WATERVILLE — Pleasant Street United Methodist Church will celebrate the May 3 decision to affiliate with the national Reconciling Ministries Network, a growing movement within United Methodism, advocating for the full inclusion and recognition of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered persons in the life of the denomination with a concert by noted Christian artist Marsha Stevens. The concert is planned for 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. Stevens also will provide music following the 10:30 a.m. worship service, according to a news release from the church.

The church has long had a strong commitment to social justice issues and hosts the Greater Waterville Food Bank, a dozen recovery groups, Scouting ministries, and partners with the Downeast Aids Network to provide HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis C testing to the greater Waterville community.

“It was clearly time, after extensive study and prayer, to welcome officially all persons who might be considering PSUMC as a spiritual home,” said the Rev. Dr. Thomas Blackstone, pastor of the congregation, in the release. The vote came after three years of Bible study and conversation with members of the church, as well as a number of forums in which church leaders shared how their perspective on Christianity and sexual orientation had changed over the years.

Stevens, called the “mother of contemporary Christian music” by Christian Century, is perhaps best known for her piece, “For Those Tears I Died,” a popular praise song written in 1969 when the artist was only 16. When, in the 1980’s, Stevens became the first major singer in the contemporary Christian music subculture to identify herself publicly as a lesbian, according to the release. Christian Century Magazine said that Stevens became “conservative Christianity’s worst nightmare — a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, God-fearing lesbian Christian.”

Stevens will share her encouraging and positive music in a celebration of the inclusive love of Jesus. The public is encouraged to attend; a freewill offering will be taken. Pleasant Street United Methodist Church is at 61 Pleasant St.

For more information, visit pleasantstreetumc.com.

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