Bethany Christian Services expand to serve same-sex couples
Bethany Christian Services is expanding its services to LGBTQ+ parents. The New York Times reported on Monday that the organization made its announcement in an email to staff members, as part of a new inclusivity policy.
Bethany Christian Services has been serving LGBTQ+ parents in its home base of Michigan since 2019, following a 2017 lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union and two same-sex couples. The new policy will impact all locations, including those out of the state.
Nathan Bult, Bethany's Senior Vice President of Public & Government Affairs, said in a statement:
"For the past 75 years, Bethany Christian Services has never wavered from our mission of demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus to children and families. We help families stay together, we reunify families who are separated, and we help vulnerable children find safe, stable homes when they cannot remain in their own.
These days, families look a lot different than they did when we started. And Bethany is committed to welcoming and serving all of them.
For us to carry out our mission, we are building a broad coalition of people – finding families and resources for children in the greatest need. The people we serve deserve to know they are worthy of being safe, loved, and connected. The need is great, so we are taking an “all hands on deck” approach."
Jeffrey Sorensen, Director of Out On The Lakeshore (OOTL), said Bethany Christian Service's new direction is promising, but notes there's still a lot of work to be done.
"“It’s definitely a step in the right direction," Sorensen said, "But we also recognize that there is a long-standing negative relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and Bethany, and that is not going to change overnight just because one policy changes."
However, Sorensen added that if Bethany Christian Services honors their new inclusivity policy, he could see room for a partnership between the two organizations in the future. He noted the two have had an ongoing "informal dialogue" for some time about bridging relationships with the LGBTQ+ community, saying he wants there to be more affirming, safe homes for youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth, in the system.
"Ultimately it’s more about the children that need homes and a same sex couple can provide a loving, stable home just as well as any other," Sorensen said.