Over the weekend, I was gobsmacked by something that I read on social media. A PCA church in St. Louis is hosting an event that includes an openly lesbian speaker named Jay-Marie Hill who is coming to the church to “teach us how to not only mourn the tragic deaths of trans folx, but learn to celebrate their lives and humanity.” It is important to note that the teaching is not only about mourning the deaths of precious image-bearers (something we would all agree with). It’s also about affirming transgenderism (something every orthodox Christian must oppose).
When I first read this, I thought, “Surely this is an inaccurate report. Surely there is some mitigating piece of information that will make this not what it appears to be.” Then I followed the links and did a little poking around. No, the report is accurate as far as I can tell—at least that is what the organization hosting the event says.
The event is to be hosted by a group called “Faith for Justice,” which has as one of its founders a woman named Michelle Higgins. Higgins serves as Director of Worship at South City Church (PCA) which is hosting the event and where her father Mike Higgins is pastor.
I don’t know Ms. Higgins or her father, but I recognized her name as the one who criticized the pro-life movement in a sermon that she delivered at Urbana in 2015. I also recall an interview she gave to Red Letter Christians in which she argues that evangelical diversity must embrace transgenderism. Today I came across a sermon that Ms. Higgins delivered at a youth event in 2016, which included the following comments about Matthew 25:31-46:
Some of you know this shirt: ‘I met God. She’s black.’ Does anybody have that shirt? I have got to get me one… Have you met God? Do you know Him? She’s black… Do you know Jesus? Jesus is a trans-person of color… Your God is not heterosexual… Your God is the deepest, most forgotten, most ignored pieces of you and of your community…
The Facebook page of Ms. Higgins’ group “Faith for Justice” has a picture of the openly lesbian speaker that is slated to speak at South City Church. It turns out that Jay-Marie Hill is the founder of a transgender-affirming organization called “Music Freedom Dreams.” Her bio on that website says this:
Jay-Marie is originally from Oakland, CA. but now works out of St. Louis, MO building a very Black, very Queer life with their incredible partner, Kayla.
Notice the pronoun “their”—which is Jay-Marie’s resistance to female pronouns to refer to herself. All of this information is public and available on the internet for anyone to read for themselves.
Bottom line: South City Church is in the same presbytery as the church that hosted the controversial Revoice conference last summer. But the online description of the “Faith for Justice” event sounds far more radical than anything we read about Revoice, and that’s saying something. A PCA church in the St. Louis Presbytery is hosting an event on the Lord’s Day which features an openly lesbian teacher who refuses to use female pronouns to refer to herself.
I am not a Presbyterian, but I know and love many dear brothers and sisters who are. They are scandalized by this, as well they should be (as evidence of this, see “Overture #4” coming before the PCA General Assembly this summer). How can this be happening? I do not know. I do know that the PCA needs to get to the bottom of this and soon.
UPDATE: The session of elders at South City Church have posted a statement tonight. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here is the first paragraph:
In the past few days, the session and pastoral staff of South City Church became aware of details concerning an event that was to be hosted on its property on January 20th, 2019 sponsored and organized by Faith for Justice, a Christian advocacy and social justice organization. Upon being informed of the details of the event, the session and pastoral staff met and determined that some of the planned elements within this particular event appeared to be inconsistent with South City Church’s theological convictions. We have thus determined that South City Church’s facility should no longer be used for the Faith for Justice event originally scheduled for January 20th. At no point was the event a South City Church event or part of a South City Church worship service.
I am grateful to read that the elders have decided not to allow the event to be held on their campus. That is a good thing. Nevertheless, this statement raises as many questions as it answers. The statement says that the Faith for Justice event is contrary to the “theological convictions” of South City Church. Nevertheless, the event hasn’t been cancelled. It has simply been moved to a PCUSA church in the area (according to Faith for Justice’s Facebook page). Also, Michelle Higgins is still a founding member of Faith for Justice and Rev. Mike Higgins is on the board of Faith for Justice (source). Why are a PCA pastor and worship director involved in an organization that is hosting a transgender-affirming event? Simply moving the venue doesn’t change that. It seems to me that the pastor and worship director’s involvement in such an organization is the far more significant issue that remains unresolved.