago media in Poland released "hot news" about gay blessing ceremonies in Free Reformed Church of Poland, where I am a deacon, I wasn't surprised of shaming comments from Roman Catholic Church and right wing parties. Conservatism in Poland is still very strong, and any progressive Christianity options are not warmly welcome. My congregation was attacked by officials from RCC and most of other "big" denominations in Poland. They told us, that we cannot name ourself "Christians" or "Protestants", and there is no place for us in Poland. Why? Not because we allowed woman to be priests, nor because we comes from progressive theological way named "theology of freedom". But because my congregation decided to allow gay and lesbian couples to receive the blessing of "Holy Union". For most traditional Christians, and even for some gay people, our decision was considered "premature" or "un-biblical". I understand this. In my opinion, every congregation should have the right to decide its own direction. But, what shocked me the most, was that I hadn't expected so much hatred and anger from the media. Most of religious journalists asked me:

"How dare you bless same-sex couples! This is against our religion, morality and tradition."

I agree with this. The Holy Union blessing does not originate from Catholic or Polish traditions. It exists in other traditions, other religions and other congregations. So I was answering all the time by the same sentences:

"This is our way. Let us go our way, as we let you go your way. Our decisions are not affecting you or your congregation. They are not affecting the law of our country. So, why you are so afraid?"

Hopefully our message was delivered not just to "angry people". After our first article, I received about 100 letters and phone calls from same-sex couples in Poland, who were looking for help. Most of the people who came to me were people of great spiritual faith. Faith has been discarded by churches in Poland. This is something that really angers me about my country.

Stereotypes are what hurt us the most - stereotypes such as this one, when people say:

"Homosexuals cannot be believers, because God hates them."

What hypocrites! I am always asking:

How God, whom we describe as Almighty Love, can hate His own children? Who we are to judge each others love? Who we are to judge love at all?

I have been serving my Warsaw congregation for two years. now. I cannot tell you how many homosexual people have asked me for spiritual help or advise by this time. I cannot tell you how many times I have repeated this sentence:

"God loves you, because you are His child."

When I receive letters or phone calls from same-sex couples, who are people of faith, who ask me if I can bless their relationship, because they want declare their love in front of God and people, how I can say NO? When I see love, passion, courage and care, how I can discard this? This is something very deep inside my soul. I believe that anyone who believes in God's love, should never be against the love between two people. And with this same faith I am serving Polish same-sex couples with my worship, prayer and blessing.

In fact, every time I bless another couple, I feel like another family member has come into my heart. With this feeling my spiritual family grows larger and larger. And this is something wonderful!

Now, with the help of my friends we are close to opening Queer Central Station. And of course, I want to have "interfaith point" in QCS. Why? Because I want to share God's Good News and Love with everyone - not just with members of my church. Hmmm...another "Why Not?" question of Mr. Niemiec ;)

Szymon Niemiec's Website: http://blog.szymonniemiec.pl/

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

allvoices

2 comments:

Rev. Szymon Niemiec said...

Dear Friends,

Thanks for sharing this post.
If I can ask, please change some old informations:

From the 9th November 2008 I am pastor, not a deacon of FRC.
Our church's website is: http://www.wolnykosciol.pl
My personal blog is:
http://blog.szymonniemiec.pl

God Bless You All

Madison said...

Hello Szymon! Wonderful work you're doing for LGBT equality. It is having an effect, and as you can see, it has caught my attention.

I've corrected the links. Now they are working! Keep in touch.

Blessings to you brother!
Madison Reed